Two branches of the Star Wars galaxy are now locked together. A number of references to the DisneyXD animated series Rebels are embedded throughout Rogue One, marking the first big-screen crossover for Lucasfilm’s TV storyline. Rebels is currently in the middle of its third season, chronicling the rise of the resistance to the Imperial dictatorship, and it has frequently incorporated elements from the feature films in its storytelling, such a scheming Lando Calrissian and a teenage Princess Leia from the original trilogy, an aging Darth Maul from the prequels, and an ancient variation on Kylo Ren’s crossguard lightsaber from The Force Awakens. With Rogue One, the goal was to return the favor and deepen the bonds between the different story platforms.
The Rebels element getting the most screen time was the Ghost, the octagonal light freighter the heroes of the show use to cruise the galaxy. It can be seen several times in the massive battle sequence over the tropical world Scarif, memorably cruising by outside General Raddus’ command dome. Rogue One executive producer John Knoll collaborated with the show’s writers for assurance the Ghost would still be flying at this point in the timeline, sine Rebels is set a few years before the events of the new film.
“None of the things we put in really jump out at you,” says Dave Filoni, executive producer of Rebels. “If you don’t watch Rebels, there’s never a moment where you’re staring at the [movie] screen going, ‘Why was that important?’ For the people who do know, they get that added level of immersion.” One such blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment was the live-action appearance of the grunting, disagreeable droid “Chopper” from Rebels. He’s the dusty orange and white flat-top droid who slinks by to the left of the communications officer alerting Mon Mothma about the battle at Scarif. “I was actually on set when they filmed that scene with him in the hangar,” Filoni says. “Everybody working on set knew Chopper, and referred to him the way you would about a dog. They all liked him, they think he’s funny, but they know he’s grumpy.”
The Ghost is also visible in the upper left corner of this shot, on a landing pad at the temple base on Yavin 4. Filoni says fans of the show may someday see Rogue One’s action retold from his characters’ perspective on a future season of Rebels. “I already have some theories about the story behind it,” Filoni says. “I can imagine doing that entire [Scarif] battle from their point of view, whoever is on the Ghost at that point.”
Here you can see the back of the Ghost in the lower left quarter of the image, one of dozens of starships in the Rebel fleet. This shot from the trailer was the first hint for fans that the crew of Rebels would be alluded to in Rogue One.
Hera Syndulla is the green-skinned alien Twi’lek who pilots the Ghost starship, and although she doesn’t appear on screen in Rogue One, a “General Syndulla” is summoned to the briefing room over the intercom at the Yavin 4 base. Filoni credits sound designer Matt Wood, who also voices the character General Grievous, for that reference. We don’t see Hera, but we know she’s there. Although some fans are debating about that. We have the answer…
The “General Syndulla” reference has created debate among Rebels fans, since Hera’s father, Cham Syndulla, is already a resistance general on the show – and she’s not. It turns out, this a tease of things to come on Rebels. “I can clarify that’s absolutely Hera being paged, not her dad,” Filoni says. “The movie gives that away, but I would rather have all the [references] be right. Hera will eventually become a general in the Rebel Alliance.” But how? That storyline will remain a mystery for now.
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