‘Star Wars: Rebels’: Here Comes the First ‘Force Awakens’ Connection

The creators of Disney XD’s Star Wars: Rebels have long teased at a connection between the animated series and The Force Awakens, albeit one we have yet to see. Disney obviously created another television show for a reason. Back when Lucasfilm commissioned The Clone Wars in the pre-Disney days, it was meant to be a fully canonical way of filling in the massive gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. It makes sense for Rebels to do the same for the new trilogy, even if we haven’t see exactly how it ties in… until now.

The latest trailer for the midseason premiere (debuting Wednesday, January 20) runs a full 3 and a half minutes, and contains a metric ton of juicy material. In it, we see our first teases at the promised Force Awakens connection, as well as a hint at some closure for a storyline that’s been left open since the end of the original Clone Wars series (hint: It’s heavy on Asoka Tano’s history with Anakin). Here’s everything we caught.

1. The first appearance of young Princess Leia

Princess Leia, Star Wars: Rebels

Source: Disney XD

We all know the story of Leia Organa that began in A New Hope. What we’re not entirely clear on is where she was in the years preceding, an answer that Rebels will soon give us. A young Princess Leia arrives to help Kanan, Ezra, and the crew of the Ghost, with reinforcements for the fledgling Rebellion. We probably won’t get more than an episode or two, but it’s exciting nonetheless to see our first Force Awakens character appear on the animated series.

2. Luke wasn’t the first Jedi-in-training Yoda encounters after the fall of the Republic

Yoda, Star Wars Rebels

Source: Disney XD

We know Yoda fled into exile on Dagobah following his defeat at the hands of Emperor Palpatine. Our assumption from there was that the Jedi Master spent his time before meeting Luke in complete solitude. Rebels will show us that’s not entirely true though. In what appears to be a vision of some sort, Ezra seeks out Yoda’s guidance, asking if it’s wrong for him to fight and protect his friends. Yoda answers with a cryptic warning: “Growing your abilities are, and with them… danger.” This leads us to the next logical question: Will Ezra’s budding Force abilities play a role in the long-term future of the Star Wars universe?

3. More insight into the fall of Anakin Skywalker

Star Wars: Rebels, Anakin Skywalker

Source: Disney XD

For all the theorists of the “Rey is the reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker” camp, this particular plot point could loom large as supporting evidence. Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s only Padawan, will spend time coming to grips with her failures in leaving her former master to descend into evil. All the while, Ezra too will learn about the origins of the mysterious Darth Vader, told to him by the one person who knows Vader’s true identity. Perhaps more insight into Anakin’s downfall will hint at his relevance in the narrative of The Force Awakens.

4. Ezra, Kanan, and Ahsoka find themselves meditating together in an unidentified temple

Star Wars: Rebels

Source: Disney XD

We know Luke Skywalker disappeared before The Force Awakens in search of the first ever Jedi Temple. We also know that Ahsoka, Kanan, and Ezra end up at a temple of their own, meditating together as they search for answers in defeating Darth Vader. While it’s unlikely it’s the same place Luke sought out, it seems less than coincidental to have it be a main locale for the Rebels crew. All the hints of red lighting from the trailer hint at our three heroes exploring a Sith ruin, as well as Ezra’s own temptation toward the Dark Side.

5. “Call me Old Master.”

Old Master, Star Wars: Rebels

Source: Disney XD

With all the mystery surrounding the true identity of Supreme Leader Snoke, the entry of a hooded villain who only goes by the title of “Old Master” is likely to spark a whole lot of wild theorizing. Already though, the predominant opinion concerning the identity of this newest villain is even more interesting: Darth Maul. If you’ll remember from The Clone Wars, Maul was kept alive as a prisoner following his defeat at the hands of Palpatine, never to be heard from again in the Star Wars canon. And while we can’t see much beneath the dark hood of the Old Master, the yellow eyes bear a striking resemblance to Maul’s circa Clone Wars.

6. More Ahsoka/Vader connections

Asoka Tano, Darth Vader - Star Wars: Rebels

Source: Disney XD

The exploration of Ahsoka Tano’s guilt appears to be a central cog in this season of Rebels, capped off by a chilling exchange from the latest trailer. During what looks to be a vision, Anakin’s voice questions, “Ahsoka… why did you leave? Do you know what I’ve become?” Over the fearsome visage of Darth Vader, we see Ahsoka in tears, as she comes to terms with her own role in Anakin’s fall from grace. It’s a complicated theme to explore for any kid’s cartoon, but one we’re looking forward to see play out all the same.

7. Where there are Jedi Temple guards, there must be a Jedi Temple… right?

Star Wars: Rebels

Source: Disney XD

Anyone familiar with the Clone Wars series will likely recognize the three yellow-lightsaber-wielding figures in the screenshot above as Jedi Temple guards. It would follow logically then that these three would watching over something, circling us all the way back to Luke’s quest in The Force Awakens. Even if our heroes don’t stumble on the first temple, they could very well encounter clues as to its whereabouts, that in turn provide some context for why Luke sought it out himself.

8. A familiar lightsaber design

Ezra Bridger, Star Wars: Rebels

Source: Disney XD

The crossguard lightsaber of Kylo Ren has been talked about ever since it appeared in the first Force Awakens teaser, so to have a different version appear on Rebels can’t be a coincidence. The design itself is alleged to have its roots in the origins of the Jedi Order, and Ezra’s own discovery of one could figure into why Kylo Ren made the same decision for his decidedly redder iteration.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

More from Entertainment Cheat Sheet: