Sunday, May 26, 2024

Star Wars Rebels and Its Dutiful Princess Hera Syndulla

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Star Wars is an incredibly expansive canon. Loads of characters permeate its story’s membrane. And these loads of characters may be archetypal, in either good, bad, or even weird ways. Fortunately one the tropes many characters fulfill is the dutiful princess archetype. Princess Leia, Sabine Vizla Wren, Duchess Satine, Cham Syndulla, and the subject of this article, Hera Syndulla.

Hera is probably one of the most coolest character in the canon. She is a hardworking, ambitious pilot who fights the Empire through strategy and collaboration with other. Really, collaboration is one of the first characteristics that comes to mind when considering Hera. But one of the most important things guiding Hera is her duty to herself, her crew, the rebellion, and the Galaxy as a whole. As such, her duty may sometimes conflict itself, but Hera is someone who’s always focused on the bigger picture, and does what she can to insure the bigger battle is one.

Underlying a dutiful princess’s sense of duty is usually their sense of love and commitment to their family and/or culture. Even though they may be closed off about how they feel, they share within them a deep-seated love for their people. Hera fits this to a tee. Her love for her adopted family is often showcases by small, impactful gestures. Encouraging Ezra, helping her unofficial husband Kanan through his emotional angst, keeping Chopper in check despite his cat tantrums, understanding Sabine’s Martell issues, or how Zeb’s having problems with Ezra. Hera is incredibly mature when it involves interpersonal/emotional problems. As the backbone and leader of her team, she insures their needs are met.

As odd as those needs may sometimes be.

However, as important as family is to her, there are times when her family may ironically conflict with her political duty.  Even in the face of alienating those she loves. Despite how much it may ache her.  In her commitment to her goals and practicality, she may push away those she loves and even keep them in the dark. One episode exemplifying her dedication to duty is the episode Homecoming.

Homecoming, aka the father-issues episode, deals with how Hera’s sense of duty to the whole galaxy conflicts with her father’s commitment to their home planet Ryloth. The main conflict caused by this divide of duty is how they handle the attack of an imperial star ship. Cham wants to blow up the entire thing to serve as a symbol of Twi’lek victory over the Empire. Hera, along with Rebellion command, wants to instead steel the vessel and use it in future missions.

Since they both have such different outlooks, they naturally butt heads over each other. Despite wanting the same thing, the destruction of the Empire, they have trouble reconciling their methods with each other. As such, it results in a mutual alienation of each other. This leads to Cham bringing out his inner dutiful princess by betraying Hera to support this focus on Ryloth. Only after an intense heart to heart is Cham able to understand how Hera’s commitment to the Galaxy is an extension from her love of Ryloth and an understanding of politics. It’s funny, Hera ends up being a parallel of her father in several ways.

Sound familiar?

Another episode that encapsulates Hera’s focus of the long term over the short term Hera’s Heroes. One of the episode’s most significant themes is family and how we hold onto it. Another is letting go of family past for the sake of family future. These themes, in combination with Hera’s duty, creates a situation where she has to sacrifice something important in her family.

The episode’s plot is that Hera and her Rebellion group (the Spectres) infiltrate her old family mansion home to take back an old heirloom from Imperial hands. This heirloom not only represents her family history, but also her deceased mother. The same can be said for her house, now occupied by the Empire. It all ties back into her family.

Yet Hera runs into trouble when the Empire captured her and Thrawn stole the Kalikori from her. Even worse her father is captured while supporting her heist. This gives Hera a duty crisis as she realizes she put the personal, the Kalikori, over the political and practical. So, in a move to again realize the wider picture, Hera blows up her family home to strike back at the Empire, saves her father, and escapes with her crew and father intact. A family home is sacrificed for both family and duty, even if it involves the destruction of her family past. In this sense Hera is forward thinking. She lets her family home go to strike a bigger blow to the Empire.

When the personal is over the the political.

Love of family, the bigger picture, and duty to the Galaxy and beyond: these are the traits leading Hera through the Rebellion, as well as the reasons she is such an interesting character to think about and analyze.

All Images Courtesy of Disney

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