Monday, January 26, 2015

The Case for Dhara Leonis

My post about Idiot's Array was delayed for several reasons, but one of them was the knowledge that there would be no new episode this week. This meant I could procrastinate without fear, I mean gather my thoughts for another look at this episode in particular and season one in general.

The new Expanded Universe has included a good amount of characters of color in the canon, and Rebels has been part of that. Lando joins Sabine, Dhara and Zare Leonis, and more in the cast. It's not earth-shattering, but it's good.

Similarly, an episode that features the unfortunate Twi'lek slave trope is also a great one for Hera. She isn't front and center - the plot at large is an ensemble story, or Lando's by virtue of singularity. Hera, though, really has all the cards. She's the first one to recognize Lando as a con man, and she ends the episode on her own terms. It wouldn't have been difficult to argue that Kanan was nominally in charge in previous episodes, partially because he got so much screen time and is in charge of Ezra specifically. In those earlier episodes too, we see Kanan deferring to Hera, and Hera negotiating with Sabine, a more mature, intelligent character.

The discussion about diversity in Rebels brings me back to Dhara Leonis. It would be so important to see her as a morally ambiguous, powerful character. As Luke struggled with his love for his father, Zare Leonis might have to struggle with his love for a sister apprenticed to the Inquisitor.

It's possible that she's dead - that she was mentioned just to make the Imperial Academy and the Inquisitor more frightening. Her importance in Servants of the Empire seems to say otherwise, though.

The new Expanded Universe added a black female Imperial officer, Rae Sloane, in A New Dawn, too. There is no quota to fill, no requirement that one black or one female character be in focus at a time. I'd love to see Dhara Leonis return to Rebels with her own story. Maybe she could even take over from the Inquisitor as the season two villain.

Sometimes I wonder whether I like Dhara so much because we haven't seen her yet - haven't had a chance for her to be sexualized or marginalized or killed to further someone else's plot line. She might as well be wearing a mask.

Apparently, all of that procrastination I did between episodes came back around to Dhara. Idiot's Array was an excellent episode, not just because of the diversity. Lando's appearance and Hera's strength reminds me that diversity will only improve the show.

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