Tag Archives: Hera Syndulla

On Rebels, Family Shopping Trip Turns Into Murder Spree

Quick note: this is not a full review. If you want that, that’s totally fine, and we can help you out. But here we take some aspects of the show for further discussion. And as always, SPOILERS from here on out.

(Sorry, I really couldn’t resist the headline. This isn’t an anti-rebellion themed review, honest!)

Constant losses amongst Phoenix squadron in this week’s episode of Rebels, entitled Homecoming, can only mean one thing: road trip! Yes, our Rebels head to Ryloth, Hera’s home planet, and meet up with Hera’s father, Cham Syndulla. Good times were had, stories shared, Kanan met the in-laws (well, half of them) and, oh, stole a big honking Imperial hangar ship. Like you do. Then they went for ice cream.

‘You WILL add an extra scoop. Free of charge.’

This episode presented an intriguing question, one which was slightly buried underneath all the family drama: what takes precedence, the small war or the large one?

The Large War

By large war, I mean saving your resources, sometimes to the detriment of local rebel cells, so that you may fight on a much wider front – and concentrate on no specific one. Hera, of course, represents this ideology – and is the one that wins out. Which is a little bit unfair, since we’ve had a series and a half to explore her side of the argument, and is the side that our Spectres tend to favour (but ever then they rarely left Lothal in the first series). This is in contrast to Cham Syndulla, Hera’s father*, who has less than half an hour (though Ezra does briefly share this outlook in the first half of the first series, and Kanan briefly in the premiere of the second series before both get a pep talk and say ‘eh, whatever. Let’s shoot stuff’).

*Or ‘papa’ if you are a) French/of French descent, b) a Twi’lek or c) a horribly pretentious Brit

This form of warfare has many benefits: you can stretch your enemy’s resources thin and force them to expend more effort and energy to perform various tasks. For example, during the Napoleonic Wars Spain and Portugal were mostly occupied by French forces who plundered, raped and murdered many of the native people. This was, I think we can all agree, not a good idea. And so the locals rose up and formed rebel cells, called ‘guerrilleros’, who attacked supply lines, performed hit and run raids on camps at night, tortured and occasionally made very public examples of their prisoners (which I don’t condone, but can understand). For an answer, the French dedicated more troops to the protection of supplies, taking them away from the front line, and came down harder on the populace … which only generated more guerrilleros.

It also has the advantage of propagating, without much effort on your part, propaganda for your cause. Simply put, the more visible you are to the wider galaxy, the better known you will be. The better known you are means more potential recruits. Even if they don’t join, they will still have ears (if their species’ biology permits) to hear and hopefully evaluate your reasoning and help – not by arms, but in a quiet way – your cause by not aiding the enemy, or sheltering you in your time of need or simply just cheering when you hear some old guy in a hood is dead. Because nothing beats tyranny better than having the courage to speak your mind when your voice can be heard by those who’ll silence it.

'I beg to differ.'

‘I beg to differ.’

And being a smaller force does afford you more places to hide, and can make you much harder to hit, since you’re not wholly tied to one small area of operation (sorry, Alderaan). And though the entire galaxy is essentially hostile to you, you can quickly become safe because you can masquerade as civilians and simply blend in … with the other civilians being horribly repressed by the government. Bit of a trade off.

These are just a few examples, and there are downsides, too: your own forces can be stretched thin, and one serious defeat can knock you out of the game entirely. It also means your victories are going to be minor as well – and we actually see this in the episode itself. Cham’s goal was to destroy the ship, I remind you, so that the people of Ryloth can see that victory, know that there is reason to hope and may rise up. Any other episode of Rebels and this would have been the Spectre’s goal, too. Not today. Instead they want a place to hide. A place for supplies, rest, maybe watch space netflix (holoflix? Please let this be a thing) and generally ensure that they live another day. Not exactly heroic but still very important. And it’s generally a good goal. It’s like that old joke: ‘I don’t have to outrun the lion. I just have to outrun you’. If all else fails, if the Death Stars aren’t destroyed, if the rebellion’s fighting force fizzles out and their armies have about as much bite as a toothless granny, then that desire to survive and live on just might see them to victory. Because they may not have to beat the Empire, they just have to outlive it.

