Star Wars Rebels showrunner talks about Thrawn and a series endgame

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Star Wars Rebels exists in a challenging era. It doesn’t have to deal with any of the nonsense from the prequel trilogy, but it is edging closer and closer to the timeline of the original films when the Jedi were thought to be extinct and any Clone Wars remnants had been effectively killed off by then. Whatever story Rebels tells, it is part of the official canon now that Disney is in charge. That’s a responsibility that isn’t taken lightly, especially with the arrival of none other than Grand Admiral Thrawn in season 3 of Star Wars Rebels.

“When we start, I always want to know where it’s all going,” Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni said at Star Wars celebration via io9.

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If we bring [Thrawn] in, we have to think reasonably about, ‘Where is he?’ There are any number of reasonable answers as simple as, ‘He’s on a Star Destroyer.’ You can reasonably say that. While there’s the hunt for Luke Skywalker, there’s all kinds of other things going on in the galaxy. That’s a reasonable thing. You usually start off by thinking, ‘Okay. At least we have a reasonable thing in the future.’

Here’s the thing: What may be reasonable because of logic, doesn’t make it the best fit in terms of the overall narrative, especially with a character like Thrawn:

Then, as you tell your story, you’re giving them all kinds of real experiences. Those real experiences fuel into the conclusion at the end of the story. We need to know what our end game is for this character, [and] I think [that] is exciting. You go through a number of questions. ‘Does he survive? Does he not survive?’ We’ve been the architects of that as we’ve been going. I think we have a nice path figured out for Mr. Thrawn. I wouldn’t bring him back lightly without that plan.

It’s not only Thrawn who could be in the crosshairs of continuity. You’d imagine that with a character like Ezra Bridger, his presence alone would have a bigger impact on the Star Wars galaxy long before Luke Skywalker showed up to become known as the last Jedi Knight around. “Here we’re introducing this pretty potent Force-using kid,” Filoni said of Ezra.

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Where is he? You’d think he’d be a pretty important tool for the Rebellion to use in the later films. But eventually [fellow producer] Simon [Kinberg] and I figured out what that means, where they go and what happened to them.

And that’s why Filoni is using what he describes as a J.R.R Tolkien approach to looking at the bigger picture of Star Wars and where Rebels fits into it:

I love to give a lot of Tolkien references. But [in those stories] Faramir is kind of doing his thing, Frodo is doing his thing, Aragorn is doing his thing, everybody’s got their different movements. If you really study, Elrond was doing his own thing, Galadriel was doing her own thing, in the Iron Hills they were doing their own thing and it’s amazing how he orchestrated all that. So even bits that weren’t necessarily in the books, he knew what was going on.

And when you take on mass continuity like this, that’s what you’re really getting at. You have to understand the world and all the moving parts of it. And I think the challenge is you want each story to be original and exciting.

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And that bigger picture revolves around the war between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire, a conflict that seemingly has no end even twenty years after Return of the Jedi. Which hypothetically, means that a new generation of Rebels could rise in the future, alongside the Resistance. ““We have surmised, over the years, that the Rebellion isn’t technically over until Return of the Jedi and even then there was some additional fighting that lead up to Jakku,” Filoni said,

So when is the ultimate victory that would mean Hera and company are free of the fight? Well, it doesn’t seem to be for a long time. So it’s not impossible and there are probably a lot of stories, I’m just gonna try and tell the most important ones for them, what their saga is, and probably not every saga ends on the same day.

The third season of Star Wars Rebels kicks off later this year, and it looks massive according to its latest trailer.

Last Updated: July 21, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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