In the 16th episode of season two of Star Wars Rebels, Hera is forced to confront her father, Cham Syndulla, and persuade him to help her capture a ship carrier.
After a cargo transfer mission ends with the death of yet another A-wing pilot, the rebels find themselves in desperate need of a safe place to house their fighters. Commander Jun Sato suggests stealing a carrier stationed over Ryloth, Hera’s home planet. Hera volunteers to contact her father, Cham Syndulla, who leads the resistance group on Ryloth. What follows is an episode of twists and turns as father and daughter come to grips with the other’s definition of fighting for freedom.
Cham agrees to rendezvous with the rebel fleet and hear their request. Hera, an adorably nervous Kanan (whose desperation to make a good impression on Hera’s father causes him to forget the names of his crew), and the rest of the Ghost rebels greet Cham, as well as the two warriors Cham has brought with him: Numa and Gobi. The encounter between Hera and her father is anything but warm, but they quickly move on to business.
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Aboard Commander Sato’s ship, Hera lays out the plan for Cham. She wants to create a distraction which will allow the rebels to board the carrier and sweep it away safely into hyperspace. Cham, however, views the carrier as a symbol of Imperial oppression. The carrier houses bombers which periodically strafe the surface of the Twi’lek world. He wants to blow it up, as a symbol of hope for his people.
But the rebels insist: they need the carrier. Eventually, they seem to come to an agreement. Cham will provide tactical information, and Hera will enact the plan which will allow them to capture the carrier.
Later, Hera and Ezra are doing maintenance on Chopper when Ezra asks her about her tenuous relationship with her father. She tells him how Cham was a hero in the Clone Wars as he defended Ryloth from the Separatists. When the Republic turned to the Empire, he found himself fighting once again. After Hera’s mother died during the resistance, Hera says, Ryloth became all Cham ever cared about. “More important than family?” Ezra asks.
Before he can answer, Cham interrupts them with the news they should be embarking on their mission soon. Ezra gets up to leave the Twi’leks alone together; before he exits, however, he says that to him, there’s nothing more important (than family).
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Once by themselves, Cham asks Hera if Chopper is the droid she found during the Clone Wars. She says yes, and he says if she thought about him as much as she did about her droid, Ryloth would be freed by now. He goes on to say she’s wasted her ability by joining the rebel fleet in a hopeless cause. Hera falls back into her native Twi’lek accent in arguing with her father. Her life has not been wasted, she says; she’s helped innocent people in many places besides Ryloth. But Cham says he doesn’t care about anyone else; he just cares about Ryloth.
Finally, the rebels, Cham, Numa, and Gobi take off for Ryloth. They are aboard a stolen bomber which will allow them to land in the Imperial carrier without suspicion. Cham regales the Ghost crew with stories about his time in the Clone Wars; he and Kanan even reminisce about the exploits of Master Mace Windu, who was a force to be reckoned with during the fighting.
Hera, who is listening in the pilot’s seat, is less thrilled. She rolls her eyes at her father’s conversation, and she isn’t convinced when Kanan tells her he doesn’t think Cham is so bad. But pretty soon, it’s time to focus on the mission again. They come out of hyperspace over Ryloth just as the Imperial bombers are leaving the carrier for their regular strafing run on the planet below. Not far behind, two A-wings also pull out of hyperspace and start shooting at the bomber the rebels are in. It’s all part of the plan; one of the A-wings manages to nick the bomber, and the rebels are able to make a crash landing inside the carrier’s hangar bay as a wounded Imperial fighter.
Hera, expert pilot that she is, manages to land the bomber safely. Then her father changes the mission. He, Numa, and Gobi shoot stun bolts at all of the Ghost rebels, even Chopper, except for Hera, who is handcuffed to the pilot seat. Hera is shocked by her father’s sudden turn, but she quickly learns Cham is determined to blow up the ship, “for Ryloth.”
After her Twi’lek brethren have gone, Hera manages to rouse Chopper, who releases her handcuffs. Slowly, the others return to consciousness, and they quickly form a plan to get things back on track before Cham blows the carrier to oblivion. Hera, Kanan, Ezra, and Chopper head to the bridge to take it from the Imperials and stop Cham from creating damage there, while Zeb and Sabine are given the task of dispatching Numa and Gobi, who are setting charges nearby.
