‘Star Wars Rebels’: Why Season 4 Will Be the Greatest One Yet

The fourth season of Star Wars Rebels kicked off on Disney XD on Oct. 16 2017,, airing Part 1 and 2 of Heroes of Mandalore. Without giving too much away, it was an excellent introduction to the final season of the Star Wars television series that features Ezra Bridger, Sabine Wren, Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, Zeb, and Chopper.

In the two-part episode, Ezra and Kanan join Sabine on a mission to rescue her father from Imperial captivity, and along the way, she helps to unite the many clans of Mandalore in their effort against the Empire. And that’s just the start of the season!

We took a look ahead at what could be coming in the final season of Star Wars Rebels, including speculation about what — and who — we might get to see.

Leading into the new Thrawn novel

Thrawn looking at holographic star charts, with his fist clenched

Thrawn on Star Wars Rebels | Disney XD

We only got a brief glimpse of Grand Admiral Thrawn in the season premiere. He was pulling the strings on the attack on Mandalore from far away, but Thrawn’s presence is still felt. We saw him in the trailer speaking to Grand Moff Tarkin via hologram, and Tarkin informs Thrawn that his own pet project is taking a backseat to Director Krennic’s project — Stardust.

Those of us that have seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — and we’re willing to bet that if you’re reading this, you have — know that Stardust is the code name for the Death Star. In legends, Thrawn is very opposed to the Death Star and the military style of putting all your ducks in one pond, so to speak. Will this lead to Thrawn exiting the Empire? Or will it simply open the door for him to move on to another project, away from chasing Mandalorians and the crew of the Ghost?

It was recently announced that Timothy Zahn — the writer of the now-legendary original Thrawn trilogy — will be doing a sequel to his canon novel, Thrawn. Supposedly, the working title for the new book is Thrawn: Alliances, and we know that the timeline will be similar to Rebels because it will feature another big bad: Darth Vader.

It’s very possible that the final season of Rebels will set up the next Thrawn novel.

What about Ahsoka Tano?

Ahsoka Tano holds up two lightsabers in Star Wars Rebels

Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars Rebels | Disney XD

Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni has been coy on the topic of Ahsoka Tano returning to the show. The Star Wars: Clone Wars character was featured prominently in the second season of Rebels, including a phenomenal season finale in which she went head to head with the new visage of her old master, Anakin Skywalker.

But we currently don’t know if her duel with Darth Vader ended in Ahsoka’s death. The whole thing is left really ambiguous. Some fans believe that she has been reincarnated after her death at the hands of the ruthless Vader, and that she is the wolf seen in the Season 4 trailer. Filoni cleared that up on his Twitter account, stating that Ahsoka is not the wolf — but hinting that she may have been reincarnated as the owl that we saw briefly following her battle with Vader.

Will Ahsoka return in Season 4? Fans could deal with a concrete ending for her character, however it happens. If she died in the battle with Vader and was reincarnated, why be so vague about it if she isn’t being brought back in some way?

Will Darth Vader and the Emperor return?

Darth Vader holds a red lightsaber as stormtroopers gather behind him on Star Wars Rebels

Darth Vader on Star Wars Rebels | Disney XD

Since that fateful duel with Ahsoka, we haven’t seen another appearance from Darth Vader in the series. In total, James Earl Jones has only voiced the character in four episodes; all falling in Season 2, and most of them only for a brief appearance. As for Emperor Palpatine, he has yet to be seen on the show — although we do hear him speaking to Vader briefly in one episode.

During that episode, Palpatine is voiced by Sam Witwer — the same voice actor that does Darth Maul in the show. During Clone Wars, the pre-Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Palpatine was voiced by the late Ian Abercrombie, and then Tim Curry briefly took over as the disfigured Emperor. Rumor has it, Season 4 will have an appearance from the Emperor — and this time, it’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and prequels actor Ian McDiarmid taking up the role again.

According to a Star Wars News Net report from back in May, McDiarmid recorded lines for an appearance in Season 4 — and that took place nearly a year ago. No report has surfaced about Jones recording lines for Vader, but typically where there’s the Emperor, there is also Darth Vader. Cross your fingers, Star Wars fans!

