I say it all the time. I’m a sucker for love stories. Love stories can help intensify the emotional stakes of a film and, subsequently, leave you in a puddle of your own tears if anything sad (or happy) happens. Star Wars is practically one gigantic love story that’s transcended the generations.
First, it was Han and Leia, then it was Anakin and Padme, and now it’s…well now it seems that a love bomb has stricken the Sequel Trilogy, resulting in a bunch of different love-story shipping categories that hopefully will reach a conclusion in The Rise of Skywalker.
However, love has not escaped the other projects in the Star Wars universe, whether we’re talking about Han and Qi’ra’s passionate romance in Solo: A Star Wars Story or Cassian and Jyn’s subtle but just as blatant romance in Rogue One. And now, thanks to Star Wars: Rebels, I have been introduced to a new love story that I previously had little knowledge about and have now been emotionally touched by thanks to a rapid binge-watching session of the series.
And of course, that love story belongs to Jedi Kanan Jarrus and Rebellion leader Hera Syndulla.
My first contact with Kanan and Hera and their beautiful relationship began with the novel, A New Dawn.
In the novel, Kanan Jarrus comes into contact with Hera Syndulla, a young rebel whose goal is to liberate the planet, Gorse from a sinister Imperial officer, Count Denetrius Vidian.
With Hera being very beautiful and Kanan being the young roguish type like Han Solo, there was definitely some flirting involved but their companionship went beyond the romantic aspect, as they found a common enemy in The Empire and an urge to do the right thing by fighting back.
After the events of the novel, Kanan would join Hera’s crew and together they would start the seeds of rebellion aboard their vessel, The Ghost.
When we meet them in the first season of Star Wars: Rebels their romantic status is very…murky. Hera Syndulla calls Kanan “love” at times and they have this bond that immediately feels like they’re playing the role of mother and father of the crew but the actual details of their relationship with one another is kept very reserved from the audience. We know they love each other, clearly, but how far that love extends isn’t exactly clear.
The first time we begin to grasp an understanding of how much Hera cares for Kanan is during the final episodes of the first season. Kanan sacrifices himself and is captured by The Empire. She is stricken with sorrow but instead of making a reckless decision to rescue him she chooses the Rebellion first and foremost.
She, of course, eventually helps in rescuing Kanan from his brief captivity aboard a Star Destroyer and the two embrace once he’s back aboard The Ghost but the romantic implications between the two of them are still subtle.
It continues on this way throughout much of the second season as well, with a few private moments shared between them that reiterate the fact that they are a couple but still the love story remains subtle.
That is, until the third to last episode of Season 2.
Kanan must set out on a dangerous mission with Ezra and Ahsoka Tano; a mission so dangerous in fact that there is the very possible chance that he might not return.
Hera doesn’t want him to go, at least not without her, but she can’t possibly come along this mission. Not this time. He promises that he will return and embraces her in a long, drawn-out hug. This is the first time the romantic aspect between the two of them has cranked up a notch, providing us a greater understanding of how much they mean to one another.
When he returns, blinded by his encounter with Maul, the relief and joy she feels that he has returned mixed with the pangs of sorrow that something so horrible happened to him is pretty emotional stuff.
This is a grim foreshadowing of what will happen to him later on down the road but also yet another glimpse at how much Hera loves him.
And then, once again, the writers tamp down the romantic connection between Hera and Kanan, choosing to focus on their duties to the Rebellion rather than each other throughout the entire third season. So imagine my surprise when the fourth season FINALLY hit turbo on the romantic button between Hera and Kanan, and I mean turbo.
In infiltrating Lothal, the band of rebels had to split into groups while heading through the streets under Imperial activity. Hera and Kanan, for once, have no one with them. No Chopper, no Ezra, no Sabine, and Zeb, it’s just them…in a dark alleyway…at night.
Um, yeah, things turned romantic real fast. Kanan takes advantage of the solitude to talk to Hera in an intimate way, telling her how he wishes he could see her and she, in response, removes the mask that covers his damaged eyes to remind him that he would always be able to see her.
Cue the kissing! Or near-kissing anyway.
It was one of those “Oh snap, they’re about to kiss!” moments. Like I said, romantically speaking, the series had been very subtle on the subject, and then all of a sudden it was about to be Han and Leia in the Millennium Falcon 2.0, Kanan-and-Hera edition.
