When Ahsoka begins next week, we’re getting even further insight into a Star Wars galaxy at a crossroads moment in time—arguably the first major crisis of a nascent New Republic, and a galaxy still picking itself up after the fall of the Galactic Empire. But what do we actually know has happened in the run-up to the series? Let us explain.
Here’s the thing about a lot of contemporary Star Wars, especially on the TV side of things: our real understanding of exactly when things are happening in relation to each other, and what we do have is largely couched in guesses and vague suggestions. We know, for example, that The Mandalorian takes place roughly five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, which takes place in 4ABY—that’s After the Battle of Yavin, the standard chronological reckoning we have for events in the Star Wars timeline that places the events of A New Hope as the focal before/after event. We also know that the Star Wars sequel trilogy is far off from this point in time too, with The Force Awakens taking place 30 years after Return in 34ABY.
The current Star Wars canon has not done an entirely too focused job on filling in this three-decade period of time with any specificity. We know a lot of events that happen in the immediate run up to The Force Awakens, we know a lot events that happen in the immediate aftermath of Return of the Jedi, and the existence of The Mandalorian—even if that show’s own grasp of time is… let’s diplomatically say fast and loose—has slowly inched that former time period forward.
That means then, that our only real estimation of Ahsoka’s timeframe is largely a guess. We can make some assumptions of when the bulk of the series is going to be set: it has to be relatively concurrent with the events of The Mandalorian seasons 2 and 3, given that by the time of season 2 Ahsoka is already tracking down leads to look for the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
While there’s some indications at least elements of Ahsoka will span across different periods of time (more on that later), odds are we’re looking around that same roughly 9-10-ish ABY time frame for Ahsoka as we are the events of The Mandalorian. So what’s happened in Star Wars up to that point? Let’s explain.
This is the immediate aftermath of Return of the Jedi: the second Death Star has been destroyed over Endor, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader are dead. Now what? A whole bunch of books and comics, mostly.
The Rebel Alliance quickly moves to capitalize on its victory by formally dissolving shortly after the Battle of Endor and reforming as the New Republic, bringing a legitimacy to its claim to lead the galaxy in the wake of the Empire’s chaotic fragmentation without leadership. The heroes of the original trilogy of movies also disperse their separate ways: Luke begins searching for Jedi and Sith artefacts hoarded by Palpatine over his life, seeking a better understanding of the Force and his place in it, while Han and Leia, married on Endor after the battle, find themselves tasked by Mon Mothma with an interplanetary Disney World vacation aboard the Halcyon during the events of Beth Revis’ novel The Princess and The Scoundrel, travelling to different worlds where Imperial influence is still tenuous to convince people that the days of the Empire are truly over.
But just because the Rebels defeated Palpatine at Endor doesn’t mean the Galactic Civil War is actually over. Across the Aftermath trilogy of novels by Chuck Wendig, we see Mon Mothma, now instated as the first Chancellor of the New Republic—and the Senate is reformed on her homeworld of Chandrila—begin to enact a demilitarization pact that largely intends to break up the Alliance Navy into a much smaller New Republic Fleet, transitioning military matters to the planetary defence forces of Republic member worlds. Meanwhile the remnants of the Empire begin to launch counterattacks in the form of Operation Cinder, a posthumous plan created by Palpatine to sow chaos through strikes on select worlds either sympathetic to the Rebellion or problematic loyalist Imperial worlds through weather manipulation satellites.
As Warlordism sees several former Grand Moffs or major Imperial generals establish their own small fiefdoms, a larger Imperial Remnant begins to form out of a collective of short-lived councils of Imperial allies—first with the Imperial Future Council, which is largely eliminated during the liberation of the planet Akiva, and then the first Imperial Shadow Council…
This Shadow Council, lead by Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax, among a host of other former Imperial Advisors, forms the bulk of the true Imperial Remnant, continuing to battle New Republic forces and sabotage potential peace talks. Unbeknownst to Sloane, the primary public face of this ruling council, Rax was still operating on posthumous orders from Palpatine to completely upend the remaining Imperial intergalactic infrastructure so the New Republic couldn’t co-opt it to establish its legitimate rule. Rax guided Sloane into an all-in assault with the New Republic over the planet Jakku, intended to severely destroy the naval forces of both the Republic and the Remnant itself, so that Palpatine’s plans for resurrection and rebirth in the Unknown Regions could begin in earnest.