Still, it is a lot more fun to watch the Death Star blow up rather than watch Hera and our Spectres grow old.

The Small War

I usually illustrate my point with a photo, but this is literally the only photo that doesn’t involve betrayal.

That said, there is some merit to fighting the small war (represented by Cham Syndulla’s crusade), to fighting for your home planet – and nothing more. This is somewhat lost in the episode, what with Cham’s becoming ever-so-slightly unhinged and inevitably betraying Hera.

I have been waiting SO long to use this!

I have been waiting SO long to use this!

I was a little miffed at this, mainly because the show implied (though never outright stated) that this was largely a bad idea. This is a common trope in storytelling, called ‘villain has a point‘, wherein the baddie brings up a valid idea, but it is then dismissed simply because the villain thought of it.

Let’s ignore that, because there are some solid reasons for waging the small war. The first is a similar fallacy that Cham buys into – and to a certain extent the Spectres also: false equivalence. This states that you can focus your efforts on A, or you can help B. You can’t do both. As the episode aptly shows towards the end, you really can help both parties – and that’s because people can generally care for more than one thing at a time, which is something this fallacy tends to forget.

Following that line of thought, it’s entirely natural and understandable for people to care more about their home than some far off place. The problems start when a person only cares about their home and not the far off places, as Cham perfectly illustrates, and which our Spectres, Numa and Unremarkable Background Twi’lek* admirably provide a counter example. That same love of your home can provide a very strong will to fight, one which can often eclipse ideological fervor.

(*Whose character went down in Star Wars lore as the one responsible for the famous joke:

A: Knock knock.
B: ‘Who’s there?’
A: Unremarkable Background Twi’lek.
B: ‘Unremarkable Background Twi’lek who?’
A: Exactly.

It never really caught on.)

But there are military benefits to fighting locally, too. Because it is your own home, you will naturally know it better than an invading force. And you are much more likely to come across aid and friendly civilians than not. Because the war front is necessarily much smaller than a galaxy-wide conflict, you’re better able to develop and concentrate your forces in larger numbers. And though that battles themselves may be smaller, that doesn’t mean they’re any less necessary or important. And the more of a nuisance that little local cell becomes, the more resources the enemy pours into it. Just look at Lothal – well, you can’t, because all those Star Destroyers are in the way. Due to the actions of one small yet effective splinter cell the Empire has poured a significant portion of its military to on fairly insignificant target.

But, of course, all this does paint a rather large target on your back. It being your home planet, you may be rather unwilling to leave it, to such an extent that even your planet, and not just you, becomes the target (sorry, Alderaan).

So, which is better? As stated, I personally believe each is a worthy fight. Different people can focus on different issues, just as long as they don’t impede or thwart the others’ attempts. If only Cham had learned that.

Michael Dare

On Rebels, Hera Gets the Episode She Deserves, and the One We Need

Hera Syndulla takes flight in the lesser known but beautiful B-Wing in this week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels, Wings of the Master, and I seriously do not know which of those things I’m more excited about.

Pictured: my brain

The winner, of course, has to be Hera – star of, if I’m not mistaken or currently having an aneurysm, the first episode centred around one of the female Spectres. But before I discuss the leader of the crew (don’t let that numbering of Spectre-2 deceive you), I’d like to discuss the second in command, Spectre-1. I think I may be having an aneurysm, after all.


