“Secret Cargo” was one of those episodes where you went in expecting a standard routine mission—in this case, providing fuel for incoming rebel ships—but it turned out to be so much more. Had things gone according to plan in the first five minutes of the episode, the Ghost crew would have refueled the rebel ships, accomplishing the mission Bail Organa had assigned to them, before heading back to their home base on Atollon. Luck was on their side, however, when Gold Squadron’s “secret cargo” had no choice but to board the Ghost and escape the Empire’s clutches. All of this resulted in Hera, Ezra, and Zeb having front row seats to the birth of the Rebellion. No one expected such a pivotal moment to be the outcome of this episode, which made it all the more awe-inspiring. “Secret Cargo” successfully captured its audience by surprise and added another direct connection to the films that supersedes anything that came before. This was the moment the show creators were slowly but surely building up to over the course of 2.5 seasons, and the wait was completely worth it.
First, it was great to see Hera leading this mission, since we haven’t seen much of her since the beginning of the season. That’s to be understood, though, since she is Phoenix Leader and has more responsibilities on her shoulders than anyone else that tend to take place off-screen. It was also important for her to be present in this episode because she’s the one who started it all. She recruited Kanan, who in turn, recruited everyone else. She is also the reason why the Ghost crew is part of Phoenix Squadron, having emphasized that they would be able to make a greater difference by being attached to a more organized and militarized operation. She worked so hard from such a young age to get to where she is now, so it’s only fitting that it all amounts to this epic and historic moment. Had it not been for her and her crew, Mon Mothma wouldn’t have made the speech that brought the various rebel cells together.
As for Mon Mothma herself, she was one of those characters who I never truly connected with growing up. She was this mysterious leader to me with fancy white clothes, short hair, and an unusual name who would occasionally pop up here and there. I remember her appearances in Star Wars: The Clone Wars standing beside Padmé and Bail and even recently in Rogue One, but even then, there still wasn’t much for me to go on. This episode completely changed that for me. Her interactions with Hera are some of my favorite in the series because here is this woman who strived for peace as a political leader for years and years, getting no results, and now, she’s standing up and taking action at the risk of her own life. The moment that truly tugged at my heart was when she finished her speech and things went quiet. They all silently waited, but the expression on her face—the expression of someone almost losing hope—nearly brought me to tears.
Hera and Mon Mothma weren’t the only ones who shined in this episode. Ezra made me feel like a proud mom once again, seeing him take up the task of a pilot and participating in such a momentous occasion. Ezra volunteering to take the pilot’s place is yet another example of him willing to sacrifice himself for the cause. What made me even more proud was how he spoke so highly of Hera with the utmost respect and the fact that he applied what he had learned from her.
Also, I know this is a detail that people often forget about or ignore, but Ezra is still the focus character of the series. That’s how it has always been and how it’ll continue moving forward. As the audience, we are following his journey. Of course, there are other characters and other stories to concentrate on from time to time, but we ultimately experience what’s happening on the show from his perspective. Just like how it was important for Hera to be there when the other rebel cells dropped out of hyperspace over Dantooine, it was also important for him to be there beside her. Let’s not forget that it was Ezra’s call to action back in season one that encouraged people in the nearest star systems to stand against the Empire. Mon Mothma’s speech echoes those same sentiments, so for him to have seen everything come together, it reinforced the main thing his parents taught him, “If we don’t stand up, who will?” And of course, it brought to mind what his mom last told him, “Without hope, we have nothing.” Seeing the birth of the Rebellion gives him and so many others the hope that they can do this and that it’s all worth it—whatever it takes.
So the next time you hear someone say that Star Wars Rebels isn’t important and that it doesn’t contribute in any grand way to the overall saga, just let them wallow in their ignorance because this series has proven time and time again that it is an integral part of the puzzle. It gave us the origin of the Rebellion, and yes, they could have done that in a movie, but this moment was meant to be portrayed in an animated show that is accessible to fans of all ages, especially the younger audience—the children of the future. What better way to inspire a generation of younglings than through a medium that speaks to them and has the power to positively influence their thoughts about their own reality. Needless to say, but this episode will definitely go down as one of my favorites. It has everything a Star Wars fan would want: action, relatable characters, and an inspiring message about hope. The writers, animators, and the rest of the creative crew should be proud because this was storytelling at its best.
Make sure to visit the episode guide and tune into the next all-new episode, “Double Agent Droid,” on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at 8:30PM EST on Disney XD.
Also, stop by later this week for a new podcast episode from Rebels Chat.
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