But while the Battle of Jakku—largely depicted in the video games Star Wars Battlefront and its sequel, Battlefront II, as well as in Aftermath: Empire’s End—ended in defeat for the Remnant as intentioned, the New Republic’s forces weren’t as destabilized Palpatine perhaps would’ve wanted. With Rax killed in the fighting, Sloane takes up his orders to retreat with what was left of the Remnant forces still loyal to her into the Unknown Regions, and the New Republic, having extracted Imperial Grand Vizier Mas Amedda from fighting on Coruscant, formally enters peace talks. These talks bring about the Galactic Concordance, a peace treaty that formally brings to an end the Galactic Civil War that began over the planet Scarif.
Oh, and Ben Solo is born on Chandrila. We won’t have to worry about him yet though.
Galactic Concordance ends hostilities between the Imperial Remnant and the New Republic and sets the stage for a de-escalation of conflict the galaxy hadn’t seen for decades prior. The Remnant is explicitly forbidden from the recruitment and training of Stormtroopers, and the Imperial Academies that fueled the Empire’s navy and ground forces were shuttered, while control of Coruscant is officially ceded to the New Republic and major reparation packages are enacted to ensure former Imperial holdouts lacked the funding that could see them re-organize.
Meanwhile, Mon Mothma’s Military Disarmament Act is formally implemented by the Senate after victory at Jakku: seeking to downsize the former Alliance military by 90%, resources and military assets were slowly disemminated or wound down, instead with the remaining New Republic Navy largely dedicated to training new planetary defence forces for Republic member worlds. We can assume at this point, the Ranger program that we see by the time of The Mandalorian—and that was supposed to be further explored in the scrapped spinoff series Rangers of the New Republic—to act as small, isolated enforcement and response strike teams is also established.
We don’t really know much canonically about that happens between the signing of Galactic Concordance and the events of The Mandalorian beginning, but by that time the New Republic is still struggling to expand its reach and jurisdiction into the Outer Rim, with criminal syndicates and lawlessness rife in the farthest flung charted regions of the galaxy.
We also know at this point a second Imperial Shadow Council has been established on the ruins of Mandalore by the former Imperial Security Bureau officer Moff Gideon. Attempting to create an army of cloned, Force-sensitive Mandalorian warriors of his own—in the wake of a seemingly genocidal campaign during the Galactic Civil War that effectively scattered the remaining Mandalorians into individual clans and coverts and purportedly rendered Mandalore’s surface largely uninhabitable—Gideon began working with an arrayof former Imperial Warlords, as well as agents seeded into the New Republic’s nascent rehabilitation programs, to enact various plans to return the Empire to rule.
We know his plan to establish his own rule of Mandalore is defeated—and Gideon is seemingly killed—when the forces of Bo-Katan Kryze, sister of the former Neo-Mandalorian ruler Duchess Satine Kryze, and several tribal coverts of Mandalorian warriors assault Gideon’s facilities beneath the surface of Mandalore during The Mandalorian’s third season, but at least one other plan is still in the works we’ll see more of in Ahsoka: Shadow Council member Admiral Gilad Pellaeon’s plans to see Grand Admiral Thrawn returned as the leader of the Empire’s military forces.
As far as Ahsoka’s own personal timeline at this point, what little we see of her in The Mandalorian and then The Book of Boba Fett is all we have to go on. Having largely stayed out of the Galactic Civil War—and her role within the Rebellion as the intelligence operative Fulcrum—Ahsoka spent years wandering the galaxy investigating ways to both find Thrawn and recover the Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger, who had vanished alongside the Grand Admiral during the climactic events of Star Wars Rebels. Briefly crossing paths with her former Master’s son, Luke Skywalker, Ahsoka was present for the nascent days of construction on Luke’s new Jedi Academy on the planet Ossus… although it remains to be seen if she ever returned to this new iteration of the Order that had once spurned her.
At some point in all this we see the brief events of the end epilogue of Star Wars Rebels. Itself set at a vague point in time after the conclusion of Return of the Jedi, one major part of the epilogue sees Ahsoka return to the planet Lothal to recruit the Mandalorian warrior and former Rebel member Sabine Wren in her search for Thrawn and Ezra Bridger. But when does this actually take place in relation to Ahsoka? It’s… complicated.
What we’ve seen in footage of the series so far is that, seemingly, at some point Ahsoka and Sabine cross paths and then part ways again perhaps before this epilogue: Sabine re-encounters Ahsoka in footage where her hair has grown out past her shoulders, and we also then see footage of Sabine ritually cutting her hair into a pixie cut before reuniting with Ahsoka, as seen in the Rebels epilogue. How much time passes between these events? Are they even intended to be separate events? It’s hard to say. But considering Ahsoka has also seemingly set up that for a time that Ahsoka and Sabine entered a Master/Apprentice partnership for an undisclosed period of time, they seemingly have to be.
We’ll no doubt find out more starting next week, when Ahsoka begins streaming on Disney+ from August 23.