Star Wars Rebels: “Hera’s Heroes” Season 3 Episode 4 Review

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There’s a problem with the underlying premise of “Hera’s Heroes.” The plot has the Ghost’s captain risking her team’s lives so she can recover a family heirloom from her home, which is now controlled by the Empire. Everything we’ve seen from Hera going on three seasons now tells us she would never do this. There are a few key things that help soften this error in characterization, however. First, the rest of the crew of the Ghost have gone on personal missions like this with barely more meaning, so it’s heart-warming to see them rally for a mission that their captain really wants to embark on. Second, in last season’s “Homecoming,” we saw how Cham Syndulla’s mere presence affected his daughter, having her slip back into some old habits, such as speaking with her natural accent. Lastly, with the number of successful missions this crew has pulled off, I’m okay with believing they’re getting a little arrogant. Hera does later acknowledge this one things inevitably go awry. Still, this give and take we have to do with the episode’s basic premise is problematic no matter the justifications we might find. It’s a rough note to start out on for what turns out to generally be a pretty great episode.

The big attraction in “Hera’s Heroes,” and deservingly so, is Grand Admiral Thrawn. This being his first episode with a meatier role, as well as his first interaction with any of our main heroes, there was a lot of hype going in. Luckily, Rebels still knows how to deliver where it counts. With Hera and Ezra inside the Twi’leks’ home and things going all too well, that first sight of Thrawn adds a great deal of tension. This cool, calculated foe exhibits compassion to Hera once they meet and she and Ezra are thrown into the brig. Thrawn’s appreciation for culture is key in characterization, making him emotionally tactful toward his enemies. There’s a haunting respect he pays to Hera, calling her his host, while standing in her home with her imprisoned. Thrawn isn’t the force of sheer brawn and power that Darth Vader is, he’s the enemy that picks apart his foes from the inside. Lars Mikkelson of course knocks it out of the park, ensuring we hang onto every one of Thrawn’s slowly delivered words.

But of course, this capture is hardly the end, and Thrawn has the foresight to watch the prisoner exchange from afar. Hera and Chopper concoct a plan to get everyone out alive that poignantly involves destroying the Syndulla home. The rebels escape and live to fight another day, but mostly because Thrawn allows them to. After this initial meet-and-greet, I can’t wait to see how this conflict evolves. Grade: B+

Some Other Notes:

  • With the Inquisitors mostly being villains for Kanan and Ezra, Agent Kallus most likely defecting to the Rebellion eventually, and Darth Vader mostly there to fight Ahsoka, it’s fresh to have Thrawn igniting such an immediate and personal rivalry with Hera this early into his run as season three’s lead villain.
  • Chopper had a lot of nice moments in this episode. This was one of the few times in the series that I genuinely bought that Hera and Chopper had a longstanding history.

By Matt Dougherty

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