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Star Wars Rebels

Hera's Heroes (Star Wars Rebels - S03E05) - Television

Series: Star Wars Rebels

Title: Hera's Heroes

Season: Three

Episode: 5

Original Air Date: October 15, 2016

Runtime: 22 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Mike Taber; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

“War is in your blood. I study the art of war. Work to perfect it. But you, you were forged by it.” SPOILERS. 

Well that escalated quickly. For me, season three of Star Wars Rebels hasn’t gotten off to the best start. The first two episodes of the season were good but uneven entries and last week’s episode left a lot to be desired. “Hera’s Heroes” offered up a course correction by shining the spotlight on Hera and Grand Admiral Thrawn. The episode began with a return to planet Ryloth. Despite the Imperial’s horrible aim, I enjoyed this scene. It was a fun way to begin the episode. In particular, the moment when the biker scout who pulled off a great move and actually got inside the Ghost realized his mistake made me laugh more than Rebels has in a long time. It was also great to finally see the biker scout armor in Rebels. This is the first time we’ve visited the surface of Ryloth since Star Wars: The Clone Wars ended, and this might be the most obvious reminder yet of Rebels’ disappointingly simplistic animation style. The sparse environments, limited number of characters, and lack of detail was a stark reminder of Rebels’ clearly limited budget. I’ve begun to grow accustomed to Rebels’ animation style, but seeing a world that had been thoroughly explored in The Clone Wars reminded me of its limitations and failings. Hera reunited with her father Cham Syndulla who informed her that the Empire had taken control of the Tan province and were now using her childhood home as their headquarters. Cham wasn’t even able to save the Kalikori, a priceless family heirloom and Twi’lek tradition. The Kalikori is similar to a family quilt. It’s passed down from generation to generation and each family member adds something to it. Hera decided that she had to retrieve the Kalikori because it was important to her mother. Cham, Numa, Gobi, and the rest of the crew insisted on helping her. One small complaint I had was it seemed out of character for the level headed Hera to risk the lives of two rebel cells to retrieve the Star Wars version of a family quilt. Although it is realistic that even someone as level headed as Hera would make a rash decision when family is involved. Perhaps it would’ve been better if this mission was just Hera and her father.

   

Ezra and Hera went undercover as a biker scout and a prisoner respectively while the rest of the rebels created a diversion. Apparently, Chopper had already been sent in undercover but was distracted by a downed Y-Wing. Hera explained that was the ship she pulled Chopper out of during the Clone Wars. I’ll talk more about Chopper’s role in this episode later in the review. This episode also introduced us to my favorite new Rebels character, the Dave Filoni Stormtrooper. Filoni has voiced characters before (Embo, almost certainly Chopper), but they’ve always been very heavily processed so this was a fun cameo. In case you didn’t catch it, he voiced one of the Stormtroopers Chopper tried to distract. Hera retrieved the Kalikori but encountered Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn’s interrogation of Hera was the highlight of the episode and is among the best scenes Rebels has produced. Like many of you, I was concerned that Rebels could bungle its portrayal of Grand Admiral Thrawn. However, I think this scene demonstrates that the writers understand exactly who Thrawn is. The Kalikori was an effective way to demonstrate Thrawn’s obsession with art and how he uses it to understand and identify his enemies. Thrawn said, “To defeat an enemy you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art.” That line of dialogue was quintessential Thrawn and Mikkelsen’s delivery was perfect. Speaking of Mikkelsen, I think he’s the perfect voice actor to bring Thrawn to life and his performance in that scene was spectacular. I also wanted to mention Kevin Kiner’s phenomenal score. Mikkelsen’s performance coupled with the slow build of the music created a sense of atmosphere and dread that was perfect for this scene. I love all the music Kiner has been creating for Thrawn. Like the character himself, the music Kiner has created for Thrawn is unique and distinct from what has come before. Thrawn’s music has its own identity, fitting for a man so obsessed with art. Thrawn’s deconstruction of Hera’s personality and past made it clear to both her and the audience that Thrawn is a different kind of Imperial. He was even able to identify Ezra because, “rebels always have friends rushing to the rescue.” Thrawn’s interrogation of Hera demonstrates the full potential of bringing Thrawn into the series and that the writers understand his character.

   

Thrawn assured Hera that he would take care of the Kalikori, but Hera said she wished she had destroyed it. Thrawn said he was surprised Hera’s history meant so little to her that she would destroy it. This exchange set up Hera’s eventual decision to destroy her childhood home later in the episode. In a way, Thrawn pushed her to that decision once again demonstrating Thrawn’s use of psychological warfare. When the Imperial officer Slavin suggested that they destroy the Kalikori, Thrawn’s outburst showed there is more boiling beneath Thrawn’s calm exterior. Thrawn left Slavin in charge and said he had to attend to an experiment. Initially, I thought this was fairly weak way to have Thrawn leave so he wouldn’t be defeated, but it made perfect sense by the end of the episode. This was Thrawn’s experiment. He just wanted to see how Hera would react. Cham agreed to surrender to Slavin so Hera wouldn’t be killed. Which brings me to my one major complaint about this episode: Chopper. No, it’s not my usual complaint about Chopper’s personality. Thankfully, Chopper has actually been toned down this season. Chopper’s role as a Deus ex machina is what bothered me. Whenever the plot necessitated it, Chopper was there to solve whatever problem the rebels were having. Of course, there are more egregious examples but Chopper’s role in this episode still bothered me. Hera made the decision to destroy her childhood home during the prisoner exchange, which allowed the rebels to escape. Thrawn once again allowed the rebels to escape. It has already been established that Thrawn is playing the long game and I loved that this entire episode was his experiment to see how Hera would react. I’ve spent most of this review taking about Thrawn, but this was also a great spotlight for Hera. While Sabine failed to carry the previous episode, Hera commanded the spotlight this week. This episode once again demonstrated that Hera is among the series strongest characters when she isn’t relegated to background. Overall, “Hera’s Heroes” was an excellent addition to Star Wars Rebels.

What Worked

  • Thrawn and Mikkelsen’s Performance
  • The Interrogation Scene and Kevin Kiner’s Score
  • Great Spotlight for Hera

What Didn’t Work

  • Deus Ex Chopper
External Links:
Added: October 20, 2016
Category: Star Wars Rebels
Reviewer: Mike Taber
Score:
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