Not the Mama! A Case for Hera's Leadership: Alex's Rebels Review

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Out of Darkness

Directed by: Steward Lee

Written by: Kevin Hopps

In this aptly titled episode, it was the mysterious and criminally underused female members of the Ghost crew who finally stepped into the spotlight for 22 minutes. While we’ve had plenty of Ezra- and Kanan-focused episodes and, my favorite episode so far, a pretty solid Zeb-focused episode, Sabine the mysterious Mando and Hera the head-tailed homebody showed us who’s really running things.

As a shameless Star Wars podcast addict, I’ve heard Hera labeled as the “mother” of the group more times than you can shake a head-tail at. It’s the reason I’ve been skipping most of the recent Vanessa Marshall interviews whenever I see one pop up in my feed; while she’s an engaging person to listen to, some hosts cannot help themselves from bringing up the “motherly” factor. I find that insulting. Hera is the leader of the Ghost crew. She is in charge. She finds the missions, she knows what needs to be done, and, yes, cool-guy cowbody-Jedi Kanan Jarrus is her second in command. Hera transcends traditional gender roles as a great leader, not a mother figure. Just because she cares about her crew members doesn’t mean she’s motherly; she’s just, again, a great leader.

When Hera gets a message from her fellow rebel, the elusively code-named Fulcrum, it is she, and she alone, who decides to act on that message. Kanan, Zeb, and Sabine, all insanely effective warriors, stay behind. Only Sabine has the grit to make her case to accompany Hera, but more on that in a bit. Hera usually stays behind because her role in these missions is greater. We find out in this episode that she’s an extremely capable fighter, but her mind is set on the larger plan, the long-term goals that I’ve personally been missing in this show. She only gets off the ship for the important stuff, like meeting Fulcrum.

Sabine, unlike Kanan, refuses to continue complacently accepting mission after mission without first knowing some background information. She makes a great point; while Kanan sees himself more as a weapon to be thrown wherever Hera aims, Sabine believes in the cause. She’s in it for the fight, sure. But she wants to rebel against the Empire. For Sabine, the fighting, the shooting, the kicking and punching, the sneaking around; those are all means to an end. She wants to restore freedom to the galaxy, and she wants to know how it’s going to happen, and how exactly she can help. This draws an interesting contrast with the short-sighted Zeb, who seems to want only two things: revenge on Agent Kallus for destroying his people, and to fight, because he thinks it’s fun. I’m curious to see if the writers decide to continue this foil between Sabine and Zeb.

This was the first episode that I felt was finally addressing my concern that these rebels have no clue what they’re doing. They’re just blowing things up left and right, helping people every once in a while. Now we know there’s a plan, it’s just that Hera’s the only one who’s in on the plan. Even at the close of the episode, Sabine doesn’t get what she wants; she just learns to trust Hera even more, knowing that Hera has great things in store for the rebellion.

This was good episode, stranding our heroes and forcing them to engage in character-enhancing dialogue. I feel like I finally know Sabine, and I finally understand how important Hera is to this crew. She’s not the pilot, she’s not the mother, she’s in charge. That being said, I’m hoping there won’t be many more episodes like this in the future. Every so often live-action TV shows have occasional low-budget episodes known as “bottle episodes,” usually comprised of either flashbacks or a minimal amount of characters on a restrictive set, like Jesse and Walt’s hour-long exchange of dialogue in Breaking Bad’s “The Fly.” This felt like one of those episodes, and it did its job. But I’m ready for the big, multi-episode arcs to kick in; I’m ready for the adventure.

Now, of course, it’s time for the token Fulcrum conspiracy theory. I’ve heard everything from Ahsoka Tano to Bail Organa to Riyo Chuchi (nice, Pete), but my theory’s a little more boring. Knowing this show has gone through great lengths to maintain its own continuity with little reliance on well-known characters (save for quick cameos from Darth Vader and Bail Organa), I’m thinking Fulcrum is Gall Trayvis, the slippery still-faced senator voiced by Brent Spiner who keeps infiltrating the Holonet News. We know he’s coming–Spiner wouldn’t just voice two lines–and it’s going to happen sooner or later. While I’d love for it to be Ackbar or Mon Mothma or anyone we know, I’m bracing for some Gall.


Author: Alex Ward

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