The latest episode of The Mandalorian, fittingly titled The Jedi, finally granted the wish that fans have been calling for for years - the live-action debut of fan-favourite Ahsoka Tano. First introduced in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the young padawan of Anakin Skywalker quickly became a hit with fans, going on to survive Order 66 and appear alongside the Rebellion in Star Wars Rebels.
The last time we saw her before her Mandalorian debut was at the end of Star Wars Rebels, dressed in white robes with matching staff (a very Gandalf-like attire), ready to venture off with Sabine Wren to find Ezra Bridger, who vanished along with Thrawn after the successful liberation of Lothal. It was assumed that this scene played out in the immediate wake of Return of the Jedi and that Ahsoka's live-action debut in The Mandalorian therefore succeeded it, being set five years in a post-Empire galaxy. That is until a recent interview that Filoni had with Vanity Fair.
When asked where the scene fits in with where we find her in The Mandalorian, Filoni had this to say:
"Right. But no, it's an interesting one… That's not necessarily chronological. I think the thing that people will most not understand is they want to go in a linear fashion, 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."
Filoni has a habit of teasing the Star Wars Community. Around the time that fans were convinced that Ahsoka Tano survived her fight with Vader on Malachor at the end of Star Wars Rebels Season 2, at a convention for Star Wars Rebels, Dave Filoni switched shirts mid-panel with the first reading "Ahsoka Lives?" with a question mark to "Ahsoka Lives!" with an exclamation, but would neither confirm nor deny what they meant.
So what does this mean for Ahsoka's journey?
It would explain the absence of Sabine Wren and the difference in Ahsoka's attire in the episode. It also means that during that time, Ahsoka has been searching for Thrawn as part of her search for Ezra Bridger. Thrawn could be the key to finding their lost friend, and whether her search was successful before her meeting with Sabine is yet to revealed.
Whether we see Thrawn in The Mandalorian remains a mystery, at least in this season, and with a Rebels-sequel on the way, it could be possible we won't see him again until it premieres. Either way, if they do bring him into live-action (and they should!), they are going to need someone to dominate the screen when next to Giancarlo Esposito's Moff Gideon.