It’s no coincidence that the episode that stars Hera and gives Thrawn his first real spotlight is my favorite of the season so far.
Hera’s Heroes brings the crew of the Ghost back to Imperial-occupied Ryloth. They’re able to help Cham out of a tight corner but Hera is dismayed to learn that a priceless family heirloom has been left behind when the Empire took over the Tann province. When she decides to undertake a personal mission to retrieve it, everyone offers to help. It’d be a challenging yet easy mission if any other commander but Grand Admiral Thrawn was there and that’s where the trouble begins.
For months now, we’ve been hearing Timothy Zahn say that he feels really good about how the Rebels is using Thrawn. Some naysayers have protested that he’s just saying that because Disney’s making him et cetera et cetera. After this episode? There is no doubt in my mind that this is the Grand Admiral Thrawn on the screen. Everything about his encounter with Hera as he systematically deduced her identity (and Ezra’s) was note perfect and I literally had chills running down my spine on multiple occasions. This is absolutely the Thrawn from the books that we know and love from his excellent manners to his interest in art to his ability to be downright terrifying if you cross him.
This was also a great spotlight episode for Hera. Often, our dear Captain Syndulla has to take a backseat to the rest of her crew. Every time we learn more tidbits about her past, the more intrigued I am. There’s something fascinating about how Hera grew up as both the daughter of a prominent local hero and as someone who was forged by war. She’s so dedicated to the Rebellion that she clearly feels guilty about involving her crew with a personal mission even though she’s helped each of them many times in the past. Add that to how easily she can slip in and out of the Ryloth accent as the mission requires it and, well, it’s getting harder and harder for people to just define her as ‘Space Mom.’ It also certainly says something that Cham’s so easily willing to trade himself for Hera not just because she’s his daughter but also because he knows the Ryloth Rebellion would be in very capable hands.
Kevin Kiner’s work continues to be incredible and we do not deserve him. Every time I think his score can’t possibly get better, he surprises us. Thrawn’s theme is sinister yet not overtly so. The use of the percussion is just fantastic. Rebels is damn lucky to have him.
A few assorted side notes:
- Even Chopper has a tragic backstory! His moment with the Y-Wing was sad and almost (dare I say it) adorable.
- Any day that Chopper gets to blow things up is a good day.
- I’m digging Sabine’s new look more and more with each episode.
- The real tragedy of the episode is that Ezra doesn’t even get to keep the Scout trooper helmet.
- Thrawn pronounces Hera’s name slightly differently than we usually hear. I’m wondering if that’s just his accent or a subtle callback to how twi’lek names were pronounced in Legends.
Overall, Hera’s Heroes is a fantastic episode written by new writer Nicole Dubuc. Not content with just putting Thrawn on the screen, Rebels is definitely bringing their A-game this season and I am happily along for the ride.