Warning: This article contains spoilers for the second half of Star Wars Rebels season 2.
While everyone has been digesting Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney has been quietly preparing to bring back the second season of its animated series Star Wars Rebels. A newly released trailer for the second half of the season, which returns Jan. 20, offers a smorgasbord of tantalizing teases—and a giant nod to events to come in The Force Awakens.
The trailer, which debuted exclusively through Entertainment Weekly, shows the Empire making things very difficult for our heroes, a small band of rebels led by a Twi’lek pilot named Hera Syndulla and an ex-Jedi named Kanan Jarrus.
Rebels, set five years before A New Hope, recently united the main characters with Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice from the previous series The Clone Wars (2008-2013), now older and far more powerful. Footage from the new trailer confirms what fans have long suspected, as Ahsoka is seen dueling with her former master, Darth Vader.
The trailer is replete with nods to other elements of Star Wars. Hera’s father Cham Syndulla, a resistance fighter featured in a story arc of The Clone Wars, returns to help the rebels. And Princess Leia Organa, whose appearance Disney recently announced, is also shown bringing aid to the group.
But the biggest reveal in the trailer concerns Ezra Bridger, the youngest of the main rebels. Ezra, who has grown immensely from a street rat in season 1 to Kanan’s Force-strong trainee in season 2, seems troubled in this new trailer. He is shown seeking guidance from Yoda—now appearing visually as opposed to only audibly in his Rebels debut.
“Growing, your abilities are,” Yoda tells Ezra, “and with them—danger.”
Ezra’s struggles with the Force lead to one of the trailer’s most important moments. In a temple that looks a shrine to the dark side, Ezra grasps a holocron—a storage cube that can project holographic messages—and encounters someone who tells him, “You seek knowledge. Call me Old Master.”
We then see a face that, while shrouded in darkness, looks very familiar to fans of The Clone Wars.
Based on the faintly visible facial tattoos, this appears to be Darth Maul, who drew on the dark side to survive his seemingly fatal confrontation with Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace and ended up a servant of Darth Sidious at the end of an interesting arc in The Clone Wars.
But it’s the next important Ezra moment that might have fans buzzing even more. Later in the trailer, Ezra is shown wielding a crossguard lightsaber like the one Kylo Ren uses in The Force Awakens—except unlike Kylo’s, which we know was built poorly based on old schematics, Ezra’s green one seems stable.
What does this mean about the source of the knowledge that Kylo Ren uses to build his lightsaber? It’s unclear. But at one point in the trailer, a mysterious voice says of Ezra, “The dark side—it pulls at him. It calls to him.” Perhaps that’s Snoke, the Supreme Leader of the First Order in the new film, and perhaps Rebels is about to make an even larger jump than we can imagine.
Entertainment Weekly promises an interview about the trailer with series executive producer Dave Filoni later on Friday, so fans will soon know exactly who this mysterious figure is.
Screengrab via Star Wars/YouTube