Star Wars

Star Wars Just Rebooted a Fan-Favorite Villain — And It Could Fix a Major Canon Headache

Pellaeon is back, in canon form.

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Tom Jung cover art for 'Dark Force Rising'
Tom Jung/Del Rey

For old-school Star Wars fans hoping to see a resurrection of the 1990s Legends canon, The Mandalorian just dropped a very deep cut. At the top of Mando Season 3, Episode 7, we got a glimpse of “the Shadow Council,” made up of various warlords in what’s generally called the Imperial Remnant. Moff Gideon has a loud voice in this group, but so does a fellow with a gray mustache. His name is Captain Pellaeon, and his mere existence in the current Star Wars canon speaks volumes. The reintroduction of Pelleon could mean big things not just for The Mandalorian and Ahsoka, but for the dreams of Legends fans, too.

Within the context of The Mandalorian, Captain Pellaeon’s presence is the second time we’ve had a proxy of Grand Admiral Thrawn in the series. In Mando Season 2, Ahsoka confronted the Magistrate with the question: “Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?”

Captain Pellaeon in The Mandalorian.


For casual Star Wars fans, the better question might be: “Who is Grand Admiral Thrawn?” And the short answer to that is he’s a blue-skinned, red-eyed big bad Imperial Admiral who, in a trilogy of beloved Timothy Zahn novels, created a lot of headaches for Luke, Leia, and the New Republic. But, up until Rebels, Thrawn wasn’t considered part of the current Star Wars canon. Instead, he was retconned into a pre-New Hope character. Since then, Zahn has written several new Thrawn novels which canonized this version of the character in the context of the prequel era, which didn’t even exist in 1991 when Heir to the Empire — the first Thrawn book — was published.

So, in terms of Star Wars characters with complicated backstories, Thrawn is one of the weirdest, simply because he’s a composite of competing continuities. In the recently released Ahsoka trailer, she calls Thrawn the “heir to the Empire,” which implies the expanded Mando-verse of TV shows will hit similar beats as those ‘90s books. But at this point, Thrawn is as much of a Rebels character as a Legends character, so it’s possible the phrase “heir to the Empire” was just a fun Easter egg.

On the other hand, the fact Mando bothered to introduce Pellaeon feels huge. Yes, the character had a voiceover cameo in the 2018 Rebels finale, but that felt more like a nod to fans than an indication of future plans. In 2023, seeing the character in the flesh is a totally different experience, partly because what he’s talking about sounds reminiscent of how he behaved in Heir to the Empire back in 1991. The Mando-verse didn’t need to reintroduce Pellaeon to the canon just to be some random lackey for Thrawn; any character could serve that purpose. But, because the timeframe of Mando and Ahsoka is roughly the same timeframe that Heir to the Empire was in Legends canon, bringing in one of its characters in his exact Legends role feels pointed.

Whatever loose adaptation Mando and Ahsoka have planned for the Heir to the Empire storyline and Thrawn in particular isn’t clear. But Pellaeon’s presence indicates that it’s possible some of the same Imperial machinations from Legends are also happening in this canon. The idea that Pellaeon wants to keep Thrawn secret checks out with Legends, as does the implication that he and Thrawn have something up their sleeve. In Dark Force Rising — the second in the Thrawn Trilogy — Pellaeon and Thrawn get ahold of the Katana fleet, also called the Dark Force. This is a group of Dreadnaughts from the Old Republic, which operate without the need for crews on every ship.

Timothy Zahn with his rebooted Thrawn books.

Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

These books also posited the idea of Dark Jedi hanging around the Empire’s fleets to turn the tides of certain battles. “Sith” hadn’t caught on in the early ’90s, so the phrase Dark Jedi is used in its place in both the Thrawn books and the story that followed it in the chronology, the famous comic book series Dark Empire.

How does any of this fit into the new Star Wars shows? Well, we don’t know yet. But because Pellaeon is keeping his cards close to his vest, it’s possible he and Thrawn have found the Katana fleet and maybe some kind of Dark Jedi proxy to help them in their efforts. The Ahsoka trailer did, after all, introduce a mysterious and sinister-looking wielder of an orange lightsaber.

The details of all of this may not shake out the same way as in Timothy Zahn’s books, but just by putting Pellaeon on screen, The Mandalorian is suggesting that the core Star Wars canon is starting to dovetail with Legends, at least in the broad strokes. Now all we need is for someone to mention Mara Jade.

The Mandalorian streams on Disney+. Ahsoka drops in August.

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