Even though Star Wars Rebels ended around five years ago, the animated series continues to be one of the most important and influential Star Wars stories. The two biggest Star Wars shows releasing in 2023 (The Mandalorian season 3 and Ahsoka) have been heavily shaped by the characters and events of Star Wars Rebels.
While audiences certainly don’t have to watch Rebels to enjoy and understand The Mandalorian or Ahsoka, there are certain Rebels episodes that will make these live-action series even more enjoyable and more understandable.
The best Rebels episodes to watch ahead of The Mandalorian season 3 and Ahsoka are those that focus on elements and characters such as the Darksaber, Mandalore, Bo-Katan Kryze, Ahsoka Tano, and Sabine Wren.
“The Siege of Lothal” (Season 2, Episodes 1-2)
The season 2 premiere of Star Wars Rebels features the pivotal moment when Ahsoka Tano learns that Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader and he learns that his apprentice survived.
Even though Anakin is dead by the time of the Ahsoka series, Hayden Christensen is reportedly in Ahsoka, where he will likely portray the the Force ghost of Anakin or bring him to life in flashbacks similar to what was seen in the fifth episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
A reunion between Ahsoka and her old master will hit much harder after watching “The Siege of Lothal.” It is also worth watching ahead of Ahsoka because it features the first time Ezra Bridger encounters Darth Vader. Ezra will play an important role in Ahsoka and his past with Vader as well could come into play.
“Twilight of the Apprentice” (Season 2, Episodes 21-22)
“Twilight of the Apprentice” includes the heartbreaking and long-awaited lightsaber duel between Ahsoka and Darth Vader. It is a point of no return for both characters as Ahsoka must accept that Anakin is gone and she can’t save him, which Vader confirms by doing everything in his power to kill his old apprentice.
It will be fascinating to see how Ahsoka reconciles with this all these years later, especially with now knowing that Luke Skywalker was ultimately about to reach Anakin and bring him back to the light. As far as the audience knows, “Twilight of the Apprentice” is the last time Ahsoka and her old master were together, which could make a potential reunion between her and his Force ghost quite complicated.
“Trials of the Darksaber” (Season 3, Episode 15)
With the Darksaber being such a pivotal piece of The Mandalorian, “Trials of the Darksaber” is a must-watch Rebels episode. It marks the first mention of the Mandalorian Jedi Tarre Vizsla and provides essential lore about the origins of the Darksaber and why it means so much to the Mandalorian people.
Sabine Wren’s struggles to master the Darksaber feel similar to some of the challenges that Din Djarin is seen having with the weapon in The Book of Boba Fett and that he will likely continue to have in The Mandalorian season 3, which makes Sabine an ideal candidate to train Din to wield the Darksaber.
Sabine is confirmed to be making her live-action debut in Ahsoka and many fans believe she will also appear in The Mandalorian season 3. “Trials of the Darksaber” is arguably the best Sabine episode in all of Rebels, a story in which she is forced to confront her greatest regrets and vulnerabilities and emerges stronger and wiser than ever before.
“Legacy of Mandalore” (Season 3, Episode 16)
“The Legacy of Mandalore” is an important episode for Sabine, the Darksaber, and the future of Mandalore. Having mastered the Darksaber, Sabine returns home with the legendary weapon. Using the Darksaber, she defeats Gar Saxon in combat, and when Sabine refuses to execute Saxon and turns her back on him, Ursa Wren shoots and kills him to save her daughter.
Under Saxon, the Mandalorian people were ruled and suppressed by the Empire, but Saxon’s defeat and his death are a momentous step towards liberation. The episode shows how far Sabine has come as a leader while also recognizing that she does not want to lead all of Mandalore.
Instead of immediately rejoining the Ghost crew and the rebellion, Sabine chooses to stay with her family and fellow Mandalorians so she can save her imprisoned father, find Mandalore’s true leader, and help liberate her people from the Empire once and for all.
Between bringing the Darksaber back among fellow Mandalorians, Sabine’s personal growth, and the Mandalorian defiance against the Empire, this is an important episode to watch before The Mandalorian season 3 and Ahsoka.
“Heroes of Mandalore” (Season 4, Episodes 1-2)
When the season 4 premiere of Rebels was released, it was an uplifting story where Mandalorians united and fully liberated Mandalore from the Empire. This culminated in Sabine giving the Darksaber to Bo-Katan Kryze, a true leader who the various Mandalorian clans believed in and wanted to follow.
The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett have made “Heroes of Mandalore” more tragic in retrospect. The live-action shows revealed that this hard-fought victory in Rebels was short-lived as the Empire retaliated by destroying Mandalore and massacring the Mandalorians in the Great Purge and the Night of a Thousand Tears. These tragedies and Bo-Katan’s inability to prevent them after being given the Darksaber explains why she doesn’t believe that Din Djarin or anyone else can just give her the Darksaber and that she must win it in combat.
But “Heroes of Mandalore” also highlights what makes Bo-Katan a great leader and that she doesn’t want to win at any cost. When Sabine wants to torture and kill Tiber Saxon and the stormtroopers with the weapon known as the Duchess, Bo-Katan helps Sabine understand that she must fight with honor instead of cowardice as the Empire does.
Through her guidance, she prevents Sabine from fully descending into a dark place and ensures that the deadly weapon is destroyed once and for all, with this wisdom and leadership being among the key reasons why Sabine believes Bo-Katan should have the Darksaber and lead Mandalore.
The Mandalorian season 3 will hopefully feature more of this kind of wisdom and leadership from Bo-Katan and there is a possibility that Sabine could be pushed to a dark place like this again in Ahsoka.
“A World Between Worlds” (Season 4, Episode 13)
“A World Between Worlds” shows how Ahsoka survives her duel with Darth Vader as Ezra uses the World Between Worlds to save her. This episode is needed to understand how Ahsoka is still alive in the time period of the “Mandoverse.”
Ahsoka’s convor companion Morai helps Ezra understand what he needs to do save her in the World Between Worlds. Morai can also be years later on the planet Corvus in The Mandalorian season 2 and will likely be in the Ahsoka series as well.
It remains to be seen if Ahsoka will further explore the World Between Worlds. At the very least, “A World Between Worlds” is necessary to understanding Ahsoka’s survival and why years later she is invested in finding and saving Ezra.
“Family Reunion – and Farewell” (Season 4, Episodes 15-16)
The Rebels series finale provides a satisfying conclusion while also setting up the story of Ahsoka and Sabine searching for Ezra. For years, fans speculated on what shape that story would take. Now it is clear that Ahsoka will tell that story, with Star Wars Celebration 2022 even showing Sabine looking at the mural from the Rebels finale.
Prior to the epilogue, “Family Reunion – and Farewell” shows Ezra’s sacrifice, which sets up why Ahsoka and Sabine need to search for him in the first place. Just like Rogue One seamlessly leads straight into A New Hope, it seems like the Rebels finale will seamlessly lead into Ahsoka.
The Mandalorian season 3 will debut on Disney+ on March 1.