Disney is rapidly expanding the scope of the Star Wars TV lineup on Disney+, and that means a lot of fan-favorite animated characters are making their live-action debuts. The Mandalorian Season 2 already introduced Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze and Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano. And now we know the upcoming Ahsoka spinoff series will introduce several familiar faces from Star Wars Rebels. Natasha Liu Bordizzo has been officially cast as Sabine Wren, and the series will also feature Captain Hera Syndulla, Ezra Bridger and Chopper.
To paraphrase Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, this is welcome news, to be sure, but not a surprise. We’ve long suspected Sabine was due for an appearance in The Mandalorian or one of its spinoffs. Let’s take a look back at the clues from The Mandalorian: Season 2 and what we know about Sabine’s role in Ahsoka.
Graffiti: Sabine’s Calling Card
While there are plenty of compelling story reasons why Sabine can and should appear in these live-action shows at some point, let’s start with the most obvious clue hinting at her live-action debut. The first trailer for The Mandalorian Season 2 and various other promo images featured a surprising amount of graffiti art in the background. And if there’s any one Star Wars character associated with graffiti and spray paint, it’s definitely Sabine.
That’s what sets Sabine apart from other Mandalorians. She’s less concerned with honor and a warrior code and more interested in letting her individuality flourish in an age where the Empire is stamping out all forms of dissent. And so she’s decorated her Mandalorian armor with bright, neon colors and leaves behind a few stylish tags to mark a job well done. With the way graffiti is so prominently featured in these Season 2 previews, Lucasfilm seemed to want fans to speculate about a Sabine appearance.
One of the themes explored in Season 1 is the way many veterans of the Galactic Civil War are struggling to find purpose now that the war has more or less ended. That’s most clearly conveyed through Mando’s new friend Cara Dune, a former Rebel shocktrooper with plenty of kills under her belt and no war left to fight. If this graffiti is courtesy of Sabine, it could be her way of signaling to her fellow Rebels that the war isn’t truly over. The Empire isn’t completely gone, and worlds like Mandalore have yet to enjoy the peace and prosperity the New Republic is promising. Just as she did at the height of the Empire’s reign, Sabine may be using her art to urge the galaxy into action.
The Empire isn’t completely gone, and worlds like Mandalore have yet to enjoy the peace and prosperity the New Republic is promising.
Sabine’s History With the Darksaber
Even ignoring the graffiti clues, many fans have been assuming it’s only a matter of time before Sabine makes an appearance in The Mandalorian. Not only is she a Mandalorian herself, she’s a member of one of the great houses of Mandalore, whereas Din Djarin is merely an orphaned foundling inducted into their warrior culture.
Season 1’s finale episode teased some major revelations to come regarding the fate of Mandalore after the events of Star Wars Rebels. The season ends with a shot of a resilient Moff Gideon cutting his way out of a crashed TIE Fighter using the Darksaber. As fans of The Clone Wars and Rebels will know, the Darksaber is among the most important artifacts in Mandalorian culture. Its wielder is granted the right to rule Mandalore and its various tribes and houses. The fact that an Imperial warlord now wields the Darksaber rather than a Mandalorian suggests some pretty dark stuff has gone down since the final season of Rebels.
When last we saw the Darksaber in Rebels, Sabine had claimed the weapon as her prize, only to turn it over to Bo-Katan Kryze to rule Mandalore in her place. Katee Sackhoff debuted Bo-Katan in The Mandalorian Season 2, episode 3, “The Heiress,” and while we still don’t know how she lost the Darksaber and how Mandalore fell back into Imperial control, now that Moff Gideon has been defeated in the Season 2 finale and the Darksaber is currently in Din Djarin’s hands rather than Bo-Katan’s, the fate of Mandalore is once again a focus.
In fact, we now know the Darksaber-wielding Din is traveling to the war-ravaged Mandalore in Season 3 as part of his quest to cleanse himself of his sins. He’ll be encountering plenty of Mandalorians along the way, including Bo-Katan. Given her own history with the Darksaber, it seems hard to believe Sabine wouldn’t also have a vested interest in restoring Mandalore to its former glory.
Is Star Wars: Ahsoka a Rebels Sequel?
With The Mandalorian becoming a new home for former animated series-only characters like Ahsoka and Bo-Katan, it’s beginning to look more and more as though the series is basically the Rebels follow-up fans have been demanding. Though now it’s becoming clear the Ahsoka spinoff series is the true Rebels successor. That series will reunite Ahsoka with Sabine, Hera, Ezra and even the temperamental droid Chopper.
At this point, it seems safe to expect every major, surviving Rebels character to appear in one of these shows. With Morrison back in action as Boba Fett, who’s to say he couldn’t also play an aged Captain Rex in the Ahsoka series? Will other series mainstays like Zeb Orrelios and Alexsandr Kallus appear?
Between all that and the fact that Rebels overseer Dave Filoni is overseeing the Ahsoka series, it’s no wonder the show is picking up the loose ends of Rebels. Certainly, Rebels wrapped up on a fairly open-ended note. (Spoilers follow for Star Wars: Rebels.) The series finale showed Ahsoka returning to lead her friend Sabine on a quest to track down the missing Ezra Bridger. Ezra and his nemesis Grand Admiral Thrawn were last seen being dragged to the far edge of the galaxy aboard a runaway Star Destroyer. And it just so happens The Mandalorian takes place on the outer fringes of the galaxy…
There’s certainly plenty of room for Mando’s story to intertwine with that of Ahsoka and Sabine. The Mandalorian takes place roughly five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, which also puts it five years after Ahsoka’s team began their hunt for Ezra (check out our recap of Ahsoka Tano’s story). As we saw in Ahsoka’s debut in The Mandalorian Season 2, episode 5, Ahsoka is currently hunting for Thrawn. What if Moff Gideon is just an appetizer to the real threat that is Grand Admiral Thrawn?
One way or another, Filoni and Lucasfilm may be building toward the Rebels continuation we’ve all been waiting for. The Mandalorian is a logical building block, but Ahsoka is the real Rebels sequel fans have been waiting for.
For more breaking Star Wars news, check out IGN’s breakdown of everything announced at Star Wars Celebration 2022 so far.
Note: This story originally ran in October of 2020. It was updated with the latest information on May 28, 2022.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.
Author: Jesse Schedeen. [Source Link (*), IGN All]