Seven Questions Before the Premiere of Star Wars: Ahsokaby Todd King, contributing writer
Ahsoka | Official Trailer | Disney+. Official Star Wars YouTube Channel.
Where does Ahsoka fit in the Star Wars timeline?
Ahsoka takes place in the same timeframe as The Mandalorian series, which is after the events of the original trilogy film Return of the Jedi. So in Episode VI, we witnessed the fall of the Empire, the death of the Emperor and Darth Vader, and the victory of the Rebel Alliance in the galactic civil war. This is before episodes 7 to 9, before Rey, the First Order, and Kylo Ren.
In a deeper manner, Ahsoka will be a continuation of Rebels, a four-season animated series available on Disney+. Rebels began its story after the Empire took control of the galaxy—after Revenge of the Sith (Episode III). Characters from that series will be appearing in Ahsoka. Their story took place during the foundation years of the rebel alliance—around the time of the Andor series.
Ahsoka Tano did appear in the Rebels series following her journey from The Clone Wars animated series (taking place between the films Episodes II and III). In Rebels, Ahsoka had some unfinished business with her former teacher, Anakin Skywalker.
What is Ahsoka Tano up to now?
Ahsoka's journey has been a long adventure. She is not human, but a Togruta, which have longer lifespans than humans. Togruta are characterized by their montrals ("head tails") and varying skin pigmentation. Shaak Ti, seen in Attack of the Clones, was the first appearance of the Togruta race in Star Wars. Ahsoka's first appearance was in animated The Clone Wars series pilot/movie, where she was voiced by Ashley Eckstein, released in theaters in 2008. That series and her character were the co-creation of George Lucas and Dave Filoni.
Back in The Clone Wars she left the Jedi order during her training due to conflicts with characters in the galaxy, other Jedi, and her own master. When we briefly see her in Rebels, she no longer considers herself a Jedi. Her denouncement of the order may be a theme in this new series as she figures out what or who she is now after all that she's been through. Her new arc may be her trying to fulfill her potential. She's a loner and a bit of a Gandalf-like wizard character if you watch all of Rebels and its epilogue.
Rosario Dawson portrays Ahsoka in live-action first seen in The Mandalorian seasons 2 and 3. In season 2 of that show she is at the city of Calodan on Corvus where she and the Mandalorian team up against a former Imperial Magistrate to free the city. It is there Ahsoka reveals the name of Din's small companion to be Grogu (and not "baby Yoda") but refuses to train him as a Jedi. In season 3 we also see Ahsoka alongside Luke Skywalker during Grogu's Jedi training where she seems to serve as an advisor to Luke. They are the only ones alive at that time that knew most all of Anakin's story.
Now Ahsoka is on the hunt for Grand Admiral Thrawn and meets up with Hera and Sabine (all from Rebels) to try and stop a rising evil force.
Who is Baylan Skoll?
Baylan Skoll is portrayed by Ray Stevenson, who unfortunately died this past May. Not much is known about the character of Baylan except that he is a former Jedi who survived and escaped from Order 66 (Revenge of the Sith). Now he seems to have turned to the Dark Side at some point and is on the side of Thrawn, who Ahsoka is searching for.
Baylan knew Anakin and tells Ahsoka in the trailer (see above) that Anakin spoke highly of Ahsoka. Ahsoka can't seem to fully escape her past. Now as the New Republic tries to keep the peace in the galaxy, this fallen Jedi seems to be against everyone. Shin Hati is Baylan's apprentice seen fighting with a lightsaber in the trailer. Ahsoka duels with Baylan at place that looks like a projected map around some statues and ruins.
Does the series pick up from The Mandalorian?
We did get some hints of Ahsoka's motivations in The Mandalorian season 2 episode, "The Jedi," when she confronted that Imperial Magistrate, whose name is Morgan Elsbeth (played again by Diana Lee Inosanto). Elsbeth had the Beskar spear that Ahsoka gave to Din, the Mandalorian, for helping her save Calodan City.
