"Star Wars: Rebels" Episode 5 – Hera's Heroes (8 out of 10) – Based on characters and situations created by George Lucas; Directed by Mel Zwyer; Written by Nicole Dubuc; Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Taylor Gray, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, David Oyelowo; Guest Starring Lars Mikkelson. Rated TV-Y7, Airs on Disney XD 10/15/16.
This review will contain mild spoilers.
"Hera's Heroes" brings us to Ryloth and back into the machinations of Hera's father, Cham Syndulla. Clearly, there's been some sort of time-jump between the last episode to this because we start in media res, with Hera and half the crew of the Ghost pitching in to help the Twi'leks.
This episode offers some red meat for Hera's backstory and adds in details about the culture of the Twi'leks. There is still an amount of strain between Hera and her father in their relationship, but, for the most part, they're acting a whole lot more chummy in this episode than I would have expected, given the nature of their last meeting.
The central story of the episode is the fact that the old Syndulla home is occupied by the Imperials, using it as their base of operation. This is a recurring motif in war films, from "A Bridge Too Far" to "Gone With the Wind." It's something that happens in war time, but also makes for dramatic stories when our hero's homes are the ones being occupied.
Hera learns that her family's Kalikori has been left in the family home and she aims to get it back. In the Twi'lek culture, Kalikori's are family heirlooms, works of art that track the family history and each new generation adds to it, adding their own name when they receive it. It was the last thing she had of her mother's. That her father would leave it to the Imperials infuriates her. In fact, it's a kid-friendly version of the watch situation for Butch in "Pulp Fiction."
But instead of John Travolta's Vincent Vega waiting in the house, we have the Imperials waiting for Hera. Also Thrawn.
Obviously, Hera, leading Ezra and Chopper into the fray, doesn't know this. Otherwise, they might have thought twice about infiltrating the complex.
But infiltrate they do, and that offers us one of my favorite standout moments in the episode. Along the wall of the Syndulla family yard is a downed Y-Wing. This was the stork that brought Chopper to Hera and he still has PTSD like issues with it. It's bizarre to me how capable they are at characterizing a droid like Chopper and show us glimpses of his inner life, even when that inner life is nothing but a number of digits and strings of code.
The other standout scene of the episode is the confrontation between Hera and Thrawn. I don't want to give away too much, but it's handled perfectly for the character of Thrawn. They built this episode around this particular confrontation and show that any other Imperial officer in the fleet would have come to a different, most likely wrong, conclusion. Thrawn is being used sparingly but in all the right ways. This episode is almost tailor made to show off how great he is and how scared we should be for the future.
Which is fine by me.
In the meantime, there are some great fights and chases, tense suspense scenes, and a new look into Twi'lek culture that rounds out our look at one of the most prevalent non-Human species in a galaxy far, far away.
This episode worked for me on an episode level and worked for me in its quest to build up the arc of the season. They seem to be smoothly juggling every ball that's in the air this season and I can't wait to see them start tossing the chainsaws in to replace the balls. I'm giving "Hera's Heroes" an 8 out of 10.
Season 3 Scorecard:
- Steps Into Shadow (8 of 10)
- Holocrons of Fate (9 of 10)
- The Antilles Extraction (8 of 10)
- Hera's Heroes (8 of 10)
Season Average: 8.25 out of 10