Thrawn's live-action debut has been a long time coming with the fan-favorite character seemingly set to be a large part of the upcoming Ahsoka series.
He has not been mentioned, however, in relation to Season 3 of The Mandalorian. There has been talk of "secrets to keep" for the ongoing third batch of Mando episodes, but nothing Thrawn-specific has been referenced.
A Thrawn-Sized Tease in The Mandalorian
New footage from the upcoming seventh episode of Season 3 of The Mandalorian was revealed exclusively during Lucasfilm's Friday panel at Star Wars Celebration, at which The Direct was in attendance.
This first seven minutes of The Mandalorian "Chapter 23" featured lots of striking details, including multiple mentions of fan-favorite villain Thrawn.
The opening of the episode saw Katy O'Brian's Elia Kane on Coruscant, receiving a hologram from Giancarlo Esposito's Moff Gideon via an Imperial probe droid. Kane tells Moff how the pirates (seen earlier in the season) were thwarted by Bo-Katan, Din Djarin, and the rest of the Mandalorians.
Cutting to Gideon, he hangs up and proceeds down a corridor walking past a number of Stormtroopers that closely resemble the Phase 2 clone troopers from the prequel trilogy. While doing this, the audience received glimpses of what look to be vats/tubes similar to those seen in Season 2 of The Mandalorian.
From here, Esposito's Star Wars big bad arrives in what was called The Shadow Council, a series of holograms of other Imperial Warlords.
The father of General Hux (from the sequel trilogy) and Grand Admiral Thrawn's second-in-command, Gilad Pellaeon, are among the group. Gideon opens the conversation by criticizing them for waiting for Thrawn's grand plan. The Chiss admiral is noticeably absent, and they seem to be waiting for him to get started.
Gideon says that Pellaeon and Commandant Hux have been hogging most of the Council's resources for themselves, with Hux being mostly focused on cloning work. Moff Gideon notes that they have to deal with the Mandalorians.
The Moff requests three Praetorian guards, TIE bombers, and TIE interceptors to take care of the Mandalorian thread, and throws his hat in the ring to assume leadership over the Council. The rest of the group agrees with this move, before Gideon leads a collective chant: "Long live the Empire."
How Thrawn Plays Into The Mandalorian
With only two episodes left in the currently-running The Mandalorian Season 3, time is running out for a full-on Thrawn arc to occur; however, it seems as though his presence (at least) is going to play heavily into these final two Mando episodes and going forward in the MandoVerse.
It has been unclear who exactly Giancarlo Esposito's Moff Gideon is working for/what his end goal has been. But now, that picture is just a bit clearer.
Essentially, it seems Thrawn sees himself as the heir to the Empire and has a master plan to continue the work of Emperor Palpatine.
Surely, this Episode 7 opening is just the first seeds being laid for an epic showdown with the Grand Admiral himself, potentially on the big screen as a part of the newly-announced Mandoverse crossover film.
Luckily, fans who were not in attendance at Star Wars Celebration will not have to wait much longer to see what was shown at the event as "Chapter 23" of The Mandalorian is set to stream on Disney+ on Wednesday, April 12.