Rebels Review: Homecoming

HeraRebels this week was kind of perfect.  Actually, I feel pretty comfortable saying that this was by far my favorite episode since the show started up again in October.  When it becomes clear that Hera’s Phoenix Squadron needs an Imperial carrier, she’s forced to contact her estranged father Cham Syndulla and ask for his help.  Things, however, don’t exactly go as planned.  (This is Star Wars.  When do things ever go as planned?)

Wings of the Master was great but this was the Hera episode I’ve been waiting for since I read A New Dawn.  We finally get those missing pieces of her backstory that, when put together with the rest of Rebels and the books, help us really understand who she is.  This is her time to shine.  Honestly, the only thing that could have made this episode more perfect is if we’d finally gotten to see our Space Married favorites kiss on screen and what we got was almost just as good.  Obviously this episode is a great Hera spotlight but we also get to see a completely different side of Kanan as he both fanboys over the great General Syndulla and is totally nervous about meeting Hera’s father and making a good impression.  (I’m with you, FPJ.  They very obviously have feelings for one another.)  They’re Space Married.  So. Freaking. Space Married.

But back to Hera.  While one could argue that it’s the culmination of everything we’ve seen so far, Homecoming gave us so much about Hera Syndulla that made her feel like a real person with flaws to balance her strengths.  Homecoming (with an assist from last week’s Space Whale episode) helps take her further out of the occasionally restrictive Space Mom trope and really let her shine as her own person.  Homecoming defines Hera in her own terms and not by her relations to other people on the Ghost or by her strained relationship with her father.

It’s impossible to discuss this episode without giving Vanessa Marshall all of the applause.  Hera had been relatively unique in that she spoke with an American accent instead of the usual French one that most of the twi’leks have.  Turns out there was a very good story reason for that and fans got to hear her slide back into a French accent during a very heated argument with her father.  It’s something that undoubtedly rings true with a lot of fans, myself included.  Intense emotions and family have a way of making even the most practiced person slip back into the vocal tendencies of their youth.  Marshall’s performance, especially in that scene, was flawless.

Another part of what really made this episode so strong was that it featured the entire crew.  This has been a show that has reinforced the importance of found family and it tends to be at its best when it consistently shows them working together even when one character takes the spotlight for a little bit.  Even though this was clearly Hera’s time, Ezra, Sabine, and Zeb still had their little moments.  No one was forgotten or conveniently written into a coma.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch this episode another twenty times and hope that maybe this time, Hera and Kanan will actually kiss.  #SpaceMarried

Where’s Hera? (And Sometimes Sabine)

January 4th, 2015 and I’m already tired. Why? Because I am sick of it. Because I’m sick of death of having to constantly fight and ask for female representation in merchandise when there’s absolutely no good reason not to include it. Are you a fan of Star Wars Rebels and love the ENTIRE team? Well good luck finding merchandise that includes Hera or Sabine let alone both.

If this is sounding familiar, it’s because we’ve been through this before. We wondered where Black Widow was in all the Avengers gear after the film came out in May 2012 and then we asked again in August 2014 when Gamora was almost nowhere to be found. (Amy Ratcliffe detailed the latter over at her blog.) At this point, it’s an easy choice to call it a pattern of marketing (especially Disney in this situation) purposefully eliminating female characters from their products. This is hardly also a new battle for Star Wars. Those in the fandom will likely recall the uproar when Daisy Ridley was originally the only new woman in the Episode VII cast and then again when Hera and Sabine were not announced with the first wave of Rebels action figures. (And hey, that’s just the highlights from 2014.) Unfortunately, it looks like it’s time to start up a hashtag for #WheresHera.

Let’s take a look at some of the Star Wars Rebels merchandise out there. Over the weekend, I found myself at the Disney Store, a calendar mall stand, and Jo-Ann Fabrics. While this is not a comprehensive listing of places that sell Star Wars gear, I found the products there to be fairly representative of what I’ve seen other times.

I found this set of kids’ PJs in the Disney Store. Notice who’s missing?IMG_1411I don’t recall seeing anything with either lady on anything in the store but I DID see a girl of perhaps five eagerly grabbing for a Star Wars lunch box. Much of the rest of the items featured Darth Vader, clone troopers, and the Inquisitor. (It took effort not to explain the Inquisitor’s lightsaber to the confused dad holding it.)


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Review: A New Dawn

new dawnIt’s a new day for Star Wars as A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller is released today.  Fans won’t have to wait a month to meet Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla.  But just how good is Miller’s latest foray into the Star Wars universe?  We’re off on an adventure to a remote planet to find out!

Gorse.  Not the best planet in the galaxy to visit but it’s home or at least a place where Kanan Jarrus has a job.  He’s just happy to avoid the Empire’s attention, fly his cargo, and have a couple of drinks at the end of the day.  But there are two newcomers to Gorse will change this: Count Vidian of the Empire and Hera Syndulla, a revolutionary with her own agenda.  Vidian’s plans have the potential to bring more terror and death to the far reaches of the galaxy.  How long can a former Jedi sit back before he must act?

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