From the very beginning, Star Wars Rebels has done a good job at keeping its connections to the Star Wars saga films clear and believable, whether it be through character appearances or cameos, to the foreshadowing of iconic events in the Original Trilogy. Obviously, fans knew that it taking place between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope meant that it would have to feature some of those Easter eggs, but showrunner Dave Filoni and the creative team behind the series have still managed to find ways to keep most of those connections unexpected and unique. But with the second half of season three, Rebels is set to feature its most-anticipated cameo appearance ever.
Much to the delight of Star Wars fans everywhere, the Rebels midseason trailer confirmed the return of Obi-Wan Kenobi to the Star Wars universe, in what looks to be the long-awaited rematch between he and Darth Maul. But even though Obi-Wan's appearance has been one that fans have been asking for, really ever since the series premiere, viewers should expect a whole lot more from the return than just the fan service aspect of it.
Speaking with Comic Book about the character's surprise appearance, Dave Filoni talked about deciding to include the character in the new season, and what it takes for he and the story team to justify a return of this magnitude. While he doesn't specify how and why exactly, Filoni says that Obi-Wan's appearance will, in some form or another, be "valuable" to Ezra and the rest of the Rebels main characters:
"I've always said, it's the same thing with Ahsoka. It has to be valuable to Ezra. This experience, whatever it is, whatever form it takes, has to be valuable to the characters that are the center of Star Wars Rebels. There are a lot of things that I could do in Star Wars, and I try to do things that work with the story group to be true to the characters and where they need to go. It's surprising sometimes where they go. I would say it's surprising at the end of the day, and I don't want to give anything away, if we wind up in the presence of an old wizard, that would be a surprising thing to pull off.
It's not the most surprising thing to attempt to include Obi-Wan, and we've been, I think, pretty good. The way we included him in the pilot of Rebels, I really liked because it was a way to have him without really interfering, and it spoke to a moment in time for the characters. So, obviously I've been very fortunate over the years when we do do these Legacy characters. James Arnold Taylor was playing him in Clone Wars brilliantly and did a fantastic job, and then brought that back in Rebels when he's playing the Clone Wars era Obi-Wan. I have Stephen Stanton now, who's portraying this particular, if that's Obi-Wan (laughs), whoever it is."
Similar to both Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano's roles in Rebels season two, Obi-Wan's appearance was briefly set up earlier on in this season, when Darth Maul and Ezra first looked into the Sith and Jedi holocrons, only to see a brief vision of Twin Suns. At the time of the episode, many assumed that the vision was referring to Luke Skywalker living on Tatooine, but with Obi-Wan and Darth Maul now confirmed to cross paths once again on the familiar desert planet, it may have turned out to just be another clever bit of foreshadowing on Filoni's part.
Obi-Wan is far from being the only beloved, pre-existing character making an appearance in this season of Rebels, though, with both Grand Admiral Thrawn and Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) making appearances throughout it as well. But, to be fair, none of Rebels' cameo appearances quite seem to stack up to Obi-Wan's. After first facing off in A Phantom Menace, only to then unexpectedly fight each other again in The Clone Wars, the rivalry between he and Maul has become one of the most beloved and well-developed elements over the years. And now, fans only have to wait a little bit longer before they finally get to see the possible, epic conclusion to that story.
Star Wars Rebels continues this Saturday @8:30pm with "Through Imperial Eyes" on Disney XD.