“Ahsoka” just premiered on Disney+ and fans are already buzzing about their favorite characters, planets and spaceships. Currently, a huge question looms over the series: will Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), the former Jedi, and her merry band of Rebels find Grand Admiral Thrawn before the Imperial loyalists?
But there may be a bigger question looming over the latest live-action “Star Wars” series: When exactly does this show take place? Let’s answer that and figure out how “Ahsoka” fits into the larger “Star Wars” universe.
How does “Ahsoka” establish itself in the timeline?
Well, the first episode starts with a crawl, in ominous red text. It reads:
“The EVIL GALACTIC EMPIRE has fallen and a NEW REPUBLIC has risen to take its place. However, sinister agents are already at work to undermine the fragile peace.
A plot is underway to find the lost IMPERIAL GRAND ADMIRAL THRAWN and bring him out of exile. Once presumed dead, rumors are spreading of Thrawn’s return which would galvanize the IMPERIAL REMNANTS and start another war.
Former Jedi Knight AHSOKA TANO captured one of Thrawn’s allies and learned of a secret map which is vital to the enemy’s plan. Ahsoka now searches for the map as her prisoner, MORGAN ELSBETH, is transported to the New Republic for trial …”
Well, it means two things: one, that this takes place after the events of 1983’s “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” and the fall of the Empire. And two: it’s basically around the same time as other series in the live-action “Star Wars” canon – “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett” (Ahsoka appeared in both). It also takes place after “Star Wars: Rebels,” with many of the characters transitioning to live-action in “Ahsoka” – Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Hera Syndulla, Natasha Liu Bordizzo’s Sabine Wren, even Clancy Brown’s Ryder Azadi.
What else can you say about this timeframe?
Kathleen Kennedy, somewhat confusingly, recently stated that “The Mandalorian” and its suite of spin-offs, which includes a forthcoming theatrical feature meant to tie a number of the series together and, of course, “Ahsoka,” are represent the “present” of “Star Wars.” The “past” is represented by stories set in the era known as the High Republic, hundreds of years before the events of the first “Star Wars” movies (which includes the forthcoming series “The Acolyte”) and the “future” stories are what take place after the sequel trilogy (which ended with 2019’s theatrical feature “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”), including a forthcoming movie centered around Rey (Daisy Ridley).
How does “Ahsoka” deal with the timeframe?
In the second episode we see a shipyard where Imperial ships are decommissioned. That’s where we meet a hive of Imperial loyalists who still serve the Empire and are secretly aiding in the Imperial quest for Thrawn. What is fascinating – and what gives “Ahsoka” an extra dimension – is the fact that we will seemingly close the gap in the “Star Wars” narrative between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens” and learn how the First Order was born from the ashes of the Empire.
What do you need to know before watching?
If you’ve seen every season of “The Mandalorian” and watched “The Book of Boba Fett” too, then you should be pretty good going into “Ahsoka.” You’ll at least know who Ahsoka is and have some insight into her quest. If you’ve seen all of “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” then you’ll really be set, getting the full backstory of how Ahsoka went from being Anakin Skywalker’s protégé (or Padawan) to full-on Jedi to rejecting the Jedi Order in favor of something more nebulous.
“Ahsoka” streams on Disney+ on Tuesday nights.
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