Kanan and Ezra pave the way through the carrier’s corridors (and the stormtroopers who try to stop them) with extraordinary and practiced-looking demonstrations of Force skill. As blast doors are closing down the length of one corridor, they take turns propelling one another through the shrinking space between doors. At another instance, Kanan cuts a perfectly round hole through a set of blast doors in a move reminiscent of Qui Gon Jinn’s in The Phantom Menace. Hera and Chopper follow at a comparatively sedate pace (though how they got through all those closed blast doors, I admit I’m still puzzled).
Meanwhile, Sabine has figured out a way they can take down Numa and Gobi without hurting them or setting off the hairtrigger explosives the two Twi’lek’s have taken refuge among. Sabine fits an Imperial mouse droid with a stun grenade, and then remote controls the droid into the maze of explosives. She sets off the stun grenade, which knocks Numa and Gobi to the ground. That’s two Twi’leks down; but Cham remains unaccounted for.
Once they reach the bridge, Hera, Kanan, and Ezra easily take it over from the Imperials. Ezra, after a comical try-and-fail, finally succeeds in performing a Jedi mind trick on the captain, telling him to tell the Imperials aboard his ship to evacuate in escape pods. Ezra then “suggests” the captain escape, as well. It seems they’ve won the day, until Hera discovers the hyperdrive has been deactivated. That’s when Cham appears, blaster trained on the rebels.
Hera tries to convince her father that the rebel fleet is worth fighting for, and that using the carrier against the Empire will be better than destroying it. Cham is adamant that the rebel fleet is a lost cause, that the carrier would best be served as inspiration for the people of Ryloth that the Empire can be destroyed. Hera reminds him of how, during the Clone Wars, Cham didn’t just fight for his village; he fought for the liberation of the entire planet. The rebellion is no different, she says, but she adds he either couldn’t see that or he just didn’t believe in her. In the end, that’s why she left to pursue her own form of rebellion, apart from her father’s resistance.
Over the comlink, Zeb, Sabine, and their captives, Numa and Gobi, hear Hera’s words. They make a stand for her, saying they will follow her. They believe in her and her cause.
And not a moment too soon: Imperial reinforcements have arrived. Cham lets down his weapon and Hera heads to where she feels most at home: the pilot seat. Her friends, along with Numa and Gobi each man a turret to target incoming Imperial craft. Hera tells Cham to tell Chopper what he did to the hyperdrive so the droid can fix it, but Cham still remains hesitant.
The rebels and Twi’leks are able to take out a lot of fighters, but then the bombers return from Ryloth. They begin bombarding the carrier, wounding the ship and causing it to pivot down toward the planet. Hera pulls on the controls with all her strength, but it’s not until her father places his hands over hers on the control and lends his might to hers that they’re able to right the ship, together.
“We were always stronger together.”
With Cham having let go of the vestiges of his pride, he finally tells Chopper how he disabled the hyperdrive. Ezra then has an idea of how to take care of the large Imperial cruiser heading toward them, ready to board and retaek the carrier. Sabine loads the cockpit of the bomber they crash-landed in with explosives, and then turns on the anti-grav. Ezra uses the Force to tip it out of the hangar and into space, where it floats inexorably toward the Imperial cruiser. Cham takes a gunnery position, and at the right moment he shoots the bomber so that it explodes into the cruiser. The vessel then explodes, providing that symbol of hope he had longed for to inspire his people on the planet below.
With the Imperials defeated and the carrier completely under rebel control, Hera activates the newly repaired hyperdrive and they depart from Ryloth in triumph.
Back with the rebel fleet, Cham is saying his goodbyes to the Ghost crew before he takes off back to Ryloth with his companions. He tells them of the reports he is receiving of more Twi’leks rallying to the side of the Resistance; they were indeed inspired by the display of Imperial vulnerability in the destruction of the cruiser. He then draws Hera aside, telling her how he finally understands why she left. He says she’s like her mother: a dreamer. Hera replies by saying she learned how to be a leader from him, and she embraces him. Cham’s parting words to her are, “I am proud of you, Captain Syndulla.”
The Twi’leks then take their leave of the rebels, with Hera and her family looking on, a proud and happy closing scene.
This was truly one of the best episodes of Star Wars Rebels I’ve ever seen. Next week’s episode, “The Honorable Ones,” featuring Zeb and Agent Kallus, has a lot to do to top “Homecoming’s” high quality of storytelling and character development. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching the show, it’s this: Never underestimate it.