CS Soapbox: Why The Mandalorian’s Ahsoka Tano Wants To Find Grand Admiral Thrawn
Warning! Spoilers for The Mandalorian Chapter 13, “The Jedi”
Ahsoka Tano (AKA “Snips”), the Jedi apprentice of Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars, made her debut in the feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008). Created by George Lucas and Dave Filoni late in the game, Ahsoka’s presence as a pivotal character in the animations made sense (ish). However, her absence in both the original Star Wars films did not. That said, it’s safe to say many of us thought the Force-sensitive Togruta would be contained to the (animated) small screen, until recently.
Jon Favreau and Filoni’s live-action series The Mandalorian (taking place 5 years after Episode VI) is going to admirable lengths to tie the films and animations together—creating a cohesive galaxy far, far away… finally. So far, Season 2 saw the return of bounty hunter Boba Fett and the live-action debuts of Clone Wars characters Bo-Katan Kryze and Ahsoka, the former instructing Din Djarin to bring Baby Yoda (Grogu?) to the latter. The much-rumored/anticipated appearance of Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) in Chapter 13 “The Jedi” sets the show up to implement even more characters.
Din finds Ahsoka on the planet of Crovus, where she’s trying to liberate the town of Calodon from Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth. In a team-up the likes of “a Mandalorian and a Jedi? They’ll never see it coming,” Din and Ahsoka take down the magistrate. In Ahsoka’s climactic confrontation with Morgan, the Force-wielder asks, “where is your master? Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?” For fans of Star Wars Rebels (and perhaps the Expanded Universe), that name has huge implications.
With his red eyes and blue skin, Thrawn -created by author Timothy Zahn for the 1991 book “Heir to the Empire”- is one of the most intimidating villains in all of Star Wars. As an expert tactician with an affinity for alien cultures, Thrawn swiftly rose through the Empire’s ranks. He is the main antagonist in seasons 3 and 4 of the Filoni-created animated series Star Wars Rebels. That series, taking place after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, follows the Rebellion in its infancy. Specifically, the crew of the Ghost: the Twi’lek Hera Syndulla, the Mandalorian Sabine Wren, the Lasat Zeb Orrelios, Jedi Kanan Jarrus (master), and Ezra Bridger (apprentice). The mention of Bridger here is most important as his fate and that of Thrawn have become intertwined.
In Rebels’ finale, while fighting to free the planet of Lothal, Ezra calls upon a group of purrgils -AKA hyperspace-traveling whales- to engulf Thrawn’s Star Destroyer with him and Ezra still aboard. The sacrifice play sees the Empire’s Seventh Fleet aimlessly jump to hyperspace—neither Thrawn nor Ezra have been seen since. The episode’s epilogue features a flash-forward, taking place after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi/the Empire’s defeat, in which Ahsoka (who has run-ins with the protagonists of Rebels) Hera and Sabine meet up on Lothal to look for Ezra. That said, the mention of Thrawn in The Mandalorian could mean Ahsoka is still looking for her friend. “The Jedi” writer/director Filoni said hinted to Vanity Fair that Rebels’ final scene may take place after Ashoka’s appearance in The Mandalorian:
If the Rebels epilogue happened after the events of The Mandalorian, then perhaps Ahsoka is about to reunite with Hera and Sabine. If it happened before, then Ahsoka is still searching for Ezra. The mysterious “Thrawn” reveal presents the prospect of the aforementioned Rebels characters being introduced in The Mandalorian, potentially positioning Thrawn as its ultimate threat and Moff Gideon’s (the current baddie out for Grogu) boss. The idea that Thrawn and Gideon could be working together (to resurrect Emperor Palpatine via Grogu’s blood/bring about the rise of the First Order?) is exciting, to say the least. Regardless, if Thrawn survived the end of Rebels, so did Ezra.
Although Ahsoka refuses to train Grogu (probably because of that whole Darth Vader thing) in “The Jedi,” she tells Din to take him to the Jedi Temple on Tython. While there, Grogu can reach out with the Force and find another Jedi to train him. While many fans are speculating/hoping that either Luke Skywalker or Yoda may respond, it’s more likely that Ezra will be the one to reveal himself. Like Grogu, Ezra was initially considered to be too emotional to become a Jedi—he’s the perfect master.
On a final note, it would be enormous fun if Thrawn were somehow revealed to be played by actor Richard E. Grant, who previously portrayed Allegiant General Enric Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Although Pryde was pretty much a standard, by-the-numbers First Order baddie with no connection to previous characters, a scene where Pryde speaks with Palpatine shows off a scar and a strange mole/button on his neck (one that Grant does not sport in real life, as seen in the picture above). It’s a blink-and-you’ll miss it detail, but it comes during a scene where Pryde pledges, “As I served you in the old wars, I serve you now.” It’s a strange scene to have in the film if it wasn’t in reference to SOMETHING important. Could it be that Thrawn changed his name and had a face lift/skin dye at some point in the timeline? Perhaps to evade Ahsoka and/or Ezra? Are we giving The Rise of Skywalker WAAAAAY more credit than it deserves for setting up a big payoff? The fact is we can think of no one else better suited to play Thrawn than Grant, but we shall see what Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have in store for us!
Who do you think should play Thrawn on The Mandalorian? Who should play Ezra? Which Jedi do you think Grogu will meet on this mysterious planet? Let us know in the comments below!
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)