During her fight with Elsbeth, Ahsoka demands to know the whereabouts of Thrawn, for whom Elsbeth is working. Elsbeth, in turn, may be looking for revenge on Ashoka from that battle where she lost control of the city.
Does the series connect to the original film trilogy?
Like Ahsoka, the character of Mon Mothma has witnessed a lot of events in the Star Wars saga. We first saw Mon Mothma in Return of the Jedi as the leader of the Rebellion and briefing her troops before a final assault against the Empire in hopes to finally end the rule of the Emperor. But in the timeline, we go backwards a bit and we see Mon as a senator in The Clone Wars and in the Andor series planting the seeds of the Rebellion. We finally see her rise as the revolutionary leader in the movie, Rogue One.
Genevieve O'Reilly returns as Mon Mothma from Andor and Rogue One in this series where we may finally get to see what she does in trying to build the New Republic.
Who returns from Rebels?
Fans of Rebels I believe will be pretty happy to see the return of some favorite characters. If you haven't seen Rebels, it looks like that series is required viewing before the premiere of Ahsoka. Dave Filoni, in an article by Collider, suggested: "I would start with the episode 'Jedi Night' [Season 4, Episode 10], where the sad thing happens to Kanan, and even if you didn't understand what that was, it would propel you forward. If you just watch season four, you'd be set. You can start with that and you get that these rebels are fighting this tyrannical emperor. And that would get you everything and everybody you need. You don't need to do the entire gamut of Rebels but you shouldn't. Once you watch that, you're gonna be like 'Well, I'm gonna watch it all'."
Hera Syndulla is one of the characters returning in Ahsoka. She, along with the spunky astro-droid Chopper, were part of the crew of the ship, the Ghost, that took on a boy named Ezra Bridger to be part of their group in secret missions to aid the burgeoning Rebel Alliance. Mary Elizabeth Winstead portrays the live-action Hera, the pilot and warrior who wants to prevent further galactic conflict.
Sabine Wren was another member of the Ghost crew and is featured heavily in the trailer. She was (is still?) a Mandalorian and the trailer indicates that Ahsoka was training her in some way. Perhaps she was training her in lightsaber dueling or maybe even in the Jedi arts. Sabine once weilded the Darksaber (seen in many series including The Mandalorian) and now is in possession of Ezra's lightsaber. Natasha Liu Bordizzo portrays live-action Sabine who is seen cutting her hair in what looks like a scene from Mulan but is more of a Rebels callback to Kanan Jarrus.
Finally, there's Grand Admiral Thrawn seen here for the first time in live-action. You'll be understood if you've never heard of Thrawn, but his is a long-running history pre-dating even the Star Wars prequels. His true first appearance was in the now-legends book, Heir to the Empire, the first in the "Thrawn Trilogy" of novels written by Timothy Zahn. Published in 1991, Heir was successful in revitalizing interest in Star Wars and began what was known at the time as the "Expanded Universe." The story was not conceived by George Lucas but it did get his approval. Zahn created the character of Thrawn as the main antagonist of the trilogy who was a sadistic military leader and not a person with magic or Force powers like the Emperor and Vader had been. In that series (which is not canon), Thrawn sought to tear down the New Republic and restore the Empire to power--which may still be his motivations to this day. In Rebels he is a cold, calculating military strategist who tries to end the Rebellion before it starts. His fate, along with Ezra's was unknown but he is alive in the trailer and Ahsoka calls him the "heir to the empire." Lars Mikkelsen plays Grand Admiral Thrawn and he was the voice of Thrawn in Rebels.
When is the premiere?
Short answer: there will be a two-episode premiere on Wednesday August 23 on Disney+. The series is slated to have eight episodes, which would put the finale on Wednesday, October 4.
If you like Rebels, if you like Ahsoka, the Jedi, and the mystical side of the Force, I believe this is the series for us.