It’s another one-off episode of Rebels this week and, keeping true to the formulaic nature of serialized shows, it decides to focus on a specific character. This week it’s Hera (Vanessa Marshall), as the crew of the Ghost assists with the fledgling rebellion on her homeworld of Ryloth. As with last week, this is another safe, “fun” episode which focuses even less on the march to Yavin or the fates of Ezra and Kanan. Oh, and we finally get some Thrawn.
The nice bit about “Hera’s Heroes” is that it delves into a valuable lesson on not allowing sentiment to override necessity in war. The plot is almost nonsensical: the Empire is not only running rampant over Ryloth, but they’ve also taken over Hera’s childhood home, and her prized family possession is still in there. The object in question is a “Kalikori,” sort of a cross between an innichuk and a family quilt, where each member of the clan adds to it each generation. It’s incredibly important that Hera get it back, because it represents her entire family’s history and legacy and it’d be a shame to let some Imperial administrator get it for his collection.
Wait, what? People across Ryloth and the galaxy are oppressed, starving, and dying, and Hera’s wasting their efforts on a family heirloom? We get sentiment, but that’s kind of dumb in the face of the larger galactic crisis. True enough, Hera’s plan to save a family treasure manages to bite her in the ass when she’s caught sneaking out of her home with it. Hera attempts to play the part of a slave girl and excusing her theft as necessitated by poverty. Twi’ilek women have traditionally been used as slaves in the Star Wars mythos, so it’s impressive when Hera is able to put on an act so quickly.
But, whoops: enter Grand Admiral Thrawn, beloved villain of the old Expanded Universe, who finally gets some meaningful use this episode. And he’s correctly used. Thrawn’s obsession has always been art, believing that you could understand your enemy by understanding its culture. Lars Mikkelsen plays Thrawn on just the right side of creepy, sort of a sci-fi Count Dracula who’s lawful but still plotting to kill you. Thrawn very easily connects the dots that Kalikoris are family heirlooms and that the “slave girl” is obviously Cham’s daughter. Oh, and he also figures that the disguised Stormtrooper in the room is one of her buddies and quickly takes him down as well. Hera’s concern for an artifact very unfortunately turns her into a tool for blackmail.
Fortunately, Hera realizes her error in putting an object–even an important one–above a mission. She actually goes a bit overboard, opting to blow up her entire home during a prisoner exchange in order to distract the Imperials enough to allow everyone to make a getaway. It’s not clear what the Ghost crew accomplished this week other than “not getting caught,” but Hera at least recommits to the fact that her family is her fellow Rebels and not a trinket from her house.
- Chopper’s got some attachment issues too. There’s a downed Y-Wing from the Clone Wars which Cham keeps around as a memento of the Battle of Ryloth. Apparently Chopper came from that Y-Wing and he’s reluctant to leave it. There’s a story there still waiting to be told.
- On the other hand, there’s a very funny moment where Chopper speaks in complete gibberish to distract some Stormtroopers. Chopper always speaks gibberish, so the humor comes in not being able to distinguish his regular speech from whatever he said here.
- We got a fun sequence with Return of the Jedi‘s Scout Troopers, including the initial fight sequence.
- Thrawn let them get away again. That’s twice he’s done it now, with the whole “Oh, I have a bigger plan in mind” mentality. It’s cute, but you can only pull that so many times before he just looks stupid.
- On the other hand, it’s funny how Hera gets over the Kalikori in contrast to the EU’s use of Thrawn. In the novel Tatooine Ghost, for example, Leia is desperate to save an Alderaanean painting from an Imperial who’s implied to be Thrawn. I think there was some plot point about the painting having encoded information, but still: there’s a point where you just stop worry about Thrawn having your stuff.
- Number of trees seen on this show: zero. It’s still zero.
- Turns out the Season 3 premiere is considered a “movie” and this is actually the season’s third episode. Last week was episode 2 and the week before was episode 1. Our bad.