With the advent of fall comes a new tradition for Star Wars fans, the release of the highly anticipated season three of Star Wars Rebels, which takes place between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope, creating a perfect opportunity for season three to segue into Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in December. Season two departed from the feel of the first season, with a darker tone, richer graphics, and a more cinematic feel. Much of the artistic style is inspired by the late concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, who created iconic artwork for the original trilogy.
In the past few weeks, we’ve been introduced to Bendu and Grand Admiral Thrawn, and teased by the Rebels vs. Thrawn and Ezra’s Steps into Shadows clips. Let's take a moment to recap some highlights from the past two seasons, along with exploring some possible foreshadowing and predictions for the upcoming season three. The cliffhangers at the end of season two left us with tons of pressing questions—what really happened to Ahsoka after her epic confrontation with Vader? Will Ezra succumb to dark side, and will Maul replace Kanan as his master? How will Kanan adapt to being blinded by Maul?
Here are 15 Things To Know Before Star Wars Rebels Season 3 answers our questions.
15 Ahsoka Tano might still be alive
After her confrontation with Vader, Ahsoka may not be dead after all. At the end of season one, it's revealed that Ahsoka is helping the rebel cause using the codename “Fulcrum”. We get a sense of Ahsoka’s shift from her fiery days as a Padawan to a more mature character. In episode thirteen of season one, 'Rebel Resolve", she shows her objectivity by ordering Hera to abandon her search for Kanan and go into hiding. Judging by Ahsoka’s fate at the end of Clone Wars, it sounds like something she knows about first hand.
In the first episode of season two, "Droids in Distress", Ahsoka loses consciousness after getting closer to the truth about Vader’s identity. Throughout much of season two, she's haunted by her new discovery, and has to wrestle with the knowledge. In episode ten, "Vision of Hope", she unsheathes her white lightsabers for a riveting skirmish with two Inquisitors, and in episode sixteen, "Shroud of Darkness", Ahsoka receives an unsettling vision of Vader while meditating at the hidden Jedi Temple on Lothal. In a confrontation that was years in the making, Ahsoka faces off against Vader in the finale. “We must rejoice for those who have transformed into the Force. Mourn them do not, miss them do not.”
Filoni told fans at a recent panel. “I’m not going to say exactly, though, but you might not have seen the end of Ahsoka Tano.” Learn more about her tale the upcoming novel, Star Wars Ahsoka by E.K. Johnson, to be released October 11.
14 Darth Maul is back with a new sense of purpose
Maul is set to return with a vengeance this season, seeking to gain Ezra as his new apprentice and extract revenge. In the finale of season two, "Twilight of the Apprentice", Maul was scheming to obtain the elusive Sith holocron on Malachor. Maul manipulated Ezra into nabbing it for him, persuading him about the power of the dark side with his velvety voice and a little Sith 101. We're given a closer look at what’s to come in season three with the preview, Maul Holds All The Cards. In the clip, Sabine, Hera, and Zeb are held captive, while Maul ejects Kanan out of an airlock into space.
In the new trailer, we see Maul and Kanan looking possessed with hazy green eyes. One theory suggests that Maul has returned to his home planet of Dathomir, and has reconnected with the Nightsisters. In the Clone Wars, Mother Talzin evoked Nightsister magic with similar particle effects. Whether it’s actual Nightsister magic or just a passing vision, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Sam Witwer reprises his role as the sinister voice of the former Darth Maul, now shortened to just Maul. At a panel, Witwer suggested that Maul is seeking out Ezra as a brother as much as an apprentice. Witwer also tossed out the idea of Maul facing off against Sidious, to which Filoni added, “That would be bad for Maul.” It could be foreshadowing, and it definitely leaves tons of room for speculation as we await season three.
13 Kanan was blinded at the end of season two
In an unexpected turn of events during the season two finale, Kanan was blinded by Maul on Malachor. “The story that we tell with Kanan and his blindness is simple — you are as limited as you allow yourself to be. You’re going to be able to see if you believe you can see and this can open up new things you couldn’t see before.” Filoni explained. These words ring true of a complex character like Kanan, who has struggled with belief, both in himself and in his ability to train Ezra. Voice actor Freddie Prinze Jr. and Filoni have cited Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman as inspiration for the gunslinging Jedi.
