'Rise of Skywalker' Theory: Mara Jade in 'Mandalorian' Sets Up Palps' Return

The Emperor's Hand — and Luke's long lost wife — is rumored to be returning to canon. Will it change the last Skywalker film?


If you remember playing Decipher Inc.’s Star Wars: Customizable Card Game back during the turn of the century, then let me just start by saying, I don’t think the Asteroid Sanctuary decks were a cheap way to win; I think you’re cheap! Okay. Now that that’s out of the way, remember when Star Wars was so loosey-goosey that Luke Skywalker’s sworn enemy/sometimes girlfriend/mother of his child existed in Star Wars canon because of comic books, trading cards, and novels? Back then, actress Shannon McRandle was the face of Mara Jade for the Star Wars card games, and while there’s no reason to believe McRandle herself will return to “play” Mara, we’re all suddenly wondering if the most famous EU/Legends character is returning to canon. Certain comments suggest that Mara Jade could maybe appear in The Mandalorian, but what would that mean for The Rise of Skywalker?

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly Jon Favreau responded to a question on whether or not Mara Jade could appear in The Mandalorian by saying ““I don’t want to talk about anything that might be fun for people to discover.” Okay, so this is by no means a confirmation that Mara Jade could suddenly be re-canonized, but because it wasn’t an outright “no,” it’s exactly enough to get everyone excited. Previously, the creator of Mara Jade — novelist Timothy Zahn — had suggested he didn’t think there was a way for the character to return to canon, even though Grand Admiral Thrawn (who originated in the same book, Heir to the Empire, has been reintegrated into official lore.) Still, for now, just to be clear, there is no actual news that Mara Jade is back, but if the character did appear in The Mandalorian it would work really well with the timeline and could feasibly set-up the return of Emperor Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker.

Shannon McRandle as Mara Jade in the year 2000 for the the Lucasfilm-approved Star Wars Customizable Card Game

Lucasfilm/Decipher Inc.

Mara Jade’s First Job Means She Could Help Bring Back Palpatine

In the 1991 novel Heir to the Empire, Mara Jade was a cranky former spy who had worked for the Emperor as an assassin. Her title was “The Emperor’s Hand” and her job was to kill Luke Skywalker. Mara was not a Sith, but she was trained to use a lightsaber and eventually, she would turn to the Light Side of the Force and ended-up marrying Luke Skywalker. But, before that, she was basically the most covert secret badass in the entire Empire and 1000 percent loyal to Emperor Palpatine.

Right now, Mara Jade isn’t canon, but if she was rebooted, her existing backstory would place her in a perfect position to put events into motion that could help bring Palpatine back to life. If The Mandalorian introduces a young post-Return of the Jedi Mara Jade, perhaps it could hint at the idea that she’s working on a super-secret side-gig that involves bringing her old boss back to life thirty years in the future.

Mara Jade and R2-D2 in the Dark Horse Comics version of 'Heir to the Empire'

Dark Horse Comics, Lucasfilm, Marvel

The Timeline and Characters Match-Up

In Legends canon, Heir to the Empire took place exactly five years after Return of the Jedi. And now, The Mandalorian takes place five years after Return of the Jedi, too. What was Mara Jade doing in old Legends canon at this point in time? If you’re one of those people who got into arguments in 1999 about weird rules in the Star Wars card game, then you know the answer is: She was a freaking smuggler! This fact alone makes the appearance of Mara Jade in The Mandalorian near-perfect. The entire show is set to deal with bounty hunters, thieves, and all sorts of wretched hives of scum, villainy, and probably a few nerf-herders, too. Throwing Mara into that kind of mix makes perfect sense.

Luke Skywalker and his wife, Mara Jade Skywalker

Dark Horse Comics

A New Mara Jade Doesn’t Have to Be Luke’s Love Interest

If Mara Jade was reintroduced to canon, the character wouldn’t necessarily have the same trajectory as she did in the old books, comics, and games. For example, in the books, after they were married in the Michael Stackpole comic series Union, Luke and Mara eventually had a son named Ben Skywalker, but obviously, there’s no way this happened in current canon since it would be really weird to have two Bens in the family.

In fact, Mara Jade becoming Luke’s wife is the least interesting thing about the character, and would be the smartest thing to drop if she’s brought back into official canon. After all, when Grand Admiral Thrawn was brought back for Star Wars Rebels it’s not like he was conspiring with a Dark Jedi Master named Joruus C’baoth, that would have been weird. So, if Mara did come back for either (or both) The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker, the Skywalker-family aspect could easily be left behind. Some fans — including former Mara actress Shannon McRandle— didn’t really think the marriage stuff worked anyway. “[I] liked her least when she was getting married… I thought the fussing over the wedding dress in the comic was a little unlike her,” McRandle said in a 2014 interview.

Zorri Bliss

Vanity Fair

Zorri Bliss Could Be Mara Jade

People love having more than one name in Star Wars! Could that mean that Kerri Russell’s new helmeted Rise of Skywalker smuggler character — the mysterious Zorri Bliss — could actually be Mara Jade in disguise? If so, that revelation would be pretty weird if the casual viewer hadn’t seen Mara Jade prior to the movie coming out. But, if a younger version of Mara was introduced (even briefly!) in The Mandalorian it could be amazing.

The idea that someone won’t’ have watched all of The Mandalorian prior to seeing The Rise of Skywalker is, of course, possible, but it seems really unlikely. Everyone is going to watch The Mandalorian when it hits Disney+ in exactly two months. They just are. So, if Lucasfilm and Disney are smart, they will plant some kind of seed or Easter egg in The Mandalorian that will lead directly (or indirectly) to events in The Rise of Skywalker. It might be something about the Sith Fleet. It might be something about Palpatine. These are just guesses.

But, if Lucasfilm did bring Mara Jade back to canon, and suddenly depict the character in two separate time frames over the course of a month, it would be perhaps the most amazing and shocking gift to Star Wars fans in the history of the franchise. It might be a pipe dream, but we got Thrawn back, remember? Never tell me the odds!

The Mandalorian will debut its first episode on Disney+ on November 12, 2019. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will hit theaters on December 20, 2019

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