Star Wars Rebels fans: your beloved series is hurtling toward its end at a breakneck pace, a finish line it will be crossing in just over a month — on March 5th.
I’ve been thinking about something a lot, and I’m about to get in to some spoilers up to the most recent episodes of the show. Because I’m convinced that the next animated series to come from Lucasfilm is going to center around everyone’s favorite Togruta non-Jedi.
Star Wars Rebels is still telling good stories, it’s helped built fan trust in Disney’s ownership of Star Wars, and there’s still plenty of untapped potential among its ever-expanding cast of characters.
So why cancel it so soon, before anybody expected? Remember, Star Wars: The Clone Wars ran for six seasons, with plans for up to eight. Who’s to say Rebels couldn’t go just as long?
And then Star Wars Celebration 2017 happened. At the Rebels panel, creator and executive producer Dave Filoni announced to everyone present that Season 4 would be the end of Star Wars Rebels. There were audible gasps in the audience. A trailer was shown for the final season that suggested the tone was going to get a lot darker before the end.
It’s known that Filoni and his crew at Lucasfilm Animation are already hard at work on the next Star Wars TV series. Now that Lucasfilm has unveiled a trailer for the final seven episodes, my
Spidey storyteller senses are tingling like crazy.
Mark my words: the next animated series is going to be about Ahsoka Tano.
- A new series is already in the works. I’m willing to bet it’s already well into production.
- Dave Filoni would not bring Star Wars Rebels to an end sooner than expected without a really good reason.
- Disney XD has been airing Season 4’s episodes at an accelerated rate, with two new episodes each week, back-to-back, instead of the usual one. At the time of this writing, just three nights of Star Wars Rebels remain. Disney would not rush through these hotly-anticipated episodes so quickly without a very good reason.
- When Ahsoka Tano returned, alive and well and an adult on Star Wars Rebels, fandom went nuts. This once-annoying “little sister” archetype for Anakin Skywalker had over the years become a compelling individual, a fierce warrior, and mature adulthood suited her. Her sporadic appearances throughout Season 2 of Star Wars Rebels proved to Disney that the character was more popular than ever.
- Despite this, Filoni and his crew removed Ahsoka from the board, so to speak, after the Season 2 finale, which left her fate up in the air. She hasn’t been seen since — and fans haven’t stopped waiting for her to return.
- A featurette on the Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Blu-ray saw Dave Filoni look into the camera and promise fans that Ahsoka’s fate will be resolved. “You have to be patient,” he said. Most fans took that to mean that her fate would be resolved eventually on Rebels. But here we are with just 7 episodes remaining, and the final trailer (Disney’s season and mid-season trailers for the show have been known to be spoiler-filled) shows no sign of addressing Ahsoka. At all. Slow down the trailer and watch it geek-style, frame-by-frame, and you won’t see even the tiniest hint of anything Ahsoka-related. From what can be seen, we’re going to get some answers about that Convor bird that keeps popping up, and — even bigger spoiler alert — the etchings on the glowy wall thing showing the three Force gods from Mortis completely gives away that the Convor is directly connected to the Daughter, aka the embodiment of the Light Side of the Force. The bird is right there on her shoulder, suggesting the Convor is an emissary for or an embodiment of the Daughter. Some have theorized that maybe Ahsoka has taken the Daughter’s place, since she appeared to have died on Clone Wars. Anything’s possible, but wouldn’t you rather see Ahsoka kicking butt than floating around, glowing ethereally, and spouting cryptic wisdom?
- Lastly, there’s Filoni’s now-infamous t-shirt switcheroo at Star Wars Celebration. At that same panel where he announced the end of Star Wars Rebels, he wore a black t-shirt that said in big, Star Wars-y letters: “Ahsoka Lives?” After the Season 4 trailer aired, he had changed t-shirts so that it now read, “Ahsoka Lives!”
Here’s what I think is going on.
When Ahsoka triumphantly returned at the outset of Season 2 (well, the final scene of Season 1, but splitting hairs…), it was not a casual move. Filoni was testing the waters. Ahsoka was his creation and he’s had plans for her from the start. Over the years, I think he’s worked out a lot of her story. For example, he’s figured out how to explain why she’s never in any of the movies, just as he found a way to reunite her with Anakin/Vader satisfyingly, while taking nothing away from Vader’s redemption years later in Return of the Jedi.
Dude’s got a plan, y’all.
With fan reaction going through the roof, that was all the ammunition Filoni needed to go to Disney and explain the story he really wanted to tell: the Ahsoka Tano show. They undoubtedly agreed that the time is right for a female-led TV series, given Rey and Jyn’s successes in the movies. So instead of tying up Ahsoka’s fate with a nice little bow on Rebels, Filoni set her aside for something bigger and better: her own spotlight, where her larger story can be the entire focus, instead of having her continue to intrude on the adventures of the Rebels gang.
Also: It was not long after the Season 2 finale (the big Ahsoka/Vader cliffhanger) aired in 2016 that Filoni was promoted by Disney to oversee not just Rebels but “all future Lucasfilm Animated projects.” Interesting timing for a bigger role at Lucasfilm, no?
He was able to get the Ahsoka green-light from Disney post Season 2, just in time to get his comments included on the Season 2 Blu-ray/DVD release, promising that answers about Ahsoka would come somewhere down the road. We had no idea at the time that he meant the answers would come on her own show, but it all makes sense now.
Just like the t-shirt thing at Celebration. It’s such a Filoni thing to do: secretly troll fans about his next TV show while promoting the end of the current one. But do it cryptically, so that after the Ahsoka series kicks off, he’ll be able to point back at those t-shirts and the DVD extras and all the other clues, and say, “See? I told you answers would come if you were patient. In fact, they were already there. You just didn’t know it.”
First things first, though. He didn’t want to do Rebels an injustice and end the show before its proper conclusion, as he was forced to do on Clone Wars. He insisted on at least two more seasons for Rebels so he would be able to end that story properly before moving on to the next thing. Because he’s a good guy who cares about his characters and his fans.
So now we come to the end of Rebels, with Disney blowing through the final season insanely fast. Why?
To make room for Ahsoka.
Dave Filoni is more invested in Ahsoka’s story than any other Star Wars character. This would be his dream show and a true passion project. What shape it will take, when it will be set (pre- or post-Clone Wars? post-Rebels?), and who else will be in it are details we won’t know until sometime after Rebels ends, when Lucasfilm Animation is finally ready and able to reveal it officially.
But until then… You heard it here first. It’s going to be a show centered on Ahsoka. It just makes too much sense not to happen.