When word gets out about Luminara Unduli being imprisoned in episode three of season one, "Rise of the Old Masters", Kanan jumps at the chance to unite Ezra with a full-fledged Jedi Master. However, they quickly realize it’s another Imperial trap to lure unsuspecting Jedi. The Grand Inquisitor tells Ezra that his master is unfocused and undisciplined, but Kanan moves forward as Ezra’s teacher. In season two, episode seventeen, "Shroud of Darkness", Kanan receives his ultimate test. A Jedi Temple Guard voices his worst fears, threatening that Ezra will become a “servant of evil” and that the rebellion will fail. Kanan acknowledges that he can’t protect Ezra forever, and hangs his head in defeat, but instead becomes knighted. With Ezra in possession of the Sith holocron, and the introduction of new characters like Bendu on the horizon, Kanan’s story will undoubtedly unfold in season three.
12 More of Sabine's backstory will be explored
Tech savvy and with plenty of explosives at the ready, Sabine Wren is slightly more enigmatic than the other members of the Ghost crew. Her backstory was explored in episode seven of season two, "Blood Sisters", where she encountered an old friend, Ketsu Onyo, who revealed that Sabine was a former bounty hunter. The pair escaped from the Imperial Academy but Ketsu betrayed her and left her for dead. Sabine forgives Ketsu for her past wrongdoings, and she later joins the rebellion as Shadowcaster.
In episode twelve of season two, "The Protector of Concord Dawn", Sabine gets accused of stealing her signature Mandalorian armor. She denies the claim, saying that she’s Clan Wren, House Vizsla, and that she forged the armor with her family. The Mandalorians of Concord Dawn scoff and call her a traitor for being Death Watch, and Sabine tells them that her mother was, but she isn't.
In episode nineteen of season two, The Mystery of Chopper Base, Sabine yells, “It’s times like these that I really wish I had a jump pack!” Based off of recent news from season three, the Mandalorian will finally get her wish. A short clip was released where Sabine and Ezra narrowly escape from a group of Mandalorians. Ezra calls them her cousins, cementing the fact that we’ll get more insight into Sabine’s backstory soon.
11 Expect possible synergy or tie-ins with Rogue One
Creator Dave Filoni had fans at rapt attention when he said to expect possible synergy with Rogue One in season three. There are countless possibilities to explore here, especially with the rebels launching a direct assault on the Empire. In episode sixteen of season two, "The Honorable Ones", Agent Kallus retells a story about his first unit on Onderon, where he faced a rebel group led by Saw Gerrera. Based off of the recent trailer for Rogue One, Saw will play a major role in the upcoming film. Forest Whitaker plays a battle-wizened Saw Gerrera, who is the first live-action version of a Clone Wars character to hit the big screen. The tactical leader first appeared in season five of The Clone Wars, yet George Lucas had other ideas for Saw, originally planning to have him featured in a live-action TV show.
Will we see a younger Kallus during a flashback scene in Rogue One or will he possibly defect from the empire? There could also be a crossover with the new planet, Scarif, which will be heavily featured in the upcoming film. Or, we might have all eyes on Chopper, who may cross paths with one of the new droids from Rogue One, such as forerunner K2-SO or astromech C2-B5. The team might not want to make these connections too obvious, so fans should definitely keep their eyes and ears open for any new developments.
10 Deeper exploration of Hera’s history
Fans gained more insight into Hera’s history during episode six of season two, "Wings of the Master". Hera shows off her gravity-defying piloting skills by navigating the Phantom onto the precarious planet Shantipole. She meets with a Mon Calamari named Quarrie (a nod to concept artist Ralph McQuarrie), who won’t give up his precious B-Wing prototype easily, and tests not only her piloting abilities, but the strength of her character. In a heartfelt speech, Hera tells him that she’s felt the lure of the sky all her life, leaving her family on Ryloth to fly and help those in need, and that she’s at her best when she’s flying. Quarrie’s convinced, and she uses the Bladewing to take out an entire Imperial starship, allowing the rebels to deliver rations to the civilians in need.
