Major spoilers ahead for Episodes 10 and 11 of Star Wars Rebels, called "Jedi Night" and "DUME." If you haven't caught the episodes yet and don't want to be spoiled rotten, check out some of our non-spoilery articles.
The midseason premiere episodes of Star Wars Rebels Season 4 were some of the most heartbreaking and game-changing of the entire series to date. The events of "Jedi Night" and "DUME" shaped the entire Star Wars timeline in a way that sets the stage for what's next. Given that Rebels is coming to an end in the not-too-distant future, Star Wars fans probably won't be too surprised to discover the show explaining more and more about the galaxy far, far away in the timeline right before the events of Rogue One. Read on for a breakdown of four big ways Star Wars Rebels just set the stage for the next chapter in the Star Wars saga!
Project Stardust Vs. TIE Defenders
In "Jedi Night," Thrawn had a chat with Tarkin about the future of his TIE Defender project on Lothal. As it turns out, the TIE Defender project is in competition with Project Stardust, a.k.a. the Death Star construction as managed by Director Krennic and sabotaged by Galen Erso. Tarkin isn't a fan of Stardust and thinks that it's been a drain of money, and he believes there's more potential in the Defenders. Still, Thrawn is tasked with going to the Emperor and making a case for the Defenders in person. Rogue One revealed that Stardust will win the day with the Emperor, and Rebels just established that a lot of progress has been made on Stardust. The circumstances aren't clear yet, but Krennic will evidently out-pitch Thrawn to the Emperor.
TIE Defender Project In Trouble
Star Wars Rebels proved prior to the midseason premiere episodes that the TIE Defenders could easily pose a bigger threat to rebels than a giant planet-killing machine. Defenders possess hyperdrives and shield generators that make them infinitely more valuable than the regular old TIE fighters that are blown up on the regular. Unfortunately for Thrawn and his Defender project, Governor Pryce's decision to blow up the fuel depot to kill the Ghost crew resulted in the loss of the Empire's entire fuel reserve on Lothal. Worse, she only succeeded in killing one of them, and her decision to blow up the fuel effectively completed the rebels' mission to stop TIE Defender production. It was terrible timing for Thrawn as he went on his not-so-merry way to see the Emperor. It may turn out that Governor Pryce's decision may be what pushes the Emperor to go all-in on the Death Star, and we all know what happens to the Death Star.
Growing Conflict In Imperial Leadership
Given that most Imperial officers have always seemed to be driven more by ambition than by any kind of altruism, there's been conflict within the leadership all along. After the events of "Jedi Night" and "DUME," however, the conflict in Imperial leadership is on the verge of self-sabotage. Thrawn is currently furious with Governor Pryce for blowing up the fuel reserve (and losing Hera). Tarkin won't exactly be happy with Thrawn if the TIE Defender project is ruined and Stardust moves forward, and the Emperor will have to put all his evil eggs in the Death Star basket, which may not please him. Minister Tua and Kallus' defections proved that Imperial officers can turn on their fellows if the circumstances are right; the growing conflict within Imperial leadership this close to the original trilogy means that the Empire is fast-approaching its dysfunctional Rogue One-era status quo. At this point, the biggest question is really what happens to Thrawn ahead of Rogue One.
Yes, the seemingly inevitable happened in "Jedi Night." Kanan Jarrus was killed when Governor Pryce fired on the fuel depot. He died after he used the Force to hold back the explosion long enough for Hera, Ezra, and Sabine to escape. In addition to giving his family the chance the escape, Kanan's redirect of the explosion resulted in the destruction of the fuel depot and possibly the end of the TIE Defender project. Additionally, his death explains why no Jedi were running around Yavin in Rogue One even though Hera, Chopper, and the Ghost were all present. If Kanan was still alive and in the mix as a Jedi, Mon Mothma would never have needed to ask Bail Organa to call his Jedi friend for help. Basically, if Kanan hadn't died, the Death Star plans might not have made it to Tatooine, and Luke Skywalker (who actually had a cameo on Rebels last season) might have just kept drinking blue milk and using his T-16 to bullseye womp rats.