These two Rebels episodes also have connective tissue. Because in a gripping way they showed us the ‘power of family’, both the good as well as the bad of it. This to, in my view, as a lead up towards the season’s finale this week.Rebels #2.14: Not always just redemption
In the Star Wars saga there is a lot of emphasis on the role of family in the way our main characters develop. Through out the first 6 films Anakin’s closest relationships are family relationships, whether the ‘miraculous’ and ‘immaculate’ connection to his mother Shmi, the chosen but no less fateful and deeply felt connection to Padme or the relationship to his mentor and former Master who refers to Anakin as a brother he loved. Also in The Force Awakens this theme is approached from different angles. There is the ancestral adolation by Kylo as well as the naïve belief of Leia and Han in the turning-power of the fatherly love for the son. Star Wars is not naïve about family and definitely does not paint families with the usual rosy Hollywood picture. In fact both last Star Wars films got their PG-13 rating primarily because of the intra-family violence.
The Rebels episode Homecoming picks up the family theme again, but this time it is not the Ghost Crew that is the focus for this study of ‘family’ but Hera and her father, Cham. Like in the previous two episodes #2.12 and #2.13 the main storyline is straight forward an adventure story and the actual tale of the episode is played out in the background. The delightful humor of a Kanan who is clearly nervous meeting the father of his lovely Hera cannot hide the fact that there is plenty of tension between Hera and her father. From the first moment they speak they are tense.
Hera and Cham have to find a way to work together to make the mission a success. And for a while it seems they manage to do just that. Also Ezra expresses how important it is to have family and that one should do anything for their protection. However in a shocking reversal Cham betrays his daughter, bringing her in grave danger. The is ultimately resolved because Cham’s fellow conspirators break ranks and join Hera’s side. This allows Cham to recognise the error of his ways. I think it is beautiful that Filoni’s Rebels crew decided to bring back Numa for this purpose. In The Clone Wars she has already proven once to be able to take family ties and extend them beyond the boundaries of race, ethnic origin or gender when as a little girl she came to refer to the Clone Troopers as ‘brothers’.
With Cham’s betrayal he risked losing his daughter forever. This daughter that reminds him of the wife he loved and lost. So much betrayal in Star Wars is wrought from pain and broken hearts.
#2.14 The loneliness of Geonosis
The main Ghost Crew character who seems to have no family, not even one he lost, if Zeb. He lost his entire people, till of course 3 episodes ago. Not only is he restored to his people but he of course has his fellow crew members on the ghost as a family around him. The other stand-out character without a family is Agent Kallus. With most of the other (sometimes faceless) imperial characters it seems possible to believe they have a family they go home to for dinner after a busy day of fighting the Rebellion. But Kallus lives for the cause.
The episode The Honorable Ones brings these two together in the desolate icy landscape of one of Geonosis’ moons. Think of that for a moment! The Geonossians with their insectoid hive mind and dependence on their queens are a kind of super-family. Possibly not a very nice one, but still one of doubtless loyalty to one another. In one of my Star Wars classes I argued how the Geonossians can be seen as an organic role-model for the Empire. But I also indicated how the Empire, with its fixation on technology, discards such natural and organic role-models very much to their own detriment. In this episode we learn, between the lines, how ominously true this is when Ezra reports ‘they’re dead … all of them’ probably deliberately paraphrased after Anakin’s lines when admitting to the Sand People massacre. I think this season is possibly going to contain a Death Star related revelation before it is over.
With the Geonosian ‘super-family’ obliterated what could the Empire possibly hold of the power of family? Not much I fear. After a survival stint on a geonossian moon that Kallus and Zeb can only survive by pulling together and … bonding, Zeb is picked up again by his Ghost Crew family. Kallus says his good bye to Zeb confirming that he will try his luck with the Empire. But his reception after his retrieval is cold-hearted. The Rebels team then produces one of the best closing shots of this season: Kallus alone on his bunk, the only thing providing a measure of warmth being the stone given to him by Zeb. A single shot that carries a hefty message for season 3 of Rebels. We might see Imperial Agent Kallus change sides now that he has experienced the ‘power of extended family’.
What’s to come
In the season’s finale Ezra, Kanan and Ahsoka face difficult choices. Many who have seen The Clone Wars will realise that Ahsoka is almost ‘Anakin’s little sister’ in many different ways. How will Darth Vader respond to a confrontation with the little sister of his former self? How will Ahsoka deal with the fall of her ‘older brother’? Ezra and Kanan are both members, in an almost father & son role, of the Ghost Crew. We have seen a ‘Han & Leia’-like moment of Hera and Kanan regarding the upcoming mission. But Ezra has seen in Cham that ‘fathers can be treacherous’ if they are willing to sacrifice their child for a ‘higher cause’. Throw into this mix a Maul whose issues with the Sith also involve family matters such as the killing of his brother and we find a potent mix of very deep and fundamental feelings plaguing all the protagonists and antagonists of the upcoming finale.