A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Hera’s Heroes is an oddly titled episode that also happens to harbor the weakest script of the season thus far. The strength of Rebels this season has arrived from an understanding of just how dire the circumstances are for the Rebellion. The scrappy band of outlaws from the first season was fun, but that sense of camaraderie and banter has given way to a storytelling operating on a much more mature understanding of those very characters (well, more for some than others); and the settings around those characters has had to become more complex simply through sheer consequence. It is partially because of that evolution that the episode’s clunky beginning is especially off-putting. Stormtroopers of all ilk being considerably terrible shots has become a sort of running joke within the Star Wars mythology, which is fine but at a certain point the joke has to be kept to a minimum before it starts defying the sense of logic present in the narrative. Rebels doesn’t have to completely dive into the darkness in order to sustain itself, but the opening sequence’s clumsiness lends itself to being awkwardly comedic, even though it was clearly not intended to have that effect. The audience is dropped onto a chase sequence on a Ryloth plateau as Cham Syndulla and Numa are being pursued by scout troopers on their bikes made infamous in Return of the Jedi. Within about two seconds the sequence becomes problematic in how utterly inept these troopers are. For heaven’s sake, they’re not aiming with pistols from such a long distance and when they do get to their pistols, they’re missing at point-blank range against a giant beast. Hera comes to the rescue and the remaining scout trooper backs right into the ship with the expectation that that was somehow even remotely an intelligent move.
The opening sequence’s clunkiness aside, the episode has a problem in really grounding the reality of everything else because the same issue is repeated during the escape sequences outside the Imperial headquarters that used to be Hera’s home. It takes away from the seriousness of the circumstances and the emotional complexity elsewhere that an AT-AT is incapable of firing a decent shot at rebels that are within target range in relatively tight locations. The criticism can definitely be seen as being nitpicky, but those moments, especially in a season like this one, stick out as being contrastingly derivative. The set-up for Hera’s rescue of Cham and Numa also doesn’t make much sense in terms of narrative logic, because it just sort of seems to appear out of nowhere and not for any good particular reason. The episode kicks into gear when the rebels arrive at Hera’s home, which only makes its preceding minutes seem that much more wasteful in comparison. The Imperial capture of the Tanh Province should have been the catalyst for Hera’s appearance in the first place, providing a smoother plot structure and more importantly, the kickoff for her emotional conflict in the episode before she makes her decision to retrieve the Kalikori and save some vestige of her family’s legacy. The retrieval goes about as well as one expects, but that is the segment where the script gets to where it really feels at home.
Hera was forged by war. From the end of the Clone War to the Rebellion, there wasn’t a part of her existence that wasn’t affected by the violence of war and the consequences it leaves in its wake. That’s why the Kalikori, the last vestige of what her life was like before it was suddenly torn apart in her childhood, means so much to her. She knows it’s selfish to risk so much to garner it, but she has risked herself so much for her crew that they stick by her without a second thought. Thrawn studies the art of war, to perfect it but he knows it’s not nearly the same as having your very existence be shaped by it in every facet imaginable. Hera’s act was a good one, but it is unfortunate that Thrawn sees right through it, as he sees right through Ezra’s disguise. Hera and Ezra manage to escape and blow the Imperial headquarters sky high, but their escape feels (probably by design) ephemeral. Thrawn is a man who remains largely an enigma as far as Rebels is concerned, but his unparalleled ability to garner knowledge in the ambition of crafting a long-term plan to achieve victory is what makes him so quintessentially terrifying. To defeat an enemy, often people use blunt instruments or short-term strategy. That’s why one could logically argue the Empire has been so ineffective against this particular band of rebels. While numerous Imperial officers see each band of rebels as distinctive units despite their unity in the Rebellion, Thrawn sees the Rebellion as a whole and each band of rebels as a stepping stone to crushing the entire movement. He values, as others do not, a worthy adversary and each time this particular group of rebels escapes his grasp, he garners more information on them. Each escape is not a defeat but an enlightening chapter in a terrifying book of Thrawn’s design.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The set design was quite impressive
+Thrawn’s obsession with art is rendered perfectly here
+“War is in your blood.”
+“To defeat an enemy, you must know them.”
+“They’ve earned their victory today.”
+ Hera noting that the loss of her Kalikori to Thrawn was a bit clichéd but heart-warming. The Rebels are definitely going to need to stick together closer than ever before going forward.
Episode Title: Hera’s Heroes
Written by: Nicole Dubuc
Directed by: Mel Zwyer
Image Courtesy: Flickering Myth