Warning: Spoilers for Star Wars Rebels Season 4
Star Wars animation has always pushed the boundaries of what we know about Star Wars, especially when it comes to the Force, be it the introduction of new Force powers, the introduction of new factions of Force users, or the introduction of pocket realities within the Force. Star Wars Rebels continues this strong tradition by bringing time travel to the Star Wars universe.
This is not the first time Star Wars has played with time. In fact, time-bending has happened even more than most fans realize, with Luke’s training on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back possibly serving as the first example. While it wasn’t specified at the time, more recent canon has shown that various Force Nexus – places where there’s an abnormal concentration of Force energy – can result in a time dilation effect. This is why Luke was able to train as much as he did with Yoda in what seemed like only a few days in Han, Leia, and Chewie’s trip to Cloud City.
Related: How To Watch Star Wars Rebels Online
Another time this happened was in The Clone Wars when Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka stumble upon Mortis. Mortis was a far more powerful conduit than Dagobah, so it may have seemed like the Jedi spent several days there, they only went missing from the rest of the Republic Fleet for a second or two.
Those events on their own are proof that the Force has some level of power over time, but Rebels takes it to the next level and shows that it’s actually possible to influence past events. When Ezra finds his way through a portal at the Lothal Jedi Temple, he finds himself in a “World Between Worlds” – outside of both time and space. Here we can hear voices from moments across the entire Star Wars saga, as he wanders down a pathway past a number of portals until he finds one with a familiar creature perched atop it – the green and gold convor that has been following Ahsoka since the Mortis arc in The Clone Wars – a bird we learn is named Morai, and, as suspected, is either a manifestation of The Sister or The Sister herself in bird form.
Morai gets Ezra’s attention, and when he looks through the portal he sees the end of Ahsoka’s duel with Vader from the finale of Rebels season 2, except this is part of the battle we didn’t get to see after the Sith Temple’s doors closed around her and Vader and the Holocron exploded. Vader is about to deal her a killing blow and Ezra reflexively reaches in and yanks Anakin Skywalker’s former apprentice into the World Between Worlds.
This move pulled Ahsoka out of time and space, and it was conducted by Ezra from 2 years past her in the timeline. This is beyond the simple time bending or dilation we’ve seen before and extended into the outright manipulation of the timeline. Ahsoka Tano was saved from death at Darth Vader’s hand by future Ezra Bridger because he used time travel to pull her into a pocket dimension of the Force. Go back and tell anyone coming out of Star Wars in 1977 and they might look at you funny. Even with the controversial Force powers in The Last Jedi, this takes things to the next level.
Hypothetically, this is a skill that anyone strong enough in the Force could learn, but it isn’t something we’re likely to see again for a long time, as the World Between Worlds was sealed away by Ezra at the end of the last episode, and even Palpatine with all his amassed knowledge of the Jedi, the Sith, and other Force factions (he appeared to use something similar to Nightsister Magick in this episode), didn’t know how to access it in the first place.
The most amazing part about the way Star Wars Rebels introduced time travel is that it doesn’t contradict or change our understanding of how the Force works, it merely reveals an aspect we haven’t seen outright before. Yoda told Luke “Through the force, things you will see, other places, the future, the past, old friends long gone,” so we already knew it was possible to see the future and the past through the Force, so it’s not so outlandish that if the Force surrounds all things and knows the past and the future that it can also change them.
Of course, considering the end that we see for Ahsoka is the same as the last place we saw her, it doesn’t actually change her course. Was that the way it always happened? Did Ezra just fulfil a time loop, or will there be a ripple effect from him interfering with the past when Vader would have otherwise killed Ahsoka? On its face, it may not drastically change what we know about Star Wars, but we have yet to see Ahsoka’s story play out before we know for sure. Despite all the talk of destiny in the franchise, Yoda says “always in motion is the future,” and The Son is heard echoing from The Clone Wars “The future, by its nature, can be changed.” So, there’s still no shortage of philosophical discussions to be had about fate, destiny, free will, and now, time-travel in the Star Wars universe.
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