Warning: This article contains spoilers from Ahsoka‘s two-episode premiere.
In the buildup to Ahsoka, there was a great deal of speculation about which characters from Star Wars animation would make an appearance. Between Ahsoka Tano, Sabine Wren, Hera Syndulla, Chopper, Professor Huyang, Ezra Bridger, and Grand Admiral Thrawn, the series was already confirmed to feature many animated characters from The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. With these characters already on the table, it seemed inevitable that more familiar faces from animation would join them.
Ahsoka‘s first episode, “Master and Apprentice,” featured a pleasant surprise with the live-action debut of Governor Ryder Azadi, played by Clancy Brown. Brown voiced Ryder in Rebels and lent his talents to many other Star Wars roles, including Darth Maul’s brother Savage Opress in The Clone Wars and Burg in The Mandalorian.
While speaking to the people of Lothal in the Ahsoka premiere, Ryder unveils a mural of the Ghost crew, the same mural first seen in the epilogue of the Rebels series finale. The mural is unveiled on the anniversary of the Battle of Lothal when Ezra and Sabine led the efforts to liberate the planet of the Empire.
Ahsoka alludes to Ryder’s history with Ezra, Sabine, and the Ghost crew during his speech and when Ahsoka arrives on Lothal. Instead of being angry about Sabine missing the ceremony unveiling the mural, Ryder expresses that she was sincerely missed. He also tells Sabine, “You’re gonna wanna hear what she has to say,” when Ahsoka arrives because he knows how much an opportunity to find Ezra means to Sabine.
Let’s look at Ryder’s history which is only alluded to in Ahsoka.
Ryder Azadi’s history
Ryder was Governor of Lothal during the early years of the Empire’s reign but secretly aided rebellious activity, including the actions of Ezra’s parents, Mira and Ephraim Bridger. Ryder was eventually removed from office, charged with treason, and sent to prison alongside the Bridgers.
He first appeared in the Rebels season 2 episode “Legacy” after escaping imprisonment. Ryder revealed that Ezra’s broadcast urging rebellion against the Empire inspired his parents and led to an escape attempt in the Imperial prison. Ryder got away, but Ezra’s parents tragically died during the escape attempt.
Ryder initially wanted to just keep a low profile so he wouldn’t be incarcerated again in an Imperial prison. That began to change when he helped the Ghost crew and Leia Organa get ships off of Lothal that would help the Rebellion.
While the Ghost crew was busy traveling around the galaxy on missions for the larger Rebellion, Ryder led a rebel cell on Lothal. Ezra, Sabine, and the Ghost crew worked alongside Ryder whenever they returned to Lothal. Under Ryder’s leadership, the rebel cell sabotaged vehicles produced at Lothal’s Imperial factories.
As the Empire began producing a formidable new ship called the TIE Defender and the Imperial occupation worsened on Lothal, Ryder appealed to the Rebellion’s leadership for aid. The Rebellion prepared an attack on Lothal’s Imperial factories, but the attack never happened as the rebels’ base on Atollon was discovered by Thrawn, with his fleet destroying the base and most of the forces they’d assembled.
The Ghost crew later found a way past the Imperial blockade and were rescued by Ryder when they returned to Lothal. They worked with Ryder and his rebel cell to end the production of the TIE Defender and ultimately liberate Lothal from the Empire. He witnessed Ezra allowing himself and Thrawn to be taken into hyperspace by the purrgil.
It is gratifying to see in Ahsoka that Ryder not only survived after the events of Rebels but was reinstated as Governor of Lothal and continues to hold that position years later. It is also gratifying to see that Jai Kell, a member of Ryder’s rebel cell, is now Senator of Lothal.
Having Brown play Ryder in live-action was the right choice as he not only has the voice but also looks like Ryder did in animation. After all of Brown’s contributions to various Star Wars media, he finally gets a chance to show his face.
Ryder may or may not appear in future episodes of Ahsoka, but his inclusion in the premiere was exciting for Rebels fans and incorporated seamlessly. He helped communicate the essentials that all audiences need to know about Ezra, Sabine, and Lothal, along with showing how the planet is prospering and hasn’t forgotten the fight for their freedom. When Ahsoka and Sabine finally find Ezra, Ryder would definitely be overjoyed to see him again.