Updated: Feb 26, 2021
Dave Filoni is a great writer.
That’s something that very few would disagree with, I think. His work in Clone Wars and Rebels led to unforgettable stories and characters that will leave you crying for weeks (I was going to add a little joke here where I was like “looking at you, [list of episodes that made me cry really hard] but then the list got too long so now I’m just telling you about it). Easy examples of Filoni’s excellent writing in Star Wars are the characters of Ahsoka Tano, the entire Ghost Crew, and countless different clone troopers, like Captain Rex. Someone often overlooked when talking about how good Filoni is, however, is Hondo Ohnaka.
Making appearances in both The Clone Wars and Rebels, Hondo Ohnaka is loved by so many people. But something about him that I’ve always thought is interesting is how AWFUL of a person he is. I mean seriously, if you look at it objectively, he’s not a good dude. He captured and tortured Anakin and Obi-Wan when they were supposed to be negotiating a prisoner transfer with him, he terrorizes a small farming village with his band of pirates, he raided a peaceful Jedi ship with younglings on board, tried to sell Ahsoka into slavery, captured Vizago on his own ship, sold out the Lasat refugees and Ghost Crew to the Empire and still demanded payment, and then betrayed the Ghost Crew again to try and get some treasure with Azmorigan. That’s a list worthy of an antagonist, yet you can’t help but root for Hondo.
Part of the charm of Hondo’s character is that despite it all, he seems to actually care for characters he deems worthy of it, like Ezra. The humor he brings to the table certainly doesn’t hurt him either. He’s hard to hate as a character, despite doing some awful and frankly, usually unforgivable things. A lot of writers would seriously struggle with making Hondo a character that people like, yet Filoni seems to accomplish it without even having the character be used all that much in either show he’s in. Hondo seems to have rather few morals, but he’s got a charm that the audience just can’t resist.
It’s really an accomplishment to take a character with an impressive resume when it comes to doing pretty awful things, and still making him so lovable. There’s something about Hondo’s character that makes you forget the kind of things he does just because of how much you want to love him. Sure, he tortured our protagonists, but how can you think about that when he’s giving lines like “Insolence? We are pirates! We don’t even know what that means!”