I’m not what you would call a Star Wars fanboy, but I was postivitely squealing when Hera’s natural Twi’lek’s accent slipped out while she was arguing with her father. Vanessa Marshall’s delivery during this scene was absolute perfection; using the anger felt in the dialogue, Marshall pushes it through via a dialect change instead of tonal one. Her voice transforms from the natural sounding “American” voice to one that reflects her father’s–Hera, for a brief moment, is not the strong, independent leader that she earned the right to be. She is the angry, frustrated daughter of a man who fails to believe in her and her cause.
“Homecoming” isn’t a flawless episode of Star Wars Rebels. It’s still hurt by funky dialogue, forced humor, and pretty cringe-worthy exposition. But it is the first real episode of this second season to provide the just the right amount of weight and poignancy to the show’s best character, while blending The Clone Wars past with Rebels present (without feeling shoehorned in), utilizing some kickass visuals to boot. The story, even with its obvious twist, is well executed, and the ending, as cheesy as it was, works quite well for everything that came before it. (I mean, you can’t really fault Star Wars for having cheesy endings.) The accent scene, though, was just a beautifully executed moment of nuance and subtlety, the kind of small, notable moment that Rebels can do, and really needs to do more of.
“Homecoming” involved the Ghost crew heading back out to the planet of Ryloth in order to capture one of the Empire’s large freighters to house rebellion fighter ships quicker and easier. Capturing this freighter will be tricky, though, as not only is it housing Imperial bombers that continually lay siege to the planet below, but the crew will need assistance from Ryloth rebel leader, Cham Syndulla–Hera’s father. (Quick primer: the Ryloth arc in The Clone Wars involved Cham and Mace Windu successfully ridding the planet of the Droid army, but, as Cham mentions, the Republic stuck around way too long, eventually becoming the Empire and essentially the new occupiers.) It’s no wonder, then, why Cham is jaded and self-serving: why bother helping out a bigger cause when one invading force is just going to lead to another? Cham is solely concerned about freeing his people–or, in this case, blowing up the freighter as a symbol of freedom to his people–and could care less about what ever the rebels need.
Hera, as we know, is different. She’s brilliant and level-headed, but also a passionate idealist, who was inspired by her father and the work he and the Republic did to free Ryloth (for that brief amount of time). Cham has no time for such nonsense though, and their falling out was based on their fundamental disagreement on whether Ryloth’s freedom, or the universe’s freedom, is more important. It would have been great to see more of this conflict play out through the episode–the tension between Hera and Cham is both rich and raw–but just hearing Hera’s accent was perfect enough for the moment.
Cham’s betrayal was also perfect, not because it wasn’t predictable (once Cham acquiesces to the rebel’s plan so easily, we know he’s planning his own mission to blow up the ship once he’s on board), but because it was more dramatically shocking. One thing that struck me was seeing how cold and detached Cham was in seeing her daughter again, even after so many years. There wasn’t even a sliver of an emotional connection when they first meet, which makes his traitorous act all the more devastating. To Cham, Hera is no longer his daughter, but just another figure to use towards his ultimate goal. (There’s a bit of a silver lining though: unlike the Ghost crew, who were all stunned, Hera is simply handcuffed to the chair. It’s hard to tell if this was a sympathetic act from Cham, or more of a narrative convenience for the story; Steven Melching script is strong but it tends to skirt over the moments where they should most count.)
Yet it’s that emotional, personal connection that Hera appeals to win over her father in the end. Back in The Clone Wars, Cham defended a village which led to rallying a planet. So, too, does Hera wish to save Ryloth to rally a rebellion. By appealing to that personal, familial connection–the very fact she left because of his lack of faith in her and the bigger picture that she always believed in–Hera changes his mind and perspective. By working with her, she manages not only to snag the ship, but also give Cham his symbolic Imperial-crashed spacecraft as well. And while that comes off as narratively convenient, that’s the point Hera tries to make: in embracing the rebellion as a whole, everyone benefits. Ryloth gets their symbol, the rebels get their ship, and Hera finally gets her father’s respect–all via that ”American” accent that she earned.
- The last few episodes have really been getting the entire crew involved (as opposed to sending off random people to perform random missions). This works way better, makes way more sense, and it’s just more entertaining to see the crew work together as a whole, instead of separate from each other.
- The part where Kanan gets nervous prior to meeting Cham is a cute bit of comedy but it doesn’t lead anywhere beyond that one moment.
- Props to director Bosco Ng for that pretty awesome scene where Kanan and Ezra Force-push/pull each other through those closing bay doors and kick all that Stormtrooper butt. That just looked cool.
- This episode and “Legends of the Lasat” both involved a member of the Ghost crew interacting with an important character… who had two irrelevant characters around them (this also happens in “The Lost Commanders/Relics of the Old Republic,” but those two old clones were somewhat necessary to the plot). I keep thinking how these extra characters just seem like a waste of animation resources.