In the beginning of the second season, Kanan very vocally resisted playing an active role in the larger rebellion, preferring to just help people here and there. This, for me, is the most memorable moment in his characterisation, and as such it bears repeating, because it encapsulates so much of what makes him tick.  A former Jedi who’s still Jedi-ing, who fought in a galaxy-spanning war but doesn’t want to do so again – yet, you know, still totally does. And in this episode he’s at it again, helping people, the hypocrite. Continue reading


A Rebel by Any Other Name…

A Rebel by Any Other Name…

Since the inception of Star Wars, names have been significant to the saga’s story lines.  From subtle hints about origins to conveying more obvious character qualities, the names, and changes in names, are selected to expedite the audience’s understanding of the storyteller’s vision.  For example, Deak Starkiller from the early story treatments became Luke Skywalker in the final script — a name that maintains the potential power of the character without the burden of the negative connotation inherent in the word killer.  Han Solo’s surname gave us immediate insight into the smuggler as a loner who relied on himself for his success (or failure).  During the three years between the releases of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, many fans made a connection (although, in this case, an unintended connection) to Darth Vader’s claim to be the father of Luke Skywalker based on an interpretation of Darth Vader as Dark Father, based on variations of the word father in German and Dutch.  Star Wars Rebels continues in this rich heritage of nomenclature with the names of its characters, both heroes and villains.

Gall Trayvis
In a recent episode of Star Wars Rebels, the self-proclaimed “SenaVision-of-Hope-Gall-Trayvistor-in-Exile” betrayed our heroic band of Rebels by luring them into a trap on Lothal.  When his betrayal was fully revealed in “Vision of Hope”, what was expected by some as far back as “Rise of the Old Masters” was proven: Gall Trayvis was an agent of the Empire, tasked with drawing out insurgents who set themselves against the tyrannical government.

As the closing credits of “Vision of Hope” rolled, I noticed something about Brent Spiner’s character that I had failed to realize previously — the spelling of his name included part of the word betrayal.  Gall Trayvis had the gall to pretend to fight the Emperor’s tyranny while intentionally bringing the wrath of the Empire down upon small cells on various systems.  His bitter deception had been foreshadowed in his own name, a hint to observant fans of the new animated series.  After realizing this, I wondered what other clues the storytellers have hidden in their characters’ names.  Below are my thoughts about the names of the members of the crew of the Ghost in Star Wars Rebels.

Hera Syndulla
This one seems rather obvious to fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, since Cham Syndulla was a freedom fighter of the Twi’lek people in the opening episodes of the third seasonStar-wars-rebels-hera of the series.  Most fans quickly made that connection, amplified by unconfirmed reports that she is the niece of the famed hero of Ryloth.  But perhaps more interesting to her role in Rebels is her namesake, the Greek goddess Hera.

Hera is the goddess of love and marriage in Greek mythology.  She is seen as the protector of the home and family, especially in nurturing and providing for children under their mother’s care.  As the captain and pilot of the Ghost, Hera manages her “household” by seeing to their care and growth while under her protective wing.  Early in the series, Hera convinces Kanan of his responsibility to train Ezra, repeatedly reminding him of his need to begin the boy’s training.

Hera is the mother figure of the crew of the Ghost.  She will both protect and push her “family” to rise to reach their potential, as individuals and as a collective unit.

Sabine Wren
The young, artistic explosives-expert of the Ghost’s crew shares her surname with a character in the upcoming Star Wars sequel, The Force Awakens, as well as with a Cularin senator whose history is checkered with accusations of CIS sympathies as well as incidents of graffiti on warehouse walls (see Senator Levina Wren).  Whether Sabine has any coSabine_Panel_Shot.pngnnection to either of these characters is unknown at this point, but with the young Mandalorian’s penchant for artistic explosions and at a hint that her family was negatively affected by the Empire, some significant connection is plausible.

Her given name, however, is rife with meaning — both historically and colloquially.  The Sabine women of Italy are credited with aiding the creation of ancient Rome according to folklore passed down over the centuries.  Long before the Sabines were subdued by Roman forces in the third century, the fortitude of Sabine women was recognized and prized, first by the republic and later by the empire.  In certain circles, the term Sabine is used to describe a lovable girl who is artistically gifted, quick-witted with a tendency towards biting humor, and fiercely loyal.  While a “Sabine” may be difficult to get to know, she is worth making the effort.

With these characteristics, it is little wonder that Sabine has already captured the heart of young Ezra Bridger.  However, Sabine is certainly not cast as a simple love interest, but as the very heart of the crew.  Her fiery disposition pumps energy through the rest of  the team.

