This article contains spoilers for Ahsoka episode 6.
- Grand Admiral Thrawn is set up as the main villain in an upcoming movie, making him more important than ever before in the Star Wars timeline.
- Thrawn and Sabine Wren have a history in Star Wars Rebels, with Thrawn studying Sabine’s artwork and using it against her and the Spectres.
- Thrawn recognizes Sabine’s devotion to finding Ezra Bridger but lacks emotional intelligence, viewing others from a purely academic standpoint. He can manipulate bonds of friendship but can never truly experience them himself.
Grand Admiral Thrawn and Sabine Wren face one another at last in Ahsoka episode 6, a confrontation that builds on their history in Star Wars Rebels. Originally created in the Star Wars Legends continuity, Grand Admiral Thrawn made the jump into canon in Star Wars Rebels. Now, Thrawn has become more important than ever before, wiith Ahsoka setting him up as the main villain of an upcoming movie set in this part of the Star Wars timeline.
Morgan Elsbeth’s quest for Thrawn proves successful in Ahsoka episode 6, when she successfully travels the pathway to Peridea. It seems Morgan was uniquely suited to finding her way to Thrawn, given her people the Nightsisters originate from Peridea – and she’s apparently been receiving visions from surviving Nightsisters who live there. Morgan is not alone; Thrawn recognizes the name of Baylan Skoll, even though he’s never met him, but is initially rather less than happy when he realizes Baylan has brought a prisoner. It’s another familiar name to Thrawn – Sabine Wren. But what do viewers need to know about their history?
Grand Admiral Thrawn Was Assigned To Destroy Lothal’s Rebels
Following Ahsoka Tano’s presumed death on Malachor, Grand Admiral Thrawn was assigned to hunt down the Spectres, an early Rebel cell led by Hera Syndulla that was invaluable to the fledgling Rebel Alliance. Although Hera and the rest of the heroes of Rebels routinely made short work of most Imperial forces throughout the series (and, with difficulty, endured the likes of Inquisitors, Darth Maul, and even Darth Vader), Thrawn was perhaps their greatest foe throughout the series. Thrawn nearly destroyed the Spectres on Atollon and Lothal, but it was, ultimately, Ezra Bridger who defeated the Grand Admiral by sending his flagship into hyperspace, placing Thrawn and Ezra on Peridea.
Why Thrawn Focused On Sabine Wren
Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the most intelligent beings in the galaxy; his creator, celebrated author Timothy Zahn, has compared him to Sherlock Holmes. He’s famous for studying the artwork and culture of his foes, learning about their species and their histories, and thus predicting their strategies and exploiting their weaknesses. Thrawn’s methods were astoundingly successful in both canon and Legends, with the Grand Admiral earning a reputation as one of the galaxy’s most brilliant military minds. Thrawn’s signature move was particularly dangerous to the Spectres.
Sabine Wren is both a Mandalorian warrior and an artist, inheriting her talent and love for the latter from her father, Alrich. From her introduction in Rebels, Sabine’s artistry has been a defining trait, with Wren painting a confiscated TIE Fighter and leaving graffiti behind when attacking Imperial installations. Unfortunately, this would be all too convenient for Thrawn in Rebels seasons 3 and 4, with the Grand Admiral studying the artwork left behind by Sabine. Thrawn would orchestrate Imperial attacks on the Mandalorians in Rebels season 4, having Tiber Saxon employ a beskar-targeting weapon, The Duchess, against the Mandalorian resistance, with the weapon, ironically, having been designed by Sabine herself.
How Well Does Thrawn Understand Sabine?
Fascinatingly, while Thrawn is familiar with Sabine, her artwork, and her strategies, the two did not have any direct conflicts in Rebels. Instead, Thrawn simply used her artwork against her and the rest of the Spectres, targeting them collectively. With the two meeting face to face in Ahsoka, however, it can now be said that Thrawn and Sabine’s enmity is far more personal.
The meeting between Thrawn and Sabine sees the Grand Admiral immediately recognize Sabine’s devotion to finding Ezra Bridger – something clearly visible even on her armor, which features the design of a purrgil in Ezra’s honor. It’s important to note, though, that Thrawn’s understanding of Sabine will be purely intellectual. One of his greatest weaknesses is his lack of emotional intelligence, because he is quite detached from others, viewing them from a purely academic standpoint. Thrawn may be able to analyze and predict Sabine to a degree in Ahsoka, but actual empathy remains beyond him. He can understand the bonds of friendship as something to manipulate, but he can never truly experience it for himself, a truth his allies would do well to remember; Thrawn will have no problem abandoning any of them at Peridea should the need arise.
Ahsoka releases new episodes Tuesdays at 6pm PT / 9pm ET on Disney+.