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The Mandalorian spin-offs Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic explained

Ahsoka Tano
Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano in The Mandalorian – now she's headlining her own show. (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)
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Spoilers ahead.

The Mandalorian feels like a show built with spin-off opportunities in mind. Almost every season 2 episode has featured or introduced a character with the potential to carry their own Star Wars series, from newcomers such as Tatooine marshal Cobb Vanth, to bona fide legends like Boba Fett.

Now Disney Plus has confirmed the first two The Mandalorian spin-off TV shows. At the Disney Investor Day 2020 – which took place on December 10 – Lucasfilm announced that Ahsoka (focusing on Anakin Skywalker’s former apprentice, Ahsoka Tano), and Rangers of the New Republic have been given a greenlight.

They’ll join an exciting roster of new Star Wars TV shows, including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Rogue One prequel Andor, Clone Wars spin-off The Bad Batch, Lando (about legendary scoundrel Lando Calrissian), The High Republic-set The Acolyte, and R2-D2/C-3PO show A Droid story.

With the most recent Star Wars movie releases having proved incredibly divisive among the fanbase, it makes sense for Disney Plus to double down on TV. And The Mandalorian is the logical jumping off point: Mando and Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) cross paths with new people and planets every week, while the hit show’s post-Return of the Jedi setting is one of the great unexplored time periods of Star Wars canon.

So now that Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic are officially the first The Mandalorian spin-offs heading our way, we speculate on what to expect, how their plots could crossover, and which other characters could be worthy of their own shows.

Ahsoka Tano

Rosario Dawson will be headlining the new Ahsoka spin-off show. (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Ahsoka 

Yoda said that Luke Skywalker would be the last of the Jedi after he passed away on Dagobah. While that’s technically true – Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan never attained full Jedi status – Ahsoka Tano has all the Force-sensitive, lightsaber-wielding attributes to be mentioned in the same breath.

Casting a star of the status of Rosario Dawson for Ahsoka’s live-action debut in The Mandalorian was a huge statement of intent (Ashley Eckstein voiced the character in the animated TV shows). It proved that the former The Clone Wars/Star Wars Rebels fan favorite is still a big deal in the world of The Mandalorian, that her story – which had already spanned a couple of decades of canon – was far from over. Even though Mando and Grogu left her on Corvus in season 2 episode ‘The Jedi’, she clearly still has a major role to play in that galaxy far, far away.

What will the Ahsoka spin-off show be about? Lucasfilm aren’t short of possibilities. While Grogu’s attachment to Mando made Tano reluctant to train the kid, that doesn’t mean she won’t help others to connect with the Force – indeed, there’s a possibility she could cross paths with Luke, though it’s important to note that the Skywalkers rarely appear outside the movie Saga that bears their name. And having spent a lengthy period in the time-and-space-straddling ‘World Between Worlds’, Ahsoka arguably has a unique perspective on the Force.

We know from ‘The Jedi’ that she’s trying to track down Imperial bigwig Grand Admiral Thrawn, so the hunt for the Star Wars Rebels villain could be the driving force of the new show. She may also be looking for Ezra Bridger, the trainee Jedi who went missing with Thrawn at the end of Star Wars Rebels. In Star Wars Rebels’ epilogue, set after the events of Return of the Jedi, Ahsoka and Rebel Mandalorian Sabine Wren set out to track down Bridger, though we’re not sure if that scene takes place before or after The Mandalorian.

“It's possible that the story I'm telling in The Mandalorian actually takes place prior to that,” The Mandalorian writer/director (and former Clone Wars/Rebels showrunner) Dave Filoni told Vanity Fair (opens in new tab). “Possible. I’m saying it’s possible.”

We should add that the new Ahsoka spin-off is in excellent hands. Filoni himself is writer and executive producer on the show and, seeing as he’s had a hand in telling the character’s entire story arc, you could argue there’s no person on planet Earth more qualified for the job.

Carson Teva

Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Carson Teva in The Mandalorian: could he be headlining Rangers of the New Republic? (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Rangers of the New Republic

At the moment there’s little concrete intel on this The Mandalorian spin-off aside from its title, and the fact it’ll be set in the same time period as the parent show. That’s still plenty to go on, however.

