This Star Wars: Ahsoka article contains spoilers.
Live-action Star Wars fans are about to learn quite a lot about how space and time works in the galaxy far, far away thanks to the latest twist on Ahsoka which introduces the World Between Worlds. But viewers who haven’t watched the Rebels season 4 episode “A World Between Worlds” may be a bit confused about what is going on when Ahsoka wakes up in the mystical plane, welcomed by none other than her former master Anakin Skywalker, played by a de-aged Hayden Christensen to boot.
What is the World Between Worlds and how the heck is Clone Wars-era Anakin suddenly back? And did Ahsoka die at the end of episode 4 in order to return to this realm? One question is definitely much easier to answer than the others…
The World Between Worlds Explained
Put simply, the World Between Worlds is a mystical Force realm that allows those who enter it to travel between different points in space and time. Yes, its debut on Ahsoka after first being introduced in the animated series essentially brings the concept of time travel to live-action Star Wars, a game changer that the Disney+ series will undoubtedly explore further in the next few episodes.
The World Between Worlds is made up a collection of doors and pathways that lead to different parts of the timeline. You can use these doors to travel to the past or the future, and even change an event in history or bring a character back from the dead, just as Ezra Bridger did in Rebels season 4 when he went back in time and saved Ahsoka from her presumed death in season 2. The only way to access this realm is to find one of its many doorways and open it, which leaves us wondering how Ahsoka found her way back to World Between Worlds in Ahsoka episode 4. More on this in a second.
The point is that bringing the World Between Worlds to live-action has huge implications not only for the future of the Mandoverse on Disney+ but potentially the feature film Ahsoka showrunner Dave Filoni is set to direct. The ability to change events from the past, and even characters’ fates, certainly leaves the door open for the nostalgia-obsessed franchise to revisit some of its biggest hits in new ways. Like a certain Skyguy…
How Is Anakin Skywalker Back and Is Ahsoka Dead?
As if introducing time travel to live-action Star Wars weren’t enough, Ahsoka episode 4 also ends with the return of Anakin Skywalker. The questionable CG employed by Disney to de-age 42-year-old Christensen makes it clear that this is actually supposed be 22-year-old Revenge of the Sith Anakin. In other words, Anakin as Ahsoka remembers him before his transformation into Darth Vader. In the scene, he welcomes Ahsoka to the World Between Worlds with a “Hello, Snips” (his affectionate nickname for his snippy padawan during the Clone Wars).
How is this all possible? After all, Anakin became Darth Vader at the end of Revenge of the Sith, which is set almost 30 years before the events of Ahsoka, and he died in Return of the Jedi, five years before the Disney+ series. While George Lucas digitally replaced Sebastian Shaw as Anakin’s Force ghost at the end of Jedi so that it was Christensen in the Original Trilogy’s final scene, the Anakin on Ahsoka doesn’t have the same blue glow, implying his padawan isn’t seeing a ghost. The show clearly wants us to think we’re seeing a younger Anakin back in the flesh.
There a couple of possibilities here (and I’m sure fans have already come up with plenty more theories). One is that Clone Wars-era Anakin found a door to the World Between Worlds some time before Revenge of the Sith, allowing him to cross paths with an adult Ahsoka. Perhaps it’s an unseen Anakin adventure we’re finally getting to experience from Ahsoka’s perspective. But this seems unlikely, at least to this writer. If Anakin were able to travel in time and meet an adult Ahsoka, wouldn’t his padawan take the opportunity to warn him about Palpatine’s plans, therefore preventing Revenge of the Sith from ever happening and causing all kinds of timey-wimey chaos? Or were Ahsoka’s own words to Sabine about sacrifice in the name of saving the galaxy a bit of clever foreshadowing for the hero’s own difficult choice when given the chance to save her master? If Ahsoka doesn’t tell Anakin he’s about to turn to the dark side and burn to a crisp, she’ll preserve the timeline. Okay, maybe this theory isn’t as far-fetched as I thought when I started writing this paragraph.
But then there’s what Anakin says next to Ahsoka after greeting her: “I didn’t expect to see you so soon,” implying Anakin did expect to see her in this plane eventually and was perhaps even waiting for her to arrive. Which brings me to another possibility: are master and apprentice actually reuniting in the afterlife and not the World Between Worlds?
As I mentioned earlier, it’s unclear how Ahsoka even found her way back to the time-traveling realm. Unless there was somehow an underwater door to the World Between Worlds and Ahsoka happened to fall directly into it, the more obvious explanation is that she…died after Baylan Skoll pushed her off that cliff. Which means she didn’t wake up in the World Between Worlds at the end of the episode but in the place Jedi go when they perish and become one with the Force. Since it’s canon that Anakin reverted back to his Clone Wars-era appearance when he became a Force ghost despite dying as Darth Vader, its not that hard to believe that this is also the way he looks in whatever Star Wars‘ version of heaven is.
All that said, this show is called Ahsoka, and even if she is dead at the moment, there’s no way she stays that way for the rest of her series. Which brings me to this: there’s the possibility that this isn’t Anakin at all. Right before the scene cuts to black, we hear a few seconds of “The Imperial March,” the theme that traditionally accompanies Vader scenes, suggesting that this heartwarming reunion isn’t all that it seems. It’s very possible someone is playing a trick on Ahsoka to keep her trapped in this realm. As The Clone Wars fans already know, Ahsoka has enemies in very high places…
Star Wars: Ahsoka is streaming now on Disney+.