One of the Star Wars plot’s craziest turns might be solved by Thrawn.

Author: Austen Goslin

at 2:00 p.m. on April 12, 2023

The most recent episode of The Mandalorian appears to be beginning to tie together a joke from the first season. The series has occasionally made clear connections to the greater Star Wars universe while other times has relied more on references and Easter eggs. However, Chapter 23: The Spies suggests that it’s somewhat connected to the Skywalker saga, or at least the return of a character from that saga.

The MandalorianSeason 3 of has taken us across the galaxy in search of a home for Din Djarin and his wayward Mandalorian sect, but it turns out that the most important developments for the Star Wars universe have been taking place on their homeworld of Mandalore the whole time .

The latest episode revealed that Moff Gideon, the antagonist of the show’s first two seasons, set up a base on the abandoned planet that was deemed uninhabitable. Exploiting Mandalore’s infamous Beskar reserves, he has outfitted a new breed of Stormtroopers with Beskar armor, reflecting the power of the Mandalorians’ signature gear.

While Gideon’s return comes with a lot of fighting, that’s not the main thing that happens in this episode. That honor goes to a conversation between Moff Gideon and several Imperial Warlords, including Captain Pellaeon and Commandant Brendol Hux – father of Armitage Hux in the Sequel trilogy – who are attempting to establish the First Order.

Gideon turns mostly to Grand Admiral Thrawn, whose promised return to power has yet to materialize. But the conversation also references Hux’s interest in cloning and his work on something called “Project Necromancer”.

While neither conversation sheds much light on either topic, the Project Necromancer name certainly seems to imply that this conspiracy could be about bringing Palpatine back with cloning, which would explain why he’s there The Rise of Skywalker. More importantly, this suggests that Thrawn may have played a key role in bringing it to fruition.

Besides the name of the project, there is also the fact that cloning has always been an important, if very subtle, thread The Mandalorian. dr Pershing, who got his own episode this season and is name-checked here, has specialized in cloning – at least based on the Kaminoan patch on his uniform in season one.

He also introduced another connection to the Sequel trilogy and later First Order regime: the Praetorian Guard. They emerge in their traditional red robes, take out Paz Vizsla (gone too soon) and end the episode. Originally thought to be bodyguards for Supreme Leader Snoke, the Elite Guards appear to be another link between Gideon and the Palpatine, making his meeting at the beginning of the episode look like the next stage in an illustrious villainous career for Gideon.

Of course, Gideon’s attempt to usurp Thrawn’s control of the Imperial Warlords and their remnant fleet seems unwise. Based on what we saw in The Mandalorian So far, Gideon loves to push his limits, but is mostly good at tricking Mandalorians and not much else. Even more worrying for them Mando Villain, we know Thrawn is an important part of the future of the franchise. At last week’s Star Wars Celebration 2023, it was announced that Thrawn will play a key role in Disney Plus. Ahsoka series and is played by his animated series voice actor Lars Mikkelsen. None of this bodes well for Gideon’s attempted power play in this week’s episode.

If that’s really the purpose Thrawn serves in the larger Star Wars story, it would make him the glue that binds together one of the series’ most bizarre events. Ever since Palpatine came back Rise of Skywalkerits existence was a meme, but maybe with a little clever reconnection from an even smarter Chiss Grand Admiral, we can figure out exactly how Palpatine returned.