Is Ahsoka Really Setting Up the Yuuzhan Vong or Something Else?

This week Ahsoka kicked off a new chapter of Star Wars’ latest quest for a map to find people—the race between heroes and villains alike to find out just what happened to Ezra Bridger and Grand Admiral Thrawn. But in throwing out a very specific location, the show has kicked off a bevy of speculation about the true threat Ahsoka could herald… but maybe it’s not the enemy fans think they know.

Why Is Ahsoka Going Outside the Star Wars Galaxy?

Ahsoka’s double-episode premiere establishes that it is apparently no longer a mystery as to where Grand Admiral Thrawn was carted off by Ezra Bridger and his space whale friends during the Battle of Lothal at the climax of Star Wars Rebels. The Nightsister Morgan Elsbeth, apparently one of Thrawn’s closest confidants in the Empire, reveals that Thrawn has been whisked out of the Star Wars galaxy, and into another—a place named Peridea, a mythical extragalactic system.

Image for article titled Are Star Wars' Extragalactic Ambitions What They Seem in Ahsoka?

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Tell any Star Wars fan with a passing familiarity with the old canon and an undisclosed amount of brain damage the word “extragalactic” and they’re going to immediately word vomit one thing at you: the Yuuzhan Vong. Introduced in the late ‘90s in the New Jedi Order novel series, the Vong changed the face of the Star Wars Expanded Universe forever. Although the EU novels had told stories across the galaxy, the threat of the Yuuzhan Vong—a species of fanatical BDSM orcs who couldn’t be sensed in the Force, and hated non-bioorganic technology so much they invaded the Star Wars galaxy from their own adjacent one on a holy war—impacted every corner of post-Return of the Jedi fiction in the EU for years and years.

Who Are the Yuuzhan Vong?

The Vong invasion ravaged the Imperial Remnant and the New Republic alike, forcing them to work together as political and military entities in a way they previously hadn’t, and even ultimately transformed the Republic into the Galactic Alliance after the end of the devastating war. Whole worlds found themselves terraformed by the Vong’s path through the galaxy, major characters from the movies and the novels alike perished in attempts to stem the tide. Inadvertently one of these moments—the death of Chewbacca in Vector Prime, where he is literally crushed by a moon during an early part of the Vong invasion—would go on, decades later, to spur the decision to completely reformat Star Wars continuity after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012. The Vong’s impact on Star Wars in this era was huge, but also deeply controversial (BDSM orcs dropped a moon! On Chewbacca!), something that has led the threat of their return to continuity to become something of a joke among fans.

Image for article titled Are Star Wars' Extragalactic Ambitions What They Seem in Ahsoka?

Image: Chris Trevas/Del Rey

That is, until it very potentially started looking like it might happen. It was revealed after Clone Wars’ initial cancellation that one potential storyline being explored for the series would’ve seen the Republic encounter a lone Yuuzhan Vong scout ship, bringing the species into contemporary continuity along the way. And then when the rebooted canon started using everyone from Supreme Leader Snoke and Emperor Palpatine, to Grand Admiral Thrawn, to tee up the idea of some mysterious entity forming in the Unknown Regions of the Star Wars galaxy, fans were quick to turn to the ideaand the dread—of the Vong’s return. But then it didn’t pan out, seemingly. The threat in the Unknown Regions climaxed with The Rise of Skywalker’s reveal that Somehow, Palpatine Returned, with nary a kinky orc in sight. That is, until now Ahsoka threw out that one key word: extragalactic. But what if all the speculation is wrong, as it has been before? What if it’s not the Vong that are out there on the pathway to Peridea, but another ancient Star Wars evil from the EU’s past?

What if it’s the return of the Rakata, and their Infinite Empire?

Who Are the Rakata?

Created for the legendary BioWare video game series Knights of the Old Republic in 2003, the Rakata were an ancient precursor society who were, in prior continuity, one of the first if not the first galactic civilizations to master hyperspace travel, tens of thousands of years before the events of the game, itself set thousands of years before the Star Wars movies. The Rakata used their technological prowess—and their grasp of the Force, which will become relevant shortly—to quickly expand their dominion over the galaxy, forging the Infinite Empire as a despotic regime that subjugated almost the entire known galaxy for 10,000 years. A series of internal and external factors eventually laid the Rakata low, setting the stage for the first Galactic Republic to form after the Empire’s fall, and for eventually the remnants of the Rakatans to slowly vanish into ancient history—and their place in Star Wars continuity for the most part, cropping up here and there in places like The Old Republic MMORPG.

Image for article titled Are Star Wars' Extragalactic Ambitions What They Seem in Ahsoka?

