In the latest episode of The Bad Batch, “Devil’s Deal,” we saw Ryloth after the fall of the Republic, with the Empire arriving and offering ‘peace.’ In the process we once again saw a very important Twi’lek family, the Syndullas, including most prominently Cham and his daughter Hera. But who are they?
Cham Syndulla was a significant figure who had reached a sort of legendary status among the Twi’leks for his heroics in fighting against the Separatists during the Clone Wars. At one point, that included a partnership with Jedi High Council member Mace Windu as the Republic forces fought alongside the Twi’leks to liberate the planet’s capitol. In this episode of The Bad Batch, then, we see him accepting the peace offered by the new Empire, insisting that they have to enjoy the peace they fought for, but we already began to see seeds of rebellion planted.
Those seeds would blossom very soon, and before long Cham was again leading a resistance movement, fighting against the Empire’s oppression of Ryloth. This resistance, known as the Free Ryloth Movement, actually at one point involved Cham and his forces attempting to assassinate the Sith Lords Sidious and Vader, though obviously unsuccessfully. Cham continued to fight against the Empire’s oppression, but he paid a costly price for it.
Sometime during his fight against the Empire, Cham’s wife, Eleni – whom we saw for the first time in this episode of The Bad Batch – was killed. The loss of Eleni caused Cham to devote even more attention to the fight against the Empire but also led to a rift between him and his daughter, Hera, who didn’t leave the fight against the Empire but left Ryloth.
Her relationship with her father strained, Hera formed her own resistance against the Empire alongside her ally and lover Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi padawan, and her droid Chopper. Hera became the pilot she always dreamed of being and she and her crew operated out of the ship, the Ghost, and it eventually came to also include Sabine Wren, Garazeb Orrelios, and Ezra Bridger. What started as a small-scale revolution on the Impeiral-occupied planet of Lothal turned into a full-out rebellion, with Hera and her squad joining the new Alliance to Restore the Republic when it was officially formed by Mon Mothma in 2 BBY. This made the group, known as the Spectres, and their cell, the Phoenix Squadron, among the earliest to join the fledgling rebellion and make a more concerted resistance against the Imperial reign.
Hera quickly rose through the ranks of the Alliance and by the time of the liberation of Lothal was a General. Hera arrived at the planet with a squad of X-Wings that was subsequently shot down by Grand Admiral Thrawn’s forces, and Hera was taken prisoner by the Empire. Kanan Jarrus infiltrated the complex and rescued her, but in so doing sacrificed his life to save the others. Motivated by Kanan’s sacrifice, the rest of the squad seized an opportunity to drive the Empire off of Lothal, which they did – though losing Ezra Bridger in the process, as he and Thrawn were taken into hyperspace to an unknown location. Very soon after the fight on Lothal, the Rebellion mounted an attack on the Imperial facility on Scarif, sending the Rebel fleet to aid Rogue One. General Syndulla fought in this battle aboard the Ghost, and she would also fight in many other important battles in the Galactic Civil War, including at the Mako-Ta Space Docks and the Battle of Endor, having emerged as one of the Rebellion’s best leaders, military strategists, and pilots.
As the Rebellion then re-organized into the New Republic after their victory at Endor, Hera continued to serve as a high-ranking military leader in the New Republic, with General Syndulla leading a battle group and overseeing production of the Starhawk project at the Nadiri Dockyards. The Empire had a vested interest in destroying the new ship and mounted an attack, but the Starhawk nonetheless helped ensure a New Republic victory at the Battle of Jakku, which marked the official end of the Civil War and the end of the Empire.
In all of this, Hera was regarded as a hero of the Rebellion and a key leader, and she quickly became a fan favorite. Sometime during the early days of the War she gave birth to a son, Jacen Syndulla, who was born following his father Kanan’s death. By that point she had also reconciled with her father, as they partnered in their mutual efforts to fight against the Empire and came to better understand the other’s motivations in doing so.
We don’t know what happened to Hera or Cham or Jacen after the War, but we do know that the Ghost was present at the Battle of Exegol decades later. In The Bad Batch, however, we’re seeing things before the events of Rebels and after the events of The Clone Wars, and we’re getting a much closer look at the Syndulla family – a very important family in Star Wars animated storytelling.