This Star Wars: The Mandalorian article contains spoilers.
The Mandalorian season 2 finale is poised to be the series’ biggest episode yet. Mando and the cruel Moff Gideon are set up for a rematch, and this time, the stakes are higher than ever before, with little Grogu’s life hanging in the balance.
Fortunately, Mando won’t be taking on the Empire on his own. He’ll have help from Boba Fett, Fennec Shand, and Cara Dune, but is that enough? Gideon not only commands a brigade of stormtroopers but also has the fearsome dark troopers at his disposal as well as the Darksaber. Even for the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunters, those odds may be too great. That’s why some fans believe the stage is set for one last big cameo that could turn things in Mando’s favor.
Ever since Grogu used the Force on Tython to contact any Jedi who might be listening, fans have been speculating about which Jedi might answer the call. There are plenty of theories. The most obvious Jedi who might be coming to Grogu’s rescue is Luke Skywalker since he’s the only Jedi besides Ahsoka Tano who we know for sure is out there. Fans of more recent Jedi characters have put their hopes on Cal Kestis, the young hero from the Jedi: Fallen Order video game. A more far-fetched candidate is Mace Windu, the Jedi Master from the Prequel Trilogy who met his end in Revenge of the Sith but who some believe is still alive somewhere.
While any of these Jedi could potentially break the internet on Friday, there is one other beloved Star Wars character who many fans hope will make his live-action debut in Chapter 16: Ezra Bridger, a hero who not only could still be alive during the time of The Mandalorian but who also has direct ties to other cameo characters like Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan Kryze. In fact, ever since the latter two animated characters were confirmed for the live-action series, many have wondered if they were paving the way for this third major guest appearance.
For those who missed Rebels during its original run or haven’t binged it on Disney+ yet (shame on you), Ezra is the main protagonist of the animated series, a young, Force-sensitive freedom fighter who joins a band of rebels known as the Spectres in the years before the official start of the Galactic Civil War. He’s one of the earliest rebels and a key player in the formation of the Rebel Alliance, and even brushes shoulders with many of its leaders, such as Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, and Princess Leia.
In the years just prior to A New Hope, Ezra also becomes one of the few Jedi left in the galaxy when former-Jedi-turned-Spectre Kanan Jarrus decides to train him in the ways of the Force. Together, the master and apprentice delve deeper into the secrets of the Force, the Jedi, and the Sith than any of the characters in the movies have. But while Ezra’s connection to the Force and his life as a Jedi padawan are integral to his role on the show, his storyline always goes back to being a rebel on his home planet of Lothal, which he tries to free from the Empire throughout the series.
Finally, in the series finale, “Family Reunion — Farewell,” Ezra gets his chance to liberate Lothal once and for all. But it comes at a cost. While fighting Grand Admiral Thrawn’s forces, he and the Chiss Imperial are zapped into hyperspace to parts unknown, leaving the fate of both the hero and the villain unresolved. Two years since the Rebels finale, we still don’t know where Ezra is.
Fans of Rebels undoubtedly perked up when considering the implications of Ahsoka’s return on The Mandalorian and how it might open the door for Ezra to come back, too. After all, the last time we saw Ahsoka (chronologically) was on Lothal, where she reunited with Sabine Wren (another Mandalorian) before heading out on an adventure together to find their missing comrade.
Ahsoka and Sabine’s reunion is actually an epilogue to the show set a year after the Battle of Endor and the fall of the Empire. That’s 5 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin). Meanwhile, The Mandalorian is set in 9 ABY, four years after that epilogue and not too long after Ahsoka and Sabine set out to find Ezra.
When Mando finally meets Ahsoka in “The Jedi,” we learn that she’s a step closer to finding Thrawn. In fact, she’s on Corvus because the tyrannical Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth knows where the Imperial villain is. While the very mention of Thrawn on The Mandalorian could suggest that Disney is interested in retelling one of the most beloved post-Return of the Jedi stories from the old Legends continuity, it’s just as likely that Ahsoka needs to find the villain because he might know where Ezra is.
Fans who have been following executive producer Dave Filoni’s Star Wars work from The Clone Wars to The Mandalorian know that he loves to follow story threads from one series to the next. With so few years having passed between the Rebels epilogue and the start of The Mandalorian, the live-action series provides a very easy way to explore what happened next to Ahsoka, Bo-Katan, Ezra, Thrawn, and other characters he used for the animated series. But due to the toy box mystery nature of the show, it’s unclear just what chapter of Ahsoka’s journey we’re seeing in “The Jedi.” Has she already found Ezra and is now out to end Thrawn’s reign of terror for good or is the Rebels hero stil missing?
