As I mentioned in my last post about Star Wars Rebels, I have struggled to write reviews for these last few episodes. There seemed like something was off with them. They were well made and moved the plot along, but there was something missing. But there was something about episode 17, Secret Cargo, which I wanted to take the time to talk about, namely Mon Mothma.
When I watched the original trilogy for the first time, it felt odd that there were only two women. I knew Leia was important, but I didn’t get who the lady dressed in white was, or why I should care. But it was a war movie and I was 10, so I didn’t think too much on it.
As I got more into the universe, I realized that there were a number of different female characters in Star Wars who were well written and well developed. Mon Mothma was never one of these characters. I saw her in leadership roles throughout the Expanded Universe (EU) but she always seemed to play the same role: the strong, but silent leader that pushed the plot along. I knew who she was in the story, but I didn’t know who Mon Mothma was as a character.
None of that changed until I read the Aftermath books. I began to see who Mon Mothma was, not just as a rebel leader, but as a politician, friend, and person. And what made the episode of Rebels, Secret Cargo, so meaningful was her presence in those novels.
But before I get too far ahead of myself, let me recap the episode.
A Secret Cargo Recap
While waiting to refuel a rebel ship carrying a highly valuable rebel leader, the Ghost crew is spotted by an Imperial recon droid. They were able to destroy the droid’s ship, but not before it was able to alert other imperials of the rebel presence. The other rebel ships arrive, and the refueling begins.
Just as fueling gets underway, an Imperial destroyer shows up and opens fire on the rebels, disabling the ship carrying the important cargo. This forces the crew of that ship, and its secret guest to board the Ghost. Among those that come aboard is Senator Mon Mothma of the Galactic Senate.
Earlier in the episode, the crew of the Ghost heard Senator Mon Mothma give a rousing speech about the Emperor’s crimes against the galaxy. She denounces her position in the senate and calls for all under the thumb of this tyrant to rise up and join them in rebellion.
Hera and the crew have to now transport the senator to a specific location where she will deliver another address, one aimed to inspire the unification of all rebel cells into one great rebellion.
Spanners get thrown in the mix, plans get upset, but in the end, the rebellion is born.
Who is Mon Mothma?
This is an important question to answer. We saw Senator Mothma in the prequel episodes talking about the dangers of then Chancellor Palpatine’s rise to power and what that could mean. From the last days of the Republic, through the rise of the Empire, and well into the formation of the New Republic, Mon Mothma has been a part of the leadership striving to give peace a chance.
Mon in the New Canon
Mon Mothma was not someone that I saw a lot in the old canon. In fact, the speech I refer to earlier is actually a deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith. I don’t recall her being too present in either of the earlier movies or even playing a major role in the Clone Wars, although she did have some key moments in a few episodes. What I want to make clear is that while she was in many small parts in stories across the EU, I never got to know her as a person.
That has all changed with the new canon. We’ve seen her step more into the spotlight with her addition in Rogue One, the Aftermath trilogy, and now with this episode. We’ don’t get much about her character from Rogue One that we don’t get in the other films. She’s a strong, capable leader, who is principled, even in war.
What I loved about this episode and her role in Aftermath is that we see the toll leadership and rebellion take on her as a politician and as a person. Now, this is more so outlined in the books, but we get the beginnings of that in this episode.
What I find so important and so wonderful is that we finally get to see what the leadership is going through during this time when we are let into the mind of Mon Mothma. We see some rebel leaders show restraint. We see others as balls-out warmongers. But, in Senator Mothma, we see the quiet struggle between fighting for freedom and the cost of that fight.
Before, I viewed her as kind of a flat character, only there to deliver a line and move the plot along. Now, I realize what an impact she had on the rebellion and what her quiet dignity provided to those looking for a new hope.
Finally, as a father of two daughters, I want my girls to grow up with strong female characters. And as their parent, I am going to make them watch Star Wars; it’s my duty. But I want them to be able to look at the women in this galaxy far away and find someone they can look up to. And while there are many great female characters already in the universe, I now have another one I can add to that list: Mon Mothma.
What are your thoughts on the episode and on Senator Mon Mothma herself? Am I reading into this more than is really there, like I have a tendency of doing? Is she just a background character like I once thought, or is her role in the universe much more important that I gave her credit for? Leave a comment in the section below.