Warning: the following contains spoilers for the series finale of Star Wars Rebels
After four seasons, Star Wars: Rebels has come to an end - but not without bringing one last Legends character into the canon. Dave Filoni's series has proved to be a love-letter to the entire Star Wars franchise, and not just to Disney's canon either. Along the way, Filoni has brought key characters from the old Expanded Universe back into play. The most prominent of these is Timothy Zahn's beloved Grand Admiral Thrawn, the master tactician who menaced the heroes of Rebels for much of the last two seasons.
It was recently teased that some major Expanded Universe names were about to be returned to canon, with many people assuming at least one of those instances would happen in Rebels. True to form, Filoni has used the series's end to name drop another key character from the old Expanded Universe. To the delight of Star Wars fans across the galaxy, Rebels has introduced Gilad Pellaeon.
Who is Gilad Pellaeon?
Back in 1991, Timothy Zahn effectively launched the Star Wars Expanded Universe with the so-called "Thrawn Trilogy." This series introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn, a Chiss who served in the Empire and launched a relentless war against the nascent New Republic. Thrawn was a tactical genius, with a ruthless intelligence that could outmaneuver his enemies with ease. He essentially played the role of the Empire's Sherlock Holmes, a Great Detective who could deduce his enemies' strategies with ease. And every Holmes needs a Watson, if only to explain to readers how he reached his conclusions.
Gilad Pellaeon was Thrawn's Watson. He was a loyal Imperial, a man who had served during the Clone Wars, and who remained with the Navy after the formation of the Empire. Thrawn recognized Pellaeon's potential, and chose his Star Destroyer - the Chimaera - as his flagship. In truth, Thrawn believed that Pellaeon had a uniquely insightful mind, and was schooling Gilad as another military leader.
In the old Expanded Universe, the Empire never truly fell; instead, it retreated towards the Galaxy's rim - similar to the First Order and the Unknown Regions in the current canon. In a remarkable twist, Gilad Pellaeon ultimately became leader of the Imperial Remnant. It was Pellaeon who signed a peace treaty with the New Republic. In so doing, he brought an end to decades of galactic war.
There's no way to overstate Pellaeon's importance to the old Expanded Universe. The Rebels finale has brought another classic character back into the Star Wars galaxy.
Does Pellaeon Have a Star Wars Future?
It's one thing to introduce a character, of course; it's entirely another to develop them. Unfortunately, the situation here is a little more difficult. This was, after all, the final episode of Rebels; it's entirely possible Pellaeon died with Thrawn's fleet, and will never be mentioned again beyond a brief "Captain Pallaeon" name drop by Thrawn.
There is, however, another possibility. Thrawn's new-canon history has already been explored in the Star Wars novels. Timothy Zahn's novel Thrawn revealed that the Grand Admiral's focus was still on the defense of his own race, the Chiss. In fact, Thrawn was actually ferrying certain trusted Imperial officers back to the Unknown Regions. He believed they could be of assistance to the Chiss Ascendancy.
In the old Expanded Universe, Thrawn secretly formed the so-called "Empire of the Hand." This reclusive military force was dedicated to protecting the Chiss against threats; unlike the Chiss themselves, the Empire of the Hand actually believe in preemptive strikes. It seems likely Zahn was setting up a similar concept, and it's possible he'll revisit it in his next novel, Thrawn: Alliances, due out in July.
If Thrawn and Pellaeon have indeed survived (and somehow escaped from Ezra) it's likely they'll wind up back in Chiss space. Their story may not be told on the small screen, though; Zahn has always loved these two characters, and would surely love to write them both in the new Star Wars canon. So they may switch mediums over to the printed page.
Whatever Pellaeon's future may be, the fact remains that Dave Filoni has ended Rebels on a note that's sure to delight fans. Another beloved Expanded Universe character has been brought into the canon, and the galaxy is all the better for it.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019