Next year will be a massive one for Star Wars streaming, and it’s The Mandalorian and Ahsoka that will figure to be the most significant pillars of that. That’s not just because both of them feature fan favorite characters and have already-established audiences, but also because these shows will quite possibly – even very likely – dramatically re-define this period of the Star Wars universe and set up stories for years to follow.
I know that’s a bold statement. But reading between the lines on the synopses for these two shows, building off of what’s already been hinted at, points toward some pretty major developments taking place.
Let’s start with The Mandalorian. Here’s the synopsis that was recently released for the third season of the show, which premieres on March 1, 2023:
“The journeys of the Mandalorian through the Star Wars galaxy continue. Once a lone bounty hunter, Din Djarin has reunited with Grogu. Meanwhile, the New Republic struggles to lead the galaxy away from its dark history. The Mandalorian will cross paths with old allies and make new enemies as he and Grogu continue their journey together.”
Most of that is pretty vague stuff that we all could have guessed – ok, so Mando and Grogu go on adventures together! Check. But what really surprised me to see included in the synopsis is the mention of the New Republic: “Meanwhile, the New Republic struggles to lead the galaxy away from its dark history.” It sounds like we’re also going to focus on the state of this new government, which makes sense as we’ve already come to know a few New Republic pilots, while Moff Gideon is in New Republic custody. But it makes me wonder if some of the original plans for Rangers of the New Republic has been folded into this series.
I really want more of a focus on the New Republic during this period, because it’s obvious that there are Imperial remnants that still pose a threat. How does this government handle it? They’ve got their hands full trying to lead a galaxy that’s been shattered and wearied by war, so what do they do with continuing threats? I think that’s very interesting, especially since I would wager that these shows are leading up to the New Republic getting involved in a fight.
And I say that because of the episode description for Ahsoka, which premieres sometime next summer, which hints at what we’ve long known was coming:
“Set after the fall of the Empire, Star Wars: Ahsoka follows the former Jedi knight Ahsoka Tano as she investigates an emerging threat to a vulnerable galaxy.”
What might that threat be? Well, let’s see: Ahsoka is searching for Ezra Bridger (who has reportedly been cast and will appear in the show), who disappeared alongside Grand Admiral Thrawn, who was name-dropped in The Mandalorian as being who Ahsoka is looking for. The Magistrate is working for Thrawn, and the sentry droids she has in her possession bear the emblem of the Seventh Fleet, which was under Thrawn’s command.
It’s long been assumed, then, that Thrawn is coming (such that there are even reports of who’s playing him). And if Thrawn is that “emerging threat to a vulnerable galaxy,” then we’ll see the New Republic “struggle to lead the galaxy away from its dark history” while one of the Empire’s most formidable leaders returns onto the scene.
In other words, it’s safe to say that an increased focus on the New Republic and the long-awaited return of Grand Admiral Thrawn willl radically re-define this time period in the Star Wars franchise. It will raise the stakes and show fans a truly pivotal conflict in this period, and that will set up stories to come, presumably for years.
It won’t feel forced or shocking, because they’ve been building up to it. But this Mandoverse has been leading up to these moments, and once they start to unfold, things will really start to escalate. And I can’t wait.