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Ahsoka Tano may have finally made her long-awaited debut on The Mandalorian this season, but the appearance of everyone's favorite former Jedi apprentice has brought up a few questions of its own, especially regarding where the current Disney+ series fits into the larger franchise, as well as the ending of Star Wars: Rebels.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, executive producer Dave Filoni — who also serves as a writer and director on the series, including Ahsoka's appearance in this most recent directorial effort — threw a shadow of doubt on what fans had assumed to be a chronological sequence of events with The Mandalorian taking place some years after Rebels and the original trilogy.
"[It's] not necessarily chronological," explains Filoni, referring to the open-ended final scene of Rebels, which saw Ahsoka set off in search of Ezra Bridger and the villainous Grand Admiral Thrawn, who she mentions she's still looking for in this most recent Mandalorian episode. "I think the thing people will most not understand is they want to go in a linear fashion, but as I learned as a kid, nothing in Star Wars really works in a linear fashion. You do [Episodes] Four, Five and Six and then One, Two, and Three."
The former Rebels executive producer then goes on to say, "So in the vein of that history, when you look at the epilogue of Rebels you don't really know how much time has passed. So, it's possible that the story I'm telling in The Mandalorian actually takes place prior to that. Possible. I'm saying it's possible."
The final episode of Rebels takes place before the events of Rogue One and A New Hope, with its conclusion seeing Ezra trapped in a Star Destroyer (along with his nemesis Grand Admiral Thrawn) and getting carried across the galaxy by the hyperspace-capable Purrgil, with the fate of both characters remaining a mystery. However, the episode's final sequence features narration from Ahsoka herself, as she outlines what becomes of the rest of the Rebels cast, including Twi'lek pilot Hera Syndulla, clone Captain Rex, and the Mandalorian Sabine Wren, before reuniting with them on the planet of Lothal and vowing to go in search of Ezra.
Up until now, fans have assumed that the ensuing time jump between the episode and the epilogue takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi, with The Mandalorian itself being set five years after that. So with Ahsoka referencing her hunt for Thrawn in this most recent episode, many assumed that this was an extension of her previous quest, with her having clearly not found either character yet. Thus, Filoni's comments change things a bit, setting that eventual reunion on Lothal, much later in the timeline, before Ahsoka has even reunited with Hera and Sabine.
This leaves room for either character — as well as Ezra and Thrawn — to make their own live-action debuts on the series, thus continuing their stories. We've seen as much with another familiar face that popped up this season: Bo-Katan, yet another Mandalorian. (In fact, Season 1 of The Mandalorian already featured a pair of Twi'leks, one of whom was also a former flame of Din Djarrin's.) This would both be in keeping with Din's current quest for more of his kind, as well as his search for a possible teacher for Baby Yoda The Child Grogu.
New episodes of The Mandalorian drop on Disney+ every Friday.