When The Mandalorian brazenly introduced a certain former Jedi apprentice this past week, the show connected to the larger Star Wars universe in its biggest way yet. Ahsoka Tano isn’t just “The Jedi” who would help Din Djarin complete his quest with the Child, she’s a Jedi who knows way more than he, or anyone else, realizes.
Then, of course, there was that other character she mentioned at the end of the episode which shook things up even further and made us all question when, exactly, this all took place in the larger story of Ahsoka Tano and her animated adventures.
To quickly recap, the last time audiences saw Ahsoka prior to her live-action debut was at the end (for real this time) of the recently revitalized Star Wars: The Clone Wars. But that story took place before the epilogue of Star Wars Rebels. You with us? In the Rebels finale—sometime after the destruction of the second Death Star—Ahsoka picked up Sabine and went off to find Jedi Ezra Bridger, who disappeared several years prior along with the evil Grand Admiral Thrawn. In “The Jedi,” Chapter 13 of The Mandalorian—which also takes place sometimes after the destruction of the second Death Star—Ahsoka is still looking for Thrawn, going so far as to save an entire village in order to corner its Magistrate and ask her for his location.
Both the end of Star Wars Rebels and The Mandalorian take place between the feature films Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, but that covers several decades, leaving us with two options. One, Ahsoka and Sabine have already met and are out searching the galaxy for Ezra and Thrawn, or two, Ahsoka hasn’t recruited Sabine yet.
For an answer, Vanity Fair went right to the source, Chapter 13 writer and director Dave Filoni, who also happened to write and direct that Star Wars Rebels finale.
“That’s not necessarily chronological,” Filoni said. “I think the thing that people will most not understand is they want to go in a linear fashion, but as I learned as a kid, nothing in Star Wars really works in a linear fashion. You do [Episodes] Four, Five ,and Six and then One, Two, and Three. So in the vein of that history, when you look at the epilogue of Rebels you don’t really know how much time has passed. So, it’s possible that the story I’m telling in The Mandalorian actually takes place prior to that. Possible. I’m saying it’s possible.”
You’d think that was the end of it. But not so fast. As previously mentioned in our recap of The Mandalorian, the book Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy states that the epilogue of Rebels with Sabine and Ahsoka takes place in 5ABY. That’s five years after the battle of Yavin or, to put it simpler, about a year after Return of the Jedi. Other materials have slotted The Mandalorian around 9ABY, so four years after that. Meaning, if you go by the book, Ahsoka and Sabine have already met up. Rebels is first.
Now, Filoni doesn’t definitely answer the question posed to him but his response seems to suggest those events have been reversed, that The Mandalorian is happening before Star Wars Rebels’ epilogue. He doesn’t confirm it but he says it’s “possible.” So is it “possible” this Star Wars book is wrong? Sure. Women of the Galaxy was written in 2018, before Filoni wrote this episode of The Mandalorian. Maybe he didn’t know about the detail or just said “screw it” to tell his story.
If that’s the case and Filoni is being honest, my personal theory on this comes into play. I think Ahsoka learning Thrawn’s location in this episode is specifically what makes her go grab Sabine, knowing that Thrawn would have a better idea of Ezra’s whereabouts than anyone else in the galaxy.
Or, you know, the books are right. Time will tell.
It’s worth mentioning too that, when Rebels ended in early 2018, io9 asked Filoni about his plans for Ahsoka in regards to that epilogue. He told us her new outfit was “specific to her journey prior to seeing her at the end of Rebels” and that “while I understand the general path of it, I don’t understand the specific details as of yet—because I haven’t had to think about it in detail yet. And I don’t want to lock myself into promising the audience something if I later go into those things and explore.”
So, maybe the future was uncertain then. But it seems to be certain now.
Let us know what you think below, and here’s hoping we find out the answer in the next few weeks as The Mandalorian wraps up its excellent second season on Disney+.
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