With the news that Ahsoka Tano would join the cast of The Mandalorian for its second season, fans have been abuzz with the possibilities for what they could mean for the future of the Star Wars franchise. The move shows an almost unprecedented degree of cohesion between Star Wars animated and live-action properties, where up until now it was mostly a one-way street.
But what if The Mandalorian doubles down on the move to crossover properties and makes the second season of the show the Star Wars: Rebels sequel fans have been clamoring for?
Frankly, the union of the two show’s stories would work out perfectly for where each series left off. With Rebels, the story concluded just after Return of the Jedi when the Battle of Endor crumbled the Empire and left Ahsoka Tano and Sabine Wren free to explore the galaxy to find their lost friend Ezra Bridger. Ezra’s ultimate fate remains one of the biggest dangling mysteries in any Star Wars series, and without a sequel fans may never know what happened to him.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, The Mandalorian wrapped up its first season extremely well. While there remains the plot thread of Moff Gideon, set up as a formidable force with a bone to pick against Mando for ruining his plans and efforts to obtain The Child, there was little else to give The Mandalorian a definitive direction. He will continue exploring the Galaxy, protecting The Child, and accepting bounties to fund his efforts.
By uniting the goals of both shows, Lucasfilm could end up hitting two birds with one stone by answering the questions that Rebels left viewers while giving The Mandalorian a greater purpose. While the live-action series endeared itself to fans by showing a whole new side of Star Wars, further exploring a world removed from the conflicts of Jedi and Sith, the stakes were always much lower than the franchise typically deals in. Though The Child’s purpose seemed integral to some grand scheme, fans still don’t really know what that is or the scope of Moff Gideon’s sinister ambitions.
Enlisting Mando’s help to try to find Ezra would be the perfect overarching goal to give the plot of the show some of the thrust it needs to feel more epic than ever. While the first season may have just needed to establish itself, introducing the characters and the tone of the series, now that fans are hooked it only makes sense to crank up the stakes and pull in fans of the animated series who are curious about the futures of their favorite characters. More than the plot, that’s where the move could really do Star Wars a great success.
Integrating the animated properties further into the live-action series would be one of the best moves that Disney could make in managing the franchise. While The Clone Wars and Rebels have been immensely popular with their fanbase, they still struggle against the perceptions all animated projects deal with. Many adult fans hesitate to watch the shows because they just aren’t used to viewing cartoons outside of adult animation.
By exploring the animated properties more in live-action, Star Wars would greatly multiply its storytelling potential while creating backwards integration of past projects. The Mandalorian fans would be spurred on to check out The Clone Wars just to learn more about Ahsoka. Major integration like this would prove so much more effective than the small shoutouts that far serve as precedent for animated-to-live-action adaptations. Saw Guerrera from The Clone Wars was never a huge character, and his role in Rogue One was so minimal that it wasn’t about to spur fans into trying out the animated series for the first time.
Essentially, bringing Ahsoka into the fold of live action could either be a huge opportunity or a cheap fan grab. What the fan base doesn’t deserve is for Ahsoka to be some minor one-off character that comes and goes in the space of a single episode. Tying her into the show, making her a major part of it and bringing the bulk of the plot and associated characters she comes with would be the best way to make the most of the opportunity.
And, frankly, there just don’t seem to be any other plans to address the mystery of Ezra’s survival. There are as of yet no projects set in the right timeline, and the announcement that the High Republic set long before the Original Trilogy would serve as the next major era makes it seem all the less likely a new series would come along that could answer the question. Rebels spent four seasons building up Ezra as a unique and fleshed-out character, and there could be no better home for him than in The Mandalorian where the galaxy never felt more real.
KEEP READING: The Mandalorian: How Will Ahsoka Tano Impact Season 2?
Star Wars' best chance to feel more interconnected than ever before is for The Mandalorian to act as a sequel to Rebels.