Ezra Bridger
In a recent interview with Jimmy Mac, writer Henry Gilroy somewhat inadvertently voiced what many already felt to be the case in Rebels, that this series which seems to be told from Ezra’s perspective, bridges the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (consult RebelForce Radio “2.20.2015”).  Ezra, whose birth coincided with the birth of the Empire (Star Wars Rebels “Empire Day”), provides a new generation of Star Wars fans with insight into the times and circumstances of the original trilogy characters as he introduces Luke, Han, and Leia to the fourth generation of viewers just in time for the seventh movie in the ongoing saga.Erza-Star-Wars-Rebels

The selection of Ezra as his common name may stem from the Biblical character who is credited by students of the Old Testament with restoring the Israelites to their former status by reminding them of the original covenant they had with their God through Moses after they had fallen into captivity because of their failure to faithfully adhere to the statutes of the Law as handed down at Mount Sinai.  The Biblical Ezra called his people to return to the Law of Moses by teaching publicly, reorganizing the canonical books and psalms into their commonly accepted order, and possibly even penning the books of 1 & 2 Chronicles as a history of the nation of Israel with a focus on faithfulness with the intention of preparing the people for the culmination of their history through the long-awaited Messiah who would usher in a new hope for the world through the people of Israel.

As such, Ezra connects Star Wars of the past, both the original and prequel trilogies, with Star Wars of the future in a story that centers on the hope for a brighter future based on the promises and prophecies of the “Messianic Age” of the Force.

C1-10P (a.k.a. “Chopper”)
Human Nature
To put it briefly, and bluntly, Chopper is the “cut-up” of the crew of the Ghost.  As Dave Filoni star-wars-rebels-chopper-viddescribed him when introducing him on StarWars.com, “If Artoo is the family dog, Chopper is the cat.”  Although an essential member of the team, Chopper’s actions at any given moment is solely focused on doing things his way.  His muffled murmurings are patently snide, likely filled with cut-downs, and eschew an amiable grumpiness in the ‘droid who serves the group in a way that best pleases him (perhaps to satisfy some deeply-ingrained sense of self-importance — something unexpected in a unit designed to serve its creators).  In a way, Chopper continues in the Star Wars tradition of making ‘droids the most human of the characters of the saga).  Maybe most of us are more like Chopper than any other single member of the crew.

Garazeb Orrelios
I have absolutely no idea where Zeb gets his name.  His is the least recognizable name among zeb-orrelios-star-wars-rebelsall the characters in the series.  Zeb embodies strength and loyalty combined with a childish mindset that enables him to connect with Ezra like a big brother in the “family unit” on board the Ghost.  Not known for his intellectual aptitude, Zeb is at his best when bashing Stormtroopers or teasing his mates.  A combination of Wookiee and gecko, his agile strength provides Rebels with a unique character that rounds out this small band of freedom fighters.

Kanan Jarrus (Caleb Dume)
Kanan’s name may have the most complex and intriguing origin of all members of the crew of the Ghost.  First introduced to Star Wars fans as a padawan in the Jedi Temple before the Purge, Kanan was formerly known as Caleb Dume (see A New Dawn).

Another name derived from Hebrew Scriptures, Caleb was one of twelve spies sent into the land of Canaan to determine how the Israelites would conquer the land God had promised to them through Abraham.  Of all the spies, only Caleb and Joshua returned with an optimistic appraisal of their situation.  Even against seemingly insurmountable odds, with fortified cities and giant inhabitants, Caleb tried to rally the army of Israel to invade the land promised to them, saying, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it,” (Numbers 13.30).  However, due to the people’s lack of faith, God prevented Israel from entering the land for another forty years.  In the end, of all the soldiers of that generation, only Caleb and Joshua were permitted to enter the land when those forty years of wandering ended.  At the age of eighty-five, Caleb led the attack on the city of Hebron, trusting that even in his old age, God would give him the strength to conquer the giants before him.

