At Star Wars Celebration 2023, Mary Elizabeth Winstead was confirmed to be playing the pilot and rebel hero Hera Syndulla in the upcoming Ahsoka series. Hera was first introduced in the animated series Star Wars Rebels and was voiced by Vanessa Marshall, with Winstead now portraying the character in live-action.
Those who are unfamiliar with Hera’s story may be wondering which Rebels episodes to watch prior to her prominent role in Ahsoka. When speaking with Collider, Winstead shared that while watching Rebels is definitely a great way to learn about Hera, watching Hera’s episodes in The Bad Batch can give an even fuller picture of the character:
"“I would say going back to not even on Rebels but The Bad Batch, kind of starting with that. I mean, that for me was so great to get to see her as a child, because anytime, as an actor, if you can figure out what your character went through as a child it’s so instrumental in figuring out who they are as a person. So that was really great for me to get to see that childlike joy in her and her desire to do that.”"
The Bad Batch season 1 episodes “Devil’s Deal” and “Rescue on Ryloth” follow Hera as a child. These episodes show her first-ever flight and the first time she fought the Empire. After her father Cham Syndulla is framed for an assassination attempt against Ryloth’s senator, Hera works with the Bad Batch to free her parents and their supporters from the Empire’s clutches.
These episodes clearly demonstrate Hera’s passion for flying and how she begins defying the Empire from a young age. Understanding her origins goes a long way in understanding who she is and who she has become years later in Ahsoka.
Winstead’s suggestion to watch these episodes is also great because it is less overwhelming. Watching two episodes feels more manageable than watching the four seasons and 75 episodes that follow Hera’s journey in Rebels.
Those who are still interested in learning more about Hera or Clone Force 99 after watching these episodes can then continue watching Rebels and The Bad Batch. There is also a possibility that Hera and her parents will return in The Bad Batch season 3, although that will not be released until 2024 and after Ahsoka season 1.
In addition to speaking about Hera’s Bad Batch episodes, Winstead also encourages fans to watch Rebels:
"“So many episodes when you get to see her really in her element, fighting, flying spaceships and getting to do what she’s been assigned to do. She was such a little girl and the joy that that brings in her and also, as time goes on through the series, and how the stakes grow in different ways and things become more and more complex and emotional. I know for me, trying to figure out okay, how does she still get joy from that, but also, you know, bring in the stakes and the concern that she has for this family.”"
In both quotes, Winstead notes the joy that Hera expresses as a child in The Bad Batch and as an adult in Rebels. This hopefully means that Hera will continue to express and experience joy in Ahsoka, even after all she has lost over the years, even as she fights the resurging Empire. Working alongside old friends including Ahsoka Tano, Sabine Wren, and Chopper should definitely help rekindle some of that joy.
Ahsoka will debut on Disney+ in August 2023.