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If you’re a fan of The Mandalorian, there’s a good chance you were among those gushing over the latest episode, which saw the debut of Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano. From her excellent performance to those major Baby Yoda reveals, there was a lot to love about it. But there was one other reveal that fans probably didn’t see coming at all. During the final battle between Ahsoka and Imperial Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth, the Jedi questioned the tyrant about the whereabouts of fan-favorite Star Wars villain Grand Admiral Thrawn. Now, viewers are consumed with questions about the future, and author Timothy Zahn, who has written his fair share of novels about the character, has provided his thoughts on the surprise reference.
Timothy Zahn confirmed that he isn’t in the loop when it comes to what’s going on with The Mandalorian. So the mention of Thrawn’s name was also a big surprise for him:
No, I was not holding back on you (or anyone else). I was (and am) completely out of the loop on all things Mandalorian. The first I heard about Ahsoka's name-dropping question was when people began peppering this page with comments, questions, and verbal high-fives.
Timothy Zahn originally introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn to the Star Wars canon back in 1991’s Heir to the Empire. The novel established him as an Imperial military commander who had taken control of the remains of the Galactic Empire following the events of Return of the Jedi. The story would ultimately spawn the Thrawn trilogy and several additional stories.
In regard to how things will potentially progress with Thrawn on The Mandalorian, Zahn later stressed in his Facebook post that he has no clue how the plot thread will be resolved. Still, he does hope that things are handled in an artistic way:
So what will happen next? Your guesses are as good as mine. One thing I do know: Good writers/producers/directors don't drop a bombshell like that without some kind of follow-up somewhere down the line. I'll be sitting right there with all the rest of you, eagerly waiting to see how the saga unfolds. Hopefully, it will be artistically done.
With many of the classic Star Wars novels having been removed from canon and dubbed Legends, Thrawn’s role in the franchise seemed to be done. This changed when he was revived for Star Wars Rebels and made the primary antagonist during the show’s latter half. Zahn also penned a few more canon novels centered on the character, bringing his total number of Thrawn stories to 10. The character was last seen in the Rebels series finale, in which both he and Jedi Ezra Bridger were sent into hyperspace by purrgils.
Thrawn’s fate was uncertain up to this point but, based on The Mandalorian’s reference to him, it’s possible that he is alive and subtly causing trouble throughout the galaxy. Timothy Zahn makes a fair point in saying that such a reveal normally isn’t dropped without a resolution and, knowing producer Dave Filoni, that could likely happen at some point down the line.
New episodes of The Mandalorian premiere Fridays on Disney+.