If you aren’t a Star Wars: Rebels fan, watching Ahsoka can be a little bit disorienting because it’s essentially a live-action fifth season of that animated series. But there’s still plenty for all the other Star Wars fans to chew on–particularly the search for Thrawn, which seems like it could be taking us beyond the borders of the Star Wars galaxy as we know them. It’s kind of a big deal.
Warning: The rest of this article will contain major spoilers for the first two episodes of Ahsoka, as well as speculation about what could happen in the rest of the series.
But it’s not a big deal just because it’s cool to do something new–though that is something Star Wars doesn’t do often enough. It’s a big deal because it means that this series might actually bring some order to the comically vague and nonsensical post-Return of the Jedi timeline that has been in complete shambles since Disney rebooted the continuity a decade ago.
In particular, there are two enormous holes in the timeline right now. First and foremost, the rise of the First Order is still cloaked in mystery. We’ve got some of the broad strokes regarding its origin in the wake of Return of the Jedi, and we have scattered bits and pieces about its activities between the trilogies, but there’s not a single person on this Earth who can credibly claim to actually know what that story is in full–because there isn’t one.
That goes triple for Palpatine and his other secret Empire, the Final Order, which was something JJ Abrams pulled out of his butt for The Rise of Skywalker. It didn’t make sense when that movie came out, and since there haven’t been much in the way confirmed further details about how that came to be since–theorized connections to Moff Gideon’s clone stuff in The Mandalorian Season 3 certainly don’t count as confirmed–it obviously doesn’t make any more sense today than it did then.
This quest to another galaxy to find Thrawn could be a way for the Star Wars franchise to begin to fill in those gaps, but only if this quest has something to do with either the First Order or the Final Order–or preferably both. Since both of these massive forces are said to only exist in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy during this period, it’s very possible that this other galaxy where Thrawn and Ezra Bridger ended up is connected to those secret Imperial remnants.
The question of how and why Thrawn and Ezra ended up wherever they are after the purrgils sent them both hurtling through hyperspace to an unknown destination in the Rebels finale is a whole other thing, though. It’s almost certain that the Force was involved, but until we know, well, anything about what happened to them, it’s not possible to make good guesses about it.
We can, however, do a little educated speculation about what this other galaxy might be. There are four main possibilities.
1. This is some kind of dumbed down reference to the Unknown Regions of the Star Wars galaxy, which is difficult for folks from known space to both get to and navigate because it contains a large number of stellar anomalies that they don’t normally have to deal with. Considering that Thrawn’s people come from the Unknown Regions, and that part of the galaxy was mentioned and even visited many times on both Clone Wars and Rebels, it would be odd for them to shorthand the Unknown Regions like that. On the other hand, there were no direct references to the Unknown Regions in these first two episodes, and so this has to be a possibility.
2. They’re talking about a small satellite galaxy that orbits the main one. There have been a number of examples of that kind of thing in both the current and old canons. But regardless of what timeline you’re looking at, there’s, at minimum, two satellite galaxies orbiting the Star Wars galaxy–an image of the galaxy in Attack of the Clones shows them very clearly, and that makes it unimpeachable canon.
The first of those two satellites is called the Rishi Maze–so named because you have to go through the Rishi system to get there. Rishi previously featured in the first season of Clone Wars, but I doubt Rishi is the answer here because it’s pretty much a known quantity. The second confirmed satellite is a better candidate.
That other galaxy, known as Firefist, has been detailed only in reference books, but it includes the homeworlds of several Unknown Regions species. Firefist being a sort of de facto extension of the Unknown Regions makes it a prime candidate for their destination on Ahsoka, and that also makes this place a prime candidate for being related to one of the reborn Empires that the lore says rose up in the Unknown Regions.
3. It’s an actual other full galaxy of similar size to the Star Wars galaxy. This isn’t too likely, because no character from the Star Wars galaxy has ever traveled to another full galaxy in any story. The reverse, however, is not true–there was a major storyline in the defunct Expanded Universe about a bunch of aliens called the Yuuzhan Vong who traveled from their own galaxy to invade the New Republic about 20 years after Return of the Jedi.
While the Yuuzhan Vong are not part of Disney’s continuity, their introduction in the late 1990s came with some major retcons that are relevant here. The big one was the idea that Palpatine at least partially wanted to consolidate his power with the Empire in order to prepare for the Yuuzhan Vong threat that he knew was coming. And they knew it was coming because Thrawn’s people had encountered and fought Yuuzhan Vong scouts in the Unknown Regions more than half a century before the invasion. So that version of Thrawn had a direct connection to those extragalactic aliens even though he died before the actual invasion.
4. It’s not another galaxy, but another dimension. Here’s the thing about hyperspace in Star Wars: It’s not actually a speed. When a starship jumps to hyperspace, it’s moving into a different plane of reality where they basically carve a shortcut to another spot in “realspace.” Ezra and Thrawn could have been trapped in hyperspace itself, or ended up in some other place that’s beyond the normal physical reality.
Whatever the answer, let’s hope it’s not just another neat little Star Wars adventure that doesn’t mean anything for the big picture.
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