Ties to Rogue One

Felicity Jones stands next to a man in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | Lucasfilm

As the crew of the Ghost becomes more intertwined with the true rebellion as we know it from the original movies, we’ll start to see some familiar faces. In the season opener, Hera Syndulla referred to Mon Mothma as allowing Kanan and Ezra to help Sabine on Mandalore, and that the rebellion needs them to return to their base on Yavin IV. It’s clear that these characters will play a major role in the early portion of the rebellion, leading up to the events of Rogue One.

In fact, there were plenty of Rebels Easter eggs hidden in the movie itself. The Ghost is seen at the base, and during the Battle of Scarif, Syndulla is referred to as “General Syndulla” over the intercom. Chopper is also briefly seen and heard.

We don’t truly expect to have the series finale of Rebels be just the events of Rogue One from a different point of view, but that would be a cool way to bring the show to an end. Instead, we expect that Rebels will nod to Rogue One — maybe even featuring Cassian Andor at some point — but continue on its own trajectory.

Kanan and Hera

Kanan and Hera look at each other and hold hands in Star Wars Rebels

Kanan and Hera in Star Wars Rebels | Disney XD

There has been an underlying tone between Kanan and Hera that has yet to be fully fleshed out, and that is their clear affection for one another. In Heroes of Mandalore Part 1, we briefly see Hera as she talks to Kanan via hologram. Kanan actually hints at their feelings for each other when she says that the rebellion needs them back, playfully asking her if they were still talking about the mission.

It’s a good bet that Rebels is going to wrap this story in a way that’s satisfying for both the characters and the viewer. It’s hard to ignore the fact that Hera Syndulla, Chopper, and the Ghost are all present at the time of Rogue One, yet very possibly not after that time.

Will Kanan and Hera run off together? That seems unlikey, given Hera’s devotion to the rebellion. But would Filoni have the guts to kill off Kanan?

More in-depth with the Rebellion

Saw Gerrera looks ahead with an angry glare in Star Wars Rebels

Saw Gerrera in Star Wars Rebels | Disney XD

We’ve seen a handful of rebels appear in the series already. Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, Wedge Antilles, Princess Leia, General Dodonna, Saw Gerrera, and even future rebel Lando Calrissian have all made appearances on the show in past seasons. With the crew of the Ghost really becoming fully involved with a much more organized rebellion against the Empire, we could start to see how that rebellion operates in more depth.

After all, the show is called Rebels. The most obvious part of the story arc from the beginning was this group of vigilantes becoming more and more organized and involved in a movement bigger than themselves. We’ve already seen the team take on missions for Mon Mothma in the past.

Up until the very final moments of Rogue One, the many leaders of the rebellion are still battling within each other about how, exactly, to take on the Empire. We’ve been teased the return of Gerrera in the Season 4 trailer, and we know at the time of Rogue One that he’s no longer involved with the official rebellion. Will Gerrera help to create doubt in the rebellion for Kanan, Ezra, and others?

Tying up loose ends

Dave Filoni stands on the red carpet at The World Premiere Of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Dave Filoni at the premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | Marc Flores/Getty Images for Disney

If you’re afraid that Rebels might leave you feeling unfulfilled at the end, Filoni is here to calm those concerns. Speaking with Nerdist, Filoni gave a few hints on how cohesive the final season will be and how fans will be given big time answers.

“I’ve been able to build a lot better connections and motivations across all the episodes as we go. It is very unlike other seasons, because while the episodes are self contained, they are very next to each other in progression,” Filoni said, “They affect each other more; it’s more serialized than you’re used to.”

He also stated:

Whatever happened to Ahsoka, what is going on between Kanan and Hera, or what happens to Ezra, Sabine, and Zeb, and what about Hot Kallus? All of these things are things that are in our mind. They sometimes have large answers and sometimes smaller answers, and sometimes things that might not have a definite answer, but give you enough of an ability to understand and then wonder about it — which is sometimes the best kind of answer.

So it sounds like, at least to some degree, we’ll be getting answers to all of our burning questions.

That, plus leading right up to Rogue One and Star Wars: A New Hope, is going to make the final season of Star Wars Rebels its very best ever.

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