In Star Wars, when you see a creature that reminds you of a specific character, it might not actually be that character. Grogu, for example, is not Yoda, despite what some people originally thought. The Kowakian monkey-lizards hanging around on The Mandalorian aren’t Salacious Crumb. Not every astromech droid is R2-D2.
So, on this week’s episode of The Mandalorian, when a certain familiar-looking character from Star Wars animation arrived, your first instinct may have been to assume that it wasn’t who you thought it was. But it was, 100 per cent, and here’s what we know about them.
The moment happens early in Chapter 21 of The Mandalorian, “The Pirate.” We’re at the Adelphi base where all manner of New Republic pilots are hanging out. We see three Star Wars directors among them (Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa), and then there’s that big purple guy.
As Carson Teva listens to Greef Karga’s message, he’s joined by a large purple alien. This is a species called Lasat — and this particular Lasat is the one you think he is. The episode’s credits confirm it’s none other than Zeb Orrelios, one of the key members of the Ghost crew from the Disney XD animated series Star Wars Rebels. He was part of the team that consisted of Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, Hera Snydulla, and Sabine Wren — the stars of the hit animated show, of which Filoni was the main showrunner. Plus, Steve Blum who did Zeb’s voice on Rebels does his voice here too.
So what does this mean and what do we know about Zeb? Lots of things. Zeb, which is short for Garazeb, is a Lasat, a very large, agile species originally from the planet Lira San. However, at some point, most of them moved to another planet called Lasan. That’s where Zeb was born and some years later the Imperial Empire all but destroyed the entire species.
When fans first met Zeb on Star Wars Rebels, that’s who he is. A strong, fearless warrior who believed himself to be one of the last (if not the very last) Lasat beings in the galaxy. So when he was discovered by a Jedi Knight in hiding, Kanan Jarrus, he joined up with him and his crew to fight the Empire. That crew, which also included pilot Hera Syndulla and Mandalorian Sabine Wren, eventually recruited a Force-sensitive boy named Ezra Bridger. Everything that comes next is the story you see through four seasons of Star Wars Rebels.
In terms of Zeb’s role all throughout Rebels, his biggest storyline — in addition to being a great member of the team — came with his eventual run-in with an Imperial officer named Kallus. Kallus was among the Imperials who helped destroy the Lasat people, so obviously Zeb hates him. But when the pair are forced to help each other survive, they become friends. Kallus eventually joins the Rebellion and, later, Zeb takes him back to Lira San where it’s revealed the Lasat people have not been all killed; they’re in hiding, but they’re thriving. Zeb and Kallus settle there, maybe even together.
Speaking with Gizmodo after the Rebels finale back in 2018, show creator Filoni was open to the idea of Zeb and Kallus being in love, though it’s not explicitly on screen. “Some people, I think, earlier on were like ‘How could he ever forgive Kallus for what happened?’ But you kind of have to go, ‘Exactly. How can he and what does that mean?’” Filoni said. “Isn’t that amazing if he can? Does the outcome have to be those two characters would destroy each other? Or is it more compelling that they find this ground together and start this new life, what does that mean? So I think that’s the more interesting, encouraging ending, frankly.” You can read much more about the ship at this link.
With this new revelation that at some point after the fall of the Empire, Zeb is at Adelphi, in what appears to be a pilot’s suit, we can now guess he once again joined the fight. Did he do so with Hera? Sabine? Will we see him on the Ahsoka show? Those are questions for another episode.
Here’s the other thing we’ll say about this reveal. Earlier in this season of The Mandalorian, we saw space whales, much like the ones Ezra Bridger escaped with. Now we see Zeb in a scene that also features Filoni. This show, very explicitly, is setting us up to see Star Wars Rebels characters, and the Star Wars Rebels story, continue in live action. Especially with Zeb here. Zeb was, obviously, the biggest challenge in terms of adaptation. If Filoni and the team can do Zeb — well, Ezra, Hera, Thrawn, they’ve all got to be on the table.
Watch Zeb’s live-action debut on The Mandalorian here.
Want more Gizmodo news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.
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