The second season of Star Wars Rebels just ended, with an episode that had huge ramifications not just for the show, but for Star Wars as a whole. Death! Deceit! New characters! Old characters! Twists! Mystery! It’s the kind of episode you just have to talk about—and we did just that, with the best person possible. Star Wars Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni.
Speaking to io9, Filoni answered every burning question you probably have as the second season closes. We’ve also got answers to some questions you probably haven’t even thought of, including some of the implications for the series going forward, as well as how the show will tie in with the movies. Filoni even gave us some great teases for season three.
Major spoilers follow!
What happened to Ahsoka Tano?
After her powerful showdown with her former master, Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader, the fate of Ahsoka Tano was left in question. Is she alive? Is she dead? Unsurprisingly, since her fate was left ambiguous on the show, Filoni wouldn’t give an answer. But he would say this: “I’ve already been devising certain specifics around the future of that character, where she is, what’s happening, if she dies, how would she survive if she did? All of those questions. I think they eventually need to be answered—but I wouldn’t look to that, frankly, anytime soon.”
Did Ahsoka’s battle with Darth Vader have any lasting impact on that him?
“I personally have never felt that anything changes Vader until Luke,” Filoni said. “The Vader that we encounter in Rebels was always meant to be the one devoid of emotions, except for anger, hate and suffering. That he was so trapped inside himself because of the terrible things that happened. Anakin never thinks of himself as betraying his friends. He sees it as his friends betrayed him and the Republic. He has to live on that side of the fence because the truth is just too damming.
“So he wants to destroy Ahsoka because she represents his past. She represents knowledge of who he was and he wants to wipe that out. His son represents a potential future because his son wouldn’t know who he was. So he could build a new galaxy together with his son. His apprentice is his past and he needs to destroy her.”
Oh, and if you’re wondering if there was a temptation for Ahsoka to call Vader “Skyguy” in the episode, Filoni admits there was. But tonally, it was such a fine line, they decided against it.
Is Ezra Bridger turning to the Dark Side?
Throughout the finale, Ezra Bridger seemed swayed by a mysterious entity who is revealed to be Darth Maul (more on him in a bit). And, in the episode’s final moment, Ezra somehow opens the Sith Holocron—an action that can only be done by someone using the Dark Side—and then we see evil red eyes. Uh-oh.
“He has to deal with [the Dark Side] as everyone does,” Filoni says. “We’ll have to see. I think Ezra has been trained well by Kanan, but there are some big repercussions for them [in the finale]. No one really came out of that unscathed. Ezra was bewitched and deceived a bit by Maul, and Kanan... went down a path that lead to him being blind. But we will deal with those things pretty head on. They’re very important to the story.”
Did Ezra really lose his awesome lightsaber?
In his battle with Darth Vader, Ezra lost his combination lightsaber/blaster which has become a fan favorite. Filoni sees this loss as more of a rite of passage.
“[At the beginning of the show,] Ezra was so inexperienced that I thought ‘If this kid gets into a lightsaber fight, he’s toast,’” Filoni said. “So I had to come up with something that could protect him at range. But he’s more experienced now and I kinda didn’t want to keep him with his training wheels on so much. He gets a little bold there and takes on Vader—not the best idea—and the price he pays is ‘Bye bye, lightsaber.’”
What was up with that very familiar looking green cross guard lightsaber?
Speaking of lightsabers, one of the biggest discussion points before the episode aired was the fact Ezra is seen holding a green, cross guard lightsaber, very much like the one Kylo Ren uses in The Force Awakens. Filoni said that Ezra won’t be replacing his broken saber with this one (unfortunately), but that it did not belong to a Sith.
“Kylo Ren was really fascinating to me because he seemed to be a student of history, especially Sith history and Jedi history,” Filoni said. “So I asked if I could put a cross guard saber among the artifacts among the ruins of this temple. I just wanted to put it in for one shot as a nod to [The Force Awakens team]. That thousands of years ago, there were some other Jedi who had it. So it absolutely was a Jedi’s.”
Is Darth Maul back?
Hell yes, he is. And in a big way, too. “We tend to lean more towards Maul being the foil on the Darker side of the Force for our heroes in the next season,” said Filoni. “You will see more of Maul, which I think is a great thing for the show.”
Are the Inquisitors really dead and will there be more of them?
Sorry, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Your character, the Seventh Sister, along with the Fifth Brother and a mysterious new Inquisitor, are all dead and gone. In fact, Filoni hinted that we may have seen, if not the last of the Inquisitors, close to it.
“Will there be another Inquisitor? We’ll have to wait and see,” Filoni said. “But we are getting ever closer to the time period of A New Hope, and I’ve trying to live a little bit more by the rules you see in that film. And there isn’t a mention of Inquisitors in that film. It might be something you see less and less of.”
Speaking of which, who was that new Inquisitor?
For most of season 2, we followed the Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister, a pair of Inquisitors whose mere names hinted at the existence of more. Well there were more, and we met one in the finale. While we don’t know the character’s name, Filoni would confirm its species.
“This is a deep, deep cut, so look in your character encyclopedia—but he is a Terellian Jango Jumper,” Filoni said. “Which is a real thing. Trust me, I’m not even making that up. Cassie Cryar, in The Clone Wars, was part of this little pair of thieves, and they stole Ahsoka’s lightsaber, and he’s the same as that. They’re acrobatic and can jump and do all kinds of things.”
Bonus: The identity of the Grand Inquisitor revealed
For the second season in a row, Rebels wiped out the season’s primary villains in the finale. In the first season, that was the Grand Inquisitor, who makes a weird appearance in season two as some kind of dream for Kanan. So who exactly was that character?