In episode fifteen of season two, "Homecoming", Hera is unexpectedly reunited with her estranged father, general Cham Syndulla. As they argue, Hera’s voice has a subtle change where she falls back into her Twi’lek accent. The episode centers on Hera’s plan to capture an Imperial ship carrier to house the rebel fighters. Cham betrays them, wanting to blow up the ship as a show of strength to the people of Ryloth. Eventually, he shows a change of heart and agrees with the rebels. The episode ends with reconciliation and understanding, with Cham saying how proud he is of Hera. In the season three trailer, Cham is shown visibly shaken by his encounter with Grand Admiral Thrawn.
9 We will meet the Bendu
“Jedi and Sith wield the Ashla and Bogan, the light and the dark. I’m the one in the middle.” A mythical creature called the Bendu speaks to Kanan about Ezra’s fall to the dark side. The Bendu makes a reference to the “Ashla”, a term from in episode thirteen of season two, "Legends of Lasat". An elder Lasat called Chava the Wise tells Ezra that they believe in the Ashla. It reminds Ezra of the Force, and Kanan tells him, “The Force has many names.” In the preview, Kanan reveals the Sith holocron to the Bendu, fearful that it is controlling Ezra. The creature is voiced by Tom Baker, who played the fourth Doctor on Doctor Who. “Tom charmed everyone in the room,” said Dave Filoni. “My wife included.” George Lucas first used the term "Jedi Bendu" when he penned the original opening crawl in the Star Wars: Rough Draft.
There could be another possible connection with Rogue One as they begin to delve deeper in the grey area between the Sith and Jedi dichotomy. Donnie Yen's character, Chirrut Imwe, is described as a warrior monk who believes in similar philosophies to the Jedi. Chirrut is shown in the Rogue One trailer, boldly proclaiming his belief in the Force before heading into battle. In the past two seasons, there’s been a sharp divide between the dark side of the Sith and the light side of the Jedi, but it looks like the area in between is finally getting some shine.
8 Mara Jade appearance not likely
At the Star Wars Celebration, a fan asked Dave Filoni about the possibility of Mara Jade being introduced this season. An iconic figure from the extended universe, Mara Jade is known for being the Emperor’s Hand who later defected from her role and joined the Rebellion. The red-headed Force user is also known for her signature purple lightsaber and later becoming the wife of Luke Skywalker. Unfortunately, Filoni said it’s “not likely” that she’ll be added in this season. Seeing as how the show doesn’t touch on Emperor Palpatine’s story, it seems unlikely that Rebels would feature Mara Jade. In the first episode of season two, "The Siege of Lothal", Vader tells Sidious that the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker lives. Sidious looks forward to the opportunity and it serves as a strong foreshadowing for Vader’s later encounter with Ahsoka. Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing Mara Jade in season three, but when it comes to the Star Wars Universe, anything is possible.
Episode five of season one, "Rise of the Old Masters", confirmed that Luminara Unduli is dead, but what happened to her former Padawan, Barriss Offee after Order 66? Some fans initially theorized that she was the female Inquisitor called the Seventh Sister, but her facial markings are different from Barriss. Sarah Michelle Gellar, the wife of Freddie Prinze Jr. (Kanan), lent her voice for the Seventh Sister. The two had an amusing scene where he tells her, "I don't go for crazy... anymore!"
7 Mandalorians will play a significant role
"I get to act with more Mandalorians... and I may or may not be related to some of them," Tiya Sircar told fans at Star Wars Celebration in July. To further prove her point, Sabine is also spotted in the recent trailer wielding a darksaber, an ancient weapon used by Death Watch's Pre Vizsla and eventually Darth Maul. In episode three of season two, "The Lost Commanders", Rex and Wolffe hand over a list of coordinates for possible rebel bases, and Wolffe subtly adds, “...even some Mandalorian bases that they even forgot about,” in reference to the Empire. It looks like we’ll be getting a closer look at some of these locations in season three with the appearance of some Imperial-sided Mandalorians.
