Rogue One wasn’t the only game in town at Celebration this weekend: far from it.
After last year’s fiery Season 2 climax, the heroes of Star Wars: Rebels find themselves moving into Season 3 with all-new challenges to face as the story moves inexorably closer to the events of the original trilogy.
Host Warwick David was joined on stage by creator Dave Filoni and voice cast members Tiya Sircar and Sam Witwer for an exciting glimpse of what’s ahead…
1) There will be more Mandalorian action
The Mandalorians have had a large presence in animated Star Wars to date – both in Clone Wars and now in Rebels, and it looks like this will continue in Season Three. First we got the news that Sabine would be encountering more of the warrior race (some of which may or may not be related to her), and then we got the money shot: Sabine wielding the darksaber, last seen wielded by Darth Maul in his unsuccessful battle with Palpatine, having nicked it from its previous owner, Pre Viszla.
2) Ezra has a new haircut – and a new lightsaber
While Ezra has been touched by the dark side, that isn’t the only different thing about him. First off, he has a new green-bladed lightsaber (to replace the saber/stun gun combo that was dismantled by Darth Vader in the Season Two finale), and he also has a new, shorter hairstyle. The similarities to a certain Anakin Skywalker are uncanny.
3) Season 3 will be more like Rogue One
With Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One out at Christmas, Rebels isn’t the only game in this particular universe. With this in mind, it won’t be ignore; instead, Filoni confirms that Rebels is looking towards its live-action counterpart: “They are doing some things to bring the design of Star Wars: Rebels more in line with what we see in Rogue One.”
4) They will keep us guessing about Ahsoka Tano
Despite her apparent demise (or was it?) in the Season 2 finale, it looks like the question of whether or not Ahsoka will appear again looks like it’s going to run and run. “It’s likely that you might not have seen the last of Ahsoka Tano,” confirms Filoni.
5) Maul is on a journey
Maul finished last season defeated and humiliated, but having left his dark imprint on Ezra, you can bet he’ll be back in touch. A clip from Season Three showed him enticing Ezra and Kanan to his secret base after kidnapping the Ghost’s crew. “Maul is searching for a purpose… he’s searching for some kind of purpose. He’s still on the evil side of things, he’ll never truly be good,” says Filoni
“He thinks of Ezra as his apprentice… that they together could be a team,” adds voice actor Sam Witwer. “He sees Ezra as his legacy,” concurs Filoni
It didn’t take long for the first Season 3 trailer to yield it’s first piece of gold dust. Wedge Antilles himself – he of the original trilogy – will appear, initially as part of a defecting TIE Fighter squadron. Whether original actor Denis Lawson (who turned down a part in The Force Awakens) will reprise the role is unknown. Interestingly, there’s a scene in Chuck Wendig’s post-ROTJ novel Aftermath where Wedge mentions dealing with a Rebel agent known as Fulcrum – Ahsoka Tano’s secret identity. Is this a clue to her survival? Or just poor continuity?
7) Grand Admiral Thrawn is back!
But that last reveal paled in comparison to the cheer that went up when the trailer revealed none other than Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Chiss Imperial general from Timothy Zahn’s Heir To The Empire trilogy – the first Expanded Universe novels to be released post-Return Of The Jedi, for those who need to brush up on their holocrons – will be showing up to cause the Rebels trouble. One of the biggest gripes fans have had in the Abrams era is the abrupt decanonisation of all the books and comics that came before, so the return of such a fan-favourite character is a definite cause for celebration.
Another highlight was a video message from Zahn himself, who will be penning a Thawn novel, due out in April 2017. So something else to look forward to.
8) But Mara Jade won’t be joining him
However, this won’t necessarily be the start of a mass exodus from the Expanded Universe. Responding to a (probably inevitable) question from the audience, Filoni made it clear that she would not be joining him. So there.
9) Tom Baker is voicing a character
Following in the footsteps of fellow Doctor David Tennant, none other than the legendary Tom Baker will be joining the Star Wars animated universe, where he will voice a character called Bendu, who Filoni describes as “the middle part of the Force. He’s not light and he’s not dark; he’s something else… a different kind of Force character than we’ve ever had before.”
10) The character in the holocron will likely be someone we know
Someone’s got to be dishing out advice to Ezra through that Sith holocron, right? Judging by Filoni’s guarded reaction to another audience question, it could well be. “I know who that is, and I won’t be telling you!” Darth Bane, perhaps? Let it be so!
Star Wars: Rebels – Season 3 will air on Disney XD later in 2016. For all the latest Star Wars news, pick up the new issue of SciFiNow.