The Mandalorian takes place around five years after the destruction of the second Death Star, so the Star Wars galaxy is in a state of flux. With Emperor Palpatine (presumed) dead, the New Republic and Imperial remnants are vying for control of the Outer Rim. Everyone else is simply doing their best to make their way in the universe, which makes this an incredibly rich period for potential stories.

The Mandalorian may already have introduced us to key protagonists of the show. New Republic X-wing pilot Carson Teva (played by Kim’s Convenience’s Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) has cropped up a couple of times (to date) in The Mandalorian season 2, and he’s more than a mere flyboy – in fact, he’s the closest thing to interplanetary law enforcement operating in the Outer Rim.

With the New Republic stretched thin and clearly struggling to control the post-Empire galaxy, Teva’s already realized that former Imperials pose a threat to law and order. His efforts to uphold the law, investigate potential Imperial remnants and convince his superiors the Empire is still a threat could make for a worthwhile interstellar cop show.

And he may have help on his mission, having persuaded former Rebel Alliance shock trooper Cara Dune (Gina Carano) to join the New Republic cause. Now a marshal on Nevarro, her efforts to clean up the Outer Rim world after the Empire’s departure could form a key pillar of the new show – especially if she could be tempted off world for the occasional adventure, as she has been on The Mandalorian.

She’s already shown she’s exceptionally skilled at bringing down criminal gangs, and crucially, a spin-off show would be a good excuse to expand on her fun double act with town magistrate – and Mando’s former bounty hunting boss – Greef Karga (Carl Weathers).

Greef Karga and Cara Dune

Gina Carano as Cara Dune and Carl Weathers as Greef Karga: will they appear in Rangers of the New Republic? (Image credit: DIsney/Lucasfilm)

Crossovers

The connective tissue shared between The Mandalorian, Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic will go beyond existing in the same period in Star Wars canon. “These interconnected shows, along with future stories, will excite new audiences, embrace our most passionate fans and will culminate in a climactic story event,” Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the Disney Investor Day.

That suggests Lucasfilm is bringing Marvel Cinematic Universe levels of interweaving continuity to its Star Wars TV series. Indeed, we’re expecting something akin to the Arrowverse’s spectacular crossover events, or Marvel’s street-level superhero shows, where standalone Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist series culminated in the Defenders team-up.

Whether Ahsoka, Mando and the Rangers of the New Republic occasionally appear in each other’s shows – or we have to wait for them to join forces to thwart some colossal threat – this has to be great news for the Star Wars universe.

Other potential The Mandalorian spin-offs

Kathleen Kennedy alluded to “future stories” at the Disney Investor Day, so there’s no reason The Mandalorian spin-offs have to stop with Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic. Here are three other The Mandalorian characters that we think are worthy of their own shows.

Cobb Vanth

Timothy Olyphant as Cobb Vanth in The Mandalorian season 2. (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Cobb Vanth

Movie Westerns were a major influence on the original 1977 Star Wars, but the franchise has never borrowed more heavily from the wild frontier than in The Mandalorian season 2 episode ‘The Marshal’. As the eponymous marshal of the small town of Mos Pelgo, Cobb Vanth was a good man trying to make a difference on the lawless planet of Tatooine.

Luke Skywalker’s former home has always been a touchstone of the franchise – the desert world appears in six of the nine Saga movies – and since the death of Jabba the Hutt and the departure of the Empire, it’s an ideal breeding ground for wretched hives of scum and villainy.

Even without Boba Fett’s box-of-tricks armour, Vanth – who first appeared in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath novels – would be the ideal guide to transport us through a world of Tusken Raiders, Jawas and Krayt dragons. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s played by Timothy Olyphant, who has plenty of cowboy experience from his time on Deadwood (and he played a marshal on FX's excellent Justified, where he also wore a cowboy hat).

Boba Fett

A Boba Fett TV show would be many Star Wars fans' dream come true. (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Boba Fett

Crucially, a Boba Fett spin-off would not have to portray Han Solo’s nemesis an out-and-out villain. The Mandalorian has revealed him to be a man of honor, keeping his word to protect Grogu even after the child is captured by Moff Gideon’s Imperial forces. That’s significantly more depth of character than we ever got in the movies.

