Warning: SPOILERS for Star Wars Rebels' newest episodes are ahead!
In 2014, a year before the Star Wars franchise returned to the big screen with The Force Awakens, Disney and Lucasfilm launched Star Wars Rebels, the Disney XD animated series that's followed the crew of The Ghost in the years preceding A New Hope fighting back against the Empire. Star Wars Rebels is wrapping up its fourth and final season, and while the show has introduced numerous unique elements to the mythology set in a galaxy far, far away, last night's was unquestionably one of the biggest. Among the many twists from last night's episodes "Wolves and a Door" and "A World Between Worlds" was the display of time travel, which could potentially have huge implications for the Star Wars movies going forward.
For those unaware of what happened in Star Wars Rebels' penultimate episodes, the main protagonists returned to the planet Lothal (one of the TV series' main locations) and visited its Jedi temple, as Ezra Bridger felt it would have some answers about Kanan Jarrus' death. However, our heroes were met by a squad of Imperial troops led by Minister Hydan (voiced by Malcolm McDowell), who was trying to access the temple, but was forced to let Ezra get the job done since he's the only Force-sensitive individual around. Once inside, Ezra was bombarded by several familiar Star Wars voices across time, including Kanan, Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. Even Rey and Kylo Ren, who haven't been born yet, were briefly heard.
It was soon revealed that this Jedi temple was a pathway to all of time and space, and to prove this, Ezra Bridger came across the duel between Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano that happened in the Star Wars Rebels Season 2 finale on Malachor. It's been unclear if Ahsoka survived the fight against her former master, but now it's confirmed that she survived thanks to Ezra reaching across time to save her from being crushed. Before Ahsoka was returned to her original time period, she talked Ezra out of not using the temple's power to save Kanan. Conceding that she was right, Ezra permanently sealed Lothal's Jedi temple right before Emperor Palpatine could reach through his own portal and seize control of its temporal wonders.
It's important to note that time travel was previously referenced in the now non-canon Expanded Universe Star Wars stories, but Star Wars Rebels marks the first time it's been shown on screen and within the official Star Wars canon. It also joins Luke Skywalker's Force projection from The Last Jedi as one of the most bonkers ways to use the Force yet. Since the Lothal Jedi temple is the only location that's been shown to be capable of allowing a Jedi travel through or manipulate time, since it's now closed off, it's possible that it's no longer possible to wield such power. But as we've seen in other projects, there are not only other Jedi temples in the galaxy, this are numerous Force-powered artifacts floating around even after the Empire wiped out the Jedi. So for all we know, someone in the Star Wars movies could learn how to harness this power, and that would change the game in big way.
The Star Wars universe is filled with a lot of amazing things, from traveling through hyperspace and countless alien species to laser swords and an invisible energy binding all living things. But until Star Wars Rebels, one thing that wasn't possible, whether you were a Force user or not, is time travel. Now that it's on the table, it opens the door to new storytelling opportunities. We could see someone attempting to go back into the past to change history, like a protagonist trying to stop the Empire's rise to power or an antagonist who wants the Sith to take control of the galaxy sooner. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we could see someone traveling to the future, giving us a glimpse of what this galaxy could look like decades, centuries or even millennia from now. On a smaller scale, maybe we could see a Force-sensitive person somehow freeze time, allowing them to quickly escape or dispatch their opponents with ease.
With Solo: A Star Wars Story staying far away from all things Jedi, the soonest possible movie where time travel could be incorporated is Episode IX, the conclusion of the current Star Wars trilogy. However, given everything that movie needs to wrap up, I suspect that director J.J. Abrams and writer Chris Terrio won't pile that on top of everything else (though I'd be happy to proven wrong). Fortunately, there won't be any lack of theatrical Star Wars tales in the next decade. Rian Johnson is crafting a new trilogy that will take place in an unexplored corner of this strange galaxy, and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are overseeing a separate series of movies. Both of these cinematic endeavors will be separate from the Skywalker saga, but that doesn't mean some of the characters we'll be following along with can't use the Force. We're close to entering a new era of Star Wars film history, and while time travel is always a tricky trope to use no matter what the story, it would be interesting to see one or more of the new movies take advantage of it as a way to forge a new and exciting path for this corner of the franchise.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest major updates on the Star Wars franchise. The next movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story, hits theaters on May 25, and for those of you who want to watch the Star Wars Rebels series finale, it airs next Monday, March 5, at 8:30 p.m. EST on Disney XD.