*Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for the Star Wars Rebels episode “Homecoming.”
The dynamic between fathers and their children has often been at the heart of mythology, and Star Wars (perhaps our greatest modern myth) has continued this tradition from its start. From Vader and Luke to Han and Ben (aka Kylo Ren), the interplay between forbearers and their offspring has often driven the story and created the saga’s most powerful moments. “Homecoming,” this week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels, adds to that tapestry by bringing together the father and daughter duo of Cham and Hera Syndulla.
First introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Cham Syndulla has become something of a legend (both in-universe and out) and even played a major part in one of the new canon novels, Lords of the Sith. Cham’s legacy is such that when the character names for Rebels were first revealed, there was palpable excitement regarding Hera’s surname and many hoped that a connection existed between the two characters that would be further explored as the show progressed. “Homecoming” fulfills that very hope.
A finely crafted and concise episode, “Homecoming” presents its conflict and possible resolution early in the episode. Specifically, Phoenix Squadron is in dire need of a more permanent base. Its commander, the venerable Jun Sato suggests a radical solution to the problem. Hera’s homeworld of Ryloth is orbited by an Imperial Quasar Fire-class fighter carrier that could potentially meet the rebels’ need. If stolen, the carrier would also be a crippling loss for the Imperial forces in that sector. The plan’s rewards are determined to outweigh its risks, so Hera volunteers to make contact with the leader of the Twi’lek rebels–her estranged father.
Arriving in a re-purposed Nu-class Republic attack shuttle, the elder Syndulla brings along him a pair of fellow The Clone Wars veterans: Gobi Glie and Numa. The trio is willing to help Phoenix Squadron rid their planet of the Imperial carrier, but instead of stealing it, want to destroy it in Ryloth’s atmosphere to inspire the Twi’lek rebels below. Ultimately, Cham acquiesces and seemingly agrees to support Hera’s plan, but the seeds of a later betrayal have been planted–and not that far below the surface.
Cham Syndulla is an imposing figure, and his willingness to give up on the destruction of the carrier probably should have been a bit of a red flag. But throughout much of “Homecoming,” the other characters are a bit awestruck by him. Kanan’s response to him is especially telling. The normally confident Jedi is a barely-contained bundle of nerves when he first meets Cham and projects all the awkwardness of a boy meeting his girlfriend’s father for the first time. He clears his throat continually, snaps at Ezra, and introduces his crewmates by mixing up their names and forgetting Chopper entirely. Curiously, no one except Chopper takes umbrage at this. Perhaps they are as starstruck as Kanan is.
Hera’s response to her father is quite different. She is respectful but distant, and after she reveals a bit of her past to Ezra, her reasons for this restrained formality become quite clear and understandable. In essence, the death of Hera’s mother at the hands of the Empire caused Cham to focus his attention on expelling the invaders from his homeworld, so much so that he neglected his daughter. And when she came of age, Hera left Ryloth to join the Rebellion. Now, both Syndullas feel abandoned by the other, but Hera’s willingness to reach out to her father for help and her use of her natural Twi’lek accent when speaking to him in private suggest that she has not given up all hope for reconciliation.
Hera’s small steps toward her father are thrown in stark relief by Kanan’s full-blown acceptance of Cham that borders on hero-worship. For Kanan, the elder Syndulla represents a direct tie back to his Jedi roots. Not only can the two men swap stories about the old days, but (as Freddie Prinze, Jr. pointed out in this episode’s Rebels Recon) Cham is the closest thing Kanan has to a grandfather. Because Cham served with Mace Windu during the Clone Wars and Windu trained Kanan’s master Depa Billaba, there is an almost familial bond between the Twi’lek rebel leader and the formerly vagabond Jedi.
So when Cham Syndulla and his Twi’lek compatriots ultimately double-cross Kanan, Hera, and the rest of the crew of the Ghost and attempt to follow through on their original plan of destroying the Imperial carrier, it is a painful–if not wholly unexpected–betrayal. Finding themselves at odds not only with the Imperial forces stationed aboard the carrier but also with their former Twi’lek allies, our heroes decide to follow through on the original plan of stealing the ship anyway, and after a breathtaking, Force-assisted romp to the bridge (not to mention a very clever incapacitation of Numa and Gobi by Sabine), they manage to do just that.
But that challenge pales in comparison to that of convincing Cham Syndulla (who has also made his way to the bridge) to give up on destroying the carrier. However, demonstrating a leadership she later attributes to her father, Hera convinces Cham that broadening his allegiance to the greater Rebellion against the Empire is analogous to his own choice to fight not simply for one village of Ryloth but rather the entire planet. Additionally, her choice to join the Rebellion resulted from her following his example just as much as his lack of belief in her or her cause.
Impressed by his daughter’s words, Cham expresses enlightenment and decides to help the Rebels fight off an incoming group of Imperial reinforcements so that they can steal the carrier. In the ensuing battle, the Syndullas find themselves working together and realize how much stronger they are when unified. As a bonus, the Imperial light cruiser they were fighting against is destroyed and sent into Ryloth’s atmosphere. Cham gets his symbol and the rebels get their much-needed fighter carrier.
As “Homecoming” comes to a close, father and daughter are reunited and exchange compliments. A newfound and burgeoning respect is now shared by both, and rebels both local and galaxy-wide are sure to benefit.
Thank you for reading! If you have feedback or just want to say hello, you can leave a comment on this page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact me on Twitter @influxman or check out my Rogue page on “Star Wars in the Classroom.”
And don’t forget to check out Rebels Reactions for even more insight, discussion, and analysis of this episode.
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