[WARNING - This article contains SPOILERS for Star Wars Rebels season 1.]
The last few years have been wrought with change for the Star Wars franchise, but by far the most drastic was the redefinition of the Star Wars canon by an official story group. The franchise's timeline has been streamlined significantly, removing the Expanded Universe and leaving only Episode I-VI, Star Wars: The Clones Wars, and any subsequent media as the new, official canon.
The first of this new, canon-official material was Star Wars Rebels (and its tie-in novel, "A New Dawn"), an animated series set only five years prior to Episode IV: A New Hope, focusing on the early days of the rebellion. The series wrapped its first season earlier this week and during its (rather epic) season finale dropped a few major bombshells.
During the finale, "Fire Across the Galaxy", the Inquisitor was killed (well, chose to die would be a better way of putting it); Ahsoka Tano was revealed to be both alive and Hera's informant "Fulcrum"; and Darth Vader joined Grand Moff Tarkin in his effort to squash the emerging rebellion against the Empire.
To begin with, Ahsoka being not only alive but also running the fledgeling rebellion with Senator Bail Organa was a welcomed reveal to Clone Wars fans fearing the worst for the young Jedi. She arrived in the nick of time, too, rescuing the Lothal rebels from what would have been certain death at the hands of the Empire.
In an interview with IGN, showrunner Dave Filoni - who also helmed The Clone Wars - discusses the decision to bring Ahsoka back, whether we'll see her cross blades with her former master anytime soon, and what this means for the character's future.
"There was some debate on when would we bring Ahsoka in or would she even come in. Would any Clone Wars characters? I think what was great was from the very beginning, Kiri [Hart, head of the Star Wars story group] and everyone were very big fans of Ahsoka. They had watched Clone Wars and they were fully on her side of the court. It was something they wanted. Plus it was a character that, by the end, George was particularly proud of and so were we. So having been, I don’t want to say cut short, but having her story end, we could see a need to continue it but we wanted to make sure we did it in the right way."
Judging by how enthusiastically fans responded, they did it right. From there, Filoni goes on to discuss what many believe will be inevitable: Ahsoka vs. Vader. He doesn't confirm or deny that the two will duel anytime soon, but does admit they appear to be on something of a "collision course."
"One of the things that [Geoge Lucas] and I sat down and had fairly lengthy discussions about was Ahsoka and Darth Vader. We forged a plan that basically was what she would know, what she didn’t know, what ways she would react, what he would think. So all these things that we may or may not cover, I know I’m basing them, deeply rooted, in all the things that we had kind of planned. So I was glad to have gotten this kind of backstory detail, so if a confrontation happens, it’ll be legitimate."
It's a safe bet to say when a confrontation happens, because honestly, a showdown between Vader and his former padawan feels simply too good to pass up. Still, don't plan on seeing such a face off anytime soon, as Filoni adds:
"Ahsoka is not going to bunk up on the Ghost. That’s not her style. You have to think of her more as a figure that comes in and out of the story, a figure that has a lot of knowledge and advice, kind of a mentor, definitely a warrior, but one that’s very cautious about when to draw her sabers and actually fight. It’s an extremely dangerous time, especially for someone like her that has a personal connection to someone like Darth Vader, whether she knows that or not."
Ahsoka will obviously be a crucial figure on Star Wars Rebels, but the series will remain focused on the core group of Lothal rebels. And in season 2, Rebels will continue to explore the back stories of Ezra and Kanan, but also the rest of the Ghost's crew, as Filoni admits they, "didn’t really begin to scratch the surface on some of them."
Speaking further on season 2, Filoni makes the comparison that season 1 is like A New Hope, and that season 2 will be, "more like Empire Strikes Back for our heroes." For next season to have that darker tone, the stakes needed to be raised.
"We always want there to be consequences," Filoni says, "and that goes for the villains." Killing the Inquisitor - which Filoni confirms was a true death, we will not see him return - not only fulfilled on that promise, but shed light on the differing philosophies of the Sith and the Inquisitors.
"Having the Inquisitor hang on, after such a failure, having captured this Jedi and let him go - It’s really a problem for the Inquisitor because he knows that Vader and the Emperor will not suffer this failure. He knows what they could do to him is, to him, worse than death.
That’s a critical difference between an inquisitor and a full fledged Sith. A Sith sees death as an absolute. They’ll do anything they can to avoid it because there’s nothing for them after death and they know this. That’s why the Emperor is so obsessed with trying to prolong his life, to find immortality - because if he dies, he loses all his power. He can’t see a way to be part of the eternal existence of things and just selflessly be a part of it like Obi-Wan can and like Yoda can. They’re opposites."
(For more on the Inquisitors, read our theory on their origin and possible connections to other, established Star Wars characters.)
And with the Inquisitor out the picture, it'll be a true lord of the Sith who takes his place. But again, Filoni stresses that fans shouldn't expect Vader to be chasing the rebels week in and week out.
"It’s tricky. I’ve said it in interviews - I don’t think our Rebels are a match for him, on any level. Our guys are like level three, maybe they got to level four this season. What’s Vader, like level 80? They’re not even rolling the same number of dice, for God’s sake. It’s not even close here. So it’s a challenge to write believable scenes, mainly from our heroes’ side, that you believe they could have any success in this next season because there are some very heavy hitters that have been brought in to deal with them. But that’s a good challenge."
After barely escaping Tarkin's ship alive in the finale, these rebels better be up for a challenge, because nothing is getting any easier for them anytime soon. As for us, we'll need to be content with waiting until season 2 to see how they meet that challenge.
Do go read IGN's full interview with Dave Filoni as it's full of even more behind-the-scenes info and hints of what's to come on Star Wars Rebels. But in the mean time, what did you think of the reveal of an adult Ahsoka Tano? What do you think her role will be like in season 2? How soon until we see her and Vader square off? And will she know who he truly is? Sound off in the comments below!
Star Wars Rebels will return to Disney XD later this year.