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Star Wars Rebels concluded its four-season run with an epic series finale that included some incredible plot twists, some answers to long-standing questions, and a killer cliffhanger promising more adventures for characters. One of the most shocking moments of the finale -- and the entire series -- came in the final minutes. In a montage of the Ghost crew, revealing their fates after the Battle of Endor, we learned that Hera was still flying around the galaxy as ace pilot with Chopper at her side, but they weren't alone. Sitting in the co-pilot's seat was her young son, Jacen, who was clearly half-human. Hera and Kanan had a kid!
Once your mind recovered from being blown at the revelation of young Jacen's existence, you probably began to wonder how Star Wars Rebels managed to keep Hera's pregnancy under wraps, given that she would have been pregnant during all the adventures of the finale arc. Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni chatted with CinemaBlend about the series finale, and he had this to say when I asked if there were any pregnancy clues that we missed before the bombshell reveal at the end:
There are! There are little clues that I would talk to the animation supervisor and I would say, 'We'll do this and just have her put her hand here on her stomach at this certain moment,' or just little tiny things. But I kept it pretty secretive. I did this this thing where I didn't give any characters dialogue in the epilogue except for Sabine. So Tiya [Sircar] knew all those things and had to remain quiet about it, which was quite a bit of pressure for her because the actors know that if they don't need to know something, I just don't tell them. If it's important for the character, they absolutely know. But I don't give them much more than they need to know or kind of the space around them. So it was a surprise and it pretty worked out.
If you kept your eyes peeled in the finale arc of Star Wars Rebels, you could have caught some hints that Hera had a bun in the oven even through the final battle to take out the threat of the TIE Defenders and defeat Thrawn. Many of us were probably too occupied by mourning Kanan, pondering the world between worlds, and sitting on the edges of our seats to see what would happen in the last episode to note Hera putting her hand on her stomach the first time around. While the Jacen reveal was a shock, it wasn't entirely out of the blue. The little bundle of green-haired joy had a rough ride while Hera was being tortured, but he was born to witness the fall of the Empire all the same.
As the person who recorded the narration for the epilogue, Tiya Sircar was the only member of the cast who knew ahead of time that Hera would have a child by the end of the finale. Vanessa Marshall, who has voiced Hera in a number of Star Wars projects, shared her reaction when she first found out about Jacen at a fan screening of the finale. Since she didn't need to know about Jacen because she didn't have any dialogue in the reveal, Marshall found out about the baby bombshell at the same point as the rest of us. Talk about a late-in-the-game surprise!
Now, Sabine's narration technically didn't state that Jacen was Hera's son with Kanan, but it would have been an awfully sad ending for poor dead Kanan if the last moments of the show revealed that Hera moved on and had a baby with somebody else soon enough for little Jacen to be at least a few years by the Battle of Endor. Fortunately, even if you had your doubts that Kanan and Hera could have made Jacen before Kanan's death, Dave Filoni made sure to include nods to Kanan in Jacen's character design to make it clear that Kanan was his father. When I asked what went into designing the look of Jacen, Filoni had this to say:
I just talked to Kilian Plunkett, who's been working with me for years now, and I said, well, maybe just picture what their kid would look like and I think he was suggesting that he was perhaps a little green-shaded, and I said that's fine as long as he doesn't look like he's sick flying in the ship. We came at it pretty easily as far as a look. I wanted to make sure that you knew whose kid it was, so there were little clues in the costume if you didn't think the likeness was there. Yeah, it was fun. A lot of the crew didn't know it until they saw it! We designed it all in secrecy and animated it all in secrecy, even amongst the crew, so it was a pretty fun moment when we all watched it together up at Skywalker Ranch and everybody turned around and looked and me and was like 'What?!'
If nothing else, Jacen's eyebrows were a giveaway that he could have no father other than Kanan. The wardrobe choices for the youngster also called back to Kanan about as much as possible without giving Jacen shoulder armor and/or an eye mask. At first glance, Jacen almost looks more human than Twi'lek, but his green hair and the green tint to his skin (which luckily did not make him look sickly) marked him as much Hera as Kanan. Is it too soon to start hoping that Jacen appears in Star Wars Resistance or even the live-action Star Wars show so we can get a look at him when he's a little older?
As it turns out, there were some people working with Dave Filoni who were surprised about Jacen for reasons other than his appearance via epilogue bombshell. Apparently, after six seasons of The Clone Wars and four seasons of Rebels, Filoni had a bit of a reputation among his peers for tragic twists:
I talked with Kiri Hart about it and Carrie Beck, and I said, 'I'm thinking of adding this child here. What do you guys of that?' We had this discussion about it. We all liked the idea. They are funny because they said 'That's so nice, that's such a nice thing to do' and they were surprised I was doing it. I don't know why that is. I have a reputation for, I don't think I'm that shocking but I guess after Ahsoka walking away from the Jedi Order and different things that are maybe somewhat melancholy... They kept saying 'Which rebels are going to die before the end of the season?' And I thought, 'Wow, what a morbid thought! I like these characters. Why would I want them to die?'
Star Wars Rebels producers Kiri Hart and Carrie Beck were apparently surprised that Dave Filoni would do something as nice as adding a child to allow Kanan to live on and Hera to continue her family line and prove Thrawn -- who had declared that she'd die before she could do so -- entirely wrong. This was the good kind of surprise, however, and anybody crying at the Jacen reveal was hopefully only crying tears of joy. Instead of another major character dying, we got two major characters having a child! What's not to love about two rebels having a child who doesn't turn to the dark side?
Star Wars Rebels Season 4 is available on Blu-ray now if you want to relive the final batch of episodes and keep an eye out for any little Jacen hints ahead of the epilogue. There's also plenty of Star Wars goodness on the way to the small screen thanks to the two new shows as well as the return of The Clone Wars. Dave Filoni has already revealed how Rebels actually impacts Clone Wars this time around, and the new episodes should be well-worth watching. For some non-Star Wars options, take a peek at our fall TV guide.