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

That is, until the fourth episode of last year’s Andor, when an offhand line from Stellan Skarsgård’s rebel agent Luthen Rael described a kyber crystal necklace he gave to Cassian Andor as collateral on a job as being from the time of the “uprising against Rakatan invaders.” For the first time, the Rakatans had been named on-screen in current Star Wars continuity, but it wasn’t the first time hints and nods had been given to the species in contemporary canon—the world “Rakata Prime” was mentioned in a map included in the Force Awakens visual dictionary guidebook, a clear nod even if in the EU the Rakata came from a world called Lehon, which would later get a nod in a loosely canonically valid Millennium Falcon model kit magazine in 2015.

Have the Rakata Appeared Anywhere Else in Star Wars Canon?

On screen aside from in Andor, Dryden Vos’ collection in Solo: A Star Wars Story features a small chest described in the film’s accompanying visual guide as a Wraith Box, a piece of Rakatan technology that appears in The Old Republic. And then perhaps most crucially to Ahsoka, in the climax of Star Wars Rebels’ second season, she, Ezra, and his master Kanan explore the ruins of the ancient planet Malachor—itself from the background events of Knights of the Old Republic’s sequel, The Sith Lords—which features blink-and-you’ll-miss-it carvings of the Infinite Empire’s primary symbol: a hexagonal bipyramid shape reminiscent of the Star Forge, the powerful Rakatan superweapon that plays a major role in the first Knights of the Old Republic.

Image for article titled Are Star Wars' Extragalactic Ambitions What They Seem in Ahsoka?

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Suffice to say, although scant, the Rakata have been quietly present in the background of current Star Wars canon in the way that the Yuuzhan Vong have not been at all. And beyond actually being mentioned and referenced in recent and Ahsoka-relevant material, there’s just enough there in those old EU stories to indicate that perhaps, even though the Rakata weren’t an explicitly extragalactic force like the Vong (they came from the Unknown Regions, at least), there’s a chance that what Ahsoka is setting the stage for isn’t the invasion of the Yuuzhan Vong, but the rise of the Infinite Empire once more. What evidence do we have? As always with any particularly unhinged Star Wars theory, the answer is as scant as the Rakatan’s presence in current canon so far is already.

What Evidence Is There for the Rakatan Appearing in Ahsoka?

Visually, there’s the fact that the Pathway to Peridea sought by Ahsoka and Morgan Elsbeth in Ahsoka’s premiere carries the same holographic dome style and appearance of Rakatan Star Maps, the Force-powered maps needed by the player to locate the Star Forge in Knights of the Old Republic. There’s the fact that Elsbeth herself is a Nightsister, a clan of witches that originated on the planet Dathomir—itself the ancient home of a Force-sensitive species called the Kwa, who were the beings that taught the Rakatans how to manipulate the Force in the first place, setting the stage for their rise. There’s even hints in the Kwa’s history that before they made Dathomir their ancient home, they themselves were extra-galactic beings, and had designed their own forms of instantaneous interstellar travel in the Infinity Gates and Star Temples.

Image for article titled Are Star Wars' Extragalactic Ambitions What They Seem in Ahsoka?

Screenshot: Lucasfilm/Bioware

The fact that ancient hyperspace routes are key to navigating the extragalactic route to Peridea—and the fact that the naturally capable Purrgil could whisk Thrawn and Ezra there in the first place—ties into the Rakatan’s own history with the development of hyperspace technology as one of its pioneers. And then there’s the longshot among all these other long shots: Elsbeth’s multi-hyperdrive vessel being built to traverse the breadth between galaxies is called the Eye of Sion—a name that can’t be anything but a pointed reference to Knights of the Old Republic II’s villain Darth Sion, an ancient warrior kept immortal by his own rage who was part of the Sith Triumvirate that operated on… the planet Malachor V, the world that would be simply called Malachor when it was re-introduced into continuity in Star Wars Rebels—and suddenly littered with references to the Infinite Empire.

It should be stressed that all of the above is based on some truly wild speculation. It cannot be stressed enough, in fact, that this involves a grasping at straws so obtuse and impenetrable to even more diehard Star Wars fans that it would frankly be insane for Ahsoka to even touch it, such as it is the series already faces the struggle of having to onboard audiences that are unfamiliar with fundamental texts to its story in Clone Wars and Rebels. Even as it brushes on the edges of these potential threats in going beyond the Star Wars galaxy that make nods to classic Star Wars canon long lost, we’re arguably far more likely to be in for the same situation we’ve been in in recent years any time there’s been speculation of the Yuuzhan Vong’s return, whether it’s actually them or not: Star Wars making broad allusions to some bold, fascinatingly unhinged deep cuts and then simply deciding to do The Empire, Again.

Image for article titled Are Star Wars' Extragalactic Ambitions What They Seem in Ahsoka?

Image: Bioware

Time will tell. But in the meantime, there’s fun to be had in the chaos along the pathway, is there not?

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