The early episodes of Ahsoka, the brand new Disney Plus present starring Rosario Dawson, have one huge identify looming over the proceedings: Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Followers have recognized he’d be concerned with the sequence for some time — information of his return was teased in Ahsoka updates, in addition to a tease in The Mandalorian season 2. However throughout the universe, his return isn’t assured; as Ahsoka tells Hera (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), she’s principally been listening to whispers that he survived. She’s hopeful he did, if solely as a result of it bodes nicely for her probabilities of discovering Ezra, and probably having the ability to really kill Thrawn.
In case you aren’t caught up on the broader, non-movie Star Wars canon, right here’s a short introduction to Thrawn, and every thing you must learn about one in all Star Wars’ most beloved villains.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2 episode 5, Star Wars: Rebels, and the Thrawn novels.]
Grand Admiral Thrawn is an Imperial officer who was first launched to the Star Wars universe in Timothy Zahn’s 1991 novel Inheritor to the Empire. The novel and its two sequels which — later often called the Thrawn trilogy — befell shortly after Return of the Jedi. Zahn’s books stuffed readers in on what occurred to the Galactic Empire within the years after the demise of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine — kind of. Because it seems, Thrawn occurred.
Whereas that unique trilogy of novels was decanonized when Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise, Thrawn was reintroduced in Star Wars: Rebels, and given a sequence of recent novels additionally penned by Zahn. These new novels reintroduce the blue-skinned Chiss as a superb tactician and a worthy, extra strategically adept successor to Emperor Palpatine.
Relatively than treading the identical floor as his unique trilogy, which befell in a interval that’s now lined by Disney’s sequel trilogy, Zahn’s newest Thrawn books inform the story of how Thrawn got here to hitch the Empire and his meteoric rise via its ranks.
Although Thrawn’s Imperial profession is spectacular, it’s the time after his days as a cadet that’s most essential for this newest point out in The Mandalorian. Thrawn’s first official post-Disney reintroduction got here in Star Wars: Rebels, the place he turned one of many present’s main antagonist for its final two seasons, making an attempt to quell the rise up in its infancy.
Within the present’s finale, Thrawn faces off with Rebels protagonist Ezra Bridger. Whereas on-board Thrawn’s command ship the Chimaera, Ezra catches Thrawn off guard by attacking his fleet of ships with purrgil, large tentacled creatures able to hyperspace journey. Within the remaining moments of the present, Thrawn and Bridger are each aboard the Chimaera when the purrgil whisk it off into deep house. Although apparently each of them survived the journey, as a result of the subsequent time we heard about Thrawn it was in The Mandalorian.
In a season 2 episode “The Jedi,” Mando and the Little one (we’d study his actual identify is Grogu in the identical episode), head to the planet of Corvus and met Ahsoka. The final time she appeared in any Star Wars sequence earlier than this was in the long run of Rebels, when she and Mandalorian warrior Sabine Wren had been setting off on a quest to search out Ezra after his purrgil-aided soar to hyperspace.
The Mandalorian confirmed us that that quest was nonetheless ongoing: Ahsoka was on the lookout for somebody named Morgan Elsbeth, who had been taken below the wing of Thrawn himself. Elsbeth was apparently an essential determine in constructing the Imperial Navy fleet throughout the days of the Galactic Empire, which would definitely clarify why Thrawn was keen on her. Ahsoka and Elsbeth face off on the finish of the episode, and when Ahsoka wins, her solely query was on the whereabouts of Grand Admiral Thrawn. However we don’t get any decision on that subplot till Ahsoka.
[Ed. note: The rest of this post contains spoilers for Ahsoka.]
Ahsoka picks up a while after The Mandalorian, with Elsbeth on the lam and Ahsoka sizzling on her path. After Elsbeth, and her allies, and Ahsoka, and her allies, interact in some struggles over an historical Dathomiri map sphere, either side make it throughout the void between galaxies and to the unique residence planet of the Witches of Dathomir. There, they discover Thrawn, who has not solely survived the journey, however has stored an iron grip on his deteriorating star destroyer and his troops.
Apart from staying alive, what has the Grand Admiral been as much as since we final noticed him? That is still unclear. Definitely his storm troopers are now not wearing normal situation, with their armor not merely exhibiting put on but in addition distinctive gildings, below the management of Enoch, a trooper who wears a helmet modified with a gold visor within the mould of a face. What we will say is that Thrawn’s plan is to make it again to his residence galaxy — proper after a bunch of “cargo” from the “catacombs” will get moved to Elsbeth’s ship. Fascinating.
It doesn’t matter what Thrawn is concerned in, there’s little doubt that it’s essential. Given the post-Return of the Jedi time interval of Ahsoka, it appears attainable that if Thrawn might even have been a key determine in transitioning the Empire into the First Order. Ahsoka has two extra episodes, and probably even a film, to inform that a part of the story.