Warning: This article contains spoilers from Ahsoka’s two-episode premiere.
The marketing for Ahsoka showed that the series would be deeply connected to Star Wars Rebels. Ahsoka‘s trailers revealed Rebels characters such as Sabine Wren, Hera Syndulla, Ezra Bridger, and Grand Admiral Thrawn making their live-action debuts, with much of the plot hinging on the search for Ezra and Thrawn.
These connections opened the door for other Rebels characters to appear, a possibility that was delivered on in Ahsoka‘s first episode with the appearances of Lothal’s Governor Ryder Azadi and Senator Jai Kell. While Ryder is played by Clancy Brown, the same actor who voiced the character in Rebels, live-action Jai is played by comedian Vinny Thomas instead of Jai’s Rebels voice actor Dante Basco.
During Ahsoka‘s first episode, Sabine disappears during the ceremony celebrating the Liberation of Lothal and the unveiling of the Ghost crew mural. Ryder has an unprepared Jai speak to the people of Lothal while he stalls and tries to locate Sabine, who was supposed to speak at the ceremony.
Let’s look at Jai’s history and connections to Ezra, Sabine, Ryder, and other Rebels characters in Ahsoka.
Jai Kell’s history
Jai Kell was introduced as an Imperial cadet in the Rebels season 1 episode “Breaking Ranks.” When Ezra infiltrates the Imperial Academy on Lothal, he and Jai become friends and are among the top-performing cadets in their class, along with another cadet named Zare Leonis.
While Ezra is there to gather intelligence to help the Ghost crew stop an Imperial shipment of kyber crystals, Zare is there to find out what happened to his sister, a former Imperial cadet who the Empire claimed went missing.
Ezra and Zare help each other, but Ezra also feels compelled to help Jai when learning that he and Jai have met “special criteria” that make the Grand Inquisitor want to meet them. Ezra knows nothing good will happen from Jai meeting the Grand Inquisitor and feels compelled to save him. After some persuading, Jai agrees to escape the Academy alongside Ezra and Zare.
They successfully escape, although Zare chooses to stay behind as he is still determined to learn the truth about his sister. His story is continued in the Servants of the Empire novels. Hera tells Jai that she will help him and his mother go into hiding from the Empire.
Jai was not seen again until Rebels season 4. When the Ghost crew returns to Lothal, and Ezra and Sabine walk into Old Jho’s cantina, which Imperials now run, Jai is there to get them out of trouble. Jai became part of Ryder’s rebel cell on Lothal and was instructed by Ryder to wait at the cantina for when Ezra and the Ghost crew returned to Lothal. With Jai’s help, the Ghost crew can escape the Imperials pursuing them and reach Ryder and his rebel camp.
Throughout season 4, Jai remains a member of Ryder’s rebel cell and aids the Ghost crew on numerous occasions. He helps recover a hyperdrive from a prototype of the TIE Defender Elite, plants explosives to sabotage the Empire’s anti-air-defenses and plays a part in capturing Governor Arihnda Pryce, which is the first step in the Liberation of Lothal.
Jai Kell during Ahsoka
By the time of Ahsoka, Jai is now the Senator of Lothal and the planet’s New Republic representative. It is rewarding to see that he and Ryder continued to help Lothal and that they are still working closely together, even after the planet was freed from the Empire and now during the New Republic era,
Jai has come a long way from the Imperial cadet who had to be convinced to defect from the Empire. Some senators in Star Wars, and certainly in the real world as well, don’t care about their constituents, but Jai’s history makes him a politician who will actually care about the people he represents and will always fight for what they deserve.
As someone who has known Ezra from his earliest days as a Jedi and rebel, Jai would be thrilled if Ahsoka Tano, Sabine, and Hera could find Ezra. It would be nice to show a reunion scene between Jai and Ezra, even if it’s brief.
Finding Ezra likely also means finding Thrawn, which Jai won’t be so thrilled about as the return of Thrawn threatens the safety of Lothal and the entire New Republic.
The “special criteria” that Jai met at the Imperial Academy in Rebels hinted that he may be Force-sensitive. Rebels season 4 didn’t explore this, and Ahsoka probably won’t explore it either, but there is always a chance that it will come up again, especially as Sabine resumes her Jedi training and with Ezra’s upcoming return.
Jai may or may not be in future Ahsoka episodes, but his live-action debut was a pleasant surprise for Rebels fans, and he certainly has enough connections to Ahsoka‘s main characters and plot to warrant another appearance in the show.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the Star Wars content being covered here wouldn’t exist.