The Best Moment in Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Hinges on a Single Word

Hera, Rebel hero and the leader of the Ghost crew, learned a valuable lesson in Star Wars Rebels season 2.

One of the most important moments in Star Wars Rebels is hidden in the second-to-last episode of season 2. Hera, the secretive leader of the Ghost crew and the one most devoted to the larger Rebellion, is in danger. The entire crew is surrounded by giant spider monsters that are slowly tearing away at their ship. Ezra, the youngest member of the crew, asks if they’re going to be okay. And Hera says, “Sure,” pitched so that the audience can be sure she doesn’t believe it.

This is important because it’s a culmination of quiet, but critical character development for the Rebel leader. She isn’t the main character of the show, or even in that episode, “The Mystery of Chopper Base.” However, by the end of the episode, she has grown and changed, and it all hinges on that one word.

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Some background: in season two, Hera found a new ship for the Rebellion and learned to fly it. She became the leader of not just the Ghost, but the entire Phoenix Squadron. She’s both commander and head of household for her crew. Season two also explored her weaknesses and her personal issues: when she meets her father again after a long absence, it’s a reunion full of maneuvering and disagreement.

Hera’s “sure” is important because it shows that she’s willing to open up to her team. In season one, she didn’t lie to her crew, but she did obscure things. This was brought to the forefront in “Out of Darkness,” when she carefully doles out only the information she thinks is essential. She teams up with Sabine, but won’t tell Sabine the extent of her plans. That causes conflict between them, showing how Hera’s desire to protect her crew is both a strength and a weakness. She believes that each soldier should only know the parts of the plan that are critical to them, in case of capture by the Empire.

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Some of her development isn’t in the show at all. Hera’s earliest chronological appearance in the galaxy far, far away is the short story “Mercy Mission” by Melissa Scott, part of the Rise of the Empire collection. The Hera in the story isn’t yet concerned about secrecy and trust. In fact, she trusts her team to use her real name even though they’re supposed to be using codenames.

In the novel A New Dawn, set years later, she has already become more independent and secretive. Because of that, she’s a relatively closed-off figure in the novel. She’s seen from Kanan’s perspective, and his view of Hera isn’t wrong in their very early meetings: it’s just incomplete.

By the time of Rebels and “Out of Darkness,” Kanan and Hera are very comfortable with one another, but Hera still disseminates information very carefully among her crew members in order to survive in the war. Hera learns that she has to trust Sabine, but still carefully controls how much information she gives about both her missions and her personal life. Hera doesn’t admit her own worries very often, and when she does, they’re couched in technical or military language.

“Homecoming” was another significant episode for Hera this season, since it reunited her with her father. A freedom fighter from the days of the Clone Wars, her father Cham sees the Rebellion as “outsiders” who can’t be trusted, and thinks that she’s wasting her time on a lost cause. Hera has to assert that she trusts the Rebels, and she has to assert it over and over again in front of a person who is important to her. It turns out that he was planning to betray her from the moment their mission began, but they work together to save the day. Her father’s moral choice and their subsequent reconciliation isn’t an especially deep story, but it is surely an emotional moment for Hera. Does it directly contribute to her loosening up with people? It very well could, since she and Cham clearly felt betrayed by one another acting on their different philosophies.

While “The Mystery of Chopper Base” was actually the penultimate episode in the season, it was essentially the finale for the non-Jedi characters. The entire episode is about the potential danger that might arise if the bond between the teammates frays, and Hera’s particular struggle is in being willing to express what she wants to express. She’s worried about Kanan, but doesn’t want to show it, because she doesn’t feel that it will do any good for the team to hear her worries. Already there’s an interesting assumption going on in her head: she thinks that her admission of weakness will make the whole team weak.

She doesn’t hide her fear well, though. Early in the episode, she sarcastically responds to Kanan’s humor, obviously trying to hide the fact that she is worried about him. Throughout the episode, Hera is trying to hold her feelings in. And by the end of the episode, she’s ready to express them. Kanan has to push her to it, but she’s ready for it—and the turning point is that one word. “Sure.”

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The Ghost is struggling to escape the spider monsters that plague the base. Ezra asks whether they’re safe inside the ship. Hera replies “Sure”—but it’s with a sigh and a tired look, and there’s no indication that anyone else believes it. The fight just gets more desperate, with Rex and Sabine both coming very close to their ends. Hera’s “sure” shows unusual vulnerability for her. She’s willing to fight, but she’s also willing to show her crew that she’s worried—and that’s a huge moment for a character formerly obsessed with secrecy.

Voice actor Vanessa Marshall sells the “sure,” but Hera’s growth is also shown in the end of the episode, when she admits to Kanan how worried she was. She does that without sacrificing any of her effectiveness as a soldier for the Rebellion, either. This isn’t the story of someone becoming softer. Hera does not cross the distinction between softness and vulnerability.

I talked a bit about her conversation with Kanan at the end of the episode in my original review. On my third watch, I’m struck even more by how their few lines to each other express so much about how they feel. Hera’s response to Kanan’s appearance is to give a report about the status of the base. She continues to take care of people. She also continues to put the base up in front of her as a shield against her vulnerability—just like how she constructed a shield around the base to keep the spiders out.

Kanan immediately bypasses that shield, trying to appeal to her emotions. “We’re going to be okay,” he says, getting to the heart of what he thinks her concerns are. He thinks she’s afraid of losing him, and of losing the team, and he’s partially right.

But her response is a misdirection typical of this episode. “You know I know when you’re lying, right?” This line shows how well Hera knows Kanan. She’s familiar with what he sounds like when he tries to put a positive spin on a bad situation, and she’s also comfortable enough to tell him that without feeling like their entire friendship is at risk.

It’s also one last attempt for Hera to shy away from confronting her fears. If she puts the onus on Kanan to tell the truth, maybe she doesn’t have to for just one more moment.

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But of course, a second later, she does. “Whatever we’re facing, I want us to face it together.” Hera chooses to express exactly what she’s thinking, and it brings her and Kanan closer together. She finds power in telling the bold truth, and that’s extremely significant for a character whose season one development was built on hiding information.

Hera’s development in season two was quiet. It would have been nice if there had been even more of it: even the episodes that starred her were a little light on character development. Although she’s ostensibly the leader of the team, most often Kanan and Ezra take the spotlight. Hera could also have been given more opportunities to show her skills as a pilot. We don’t even really see enough of the management she would probably have to do as the leader of Phoenix Squadron. However, by the end of the season, the idea that her personality was in her secrets had really hit home.

I’m torn on that. As a writer, I admire dialogue that conveys a lot of information about a character in a very succinct amount of time, and I think “The Mystery of Chopper Base’ did that well. As a reviewer, I see that the female characters on Rebels—and the non-Jedi characters—don’t get as much of a voice as their male, Jedi counterparts, and I’d like to see that change.

“The Mystery of Chopper Base” subtly, naturally showed how Hera has developed throughout the two seasons, though, and I think that’s a fine example of what the show can do at its best. There was never a moment where it had to be pointed out that Hera learned a lesson. She simply talked to her teammate, and in an episode all about communication and miscommunication, that was the perfect thing for the person who gives the orders on the team to do.

Megan Crouse is a staff writer.

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