The new Star Wars Rebels season 3 trailer is not short on action or plot teases, but nobody but nobody was expecting the more than welcome return of Grand Admiral Thrawn back into Star Wars canon as the big bad pulling the Imperial strings.
The third season of Rebels looks most impressive, not small feat following the epic showdown between Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano that capped off the sophomore year.
Just try and not enjoy this clip that debuted today at Star Wars Celebration 2016 in London.
Kanan is blind, Ezra has a new lightsaber (and buzz cut), Darth Maul is back, so are the Mandalorians, and we get a surprise reveal that (future) X-wing pilot legend Wedge Antilles was an Imperial Tie Fighter pilot decades before Finn made it cool to cross party lines.
Now let’s get to Thrawn.
Grand Admiral Thrawn is the blue Imperial who made his debut as the central villain in the 1991 novel Heir To The Empire, the first chapter in the trilogy of books set after Return of the Jedi and penned by Timothy Zahn. This was a huge deal back in the ’90s because there was next to nothing coming out as far as official new Star Wars material was concerned. The “Thrawn Trilogy” as it became to be commonly called, also introduced another iconic Expanded Universe character, Mara Jade.
Unfortunately once the entire EU was reclassified as non-canon to clear the Star Wars continuity for the Disney era, these two fan favorites were pretty much assumed never to be seen again moving forward. So its a major surprise and extremely exciting to have Thrawn back in the fold, even if its several years before his “original” now jettisoned intro.
Needless to say, Lucasfilm and Disney have all the bases covered and announced at Star Wars Celebration that Thrawn, a new Zahn novel, is set for release spring 2017. We will undoubtedly find no connection or references to the events of Zahn’s ’90s books, but it will likely fill us in on Thrawn’s early rise through the Imperial ranks.