‘Ahsoka’ Just Retconned ‘Star Wars’ Animation Forever

in Entertainment, Star Wars

Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) in 'Ahsoka' 1.06

Credit: Lucasfilm

Warning! Spoilers ahead for Ahsoka “Part Six: Far, Far Away.”

Last night’s episode of the Disney+ Ahsoka series was a long time coming for fans of Star Wars Rebels, and finally brought a beloved character from animation into live-action: former Imperial warlord Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen). But early on in the episode, many fans were quick to point out that in doing so, showrunner Dave Filoni might’ve seriously retconned Star Wars canon forever.

Sabine Wren searching for Ezra on Peridea in 'Ahsoka' episode 6
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn? Legends History, ‘Rebels’ Role, and Live-Action ‘Ahsoka’ Debut

After teasing his arrival all season, the sixth episode of the Disney+ Ahsoka show finally introduced one of the most menacing villains in Star Wars history: Grand Admiral Thrawn, the blue-skinned, red-eyed tactician who served as the primary antagonist in Star Wars Rebels.

In live-action, Thrawn is again played by his Rebels voice actor Lars Mikkelsen. However, Ahsoka clarifies that this is a much different version of the military strategist we know and loathe from animation.

Grand Admiral Thrawn looks on aboard his Empirial Starcruiser during a scene in Ahsoka, streaming on Disney+ on August 23.
Credit: Lucasfilm

Related: ‘Ahsoka’ Retcons ‘Star Wars’ History in the Most Unexpected Way

Of course, the character of Thrawn dates back to long before Rebels began airing on Disney XD in 2014. Those familiar with the Star Wars Legends novels know that Thrawn first appeared in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire in 1991, the first book of The Thrawn Trilogy named for the Grand Admiral. Here, Thrawn is described as a cunning Imperial Navy officer, widely regarded for his calculating nature and affinity for collecting art from across the galaxy.

While Legends and canon each have their own stories when it comes to Thrawn, Rebels saw his defeat at the hands of the starship Ghost crew when Jedi Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) blasted him into the Unknown Regions with the help of hyperspace-traveling purrgil (space whales) in the series finale.

Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) and the purrgils pull Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) and his Star Destroyer into hyperspace. Credit: Lucasfilm
Credit: Lucasfilm

Since then, both Ezra and Thrawn have been nowhere to be found. In Ahsoka, we see Mandalorian Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) experiencing immeasurable guilt over the fact that she’s been unable to locate Ezra in the nearly ten years since his disappearance. However, she finally gets her chance to find him when her pseudo-master, Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), finds a mysterious star map that might point to his whereabouts—and Thrawn’s.

Unfortunately, the map orb is taken by Thrawn loyalist Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) and her Force-using henchmen, Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) and Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson). While trying to reclaim it so that no one can follow Thrawn into the second galaxy, Ahsoka loses her lightsaber duel against Baylan and falls into the World Between Worlds, leaving Sabine with an impossible choice: either give the map to Baylan in hopes of finding Ezra or destroy it, so that Thrawn will remain trapped forever.

Morgan Elsbeth, Baylan Skoll, and Shin Hati in 'Ahsoka' Episode 6
Credit: Lucasfilm

In hopes of finding her lost friend, Sabine follows Morgan, Shin, Baylan and Co. into their hyperspace-traveling ship. When Ahsoka wakes up after her transformative lesson with her former master, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), it’s up to her to find Sabine. She uses a little Beast Control to communicate with a pod of migrating purrgil, and she and her trusty droid, Huyang (David Tennant), blast off into hyperspace.

Thrawn and ‘The Chimaera’ Arrive in ‘Ahsoka,’ but Does It Recton ‘Rebels?’

“Part Six: Far, Far Away” picks up shortly after Episode 5 and sees Morgan, Shin, Baylan, and Sabine’s first encounter with Thrawn on the planet Peridea, situated in an entirely new, distant galaxy. While many would agree that Thrawn’s goosebump-raising debut and the scene where his Imperial I-class Star Destroyer, The Chimaera, comes into view was a highlight of the series so far, the ship’s appearance perhaps raises more questions than answers.

Thrawn's Star Destroyer landing on a desolate planet in Ahsoka episode 6
Credit: Lucasfilm

In the new and official Star Wars canon, The Chimaera always belonged to Thrawn throughout his rise in Imperial rank, serving as the flagship of the Seventh Fleet. The Chimaera played a prominent role during the Liberation of Lothal arc in Rebels, and its intimidating appearance almost always signaled trouble ahead for Ezra and the Ghost crew. 

As Rebels viewers know, the last time we saw the Chimaera in Star Wars canon was during the series’ final episode, “Family Reunion – and Farewell.” The cruiser was forcibly sent into hyperspace by a pod of star whales under the guidance of Ezra, following him and Thrawn into the Unknown Regions. And while the ship wasn’t, per se, confirmed to be out of commission, it was heavily implied that The Chimaera wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Grand Admiral Thrawn walking among storm troopers in Ahsoka episode 6
Credit: Lucasfilm

However, in Ahsoka, it looks like The Chimaera is back up and running, though it still carries the scars and lingering damage from its intergalactic commute via purrgill. Missing panels and exposed deckwork aside, oddly enough, the Star Destroyer appears to be intact enough to have served as Thrawn’s flying base of operations during his years in exile. This begs the question of when and how Thrawn managed to repair his vessel in a galaxy of, essentially, vast nothingness.

While it’s not enough to deem Filoni’s decision to resurrect The Chimaera a glaring Rebels retcon just yet, the ship did appear to be in a state of disrepair by the time Ezra whisked it into hyperspace. However, Filoni almost certainly has a good explanation for how the vessel survived—one that will hopefully be explained in the remaining episodes of Ahsoka.

night troopers with thrawn and enoch in star wars ahsoka
Credit: Lucasfilm

Thrawn and the Nightsisters Are Working Together

So, how did Thrawn salvage enough supplies to maintain the skeleton of his beloved ship? Well, with the Nightsisters (AKA the Witches of Dathomir) seeming sympathetic to Thrawn’s cause, the trio we see on the surface of Peridea could have used their Magick to gather materials or are, perhaps, fueling the ship—and potentially even the crew—with the same green powers that created Inquisitor Marrok (Paul Darnell).

Thrawn and his forces also could have simply scavenged old shipwrecks, creating a sort of zombie ship that mirrors the original design of the Chimaera. With there being some pretty exciting rumors about Thrawn’s army of, possibly, undead stormtroopers (AKA Night Troopers), the Chimaera being a zombie vessel could be a not-so-subtle hint about its crew and connections to the Nightsisters’ Magick.

Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) and Huyang (David Tennant) in 'Ahsoka'
Credit: Lucasfilm

Interestingly, the Chimaera name is rooted in Greek mythology, referring to a beast made up of lion, goat, and snake elements combined that was considered unconquerable. Today, the word “chimaera” also refers to something made of similarly disparate parts, often as a result of genetic manipulation. Sound familiar?

If Thrawn does indeed return to the main Star Wars galaxy, it will likely be aboard The Chimaera, where it can then be reinstated as the Imperial Remnant’s flagship with Thrawn as “Heir to the Empire,” posing a pretty significant threat to the already-fragile New Republic. Either way, trouble is brewing as Ahsoka inches closer to its finale on Disney+.

New episodes of Ahsoka arrive every Tuesday at 6 p.m. PT.

What are your theories on how Thrawn kept The Chimaera operational throughout his exile? Do you think it has something to do with the Nightsisters? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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