Star Wars is a cinematic icon, but it is much more than its movies. Blaine and Josh dive deep into the universe of Star Wars Rebels, the fantastic animated show on Disney XD, with reviews of the third season of this fantastic show. As a show aimed at kids, but also clearly for the kid in every adult Star Wars fan, they’ll also have a discussion section to talk about the themes covered in each show.
Hera’s Heroes puts the titular Twi’lek in the pilot’s seat as she journeys to her home planet of Ryloth to rescue her father, Cham Syndulla. Hera and the rest of the Ghost crew arrive just in the nick of time and whisk Cham and his associates Noma and Gobi off to safety. The victory and celebration proves to be short-lived, however, when Hera learns that the Syndulla residence—her childhood home—been taken over by the Empire, under the command of Captain Slavin; and Hera is especially grieved to hear that her late mother’s Kalikori (a treasured and priceless familial artifact) is now in Imperial hands.
With the full support of her rebel crew, therefore, Hera and Ezra embark on a mission to sneak into the Syndulla mansion undetected and recover the Kalikori. Ezra dons a scout trooper outfit (which was acquired from an Imperial they captured during Cham’s rescue) and takes Hera as his “prisoner” in order to sneak past Imperial security, and all seems to be going according to plan. Then Grand Admiral Thrawn shows up, and Hera and Ezra quickly discover that, as Ackbar would say, it’s a trap. As the two rebels are interrogated by Thrawn, Kanan and the rest of the crew work out a trade: the scout trooper in exchange for Ezra and Hera. Agreeing to terms and conditions, the Ghost crew (plus Cham, Noma, and Gobi) and the Imperials meet to make the swap. With some help from Chopper, however, the rebels are able to deal a vicious blow to the Empire by bombing the Syndulla residence, which allows Ezra and Hera to make their way onto the Ghost and out of the clutches of the Empire. Meanwhile, far above Ryloth, Thrawn watches the escape unfold. “They have earned their victory,” he says, letting the Ghost crew live to fight another day.
Hera’s Heroes is ripe for dissection. We could talk about Hera’s relationship with Cham, looking at how it progresses in this episode and builds on the progress made when the two met in the second season. We could dive deep into the ways in which this episode helps us understand a little more about the post-Clone Wars history of Ryloth. And of course we could also discuss the dynamics of Hera and Ezra’s friendship, which really get a chance to blossom this week. While any and all of the above are worthy of greater exploration, I think Hera’s Heroes provides us with a great opportunity to look at Thrawn specifically.
While the series premiere was highly-anticipated due to, in large part, the first appearance of Grand Admiral Thrawn in the new canon, it is Hera’s Heroes that gives us our most substantive look at the character thus far. For those of you wondering what all of the fuss is about, here’s the (very) short and sweet of it: Grand Admiral Thrawn is an antagonist who was popularized by legendary Star Wars author Timothy Zahn in a series of EU books known as The Thrawn Trilogy. In Zahn’s novels, which took place after the Battle of Endor, Grand Admiral Thrawn proved to be a very different kind of Imperial foe. He was brilliant, a master tactician and the absolute embodiment of brain over brawn.
As much as anything else, Hera’s Heroes is a love letter from the Rebels creative team to Timothy Zahn’s work with Thrawn in his iconic trilogy. As he confronts the captive Ezra and Hera, we get a brief glimpse at Thrawn, the perpetual student of art and culture. It is imperative, Thrawn says, for you to truly know your enemy if you are to defeat them. So instead of immediately killing his prisoners, Thrawn prefers to study them, to interrogate them, to learn about them and their cultural customs. And yet this is but one aspect of his persona that is seemingly pulled straight from the pages of Zahn’s novels. Hera’s Heroes also shows us that Thrawn—much like his EU/Legends counterpart—is more concerned with winning the war than a particular battle. It’s been twice now that we’ve seen him willfully let his enemies escape. In Hera’s Heroes, Thrawn has an opportunity to learn more about Twi’lek culture, yes, but he is also provided with the chance to see the Ghost crew in action. In other words, he planned for Hera and Ezra to break in and out of the Syndulla Residence precisely because he wants to study their tactics and strategies in order to catch a much bigger fish. In the end, it turns out that the spirit of the character created by Zhan and beloved by many is very much alive and well. Welcome back, Grand Admiral Thrawn!
Star Wars Rebels is a family show. Parents love watching as much as their kids. Infusing the spiritual with the fantastic and adventurous, Rebels continues the spirit of what makes Star Wars great. In order to foster the young minds and hearts of your Reel World Theologians, each week there are questions you can use during or after the show to talk about with your kids. Enjoy the show and then enjoy conversation, but always remember that story is powerful and Star Wars Rebels is not mindless.
- Why is the Kalikori important to Hera?
- Is there anything passed down from generation to generation in your family?
- Why is Hera eventually able to let go of the Kalikori?
- This marks the first appearance of speeder bikes in Rebels.
- This episode features an iconic Wilhelm scream. Listen for it during the bombing of the Syndulla residence.
- This episode also marks the Rebels premier of the Blurrgs, which were featured in The Clone Wars.