New ‘Star Wars’ Villain Replaces Darth Vader’s Best Moment

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Darth Vader force choking Director Krennic

Credit: Lucasfilm

Darth Vader may have finally met his match.

The entire foundation of the Star Wars franchise is built upon its heroes and villains. While characters such as Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Din Djarin/The Mandalorian (Din Djarin) are revered by fans, sometimes it’s more fun to enjoy those who are feared, and needless to say, there are so many to choose from.

But it goes without saying that Star Wars‘ most iconic villain is the powerful Sith Lord, Darth Vader (James Earl Jones), known in his life before the dark side as the Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen). Putting Anakin Skywalker aside, Darth Vader isn’t just the most well-known villain in Star Wars — he’s among the most celebrated and iconic villains in cinema history.

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Credit: Lucasfilm

Related: ‘Ahsoka’ Likely to Disappoint Fans With Unexpected Character Replacement

So far, he has appeared in five Star Wars films (six if you include Anakin Skywalker): Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983), Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith (2005), and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016).

On the smaller screen, we saw him appear in the animated shows, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008 — 2020) and Star Wars: Rebels (2014 — 2018), and more recently in the Disney+ series, Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022). He’s also in numerous video games, novels, and comic books, whether canon or part of Star Wars: Legends.

Ahsoka Tano vs. Darth Vader in Star Wars: Rebels
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Darth Vader is everywhere, and there’s no escaping him. There are many other iconic villains from the faraway galaxy, such as Darth Maul (Ray Park), Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), Jabba the Hutt, and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), to name a few, but none are quite as terrifying as Darth Vader.

One of the most terrifying scenes that features Darth Vader is at the end of the anthology film, Rogue One, in which the Sith Lord is relentlessly cutting his way through troops on a Rebel command ship in an attempt to retrieve the plans that will ultimately lead to the destruction of the Galactic Empire’s Death Star, as seen in A New Hope.

The iconic Darth Vader scene in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Credit: Lucasfilm

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The sequence is held in high regard by many fans, but now, it finally has some competition. The first two episodes of Ahsoka (2023) have arrived on Disney+, and Darth Vader may have finally met his match.

Ahsoka has already changed the Mando-Verse in a major way, and now, one of the show’s villains, Baylan Skoll, played by the late Ray Stevenson, who sadly passed away earlier this year, is neither Sith nor Jedi.

“I am no Jedi”, he tells a New Republic Officer before slaying him with his orange lightsaber (the fact it is orange suggests he isn’t a Sith, either, and that he may be a “Gray Jedi” — yes, the Kyber crystal is evidently corrupted, but the blade does not glow red like that of a Sith).

Ray Stevenson as new 'Star Wars' villain Baylan Skoll in 'Ahsoka' star wars
Credit: Lucasfilm

Related: A Recap of Ahsoka Before You Watch the Live-Action Series

The first episode in Ahsoka is aptly named “Part One: Master and Apprentice”, as it introduces Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) and his apprentice/padawan Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno). The episode opens with the pair infiltrating a New Republic cruiser, where they intend to free Lady Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) so that they can begin their search for Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), who has been missing for years.

After killing all the officers in the cargo hold, Baylan and Shin move into the ship’s corridors, where more officers await them. In a scene that’s very reminiscent of the Rogue One scene in question, Baylan moves through his opponents like a hot lightsaber through blue butter, using both his blade and Force abilities to lay waste to anyone who stands in his way.

Ray Stevenson as new 'Star Wars' villain Baylan Skoll using the Force in 'Ahsoka' star wars
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Of course, Baylan Skoll won’t become anywhere near as iconic as Darth Vader, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t as formidable. After all, both characters employ the Force, and not only that, but as revealed at the end of the second episode of Ahsoka, “Part Two: Toil and Trouble”, Baylan, like Vader, is also not entirely without empathy.

When Elsbeth tells Baylan that “the appearance of Ahsoka Tano” appears to trouble him, he replies, saying, “Her presence in the Force is elusive. But her determination is vivid. She’s coming. Nothing can prevent her journey. To kill her would be a shame. There are so few Jedi left.”

This suggests that he may still hold some respect, perhaps even compassion, towards all remaining Jedi. A surprised Elsbeth suggests that Baylan is being “sentimental”, to which he replies, “Truth.”

The first episode ends with a tribute to Ray Stevenson that reads “For Our Friend, Ray.”

As per Disney and Lucasfilm, here’s the official trailer for Ahsoka:

Ahsoka stars Rosario Dawson (Ahsoka Tano), Natasha Liu Bordizzo (Sabine Wren), Eman Esfandi (Ezra Bridger), Lars Mikkelsen (Grand Admiral Thrawn), Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Hera Syndulla), Genevieve O’Reilly (Mon Mothma), Ivanna Sakhno (Shin Hati), Diana Lee Inosanto (Morgan Elsbeth), and the late Ray Stevenson (Baylan Skoll).

The first two episodes of Ahsoka are now streaming on Disney+. New episodes will be available to stream every Tuesday, with the eighth and final episode airing on October 3.

What do you think of Ray Stevenson’s performance as Baylan Skoll so far? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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