For many years now, the Star Wars saga has continued in the animated Star Wars: Rebels series and as Saw Gerrera has proved, Lucasfilm has integrated the series into the main Star Wars story.
The episode, “Legacy of Mandalore,” gave fans a tantalizing hint, that one that can lead to Lucasfilm bringing a classic Expanded Universe character back. It may set up an answer to the biggest mystery of the next Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi.
It all has to do with three words: the Emperor’s Hand.
What, Or Who, Is The Emperor’s Hand?
Back in 1991, legendary Star Wars author, Timothy Zahn had breathed life into this franchise with ‘The Thrawn Trilogy,’ a trilogy of novels that were set after events of Return of the Jedi and added details to the tapestry of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. One of this was Mara Jade, a Force-using warrior who had abandoned the world after Emperor’s death. Fans learned that Mara had been discovered as a child by Palpatine and indoctrinated to be his servant, after years of training she took on the position of the Emperor’s Hand.
As the Emperor’s Hand, Mara Jade’s role was to hear her Master’s voice and serve him. She specialized in espionage and assassination, but had failed once; she had taken too long to track down Luke Skywalker, and her Master had died. Devastated, Mara abandoned the Empire, and found her way to a team of smugglers and got drawn into galactic events when she crossed paths with Luke.
As the years passed, the Expanded Universe developed the idea further. Fans learned that Mara was not as unique as she had thought and the Emperor had other Hands. Mara found herself allying with Luke. The two fell in love and got married.
What About In The New Star Wars Canon?
#StarWarsRebels Season 3 has been absorbing elements of Zahn’s “Thrawn Trilogy” into the Star Wars canon. A notable example is Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Chiss warlord who campaigns against the Rebels. The latest episode dropped a tie, establishing that the character of Gar Saxon is an Emperor’s Hand.
Gar Saxon is an established figure in the canon, introduced in the Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comics. He is a Mandalorian warrior and has been a recurring villains in Rebels, but until now we had not been told the Imperial title. That changed in “Legacy of Mandalore,” when he was revealed to be the Emperor’s Hand, Acting Governor and Lord Protector of Mandalore.
This is a different role for any that fans had seen employed by Emperor’s Hands in the Expanded Universe; they were covert operatives. Mandalore is a thorny trouble-spot, and it makes sense that the Emperor will want a key operative to be overseeing the warlike world.
Could Mara Jade Yet Return?
The reinvigorated Star Wars franchise is a unique one in that it transcends medi, as Saw Gerrera has proven, Lucasfilm charts character arcs across from novels to animated series to movies.
If Lucasfilm did intend to bring Mara Jade back into the Star Wars canon, a novel by Timothy Zahn would be the perfect place to do it.
It is worth noting that when Disney announced his novels to no longer be canon, Zahn did not seem threatened by it. As he observed on one Reddit thread:
“I’m guessing that EU stories that aren’t referenced (or contradicted) by the sequel movies will still be considered sort-of alive, in the same way, that most Clone Wars-era stories (like Outbound Flight) were mostly unaffected, with the exception being all of the previous material on Boba Fett’s backstory.
Alternatively, if the new movies do contradict my books in some way, I can probably come up with some hand-waving story that will explain the apparent discrepancy. If there’s one thing we authors are good at, it’s hand-waving.”
In an interview with Inverse, Zahn had explained that fans must view anything from the old Expanded Universe as “frozen in carbonite at the moment.” Fans are expecting Thrawn to “defrost” Zahn’s novel Outbound Flight, so is it possible that he will do the same with Mara Jade too?
A Key Moment
If Lucasfilm chooses to bring Mara Jade back into the Star Wars canon, the timing is very curious. Given Lucasfilm has been describing the trilogy as the ongoing “Skywalker Saga,” many fans are expecting Rey to be a Skywalker.
In the old Expanded Universe, Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade were married and had a child: Ben Skywalker. Is it possible that the new canon will follow the same route with Luke and Mara marrying, but instead, having a daughter?