Ahsoka Alters a Contentious Design of a Rebel Character

When her tiny green-haired boy announces, “I wanna be a Jedi,” like his Aunt Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), Hera Syndulla’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) grin twitches with a trace of regret. Intriguingly, “Star Wars Rebels” viewers won’t hear the Twi’lek-human youngster Jacen Syndulla (Evan Whitten) say, “Like my dad!” “Ahsoka,” the live-action sequel to “Rebels,” probably won’t want to spend too much time revisiting old characters. Hera seems to be saving the story of Jacen’s human father for another time. This is just as intriguing as his transformation from his classic cartoon form, which set the standard for humanoid hybrids in the “Star Wars” universe.

A “Rebels” viewer may have exclaimed, “I would like to see the [green] baby,” long before Werner Herzog uttered it in the first season of “The Mandalorian.” Not even Mando baby Grogu. Jacen Syndulla, though. Finally seeing the little fellow in real action for the first time in “Ahsoka” has answered some questions and added to the fascination of others.

Parentage of Jacen

Get out of here, Han Solo and Leia Organa. You two do not make up the best couple in the universe. Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Kanan Jarrus and Vanessa Marshall’s Hera Syndulla are the OTP of “Rebels.” They’re a pair of space-married Jedi. After four seasons of what could be perceived as an epic will-they-won’t-they, it was revealed in the series finale that the two had already done the deed when Hera appeared with a son.

Since his 10-second cameo in the “Rebels” epilogue as an awkward CGI child in Hera’s copilot seat, Jacen has been a source of interest (and has caused the jaws of a million people to drop, including those of the voice actor who played Hera in “Rebels”). Not only did his appearance raise questions, but he also proved that Kanan and Hera made love. It was said that he was an eyesore to some. By all appearances, the animation studio was unable to come up with a good concept. This was made more uncomfortable by the fact that his father was a brown-coded figure (voiced by Prinze, who is of Puerto Rican origin), making his pale-orange skin (acquired from his Twi’lek grandfather Cham Syndulla) appear bleached.

The offspring of a Twi’lek and human coupling was not the first time it was depicted in the “Star Wars” saga, but it was the first time the offspring was more human looking with human hair instead of lekku. Viewers of Season 2 of “The Clone Wars” were introduced to the lekku and splotchy-skinned Twi’lek-human hybrid children who were the stepchildren of the rogue clone Cut Lawquane.

A Human-Twi’lek cross

Fans have either adored or criticized Jacen because he doesn’t have the typical Twi’lek lekku tendrils for his hair. In the same way that Taylor Gray’s “Rebels” character, Ezra Bridger, was known as the “Blueberry Child” because to his bluish hair, Jacen was dubbed the “Broccoli Child” due to his greenish mane. Their offspring’s hair color could be influenced by their Twi’lek parents’ skin tone, in this case Hera’s green complexion. I take it this is how the Punnett square of the galaxy is calculated. Some people even regarded the green hair in “Star Wars” to be strange, and that was without considering the anime genetics theory. There were rumors that his hair was dyed to match his mother’s skin tone by Sabine Wren, a chronic hair dyer.

People were therefore interested by Jacen’s potential future live-action presence. Redditors speculated that a live-action Jacen makeover with brown hair was hinted at when a “Star Wars” LEGO set included a Jacen LEGO with brown hair. As Jacen on “Ahsoka,” dark-haired Evan Whitten proved to be a correct and incorrect pick.

From Animated to Real-Life Production

The decision to give Jacen hair instead of lekku to animate him was undoubtedly deliberate. It may have been a pragmatic choice not to burden a child actor with extensive makeup if the animators knew that these characters might be adapted to live action. A human face requires less upkeep than a lekku-painted one. The green color of Whitten’s hair may also be masking the fact that the cartoon model’s ears had a green tint to them.

According to his character sheet, “Rebels” animators planned to give Jacen the same teal eyes as his father, but the final animated version of the character had dark blue eyes instead. The live-action “Ahsoka” uses the actor’s natural brown eyes because it’s probably easier than trying to give a child color lenses. In contrast to the pale orange skin, Whitten’s Jacen has a brown complexion like Kanan. Jacen’s costume is complete with a Republic shoulder pauldron, just like his late father’s.

Is There A Broccoli Baby On The Way?

So, a human male Jedi and a female Twi’lek from the Rebel Alliance have a child, right? When, then, was Jacen… created? As far as we can tell, this occurred in “Rebels” Season 4 Episode 7 “Kindred.” Even though “Kindred” had a rather mild conversation between the two as they watched the sunset (a ominous symbol of loss), Disney wouldn’t allow them to imply that something more adult transpired between the two.

An outdated “Notes and references” page on Wookieepedia claims that when asked about Jacen’s conception, “Rebels” author Henry Gilroy said:

When did Jacen Syndulla come into the world? Bria LaVorgna asked. In the episode “Kindred,” [Henry] Gilroy describes a situation in which Hera comes across Kanan meditating in the fields. After then, he claimed, there was a temporal jump, or dissolve, and that “a lot of things can happen in a dissolve.”

This suggests that Kanan and Hera had their sex before getting back to business with the Rebellion and their adopted children during a convenient time like a commercial break. The birth control must have been left behind. Kanan never got to meet his son since he died trying to protect Hera and the crew of the Ghost from an explosion on Lothal. Is Jacen familiar with that development? That has yet to be determined.

Jacen’s Promising Future

Whitten’s destiny was speculated upon for years before he was born with Jacen’s green hair, as he was expected to inherit Kanan’s Force sensitivity. The fact that he shares his name with Han and Leia’s Star Wars Legends offspring may be a portent. Fans of the Legends can attest that Ben Solo’s ancestor, Jacen Solo, succumbed to the Dark Side and murdered his aunt Mara Jade, so we can only hope that Jacen Syndulla doesn’t do anything similarly horrific to his “Aunt Sabine.” But that aside, some may notice that “Jacen” has the phonetic syllable of his parents’ names: Jarrus and Syndulla.

However, “Rebels” adopts a different approach, celebrating family ties even though the previous Jedi Order did not. In the wake of Order 66, Jedi like Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger have shown they can thrive with the help of their families. Considering this lineage, it cannot be denied that the live-action Jacen is just as gorgeous as his father was. The Twi’lek-human appears to have a bright future ahead of him, so long as he is supported by his caring loved ones.

New episodes of “Ahsoka” air every Tuesday at 6:00 pm Pacific/9:00 pm Eastern on Disney+.

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