The Names of Ahsoka’s New Villains Are Hiding a Secret That Could Change Star Wars

There's a lot more to Ray Stevenson's Baylan Skoll and Ivanna Sakhno's Shin Hati than meets the eye on Star Wars: Ahsoka.

Baylan Skoll and Shin Hate in Star Wars: Ahsoka
Photo: Lucasfilm

The trailer for Star Wars: Ahsoka has given fans plenty to talk about in the lead up to the show’s August premiere, and inspired all kinds of online theories. Unsurprisingly, much of the current speculation revolves around two brand-new villains, the orange lightsaber-wielding Baylan Skoll (the late Ray Stevenson) and his apprentice Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno).

So far, all we really know about these characters is some backstory and their names. But even these small details hint at a massive secret that could completely change live-action Star Wars and set the Mandoverse on a whole new course.

Thrawn’s Wolves

To say that Dave Filoni has a thing for wolves is an understatement. He’s worked these canines into all of his Star Wars tales, from The Clone Wars to Rebels, and even his own character in The Mandalorian, Trapper Wolf. But it’s in Rebels where he really brings his love of wolves to the forefront with the introduction of the Force-sensitive Loth-Wolves. In the final season of the animated series, these creatures lead Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger to the World Between Worlds, a mystical plane that serves as a pathway between all space and time, allowing those who enter it to travel between the past, present, and future. These wolves are intrinsically linked to this realm and circling images of the wolves even adorn its portal.

This brings us back to the names Filoni chose for the antagonists of Ahsoka. Deliberately pairing these two specific characters may be an intentional clue pointing toward their true nature. On the surface, Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati have pretty unassuming Star Wars names, but on closer look, these names have a much more intriguing meaning. 

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“Skoll” and “Hati” reference two very specific wolves from Norse mythology. Since the beginning of time, these monstrous wolves have chased the Sun and Moon across the sky, relentlessly pursuing them day and night. When they eventually catch them, it is said they will plunge the world into darkness and start the events of Ragnarok, the end times for the Norse gods. So, if Filoni named Baylan and Shin after the relentless hunters of the Norse myths, then who or what are they pursuing in the galaxy far, far away?

The answer to that question may be found in Baylan’s own tragic history. Empire (via Collider) recently revealed that Baylan is a survivor of Order 66, and this cataclysmic event has shaped his life. After the fall of the Jedi, Baylan became a mercenary and is now under the employ of Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Imperial warlord who Ahsoka is searching for in the new series. We know that Thrawn is amassing his forces in preparation for an attack on the New Republic. His goal is to take over the galaxy in the name of the Empire and it’s very possible he may have learned of the perfect weapon with which to achieve this: the World Between Worlds.

If you recall, Thrawn disappeared at the end of Rebels when Ezra forced the Grand Admiral’s Star Destroyer into lightspeed to uncharted space, with help from some purrgil (essentially, space whales). Ezra saved his friends from the Empire but he sacrificed himself in the process, as he was also on board Thrawn’s ship when it jumped to hyperspace. They’ve both been missing ever since. And since Ahsoka takes place about a decade after Rebels, that would give Thrawn plenty of time to learn about Ezra’s time in the World Between Worlds.

To a tactician seeking to become the heir to the Empire, there would be nothing more tantalizing than a way to influence the past and future. The series could have Thrawn looking for the World Between Worlds, and sending his wolves, Baylan and Shin, after every lead, including Ahsoka Tano, who in Rebels also spent some time in this mystical realm. 

Baylan and the World Between Worlds

From the very beginning, we’ve been given the sense that Baylan isn’t your usual Force-sensitive villain. While it’s clear from the trailers that he’s gifted in the dark side, it doesn’t seem like he can so easily be categorized as either a light or dark sider. Heir to the Empire, the seminal 1991 novel by Timothy Zahn that first introduced Thrawn and is a clear inspiration on Ahsoka, explored these distinctions, introducing the concept of “Dark Jedi” for Jedi who had fallen to the dark side but weren’t Sith or Inquisitors. Stevenson himself hinted that there was much more to Baylan than your usual Star Wars bad guy.

“He is not genocidal or malicious or overly aggressive,” Stevenson told Empire (via Collider). “He will request that you get out of his way. But if you don’t, he will take you out his way.”

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The fact that Baylan wields a reddish-orange saber instead of the usual dark-side red further implies a blurring of the lines. Filoni himself told Screen Rant that the color of Baylan’s blade “was very intentional. I didn’t make them just a stark red…I didn’t want to go straight up orange, but it’s identifying a little bit of something to kids that they might not straight up be what you think they are in the beginning.”

All of this is to say that there could be more to Baylan’s motivations for working with Thrawn than a simple quest for power. We’re entering heavy speculation territory here: If Baylan is helping Thrawn find the World Between Worlds — one scene in the trailer depicts Baylan and Ahsoka dueling in a place with circular designs that are very reminiscent of the realm we saw on Rebels — it’s possible he has ulterior motives for doing so. What if Baylan wants to enter the World Between Worlds in order to change his own past?

As a survivor of genocide, the opportunity to create a new future would certainly be tempting. Perhaps he could find a way to warn the Jedi, or at least save himself from the years he presumably spent hiding from the Empire’s Inquisitors before he joined up with Thrawn. Most importantly, he could stop Order 66. But at what cost?

This is where Ahsoka and Baylan would clash. Ahsoka knows the power of the World Between Worlds, having had her own fate changed by Ezra tinkering with the timeline on Rebels, an action that almost led to Emperor Palpatine and the Sith entering the realm. Years after that experience, Ahsoka would undoubtedly feel compelled to stop people like Thrawn and Baylan from messing with time. Even if Baylan’s plan were well-intentioned, we all know how time travel stories work. His plan would have drastic consequences for the Star Wars timeline, completely altering the course of history and not necessarily for the better.

Of course, Filoni’s reference to wolves could be more literal. Perhaps Baylan and Shin want to use the World Between Worlds to somehow burn it all down in order to achieve “the new beginning” Baylan mentions in the trailer. In the Norse myth, Skoll and Hati are instrumental in the destruction of their world. But even as that world falls, a new chapter unfolds. Out of the ashes of Ragnarok, a new world is born. These two Norse wolves, once catalysts of darkness, have paved the way for a rebirth.

Star Wars: Ahsoka premieres on Disney+ on Aug. 23. You can check out the full schedule of upcoming Star Wars movies and TV series here.

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