Even as a padawan, Caleb embodied the same “can do” attitude of his namesake, recognizing the possibility of using the Jedi homecoming signal to warn Jedi away from Coruscant in case of immanent danger.  Once Order 66 had been issued, Obi-Wan Kenobi put Caleb’s idea to use, sending out the signal to all Jedi about their betrayal by the Emperor and chc55beedb16e8cf5a003b3f39be19c413arging them to conceal themselves in exile for an unspecified period of time.  It was at that point that Caleb became Kanan (a homophonous reference to the land the Biblical Caleb was assured he could conquer with supernatural assistance).

Kanan spent the years after Order 66 distancing himself from the Jedi Order, not merely assuming a new name, but casting off many lingering vestiges of the Jedi Code and avoiding using his Force abilities, and specifically his lightsaber, for fear of drawing attention to himself.  When Star Wars Rebels premiered with the hour-long televised movie, Spark of Rebellion, Kanan revealed himself as a Jedi by brandishing his lightsaber in the battle to release a group of Wookiees from slavery and allowing his crew mates to escape the Imperial forces converging on their position.  His reemergence as a Jedi permitted Yoda to “see” him again, as the Jedi Master stated while Kanan meditated in the Temple on Lothal (“Path of the Jedi”).

As the Biblical Caleb was of the princely tribe of Judah, a tribe from which the greatest leaders of Israel would arise, Kanan is recognized by his team as a leader, especially by Hera herself, who conveyed her trust in his leadership when she confided in Sabine that “Kanan…he knows what he’s doing,” (“Out of Darkness”).  Kanan’s renewed trust in the Force that moved him to take on a padawan, even while doubting his own qualifications for doing so, reveal himself to the Empire’s agents set on destruction of the Jedi, and self-sacrifice in staving off the Inquisitor and Tarkin to enable his friends’ escape (“Call to Action”) will eventually result in Kanan taking the lead in allying his team with other Rebel cells, bringing about the emergence of the Rebel Alliance.

Kanan emulates the help this small band of Rebels needs if they are going to survive against the growing Galactic Empire and eventually bring about the fall of Palpatine’s tyrannical rule.

…Would Smell as Free.
While there are other names in this animated series that suit their characters well — Kallus is truly a calloused individual and it seems that much of the rebellion hinges on the mysterious character known as “Fulcrum” — the evidence that the names of the main heroes of this series fit their personas is a testimony to the depth of writing present in the conceptualization and realization of this addition to Star Wars canon.  I, for one, am looking forward to more tributes to the mythos of Star Wars which has lent to its longevity throughout my lifetime.  Certainly, “Star Wars is forever!”

A New Dawn with Vanessa Marshall – SWBW #33

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If you could get any guest to help review the novel A New Dawn, who would it be? Vanessa Marshall, right?

We did that.

Vanessa Marshall, the voice of Hera Syndulla, joined us for the entire episode and we were crazy excited.

  • NYCC. We talk with Vanessa about her experience at New York Comic Con and give our own favorite moments.
  • A new Kanan comic is coming from Marvel! And will we ever get Teresa’s wanted Wicket/Kitwarr team-up comic?
  • The Emperor’s new name. We know it and we talk about it.
  • We save the best for last. A full review of the novel A New Dawn with Star Wars Rebels actor, Vanessa Marshall!

Hera Syndulla

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Dragon Con 2014: Goodbye Clone Wars, Hello Rebels


This past weekend saw Dragon Con come and go. Fans of everything from Doctor Who to Harry Potter met in Atlanta to costume, hang with friends, and generally geek-out over all their favorite things. For us Star Wars fans though, there was one place at the con we just had to congregate. The Star Wars Track room at the Marriott. This is where you could find all the great Star Wars panels and a room packed full of like-minded fans.

One such panel took place on Friday and was titled “Goodbye Clone Wars, Hello Rebels.” The title kind of gives you an idea what the panel was all about. Fans from a number of different Star Wars fan sites were on the panel to discuss the passing of the animated series The Clone Wars and also to welcome the new animated series coming in October, Star Wars Rebels.

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