Spoiler Warning: This interview contains spoilers for Star Wars Rebels.
Part one of my interview with Dave Filoni covered the meaning behind some of the events of Star Wars Rebels episodes "Jedi Night" and "Dume". Part two dug deeper into what's next and some of the stories that influenced these episodes.
In the third and final installment, I spoke with Dave Filoni about Hera and Kanan's final moments and how the loss of his father informed Kanan's death and the aftermath.
I'll admit, I may have scolded Dave a little for how he went about it.
Thank you for giving me the best most amazing dialogue between the two of them and then killing him.
She had to be under the influence of the truth serum, but we didn’t want to play it in a way where she’s suddenly dopey and just over the top. We thought a truth serum on Hera just makes her quite frank. Like, you two are in real trouble. She’s not playing in an over the top, tipsy way. It’s a different version of that. I thought she carried that really well. If it’s too tipsy then nothing she says to Kanan has any value.
I think what really came across was it was just what she was really thinking. There’s no filter there. There’s no her parsing what’s gonna come out of her mouth.
Right, which she always would do.
You have to be careful when you do these things that they feel real, and like they’re really happening to people. For me, with Hera and Kanan it goes beyond just do they love each other. Of course, they do. They’ve been through so much. I think they have a very deep level of commitment and respect for one another. It’s that respect for who each other are as individuals that makes them both such strong characters. To see them have a vulnerable moment, to take something for themselves in this moment, I think is a powerful thing. Especially because Kanan ultimately has to be selfless at a level that is hard for any average person to understand.
It was difficult to do. I will tell you this, I mean, in case you don’t ask. It is not easy to do scenes like this at all. In fact, a lot of what you see in Season 4, especially the big emotional beats, I would sit and storyboard myself and stage them and work on those dialogue moments.
This moment, in particular, was very challenging. When they’re up on top of that fuel depot standing there. I was drawing it. While I was drawing it and realizing that I could have his eyes come into focus here, he could fulfill his promise of "I will see you one last time"...I called Freddie in the middle of it. I was like, “Freddie, dude, what are we doing here? I really like your character. I don’t wanna do this.”
He’s like, “No, no, man, you have to do it, you have to.” Freddie was very resolute. He and I had spoken honestly for years about this inevitable end. Together we were very focused on what to do.
On a purely personal level, for me, the weeks prior to having to shoot that scene my father passed away. So it was, imagine coming back to work and what subject matter am I gonna deal with this week?
I think what’s important is that it really gives you deep personal insight into what it means to take away that type of figure for the audience, and for kids watching the show. I certainly don’t treat it lightly. I really thought about it quite a bit. I feel personally in your life there’s the time you spend on the planet with your parents and then that very transformative moment when you lose one and you are forever different after that.
It’s a world you can’t understand until it happens. It doesn’t mean it has to be bad, it’s just different. My wife lost her father when she was very young, in college, right out of high school. I never understood what toll that must’ve taken. I came into that understanding and in a way I was able then to just keep writing and directing these episodes all the way to the end with all of this in mind for how does it impact us in the audience.
It’s like when George had to deal with... Darth Vader [telling] Luke “I am your father.”. What did that mean to kids, to find that this father figure could be a dark figure? You have to be responsible with it and you have to have a point to the story.
I think at the end, what happens to Kanan, we decided several things. One is that it will be a selfless action for the greater good. But secondly, we are going to deal with how the characters feel about it. Not just okay on to the next episode. We try to deal with the aftermath of this and how they find some type of closure.
That search for closure likely isn't over for either the Ghost crew or Star Wars Rebels fans and the reverberations on Kanan's death are still echoing across social media. Fanfic authors are already writing about the events of "Jedi Night" and there's been some discussion about whether or not the choice to have Hera be under the influence of a drug was a good one.
Personally, these episodes have affected me deeply and I think they will for some time yet, which means Filoni and team have done their job. I have no doubt the rest of the series will be just as impactful and I can't wait to see what's next.