Disney Plus’ Ahsoka series was destined to bring in fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the 2008 animated series that introduced Ahsoka Tano, Jedi apprentice to Anakin Skywalker. But even those fans might be mystified when it comes to the rest of Ahsoka, which is continuing the story of the rather more recent animated series Star Wars Rebels, and its starring Jedi apprentice, Ezra Bridger.
In Ahsoka, Ezra is missing and everybody is looking for him, good guys and bad guys alike. If you feel like you’re missing something, read on to find out exactly who Ezra is; how he got lost with the Empire’s second-most conniving evil genius, Grand Admiral Thrawn; and how Star Wars: Rebels gave Ezra one of the more satisfying Jedi-in-training arcs of on-screen Star Wars.
[Ed. note: This piece will contain... pretty big spoilers for Star Wars Rebels.]
Who is Ezra Bridger?
The thing to know about Star Wars Rebels — which ran on Disney XD from 2014 through 2018 and is now available to stream on Disney Plus — is that it was very much a family show. The series centered itself on the close-knit Spectres, an isolated rebel cell local to the planet of Lothal. Most of the Spectres are around and kicking in Ahsoka — Mandalorian heiress Sabine Wren is teaming with Ahsoka in the search for Ezra, with pilot Hera Syndulla and the fussy droid Chopper on display in the show’s teasers. Zeb even got a cameo in The Mandalorian.
Ezra was the youngest member of the Spectres, an orphaned Lothalian street rat who ran into them a few years before the fall of the Empire and — well, you know this story. Cynical street kid meets idealistic freedom fighters and wham, bam, that’s a found family.
So how did Ezra get lost?
Ezra has his own special talent: He can essentially talk to animals. Rebels went deep on the more mystical-magical side of the Force, with a late arc that involves a whole-ass Force-powered time machine and everything, but Ezra’s particular talent with the Force has always been the ability to connect with animals — particularly on his home planet of Lothal, but elsewhere too.
And while the demands of overall continuity meant that the Spectres were never going to be that big in the Galactic Rebellion, they were a very big deal on Lothal, successfully managing to oust the Imperial presence — which included one of the galaxy’s most advanced shipyards — from the planet. Unfortunately, Ezra had to make a pretty big sacrifice to save his world.
In the end, unable to drive Imperial forces off of Lothal without risking thousands of civilian lives, Ezra called a pod of purrgil — whalelike creatures capable of traveling through hyperspace — and got them to grab an entire star destroyer and leap with it to an unknown destination. He and Grand Admiral Thrawn were both aboard at the time, and neither of them have been seen in Star Wars canon since. In Rebels’ closing scenes, Ahsoka and Sabine set off to find Ezra, but they don’t seem to have had much luck, to say the least.
So is Ezra Bridger a Jedi?
Well, he was certainly training in the ways of one. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Ezra is a preteen whose parents aren’t around and who is really strong in the Force, and he winds up paired with a young Jedi mentor who has never taught anybody before and who’s dealing with the loss of his own master before his training was complete.
But the difference between Ezra and Anakin is twofold: For one, Ezra’s ending is not yet written. And for another, Ezra got to go through training in a TV show, not a movie. Rebels had the room to expand on the usual beats of an impatient Jedi learner, lending the familiar arc greater nuance and relatability than most other cinematic padawans. Clone Wars tried to do this for Ahsoka, but if you ask me, Clone Wars was about the Clone War — Rebels was about Ezra.
And so Ezra gets to build his own lightsaber, he gets to unearth ancient Jedi temples, he gets to get frustrated with meditation and patience, he gets to have terrifying visions of the future and then struggle through learning to interpret them. He gets tempted to the Dark Side from a veritable who’s who of Sith masters, including Darth Maul and even the Emperor himself.
He gets to make lots of mistakes and do a lot of growing over Rebels’ 53 episodes, and for fans of Star Wars Rebels, Ahsoka is a chance to see all the growing he’s done since the show’s very open ending.