Ever since his debut in an animated segment of 1978’s much-mocked Star Wars Holiday Special, Boba Fett has been one of the most popular characters in the universe George Lucas created. Fett never said anything of significance – he speaks just four lines in the whole of the original trilogy – but that super-cool Mandalorian armor is something extremely desirable action figures are made of.

While Return of the Jedi gave the cloned son of Jango a mediocre departure – his hapless tumble into the Sarlacc is borderline farcical – The Mandalorian season 2 has made the bounty hunter’s escape from a thousand-year digestion process canon. Now that they’ve gone to the effort of resurrecting Fett, it seems unlikely that Lucasfilm would let such an iconic character in that galaxy far, far away go to waste.

Temuera Morrison – who’d previously played Jango Fett in the prequels and now supplies Boba’s lines in The Empire Strikes Back – is game for a return to the role after season 2. “I’m just going to have to wait and see,” he told the New York Times (opens in new tab). “I think a lot of it depends on how things go with this season, but I don’t really know. I wanted to bring everything I had to that [episode] and give them a glimmer of what I can offer. There’s room for this to go some place. I hope I’m going to be included.”

There are definitely stories to be told now Fett has his armor – and ship, Slave I – back. Beyond the mystery of how he freed himself from the Sarlacc, we’d love to see how he re-establishes himself in the post-Jabba criminal underworld. How many of the other bounty hunters Darth Vader dispatched to track down Han Solo are still in business? Fett could easily cross paths with 4-LOM, Zuckuss, IG-88 or Bossk, or – even more likely – Dengar.

Dengar was Fett’s BFF in the old Legends continuity and, as SlashFilm (opens in new tab) revealed, he may survived all the way to The Rise of Skywalker, more than 25 years later – albeit in a grotesque, cybernetically augmented form. Maybe Fett shared some of the robotics expertise he picked up fixing up fellow bounty hunter Fennec Shand – a character now confirmed to appear in animated Clone Wars spin-off The Bad Batch.

Simon Pegg played Dengar in The Clone Wars, and he told Collider (opens in new tab) that he’s open to coming back. “I’ve mentioned it a few times, but surely, if Taika [Waititi, who directed the season 1 finale and voiced bounty droid IG-11] and [showrunner Jon] Favreau decide to bring Dengar into The Mandalorian, then I have some formmhaving played him in Star Wars Battlefront and The Clone Wars. So just saying. I heard they just employed Katee Sackhoff to play a character that wasn’t in the movies but she played it before in a different Star Wars thing, so just saying…”

Crucially, a Boba Fett spin-off would not have to portray Han Solo’s nemesis an out-and-out villain. The Mandalorian has revealed him to be a man of honour, keeping his word to protect Grogu even after the child is captured by Moff Gideon’s Imperial forces. That’s significantly more depth of character than we ever saw in the movies.

Bo-Katan Kryze

Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze in The Mandalorian season 2. (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Bo-Katan Kryze

While Ahsoka Tano was recast when she moved from animation to live-action, former Battlestar Galactica star Katee Sackhoff reprised her role as Bo-Katan Kryze, rightful ruler of the Mandalorian people. Like Rosario Dawson and Timothy Olyphant, she’s a big name who could easily front her own show.

Where The Mandalorian is focused on a singular hero, any Bo-Katan spin-off could come with an Aliens-style plural, based around Kryze’s quest to unite a race all but wiped out by the Empire’s Great Purge on Mandalore. As well as crossing paths with the Armorer and other members of Mando’s covert from Nevarro, Bo-Katan could potentially run into Sabine Wren and other Mandalorians looking for a leader, and a new home.

Most importantly, however, Bo-Katan has considerable motivation to take the fight to the Empire, particularly Moff Gideon, who played a pivotal role in the Purge. Her quest to retrieve the sacred darksaber could be a key plot driver in any spin-off.

The final episode of The Mandalorian season 2 is available to stream on Disney Plus on Friday December 18.

Richard is a freelance journalist specialising in movies and TV, primarily of the sci-fi and fantasy variety. An early encounter with a certain galaxy far, far away started a lifelong love affair with outer space, and these days Richard's happiest geeking out about Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and other long-running pop culture franchises. In a previous life he was editor of legendary sci-fi magazine SFX, where he got to interview many of the biggest names in the business – though he'll always have a soft spot for Jeff Goldblum who (somewhat bizarrely) thought Richard's name was Winter.