It was also just announced that Katee Sackhoff will reprise her role as Bo-Katan from The Clone Wars. Katan linked up with Obi Wan Kenobi and fought the insurgent Mandalorians. Bo-Katan Kryze was a member of Pre Vizsla's Death Watch. She later defected from the Mandalorian Death Watch when Darth Maul came into power. Maul placed a puppet into power in order for him to rule Mandalore from the shadows, while Bo-Katan made her own faction of Mandalorians called Night Owls. In the new clip from the Star Wars Celebration panel, the left shoulder of Sabine's armor bears a roughly drawn out owl insignia instead of her normal design. Did Sabine join the Night Owls or is she merely undercover?
6 Possible return of some familiar faces
In episode six of season one, "Breaking Ranks", Ezra goes undercover as a cadet at the Imperial Academy. He becomes friends with Zare Leonis, who is actually searching for his sister Dhara, who was mysteriously taken away by the Empire. Ezra escapes from the academy with another friend, Jai Kell, and helps him get to safety. He had a little help from Ezra with some of the tasks, but we can’t help but wonder if Jai was also force sensitive as well. If so, there’s always the possibility that we might see him again, perhaps playing a minor role in the rebellion as a pilot, trooper, or even Force wielder. And whatever happened to Zare’s sister, Dhara?
Ryder Azadi, the former governor of Lothal, played a big role in season two after revealing the fate of Ezra’s parents. He refused Kanan’s initial offer to help the rebels, but later joined the rebellion in episode eleven of season two. We might see more of Azadi in future episodes, especially with a possible flashback scene set in Lothal.
Princess Leia also made an appearance in episode eleven of season two, "A Princess on Lothal", comforting Ezra coping with the loss of his parents. Her memorable line, “I feel like I have to fight for those who cannot,” matches up perfectly with the message found in Episode IV: A New Hope. Other original trilogy members like Lando might also be featured again as the rebellion has more encounters with the Empire.
5 Filoni thinks that an appearance by Maz Kanata is a great idea
Fans at the recent Star Wars Celebration inquired about a possible appearance from Maz Kanata, the pivotal pirate figure introduced on Takodana in The Force Awakens. One might balk at the idea of the wide-eyed Maz appearing in Rebels, but the alien’s appearance might make more sense than you may think. In The Force Awakens, the exterior of her castle is adorned with a ton of different flags, including some bearing the symbol of Boba Fett and the nefarious Hondo Ohnaka. Seeing as how she’s crossed paths with Hondo at some point in time, it would be a nice crossover to see some of those details fleshed out.
While won’t get an appearance by Maz in season three, we might expect to see additional otherworldly creatures like the Purrgil, pufferpigs from the black market, and the adorable Loth-cats from Ezra’s home planet. In episode fifteen of season two, "The Call", Ezra makes a connection with a mythical group of flying space whales, also known as Purrgil. We're fascinated by the fact that they’re able to jump into hyperdrive using clouzon-36 gas. It’s a common thread to see familiar creatures reappear time after time, but even if we don’t see them, it still leaves plenty of leeway for new characters to make their mark. In the past seasons, we’ve seen creatures great and small, from small snail-like “bogens”, as Zeb calls them, and krykna, the spiders native to the planet of the new rebel base, Atollon.
4 Wedge Antilles has been confirmed
Fans spotted a quick glance of a dashing Wedge Antilles in the new trailer, alongside two Imperial cadets standing at attention and giving a salute. Voice actor Nathan Kress confirmed his role as Wedge in a tweet reading, "The fact that I can say "That's me on the left in the Imperial uniform" BLOWS MY MIND." in reference to the latest Star Wars Rebels season three trailer. Dave Filoni said, “Wedge is in the story as a result of the fact that we’re inching ever closer to the time period of A New Hope. When you get to that time period and the rebellion is much more formative than it used to be, you’re gonna start to see those characters appear in story and start to intersect with the Star Wars Rebels characters.”
New episode titles were revealed for season three, beginning with the one hour season premiere, “Steps into Shadow, Parts 1 & 2” on Saturday, September 24th, followed by “The Holocrons of Fate”. "The Antilles Extraction” is bound to feature a young Wedge Antilles ready to leave the Empire. The last two titles announced were, “Hera’s Heroes” and “The Last Battle”. As always, we’re left with unanswered questions here… How exactly will his story intersect with the heroes of Star Wars Rebels? One could only imagine an exhilarating scene featuring Hera and Wedge in the skies. Regardless of how it pans out, we’re definitely looking forward to some serious space action in the near future.
