During the lead-up to The Mandalorian Season 2, Dave Filoni's episode was by far the most highly anticipated among Star Wars fans. When word dropped that Rosario Dawson would be playing Ahsoka Tano, the news spread like wildfire, and things became a waiting game for the franchise's faithful. At the time, nobody was aware that Luke Skywalker would be dropping by in the season finale, leaving Ahsoka's appearance as the talk of the town.
When the season finally dropped, the show did little to hide Ahsoka's involvement. She was directly name-dropped by Bo-Katan, setting the stage for her live-action debut in "Chapter 13 - The Jedi." When Din and Grogu found her in a forest seemingly pulled directly out of Lord of the Rings, fans got the opportunity to learn more about Mando's little green friend and his abilities with the Force.
Ahsoka's first appearance in live-action was certainly cause for celebration, as it was something many had never imagined possible when the beloved animated character was introduced to the world in 2008. The Mandalorian opened the door for new opportunities, and with it came characters from several mediums making the jump to live-action storytelling - with Ahsoka being at the forefront.
Fans were naturally curious to see what the former Jedi was up to, as she chronologically hadn't been seen since the epilogue of Rebels. She arrived on the scene of "Chapter 13" immediately, and quickly it was revealed that the Magistrate of a local city was the foe she was seeking information from.
New commentary from the man who devised the episode's story opened up about the since-defeated threat, along with providing a subtle about her Grand Admiral master.
Filoni Talks the Magistrate & Hints of Thrawn
In The Art of The Mandalorian: Season 2 book obtained by The Direct, Lucasfilm executive creative director Dave Filoni touched on the background of Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth from "Chapter 13 - The Jedi:"
"The magistrate is a former Imperial, but she's an industrialist. My idea was that she had an idea of metallurgy and obviously knew what beskar was. And she was pillaging this planet and stealing all its of resources - people who were willing to take everything from a world and give it to the Empire were valuable to the Empire."
The writer hinted that these actions continuing after the Empire is defeated are a threat to all, and the buck stops at Elsbeth's master, Thrawn:
"And even after the fall of the Empire, the people who built the war machine were still out there and really dangerous. They need to be tracked down because otherwise, they're going to keep doing what they're doing and find new ways to exploit people."
Thrawn's Industrial Revolution
Morgan Elsbeth's history is a bit murky, and likely intentionally so. "The Jedi" revealed that she was the survivor of a massacre on her (unknown) homeworld during the Clone Wars, and her grief over the incident led her to follow a similar path of planetary destruction. As Filoni noted, she's an industrialist, and her willingness to destroy worlds made her a valuable resource in building the Imperial starfleet.
It wasn't until Ahsoka demanded to know the location of Grand Admiral Thrawn that the pieces started to fall into place. Those who have seen Rebels know that Thrawn was in favor of the mining efforts on Lothal, as he needed the resources for his TIE Defender project. While he had no designs of completely destroying the planet like the Magistrate has a tendency to do, he wasn't above pillaging a world for military needs.
With the Magistrate still actively destroying worlds to conquer their resources while serving under Thrawn, it can be derived from Filoni's hints that Thrawn is the subject in question still building war machines. What he specifically will be up to as the main antagonist in Ahsoka will be interesting to learn, as the Grand Admiral presumably has more pressing matters to attend to than overseeing the collection of raw materials.
Don't expect to find Thrawn traveling via steamboat or train, but it's certainly interesting to consider that he has a weapon of war up his sleeve. Could it be as simple as more Star Destroyers being under production? Previous theories suggested that Moff Gideon would have allies within the underworld or be operating on the behalf of Palpatine, but maybe Thrawn truly is the big villain of the MandoVerse after all.
The canon novels, and even Rebels to a certain extent, present Thrawn as more of an antagonist than an outright villain. He uses the Empire as a means to an end, hoping that he can convince the Emperor to share military resources that would destroy the Grysk threat the Chiss are facing. After his disappearance in Rebels, Thrawn is no longer tied to the Empire and can return to his people, perhaps convincing Ezra Bridger to assist in his efforts to defend the Chiss Ascendancy.
Gideon operating for a different master is still on the table. The Snoke clones seen in "Chapter 12" were a direct connection to the reveal that Senate was behind the Supreme Leader's creation, and Thrawn wouldn't seem to be interested in that sort of conquest. His abrupt removal from the Galactic Civil War could have ruffled his feathers more than expected or may have led to the demise of his people - and that would certainly put the mastermind on the warpath.
Ahsoka will debut in 2023 on Disney+.