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The Mandalorian’s timeline might not be as simple as it looks

Just how does the Disney+ series tie into Star Wars Rebels?

Rosario Dawson

As Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian heads toward its season two endgame, the hit Disney+ series continues its very own Star Tours of a galaxy far, far away. While season one paid homage to the Star Wars franchise’s past in small doses, season two chucked us into the Great Pit of Carkoon with more Easter eggs and retroactively added canon than you can shake a Beskar spear at – and front and centre has been the integration of elements from the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.

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Alongside the long-awaited live-action arrival of Bo-Katan Kryze and Ahsoka Tano with the high-profile castings of Katee Sackhoff and Rosario Dawson, The Mandalorian has dived deeper into the lore of these acclaimed animations by serving as a sequel to both The Clone Wars and Rebels – or so you’d think. Star Wars has always played fast and loose with its own timeline, but by the looks of it, The Mandalorian has just kicked things into hyperspace with the shocking reveal it might not be the Rebels sequel we were looking for.

You see, Chapter 13: The Jedi not only introduced Ahsoka, but also gave us the major name drop of Thrawn. For those up on their Rebels history, Grand Admiral Thrawn was the show’s very own big bad, a blue-skinned menace who gave Ezra Bridger and the crew of the Ghost hassle over the show’s four-season run. Ahsoka confronted Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth and asked where her “master” was, then delivered the bombshell that the Jedi outcast is on the hunt for Thrawn. It set up the idea of The Mandalorian being a Rebels sequel – however, director Dave Filoni warned this isn’t necessarily the case.

Rebels ended with its own cliffhanger that saw Ezra and Trawn being whisked across hyperspace by a tentacled space whale. The Rebels epilogue was set “several years later”, with Ahsoka and Sabine Wren last seen heading out into the unknown in search of Thrawn’s ship, the Chimaera.

Most fans had assumed that Ahsoka’s appearance in The Mandalorian followed on from this – but discussing all things Rebels, Filoni told Vanity Fair that The Mandalorian’s timeline isn’t that clear-cut.

“That’s not necessarily chronological. I think the thing that people will most not understand is they want to go in a linear fashion,” said Filoni. “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. 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 older Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: Rebels
The older Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: Rebels

Of course Filoni hasn’t explicitly debunked the idea of The Mandalorian coming after Rebels here, but then again, it seems odd that he’d mention the chronology if there wasn’t something to it. If everything really was as it seemed, why draw attention to the fact that it might not be? Certainly, Ahsoka wanting Thrawn’s head isn’t exactly a new motive, meaning it’s entirely possible her arc in The Mandalorian comes before the Rebels epilogue. 

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Prior to this, it was generally assumed the Rebels epilogue took place in the Battle of Endor’s immediate aftermath, which would place it around five years before our titular Mando and Grogu meet Ahsoka. Adding more confusion to the whole situation is the fact Filoni told Rebels Recon that both Ezra and Thrawn survived their trip into the unknown. This means Ahsoka’s quest in The Mandalorian could take place either before or after.

But would it really work long-term tying the Mandalorian into the Rebels timeline? Because generally speaking, having The Jedi serve as a post-Rebels segue into an Ahsoka spinoff is an altogether more appealing prospect. 

After all, there’s plenty going for Favreau’s show being a Rebels sequel. Let’s remember Rebels’ own lead Mandalorian character Sabine Wren is a big name in the lore of Star Wars and was the previous owner of the Darksaber before Bo-Katan. Before the latest run of episodes aired, many wrongly assuming that wrestler Sasha Banks would be playing Wren in season two (she was actually playing another character). Now that Moff Gideon has the black blade in his possession, it has a lot of fans questioning when (not if) Sabine will appear in The Mandalorian to claim it back

And that could be just the start. As the slate of Star Wars shows and movies continues to expand, The Mandalorian will be joined by solo outings for Cassian Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Closer to home, The Mandalorian has sparked rumours of shows for everyone from Boba Fett to Bo-Katan Kryze, Cara Dune to Ahsoka. There’s currently an untitled female-centric series in the works at Disney+ – which most fans have tipped to be Ahsoka’s time in the spotlight. 

The Mandalorian
Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano and Pedro Pascal as Din Djarin in The Mandalorian (Disney)
Disney

Even though it’s getting increasingly hard to figure out what’s going on when in the franchise, we at least know there’s a post-Rebels story thanks to the fact the show’s iconic ship the Ghost survives into the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. During the divisive movie’s final act, the Ghost was one of the many ships that answered Lando Calrissian’s call to action. Episode IX never revealed who was piloting the craft, but it’s hard to imagine Hera Syndulla would give up her signature ship. 

While most of the Rebels cast have been confined to animation, this isn’t the first time the show has spread into live-action. Back in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, there was a mention of General Syndulla. Filoni told Entertainment Weekly that it was absolutely Hera being paged, not her dad. Knowing that Hera eventually makes it to the rank of General, and tying everything together, it’s easy to imagine Filoni being promoted from his position as executive producer on The Mandalorian to head up a Rebels sequel series.

Still, with nothing confirmed, viewers are left questioning everything they thought they’d figured out, and ultimately, Filoni seems keen to keep playing his Jedi mind tricks with us all. In an ever-expanding world of Star Wars stories, fans will have to wait and see whether The Mandalorian is setting up a Rebels sequel or is just there to fill in the gaps… for now!

Want to know more about The Mandalorian castThe Mandalorian release schedule or when is The Mandalorian set? Check out our suite of content on RadioTimes.com.

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