Kanan and Hera (Kanera) fall in love under the Empire and their romance is cut short when Kanan sacrifices himself to save her and their team. But despite that darkness they share a healthy, happy, and hopeful relationship.
I didn’t watch Star Wars Rebels until the summer before its last season. I’d already cut cable so it wasn’t easily accessible and I didn’t make it a priority. But my daughter encouraged me to watch, said I would especially love the women characters and the team-as-family dynamic, and she was right. When I finally started, I caught up in two weeks.
I described Hera Syndulla as one of my top five Star Wars characters almost immediately. Hera is guarded, but not afraid of affection. She’s both rigid and reckless. She dreams of flying and freedom, but is grounded in her purpose with the Rebellion. She’s good at her job, pushes people to be their best, and stands up for what she believes in. She treats Chopper as a person, relies on him, listens to him and cares about his needs and feelings. And because she does, everyone else does, too. She does everything with her whole heart, never gives up, and is willing to burn everything down rather than give in to her enemy. And she loses a lot, but keeps going. I love her. And I love all her relationships.
And especially her relationship with Kanan. Together they are the beating heart of the series. Kanan and Hera have an established relationship when Ezra and the audience meet them. They are partners, Kanan the leader of the crew and Hera the captain of the ship, and confidants, they know each other’s history and secrets, fears and desires. The romance is only overt in the last season, but there are many verbal and nonverbal cues that point to it throughout the series. Hera and Kanan build their relationship from the events described in the novel A New Dawn to its ultimately tragic (Star Wars ™) end.
Kanera is potentially the most healthy romance in Star Wars. Their only competitors are parents of main characters. The Lars, the Organas, the Wrens, the Bridgers, etc. – couples who exist in the periphery. Kanan and Hera are peers and equals. Due to the time period, Kanan escapes the strictures of the Jedi Order and crafts his own understanding of the Jedi Code. Trauma is a very real part of their lives but they lean on each other to get through it. Boundaries are clear and disagreements are addressed. Basically they understand that communication, trust and respect are key to a successful relationship. If you are looking for a Star Wars romance to emulate, this is the one.
The Legacy of Kanera
After his death, Kanan appears briefly as a Force Ghost, at least some of his spirit lives on in the loth-wolf, Dume, and Hera births their son, Jacen. Kanera also lives on in the team and the Rebellion. In the first episode of Rebels, Kanan and Hera communicate silently and secretly behind Ezra’s back and in the final episode, Ezra and Sabine communicate silently and secretly behind Hera’s back. It highlights the impact of their mentors and the Ghost family and proves hope survives. To paraphrase Yoda in The Last Jedi, Ezra and Sabine grew beyond Kanan and Hera, and it is beautiful.