Warning - This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
Ever since Star Wars: The Bad Batch debuted on May the Fourth on Disney+, The Clone Wars spin-off series has focused on experimental Clone Force 99 and mysterious female clone Omega in the wake of Order 66.
In true Star Wars fashion, there have been plenty of cameos and crossovers from Jabba the Hutt's Bib Fortuna to bounty hunter Fennec Shand to The Clone Wars Season 7's Trace and Rafa Martez, but Clone Force 99 have always been the focus.
However, in the series' eleventh episode titled "Devil's Deal," Lucasfilm flipped the script showing the rise of the Galactic Empire from a different, albeit familiar, perspective.
STAR WARS REBELS HERA SYNDULLA RETURNS
While Clone Force 99 make an appearance in the episode, "Devil's Deal" focuses on young Hera Syndulla and her family on the Twi'lek planet of Ryloth now that the Empire has arrived.
Hera Syndulla was a lead character and expert pilot in Star Wars Rebels, another animated series from Lucasfilm Animation that ran from 2014 through 2018.
Set in the years leading up to A New Hope, the series focused on Hera, former Jedi Padawan Kanan Jarrus, Mandalorian warrior Sabine Wren, Lasat fighter Garazeb Orellios, and later Ezra Bridger in their struggle against the Empire.
Throughout the series' four seasons, Hera visited her home planet of Ryloth and her father Cham, as well as made reference to her war-torn childhood and dreams of becoming a pilot. And, thanks to this latest episode of The Bad Batch, fans finally saw those moments for themselves.
While Hera's freedom fighter father believes, although reluctantly, that fighting needs to end for the sake of Ryloth and its people, Hera's uncle Gobi feels differently.
But Hera enjoys helping her uncle, especially since he allows her to try her hand at piloting. However, that places Hera's parents in a difficult position with the Empire and Vice Admiral Rampart.
This episode also featured the Syndulla Residence seen in Star Wars Rebels, as well as Hera's cantankerous droid Chopper who's widely believed to be voiced by Lucasfilm Executive Dave Filoni.
In addition, Vanessa Marshall, who voiced Hera in Rebels, returned to provide young Hera's voice, similar to Freddie Prinze Jr.'s reprisal for young Kanan Jarrus in the series' debut episode.
A NEW HOPE FOR THE REBELS CREW?
While fans have speculated that Hera might make a cameo in The Bad Batch, particularly since young Kanan already made an appearance, it wasn't a guarantee. But perhaps no one expected an episode with her and her family as the lead.
Speaking of Hera's family, this is the first time fans have seen Hera's mother Eleni Syndulla apart from a picture. Even though Hera and Cham often referenced her, and her Kalikori heirloom was a significant part of Star Wars Rebels, this episode of The Bad Batch marks her first actual appearance.
Both The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian on Disney+ have made huge efforts to further connect Star Wars characters and storylines and to lay the foundation for future stories.
It has long been speculated that a Star Wars Rebels sequel may be in the works or that Hera Syndulla will make a live-action appearance in a series, especially in the wake of Gina Carano's exit from Lucasfilm.
After all, it's unlikely that Dave Filoni would have Hera take the lead in a series that isn't her own for no reason. Perhaps fans will see the return of the Rebels crew sooner than expected?
New episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch debut on Fridays on Disney+.