Whether already back in action by the time of The Mandalorian or miraculously guided home by Grogu’s call through the Force, the Ezra we’d meet in live-action would be a bit different from the young hero we last saw on Rebels. For one thing, he would be a bit older in 9 ABY. Born in 19 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), Ezra would be about 28 if he were to appear on The Mandalorian, paving the way for Disney to cast an older actor in the role. This would allow showrunner Jon Favreau and Filoni to reintroduce the character but in a slightly different way. And how have Ezra’s adventures after Rebels changed him? We could very well meet an Ezra who is much stronger in the Force than the last time we saw him.
Or, if Star Wars follows its long tradition of sending light side characters to parts unknown and bringing them back corrupted and evil, we could meet an Ezra who’s given in to the dark side. Rebels season 3 teased that Ezra had a dark side, and bringing him back to Star Wars as a villain would really add some complexity and stakes to Ahsoka’s own story on The Mandalorian.
Regardless of what Ezra would be like in his late 20s, a story of this magnitude really deserves its own space to breathe instead of being shoved in as a sub-plot in Mando and Baby Yoda’s adventure. This might be where the newly-announced Ahsoka spinoff series might come in. A show focusing solely on Ahsoka’s search for Ezra, as well as her further adventures, seems like a more appropriate place for the young Jedi’s return.
But that’s not stopped people from hoping for Ezra’s return on The Mandalorian or from fancasting the character. Who is the front runner? The Haunting of Bly Manor‘s Rahul Kohli, who has been the subject of many rumors over the past few months, chiefly that he’s been cast as Ezra in secret and is set to make his debut in Chapter 16.
While Kohli has denied being involved in any way with Star Wars, the actor has not been shy about his interest in playing Ezra. In September, he sparked a new round of rumors when he tweeted, “I’ve gotten into that Lothal orphan, force sensitive, trained by Kanan Jarrus kind of shape. For no particular reason.” The tweet excited such a furor among fans that Kohli had to walk back the post, explaining that he’d made it in jest on his way to the gym.
But since then, Kohli has joined in on the fancasting, often retweeting fan art imagining himself as an older Ezra.
This hasn’t helped dissipate the rumors, of course. Commenting on why he’s encouraged fans who want him to be in Star Wars, Kohli put it simply: “Lemme set the record straight real quick, why do I fancast or engage with fancasting? Because unless it’s rammed down people’s throats, ain’t nobody thinking of casting an Indian guy in iconic roles. If I keep pushing, maybe one of us gets through.”
Personally, as a Latino who has enjoyed watching actors like Pedro Pascal and Oscar Isaac play major characters in Star Wars projects, I’m absolutely here for what Kohli is saying. I do hope he gets cast as Ezra.
Whether this has already happened in time for Kohli to thrash his way through Gideon‘s forces in The Mandalorian season 2 finale remains to be seen. And what would happen next? Would Ezra decide to train Grogu? The two Jedi have at least one captivating connection: both of their lives have been devastated by the Empire (Ezra’s parents were killed by the evil government), and while Ezra grew up after the fall of the Jedi, his master was a padawan during Order 66. We watch Kanan pass on that history and many of the traditions of the old Jedi Order to Ezra throughout Rebels, so Ezra would understand where Grogu comes from and why he’s afraid to be a Jedi even after the fall of the Empire. In many ways, it would make sense for Ezra to become Grogu’s master.
But even if Ezra is about to hit The Mandalorian, it seems very unlikely that he’d actually take Grogu away to train him. After all, Mando and Grogu’s relationship is the core of the show. Why would Disney want to break away from the formula that has made the live-action series such a success?
Still, seeing Ezra in live-action for the first time would pack one final punch in a season full of exciting guest appearances. Star Wars has always strived to be one long, cohesive story, and The Mandalorian has truly excelled at connecting its gritty post-Return of the Jedi corner of the galaxy to the animated universe inspired by the Prequel Trilogy. And if Ezra isn’t the final guest character of the season, there’s a chance it could be Sabine?
Keep up with all of The Mandalorian season 2 news here.