“The Grand Inquisitor was a Jedi Knight,” said Filoni “He is one of the temple guards that arrests Ahsoka when she is accused of treason against the Jedi Knights. And he is also one of, more importantly, the Temple Guards in Clone Wars that is with Anakin when he fights Barriss Offee and arrests her for treason. So he is one of the two guards, I believe, that escorts her into the giant courtroom where Palpatine is overseeing everything. So he hears Barriss’ complete speech about the corruption and the state of the Senate and Jedi Order. And that is kind of like a seed that gets planted in his mind about she’s right. And when Order 66 comes out, he further realizes how right she is about all of the corruption. So it was like the beginnings of his descent into the Dark Side.”
Was that really a Knights of the Old Republic reference on the show?
Yes and no. The finale took place on a planet called Malachor, a planet which plays a prominent role in a popular series of Star Wars video games that take place thousands of years in the past. And yes, the game series has a story about a Jedi battle there, much like the one referenced on the show. But Filoni doesn’t think fans should read too much into it. He admits to borrowing a lot of names, background characters, and ships regularly from the former Expanded Universe, which is now known as Legends. He’s been doing so since The Clone Wars. He feels it was a rich place for creative types to go crazy with Star Wars, and that meant lots and lots of great ideas which they can use.
“Malachor is a name that people would know,” he said. “For the people who know that lore, they’re going to be excited by that. It’s really fun to mine those characters and things.”
Are Ezra and Kanan alive during the time of the Star Wars movies?
We’ve written extensively about the Star Wars paradox of having more Jedi still around in the universe, as we get into a timeline where Luke Skywalker is constantly referred to as the final Jedi. Well, Filoni has heard those complaints and has some very interesting thoughts on them.
“Yoda says, ‘When gone I am, the last of the Jedi will you be.’ ‘Of the Jedi’ could be a group of Jedi. You don’t know... That’s not to say I believe there are a lot of Jedi running around by Return of the Jedi. I think there are Force-wielding people, but whether they subscribe to the Jedi philosophy of how you use the Force is another question... But fans deal in absolutes, like Sith.”
He also points out a key line in the finale where Ahsoka says “I am no Jedi”—but still uses the Force and fights with two lightsabers.
“She does say ‘I am no Jedi,’ very clearly,” Filoni explained. “So if she says that and Yoda later says ‘When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be,’ he’s definitely not talking about her. There were so many options of lines to give in this episode, and one of them along the way of the season was that Ahsoka would mention that Yoda wouldn’t think of her as a Jedi because she’s not, necessarily, practicing that path any more. She’s still in the Light Side, for sure, but she’s not a Jedi practitioner per se.”
Whether or not that could cover the ultimate fates of Ezra and Kanan, Filoni would only hint. But he did answer this.
Can the good guys even be killed on a Disney XD show?
When we come down to it, Star Wars Rebels is on a cable channel meant for children. So would a show like that really even have the option to kill off its main, good guy, characters?
“If it serves the story, and the point of the story was to do that, then absolutely yes,” Filoni said. “We would have to have a really good reason for doing that. It would have to make sense and it would be something I talked about with my co-workers at Disney XD... But there has to be room for that, or we’re not being authentic to Star Wars anymore.”
How much are they looking at the events of Rogue One?
The next Star Wars movie hitting theaters is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which takes place in the same time line as Rebels. Filoni admitted the film’s existence has been handled “very, very, very carefully.”
“One of the most important things that has less to do with the timeline of the story itself, is I want the awesome things in [director] Gareth [Edwards]’s movie to be special when it comes out,” he said. “I would never want our series to get ahead of that. Whatever you see in that film, with our time periods being closer, we want to make sure there are things that make sense between the two and we’re very careful about that as we’ve been with A New Hope. Things we are doing are leading towards that.”
What’s coming up in season 3?
With season two all done, it’s time to look ahead at Season three. And Filoni was nice enough to give us a few really great teases, in addition to the aforementioned ones about Darth Maul playing a part, Ezra’s struggle with the Dark Side, and Kanan’s blindness.
“Season 3 introduces some titanic differences from the other seasons we had,” he said. “You’re going to start to see the struggle of this Rebellion take even stronger shape. We’ve kind of been scaling that up every season underneath the character development, but it’s clear by A New Hope that the Rebellion has gotten pretty organized and a lot larger than the Empire thinks it is. So one of the ideas running about is there’s a group within the Empire, and you kind of see this portrayed in A New Hope in the Imperial Fleet, when they say ‘These Rebels are a threat,’ and then he says ‘To your star fleet, but not this battle station.’ So there’s a division within the Empire [about] how dangerous the Rebels are. And we need to kind of get us up to earning that. So you’re going to see a little bit more of an increase to what the Rebellion is.
“We are [also] going to delve a bit more into things with the Mandalorians and Sabine’s story,” Filoni said. “Sabine’s story will grow greatly in importance in the third season, and she kind of comes up to stand next to Ezra as far as being an important player on the show. And she isn’t as much a supporting character, which I think is a great transition for her as a character.”
Finally, does he know how it all ends?
Even beyond season three, Filoni and his team have the series all worked out through the end, whenever that may be.
“We have Rebels figured out all the way through now,” he said. “Even if things change along the way, I want to know where we’re headed in the story. That’s not to say the story can’t change as the characters reveal new things about themselves, but I need to know where the story is being delivered. If we’re telling a multiple season story, I want to know where this kid is going. Why does this kid exist for us? Why was Ezra so important we had to tell a story about him? And we’ve evolved that.”