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Why you shouldn’t expect time travel doors to become common in Star Wars

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Filoni talks about Ezra’s bridge to the past, future in Star Wars Rebels: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray features

(Spoilers follow for Star Wars Rebels’ fourth and final season.)

Star Wars animation guru Dave Filoni may have opened a real can of continuity worms when he introduced a form of time travel into the Galaxy Far, Far Away in the fourth and final season of Star Wars Rebels.

But he doesn’t really see it that way.

“It’s not about time travel,” the director says in “Force of Rebellion,” one of several special features included in Star Wars Rebels: The Complete Fourth Season, now on Blu-ray. (Lucasfilm provided a copy of this material for review.)

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 Blu-rayIn the late-season episode “World Between Worlds,” the laws of space and time bend for Ezra Bridger when he yet again enters the ancient Jedi temple on his Imperial-occupied homeworld, Lothal. (He first entered the temple to undergo a Jedi right of passage and earn his kyber crystal, allowing him to construct a lightsaber; he also communed there with Master Yoda in a “Force-time” session that foreshadowed Rey and Kylo Ren’s long-distance link in Episode VIII — The Last Jedi.)

With the Emperor’s toadies close to cracking the temple’s secrets, Ezra and his Rebel cell attempt to cut them off. Once inside, the young Jedi encounters “the future, the past, old friends long gone,” changing the fate of one fan-favorite character from Star Wars’ animated universe.

As well as tying up many lingering threads — Ezra’s brushes with the dark side of the Force, the loss of his master, Kanan Jarrus, and another mentor, Ahsoka Tano — “World Between Worlds” dips back into Filoni’s previous animated Star Wars series, The Clone Wars, to reintroduce the mysterious Mortis gods, strange archetypes representing different aspects of the Force in another mystical realm that may be connected to this one — or even one and the same.

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“It’s quite a simple equation. I wanted to put on the Jedi temple the feeling that it’s ancient,” Filoni says in the bonus feature. “I wanted it to feel like there’s an ancient history, and that there would be these beings represented on the temple, and I said, ‘Well, I have those because we did it in Clone Wars.’ And I know that’s something that George at least created. That makes it a lot better for me, to say, ‘Well, I’m going to use them in this capacity, because its something that George and I used to talk about.’

“But they don’t play such a major, major role in the story — these things are only paintings in Rebels. That it ties you to other things in the past. It’s to give it a sense of connectivity and history.”

So, while Ezra can see and hear things, and even literally reach out and save Ahsoka from her earlier battle with Darth Vader in the Sith temple on Malachor, it shouldn’t be seen as a time machine suddenly dropped into the middle of Star Wars lore.

“It’s not about time travel.”

“It’s just about a place where everything comes together,” Filoni said. “And you hear different things echoing throughout time because it’s all fluid in that moment and that place, it’s not that material thing that is linear. Everything is occurring all of the time.”

We’ve heard this before: In The Clone Wars, a spectral Qui-Gon Jinn described Mortis as “a conduit through which the entire Force of the universe flows.”

Filoni said: “Ezra is more in tune with the things that are directly related to him.” Things like Ahsoka’s fateful confrontation with Darth Vader, and his own master’s most recent death, which figure prominently in his between-worlds journey here. But Ezra hears other voices, too …

“He recognizes sounds like Obi-Wan and Yoda, but they’re just like the wind moving, and he doesn’t really understand the context of what’s going on,” hesaid.

“I don’t know how real it actually is. I don’t want to define that for people, anyway. But it’s not this place of gateways and doors you just go in and out of.”

It’s not as simple as walking between worlds, or stepping off an elevator, Filoni explained. So, while Ezra could save Ahsoka’s life, he still loses her as a player in the here and now because she’s not supposed to be there and then — which is why she takes a different path, back to Malachor after her battle with Vader, pledging to find Ezra again in “her” future …

“Because she’s smart enough to know that she can’t leave this world through her door,” Filoni said. “She’ll be destroying the natural order and balance of things. She has to go back from where she came.”

And, likewise, Ezra can’t use the windows of the World Between Worlds to save Kanan, who sacrificed himself to save his fellow Ghost crew members, or else the victory his death afforded, advancing Ezra to the new endgame on Lothal, would be nullified. And, later, when presented with a similar but even greater personal temptation in that endgame by the Emperor himself during the finale, Ezra might have lost his resolve — to everyone’s ruin.

Filoni acknowledges the creative risks of introducing such fantastical concepts into Star Wars, but says they’re not really that out of place since they came from his own mentor, Star Wars creator George Lucas, when the two worked on The Clone Wars. The Mortis gods, and everything that came after, are “principles of the Force that George set up,” Filoni said. “It doesn’t change it, and you don’t erode what makes Star Wars special.

Find out about more Rebels Season 4 bonus features here.

More about Star Wars Rebels Season 4:

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Jayson Peters

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