Fans who were excited for the return of Star Wars Rebels are likely second guessing their life choices right now, as the two-part midseason premiere saw the tragic demise of a fan-favorite character who has been a part of the series since it began.
The final season of the animated series was always destined for tragedy, especially when the break ended with Hera Syndulla getting captured by the Empire.
Warning: Major spoilers for Star Wars Rebels below!
In "Jedi Night," the Ghost crew successfully mounts an escape for their imprisoned captain, with Hera being broken out of jail by her longtime ally and partner Kanan. The two finally (FINALLY!!!!) express their love for each other, but before they can escape, Governor Pryce launches an attack at their extraction point.
Unfortunately, they happen to be on top of the Empire's fuel reserves, causing a massive explosion.
Kanan uses the Force to hold back the flames long enough for Hera to hop on the gunship with Ezra and Sabine, though she refuses to leave the Jedi she loves behind. He pushes her onto the ship with his abilities, and seeing the ship is struggling to get away, pushes the ship out of the explosion's radius with his last action.
It's a dramatic moment and the most tragic scene yet in Star Wars Rebels, underscored with a closeup on Kanan's face where it appears that he has regained his eyesight. He looks at Hera one last time, and the flames engulf him.
The next episode in the two-part premiere, "Dume" begins with the Ghost crew reeling from the loss. Zeb is incredulous upon Hela's return, but as soon as he senses Ezra's pain he simply hugs him. Hera, in tears, gets consoled by Chopper. But the Empire plans a parade for their victory.
However, Kanan's sacrifice and the Empire's action does result in a victory for the Rebels — the fuel pod's destruction halts the production of the TIE Defender, the new weapon capable of taking on a fleet of enemies single handedly.
It's a poor trade off and in the wake of Kanan's death, can hardly be seen as a silver lining, but it does give the Rebels one advantage moving forward in the battle against the Empire.
Star Wars Rebels airs Mondays on Disney XD.