Season Three, Episode Five — “Hera’s Heroes”
By Jason Gibner. Watching “Hera’s Heroes”, I was reminded of almost every time I’ve gone out for sushi. I think of when I arrive to the restaurant starving-hungry, and my eyes go googly-wide looking at all the delicious possibilities on the menu. I order a little bit of this and some of that and before you know it, I’ve got a plate with 12 sushi rolls in front of me. This is madness. I eat as much as I can and it’s all great, but now I’m so stuffed I’m officially incapable of appreciating the intricacies of that Sleepy Dragon roll I just forced into my mouth. This episode of Rebels is just like that. A mouth stuffed full of delicious sushi.
“Hera’s Heroes” features Rebels‘ first real introduction of Thawn, a juicy Hera backstory, a deepening of Ezra and Hera’s relationship, and the return of the people’s hero, Cham Syndulla… then there are the giant lizards and ground battles, and somehow, even more crammed in there. Like the California rolls and ginger salad appetizer in the metaphor above, they’re all great on their own — but when they’re jammed into 22 minutes of rapid-fire succession, admittedly, it can get a little crowded.
The episode begins in a classic Lucas way by dropping us right into the action, joining a cliffhanger adventure story just as it is seemingly about to end. We see the hero of Ryloth, Cham Syndulla, and Twi’lek leader Numa riding big lizards away from some Imperial Biker Scouts on speeder bikes. Just as all hope is about to be lost, our heroes in the Ghost swoop down with Hera, who rescues her father yet again. (She’s good that way.)
From there they learn that the Empire has taken over Hera’s hometown of Tann and has made her childhood home their cozy Imperial base for the time being. This all makes Hera understandably furious, but what really sets her off is that the precious Syndulla family heirloom, the Kalikori, is still being kept inside. Hera decides enough is enough, grabs Ezra (who stole a biker scout uniform, the scamp) and the two of them decide to do what Star Wars characters do best: Sneak into the bad guy’s hideout and blow it up.
Once there, the plans almost go out the window as they realize the scene-snatching Grand Admiral Thrawn is lying in wait. Interested in Twi’lek culture and giving off an aura of scumbaggery, the poster boy for the Star Wars Expanded Universe captures Hera and Ezra and attempts to learn as much as he can about his enemies. Meanwhile, there’s a blaster battle going on outside with the Rebels and Cham where they discover that Hera and Ezra will be executed unless they surrender. Hera realizes they only way to get out of it is to blow up her house — literally destroy her past and take off running.
While it’s refreshing to finally see Hera doing something besides worrying about Kanan or making concerned faces at Ezra, I wish it was in an episode where her character wasn’t fighting for attention with heavy hitters like Thrawn or Cham Syndulla. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your certain point of view), Timothy Zahn’s blue baddie Thrawn conquers the screen any time he appears and renders Hera’s quest to risk everything for the Kalikori almost completely inert. The end result is a seriously mixed bag of an episode.
Ezra : “Who is that blue guy?”
“The kid wants your helmet. Sorry.” – Zen,to Biker Scout.
“My daughter is always serious.” – Cham.
“War, it’s all you’ve every know, isn’t it? You were so young when you survived the Clone War, no wonder you’re as equipped in spirit to fight as well as you do. War is in your blood. I studied the art of war, worked to perfect it, but you? You were forged by it.” – Thrawn.
“To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art.” – Thrawn.
Ezra: “You’re going to blow up your house?” Hera: “My home is my crew. And my family.”
Imperial Officer: “Admiral, the rebels are getting away!” Thrawn: “Oh, not to worry, I’ve found this whole experience to be very enlightening.”
BEST MOMENT: After Hera is thrown in a jail cell, Thrawn informs her that he’s quite happy that he now has her beloved Kalikori and orders it be taken to his personal ship. This week’s bumbling buffoon Imperial officer, Captain Slavin, mentions that they should “just destroy that piece of Twi’lek trash”. Out of nowhere, the usually eerily calm Thrawn grabs Slavin by the collar and literally shows his teeth and growls at him. Slavin, who most likely just peed in his uniform, is understandably terrified and once Thrawn calms himself down, he apologizes and wipes the shoulder of Slavin’s uniform. He explains away his little moment of rage by saying he forgets that not everyone is able to appreciate art as he does.
This creepyzoid moment of rage, backed up by his established air of cultured, intellectual arrogance, sums up the character seen in all the Thrawn books in one ten second moment. Bringing in a bad guy this calculating and downright evil is just what Rebels needed to move past the dustier, black clothes wearing, red lightsaber wielder of the week. We can only wonder what the conversations between Thrawn and the only Dark Lord with a red saber that matters are like.
EPISODE’S MVP: Though she is thoroughly upstaged by almost every other aspect of this episode, I’m going to give this one to Hera. She has spent so long sitting in the Ghost captain’s chair barking out orders, that it’s refreshing to see her character and her motivations fleshed out just a little bit more. Her relationship with her father had been well covered in the past, but it was good to learn more about Mrs. Syndulla, to see her finally letting go her past and recognizing that this Rebel crew is now her family. I just hope that in the future we get some more awesome Hera-centric episodes that don’t also happen to introduce new bad guys with massive followings or continue epic stories pulled directly from The Clone Wars.
– Not quite sure how that Biker Scout uniform exactly fit so well on Ezra or how his “little short for a Stormtrooper” look didn’t have more red flags go up as they snuck into the Imperial camp.
– Those Biker Scouts were speeding along right next to those Blurggs and they couldn’t hit the thing. I know Stormtroopers have the worst aim in the galaxy, but come on.
– I really hope the spooky Haunted Mansion music keeps playing every time Thrawn shows up. Makes the guy feel more evil than just evil-like-everyone-in-the-Empire-is-evil, but like some kind of phantom ghoul.
– The beloved Blurggs show up once again, making thier third appearance in Star Wars after having been last seen in Clone Wars and before that, the darkest, most frightening kids movie ever made, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
– Always good to hear the sweet and very familiar sound of the Wilhelm Scream as Hera’s home blew up.
7 out of 10
Next: “The Last Battle,” soon.
Before: “The Antilles Extraction,” here.