[SPOILERS for the Star Wars Rebels season 2 finale ahead.]
Star Wars Rebels took viewers on quite the ride during its second season, as Disney XD's animated Star Wars TV series incorporated such Star Wars: Clone Wars fan-favorites as Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) and Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) into an over-arching storyline that pitted The Ghost's crew members against not only the Galactic Empire's militaristic might but also an entire order of Inquisitors - the Dark Force-users led by the man who was once Ahsoka's Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader. The season culminated with an impressive finale titled 'Twilight of the Apprentice', as Ahsoka squared off with her former mentor at last and Jedi-in-training Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) discovered that he has a useful, but unsettling, knack for accessing Sith relics by using The Force.
Naturally, 'Twilight of the Apprentice' left certain narrative threads dangling so that they can be picked up later this year, when Star Wars Rebels season 3 gets underway. All the same, Rebels co-creator/showrunner Dave Filoni has gone ahead and offered some additional insight into the Sith Temple that served as the backdrop for the story developments in the Rebels season 2 finale - while also touching on what the future may hold for Ahsoka, following her encounter with Darth Vader.
IGN, when the site interviewed Filoni about the Star Wars Rebels season 2 finale, flat-out asked if Ahsoka did in fact survey her encounter with Vader - something that 'Twilight of the Apprentice' heavily implies without properly "confirming." Here is Filoni's response:
Is that what you saw? That’s so interesting. That’s so good. You know I think it says a lot about who you are, which is great. You’re an optimist, and I think that that’s strong, I think that that’s strong. [Laughs] It’s an interpretation. I mean, the thing for me in this moment in time with this story – and I was pretty clear about this from the beginning in that Rebels is not Ahsoka Tano’s story, nor is it Darth Vader’s story, and we worked really hard to bring those characters into the story. But ultimately, I have to service Ezra and Kanan, and the crew of the Ghost. So a lot of that episode is portrayed through their eyes, and especially Ezra’s, as he witnesses this kind of titanic thing happening.
Filoni went on to clarify that 'Twilight of the Apprentice' was designed to provide some closure to Ahsoka's time on Star Wars Rebels, but he acknowledged the possibility of another adventure (or adventures) featuring the character in a different Star Wars project down the line:
It’s just so easy – especially in that situation – it’s so easy to have Ahsoka and Vader take over the show. And I think evidence of that is that even though they don’t encounter each other until act three, you immediately get the dynamic of what’s going on. I would say that – while I’m not a huge fan of being tremendously ambiguous as far as what happened – I would say that this is the one case where I think it’s alright with Ahsoka to leave things a bit open-ended. You wondered what happened to her before, but you knew she walked away. Now she kind of leaves in a state of conflict. I would just say that there are probably – and I’ll give you this as we go back a ways – there are probably more stories to tell with Ahsoka Tano, but I would not believe that that would happen necessarily on Star Wars Rebels. I’ve been wrong in the past, but I think that she has served the part of the story that she needed to for our characters here. Then we’ll have to see. I do like the character a lot, obviously, and I think that she’s developed her own kind of fan base within the Star Wars universe. So, you know, I think there are still more stories to be told. I think there are stories to be told prior to Rebels with her. I think there are a lot of stories that happen right at the end of Clone Wars that we’re unaware of yet.
You know, I think the thing that I’ve learned is that the character has a lot of strength to be on her own, doing things. And perhaps that means she’s still alive. I don’t know. There are clues to the actual answer in what I think throughout, I will say that. And some kids at the [finale] screening were shooting pretty close to the mark, or at least were decoding the [clues] that I have left for them. It’s one of those mysteries then where maybe, beyond hope, maybe there is a future, but we’ll have to wait and see.
While it remains to be seen if Ahsoka ever appears on Star Wars Rebels again (in some form or another), Disney-Lucasfilm has now announced the the character will be back in an upcoming Star Wars novel written by E.K. Johnston. The book, known (for now) as simply "Star Wars: Ahsoka", will be released on October 11th, 2016 and will explore what happened to Ahsoka after she stepped away from the Jedi Order (during the events of the Clone Wars animated series), but before she re-appeared as the Rebel Alliance operative Fulcrum in Star Wars Rebels - with the novel's official synopsis teasing that readers will soon learn how "[Ahsoka's] desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it [led] her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance." Johnston issued the following statement about the news, via Nerdist:
“Writing for Ahsoka is tremendously exciting. She has a blank spot in her story that I know a lot of fans (including myself!) want to see filled in. And being able to help tell her story is a dream come true.”
The Star Wars Rebels season 2 finale also featured the return of not only Clone Wars voice actor Sam Witwer as the older Darth Maul - who guided Ezra on his journey through the Sith Temple on the planet Malachor - but also Nika Futterman; the voice of Count Dooku's (or, if you would prefer, Darth Tyranus') apprentice Asajj Ventress on the Clone Wars TV series, who provided the voice of the non-corporeal entity listed in the official credits for 'Twilight of the Apprentice' as "Presence". Filoni, after expressing his joy at getting to work with so many of his Clone Wars voice cast members again on Rebels, offered IGN the following in regard to who the "Presence" in the Sith Temple is:
To me, that voice you hear is actually the ancient, ancient Sith Lord that created the temple. She was a powerful Sith Lord. I like the idea of this powerful, ancient woman that has domination that we’ve never heard of before, that was creating this massive weapon. And in the midst of the construction of this thing, when it was nearing completion, it got assaulted by ancient Jedi Knights. They have this huge battle at the foot of the temple, basically, and the weapon fires or malfunctions and everyone gets turned to stone. We had a lot of different versions of the story where – at one point, we see that thing fire initially when Ezra turns it on and it sends up that sphere. We were going to show that the one Eighth Brother had actually survived the fall and was scrambling towards his ship. Because he could use the Force probably to help himself land, and he was going to get hit by this wave. You would see it turn him to stone. Maul, because he would have been on a lower level when he saw the blast coming, would have survived it. And that’s how Maul winds up in the Eighth Brother’s TIE Fighter. He actually feels it and that’s when he flies out of there in the end. But yeah, there’s this ancient Sith Lord that Nika was playing, and I’m still going over the dos and don’ts of the continuity of all that. But I wrote the history down, I just put it out there in case people want to pick it up later when they’re working on things, and give some continuity. I won’t reveal the name – I have named the character, but I have to make sure everybody’s cool with it.
Maintaining a strict continuity between the various installments of the Star Wars franchise - be they live-action movies, cartoon TV shows, comics books, novels, and/or video games - is said to be a priority for the Star Wars story group in charge of organizing everything that happens plot-wise in "a galaxy far, far away" under the current Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy's watch. It's presumably for that reason that Filoni has already plotted out a backstory for the as-yet unnamed "Presence" heard in the Star Wars Rebels season 2 finale, in order to make sure that any plot beats featuring the character that transpire during Rebels season 3 (assuming that there are any) are drawn from a foundation that fits into the general framework of the Star Wars universe - one that continues to be rapidly expanded, at that.
We should indeed learn more about the Sith's history in Rebels season 3 too, following Ezra successfully accessing a Sith Holocron at the conclusion of 'Twilight of the Apprentice'. As to what this will mean for Ezra and his ongoing efforts to avoid being tempted by the Dark Side of The Force, well, that's also an interesting question...
Update - new feature: How Star Wars Rebels changed to fit movie continuity and how series may end - details here.
Star Wars Rebels season 3 will premiere on Disney XD later this year. The novel "Star Wars: Ahsoka" will become available for purchasing on October 11th, 2016.