I was a bit stunned but definitely intrigued to see their story take this turn. And once the writers finally placed this aspect into the story they didn’t let up.
In the very next episode, the intimacy between the two characters is still there but they keep it together, choosing to return to the task at hand rather than smooching every two seconds. However, just when it seemed like things were going to return somewhat to the past subtlety, romantically speaking, of the previous three seasons Hera landed a whammy on Kanan.
I was mind-blown, to say the least. Finally, after three and a half long seasons, the two lovebirds FINALLY smooched. It wasn’t expecting it but was glad it happened.
You see, I’m someone who prefers a romance that takes a while to cultivate rather than something that’s speedy and icky, (yes, I’m talking about you Anakin and Padme.)
That’s why I cry so hard at the end of Avengers: Endgame when Tony sacrifices himself to save the galaxy from Thanos and has one last conversation with Pepper. I’ve followed their journey for years and it’s been an up-and-down road but at the end of the day, they were there, side by side, fighting as husband and wife, mother and father. They were Avengers.
It’s also why Steve’s conclusion with Peggy was also so heartfelt or Star-Lord’s anger in losing Gamora so palpable. These were relationships that were allowed to cultivate and grow into something special rather than a brisk love story that’s designed only to include unnecessary smooching into a film.
Kanan and Hera’s relationship embodied this unrushed philosophy, allowing the arrival of the romantic aspect to the story to be rewarding rather than annoying.
It’s also why Kanan’s sacrifice to save his friends, and most importantly, Hera was so freaking gut-wrenching. She had just FINALLY told him that she loved him, they had kissed to seal the deal and they would go on to be unofficially but practically married from here on out, and then boom…literally.
It felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and torn to smithereens. I couldn’t handle it. In fact, I’m still very devastated, if I’m being honest.
Like I said, I’m a sucker for love stories and when love stories take a bad turn it’s never fun to witness. Not to mention that Kanan was undoubtedly my favorite character in the series. Ugh, it was awful.
It didn’t help matters with the writers continuously reminding us how Kanan’s death had affected Hera as she dealt with her grief for much of the rest of the season.
But from the sadness sprung joy. Hera would go on to have a son named Jacen Syndulla, the child of Kanan Jarrus, which was a heartwarming touch to what would’ve been a truly unfortunate conclusion for the both of them if they had never had the chance to have children. It placed a bow on their story while also giving me even greater reason to cry like a baby at the end.
So, I hark back to the question that conceived this post, is Kanan and Hera’s love story the greatest in Star Wars? Well, I can’t say it is and I can’t say it isn’t either.
Star Wars is packed full of compelling love stories. There’s Obi-Wan Kenobi and Duchess Satine Kryze’s forbidden romance in The Clone Wars. I love Jyn and Cassian’s subtle but very emotionally impactful love story in Rogue One. And who can top Han and Leia’s love story which can be regarded as one of the greatest fictional love stories of all time?!
Can I really say I love Hera and Kanan’s love story more than all of these love stories I just presented? In a way, yes. I loved the mutual respect between the two of them, how they chose duty over love 98% of the time even though they were always in each other’s presence, and I loved the aspect that even though he was a Jedi he didn’t play by the rules.
Unlike the Jedi Order, he didn’t fear his attachments and apparently his attachments didn’t get him in trouble either. Anakin’s romance with Padme went south because he believed he was alone, that if he told anybody about the nightmares he was having in losing her in childbirth he would’ve been kicked out of the Jedi Order, thus he rushed to the one person who he believed actually cared about him, Palpatine. That was a no-no.
Obi-Wan had to learn to detach himself from people he cared about such as Duchess Satine but if he had been with her would things have really turned out that awful.
Maybe the Jedi have had it wrong all along? Maybe attachments, friendships, relationships, love, maybe that’s the key to maintaining balance. As long as the Jedi continue to express these harsh rules or standards that these Force-wielders have to follow there will always be good people who turn bad because they think there’s a better way.
So yeah, as you can tell, Star Wars: Rebels has got me thinking and I think there’s a lot of content from this show that will come to play a part in The Rise of Skywalker.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a lovely day. May the Force be with you.