3 Hondo Ohnaka will be back
Hondo Ohnaka, everyone’s favorite space pirate, will be making an official return in season three. Hondo is featured in the new trailer, laughing riotously about Zeb’s notion of splitting some unknown treasure. Ezra first crossed paths with Hondo in episode six of season two, "Brothers of the Broken Horn". The episode is worth a rewatch for Hondo alone, who slyly tells Ezra to become a “pirate jedi!” While that definitely sounds all sorts of awesome, it seems like Ezra has his hands full this season, juggling both Jedi and Sith factions. In that episode, Ezra realizes that he used to be out for himself, like Hondo, but realizes that he is on a different path now and he has his own crew.
During episode fourteen of season two, "Legends of the Lasat", Hondo provided Ezra with a lead regarding two rare Lasats. The episode helped reconnect Zeb with his culture and discover the original planet of the Lasat called Lira San. True to his character, Hondo plays both sides by giving Ezra up to the Imperials shortly after their reunion in exchange for a box of credits. He may be pegged as comic relief, but with clips of season three suggesting increasingly darker territory, we think a few laughs are welcome. Entertainment Weekly reports a small easter egg in season one of Rebels: when Ezra meets Hondo on Vizago’s ship, the music playing in the background is the exact same theme heard in the Clone Wars when Hondo was first introduced.
2 Ezra will be tempted by the dark side
In some ways, Ezra has evolved into a more selfless character, but he remains emotionally conflicted. In season one, he’s introduced as a self-centered kid, struggling to survive. After meeting the Ghost crew, Ezra starts becoming more compassionate, but he’s still vulnerable to the temptation of the dark side. His competitiveness flares up again and again, along with an array of emotions—fear of the Empire, anger from the death of his parents, and insecurities about protecting his friends.
Much of his seduction to the dark side was explored in the season two finale, when he meets Maul and is oh-so-easily persuaded. Maul manipulates Ezra into believing he is an old, decrepit man, calling himself Old Master. He gains Ezra’s trust, promising him that he can become more powerful and save his friends from the Empire. As they open the Sith temple, Maul urges Ezra to use his anger as a source of power. Ezra’s been down this path before, in episode eight of season one, "Gathering Forces", when he unleashed his fury and controlled a gigantic fyrnock against the Grand Inquisitor.
The new Steps into Shadows clip depicts Ezra mind-controlling a stormtrooper at the helm of an AT-ST. He pulls the trigger, shooting down other stormtroopers, and further alluding to his descent into darkness. In the season three trailer, Ezra and Maul appear to unlock the Jedi and Sith Holocrons at the same time, despite Kanan’s efforts to intervene. The major question looming is: will Ezra succumb to the dark side?
1 Thrawn’s arrival
Part of what makes Star Wars Rebels so compelling is the way the story bridges the gap in the timeline between Episode III and IV. At the recent Star Wars Celebration, Filoni announced the arrival of Grand Admiral Thrawn to Star Wars Rebels, inducing cheers and applause from a crowd of fans. Timothy Zahn first created the character for his first Star Wars novel, Heir to the Empire, published in 1991. Although the Expanded Universe is now no longer considered canon, Disney will include Thrawn in the upcoming season 3 of Star Wars Rebels. Also known as Mitth’raw’nuruodo, Thrawn is described as a Chiss species, with blue skin and bright red eyes. He was known for his tactical mindset and cunning strategy, two major aspects of his character that led to him becoming the only non-human Grand Admiral.
Part of his methodology included understanding the art of a certain culture, which helped him target weaknesses that he could capitalize on. In the new trailer, we're given a quick glance at his tactics, with a wide array of holocrons showing pictures of Ezra and Hera. From the trailer, we can get a sense of Thrawn’s sinister side and see that darker times are in store for the heroes. Author Timothy Zahn has announced an upcoming novel centered on Thrawn to be published April 17, 2016. When asked if any members of the Ghost crew might be featured, Zahn replied, “You’ll just have to wait and see.”
Star Wars Rebels Season 3 will premiere Saturday, September 24 at 8:30 p.m. EST on Disney XD.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.