Thanks to The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, there’s been renewed interest in the concept of the World Between Worlds — introduced in the final season of Star Wars Rebels.
Johnson and sequel trilogy star Daisy Ridley recently spoke with writer Sariah Wilson, who detailed some of their conversations on Twitter. Star Wars fans were quick to latch on to Johnson’s thoughts on The Last Jedi scene when Rey is inside the mysterious dark mirror cave on Ahch-To. There, she has several visions that are still up for interpretation.
Wilson said she asked Johnson if Rey saw Ben Solo in the visions. Johnson compared the scene to Luke entering the cave on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back.
"He (Johnson) saw it as Rey having to see that who she has to connect with and answer to is herself, because she had been looking for answers from Luke. She wants to know her place in this story and is reaching out to people to find it. He likes that it’s left open for interpretation."
Talk of the World Between Worlds sparked when Wilson asked if the Rey cave scene was connected to it. Johnson told her the scene was “internal for Rey” but “he hopes that we’ll get more WBW content in the future.”
What is the World Between Worlds?
So, what is the World Between Worlds and what does it have to do with Rey, Luke Skywalker and future Star Wars stories? Think of the place as a mystical, extradimensional plane within the Force but outside the normal realm of time and space. It was first seen in the final season of Star Wars Rebels and played a key role in the survival of Ahsoka Tano.
In the episode, padawan Ezra Bridger enters the World Between Worlds plane through a portal in the Jedi Temple on Lothal. He opens the portal by decrypting a painting of the ancient Mortis Force wielders: the Daughter, Father and Son. He also used a key given to him by the Loth-wolves, who were sentient, Force-sensitive creatures able to access the World Between Worlds.
While there, Ezra hears the voices of Ahsoka Tano, his late master Kanan Jarrus, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jin, among others. It’s a surreal, star-filled labyrinth of lit pathways, portals and glimpses of key moments in time that Ezra has the ability to enter and alter.
One of these portals shows the moment when Ahsoka fights Darth Vader so that Ezra and Kanan can escape on Malachor. The last time Ezra saw Ahsoka, it seemed as if she was moments away from death at the hands of her former master. So, Ezra reaches through the portal, grabs Ahsoka and brings her into the World Between Worlds.
In a crucial moment in Ezra’s Jedi training, Ahsoka tells him that this place is ancient and part of the Cosmic Force, of which his late master is now a part. In this place, Ezra also faces the temptation to save Kanan at the moment of his death. However, Ahsoka advises him to let go and honor Kanan’s sacrifice so that others may live. Ezra learns that Kanan is now part of the Force and continues to influence his life and the lives of others through the Loth-wolf.
Back in 2018, StarWars.com explored how the World Between Worlds “exemplifies the best of the Jedi philosophy”:
"Ironically, when Ezra looks out the door at Darth Vader earlier in the episode, it could be argued that the portal becomes a type of mirror for him. Rather than a reflection, this mirror shows how strongly the two characters are in opposition with one another. Had Anakin Skywalker been in a similar situation and had the chance to save Padmé, all of his previous actions suggest he would have done so. Unlike the Sith, Ezra proves that he will not try and cheat death or manipulate life."
Though Ezra was able to reach back in time and alter events to save Ahsoka, thus altering the future, that doesn’t mean the World Between Worlds is a gateway to safely changing the past for good or evil. In the same episode, Ahsoka and Ezra see Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious attempt to use the World Between Worlds to gain even more power over the Force.
But, its existence in the Star Wars canon does open up the possibility of changing certain parts of the timeline, or as some fans hope — retconning entire storylines. Last month, Dork Side of the Force writer Jason Ivey explained how a World Between Worlds appearance in a live-action film could make room for the Expanded Universe seen in the Legends literature while also providing a way for character reboots (i.e. Rey and Luke’s story arc).
While there are no confirmed plans to introduce the World Between Worlds in the live-action universe, eagle-eyed fans were quick to note that the art for the Ahsoka live-action series looks curiously similar to the mystical Force plane. With an appearance in Ahsoka, the World Between Worlds could let us see key events through her eyes and make Anakin Skywalker’s former padawan even more of a crucial character to the future of the Star Wars timeline.
What do you think about the possibility of the World Between Worlds being used in Ahsoka and future live-action Star Wars films? Let us know in the comments!