- ‘Cruel Summer’ Season 2: Premiere Date, Trailer, Cast, and Everything You Need to Know
- ‘One Piece’s Live-Adaptation Makes the Villain Perfectly Creepy
- ‘Walking Dead’ Spinoffs ‘Dead City,’ ‘Daryl Dixon’ Both Renewed for Season 2 at AMC
- Every Broadcast TV Show Canceled or Renewed for the 2023-24 Season (UPDATING LIVE)
- ‘Loki’ EP Explains Why Jonathan Majors’ Arrest Didn’t Affect the Series, Casting Ke Huy Quan and Tom Hiddleston’s MCU Future
Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for Episodes 1 and 2 of Ahsoka.
There’s a theory in physics that says the universe is constantly expanding. Now, this idea makes its way to Star Wars, with Dave Filoni kicking the franchise’s universe wide open in the Ahsoka series premiere. This is what happens when the orb obtained by Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) shows that the supposed location of Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) is not only outside the known galaxy but far, far away at that. The mere existence of such a place is a completely new piece of lore, opens a lot of possibilities, and shines a light on a lot of previously existing ones, too.
Where Does the Map Obtained By Morgan Elsbeth in ‘Ahsoka’ Lead?
The “map to someone” McGuffin may be spread thin in Star Wars already, but at least in Ahsoka it’s used in a more elaborate fashion. For example, two people manage to open it right in the first two episodes: Elsbeth and Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). Also, this specific map is more like a compass, as it shows the direction people have to go in a straight line. No rodeos, just a line you have to follow. The problem is, it’s a very long line — like, half of the galaxy long.
The bright side is that there are signs about what the best way to get to where the map leads might be. When Elsbeth opens it on the planet Seatos, the foreign galaxy the line is drawn to is focused inside a circle with creatures circling it. Those are purrgil, a species of space whale that can travel huge distances through hyperspace. First introduced in Star Wars: Rebels, they are the beings Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Grey) calls upon to transport him and Thrawn away from his home world of Lothal and into the unknown.
An important thing to know about the purrgil is that hyperspace travel was developed by people observing them, how they jump to light speed, and how they travel in general. A jump to light speed happens when a ship accesses hyperspace, which is a sub-dimension that shortens time and distance. A jump like that requires calculations not to hit any celestial body on the way, as Han Solo (Harrison Ford) explains in A New Hope, but their directions are often the same ones the purrgil follow in their migration periods. So what the map is actually showing isn’t the location of Thrawn and Ezra (portrayed in live-action by Eman Esfandi), but rather the migration path the purrgil probably took when they vanished with those two characters at the end of Rebels. That’s why, for example, the map projection on Seatos doesn’t show anything between the known galaxy and the one where Thrawn and Ezra reside. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything there…
Wild Space, the Unknown Regions, and the Chaos Comprise the Star Wars Galaxy
One of the first things we ever hear Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) utter in A New Hope is how Tatooine is very far away from the bright center of the galaxy. It’s a backwater world to which, somehow, people keep returning. But there are a lot of worlds beyond Tatooine, and a lot more on the other side of the galaxy, too. The desert planet is located on the edge of the Outer Rim, an outside layer that encompasses three-quarters of the galactic disc. Moving further toward the center of the galaxy, there are the Mid-Rim and the Core. The remaining fourth of the disc is in the opposite direction to Tatooine.
Beyond Tatooine, there are other Outer Rim worlds like Batuu (where Galaxy’s Edge is located), and an unmapped portion of the universe known as Wild Space. Wild Space is a region of deep navigational instability that fans have seen a few times in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels. For example, in the latter, we’re introduced to the world of Lira San, the lost home world of Zeb Orrelios’ (Steve Blum) species, the Lasat. To get to Lira San, which is located behind a massive star cluster, Zeb uses his Lasat bo-rifle to guide the hyperdive through the anomaly.
Those who come from Wild Space are usually seen with prejudice, as evidenced in the 2017 novel Thrawn. Eli Vanto, one of Chiss Admiral Thrawn’s most trusted advisors, comes from the planet Lysatra and has a hard time in the Imperial Academy because of it. He and Thrawn became close because they were seen as outsiders and developed a trusting relationship. Thrawn himself comes from the opposite corner of the galaxy, from that quarter of the disc where no one goes. We’re talking about the Unknown Regions, another part of the universe filled with navigational instability due to many celestial phenomena like supernovae, black holes, nebulae, and so on. Star Wars has ventured there a few times, the most recent being Ahch-To and Exegol in The Rise of Skywalker. But Thrawn comes from the Chiss Ascendancy, a nation with many systems populated by the Chiss species. In Timothy Zahn‘s Thrawn: Ascendancy trilogy, we explore the Ascendancy and “the Chaos,” which is the name the Chiss give to the Unknown Regions. For them, what fans refer to as “the known galaxy” is called “Lesser Space.” We also discover many other nations in the Chaos and even some from beyond it, like the Grysk. The Chiss Ascendancy is the dominant nation in the Chaos and keeps its status despite all the navigational (and political) instability of the region.
How Do The Chiss Navigate the Chaos?
Navigating the Chaos is extremely difficult because the instability is so big, that hyperspace travel has to be adjusted into smaller jumps to light speed, instead of one straight line jump. Either that, or a ship needs to have a Force-sensitive navigator, someone able to predict the future just enough to navigate the vessel around the many phenomena that fill the Chaos. This ability has many names depending on where in the Chaos you are, but the Chiss call it “Third Sight.” Since jump-by-jump navigation takes too long, every nation in the Chaos prefers hiring navigators for it, and there are many specialized guilds that provide this service.
The Chiss, however, only hire navigators when dealing with their neighbors in a diplomatic capacity. For internal or military affairs, they use “sky-walkers,” a classified program that only the military and the government know about. The Chiss have found that untrained Third Sight eventually fades but lasts longer in girls, so they train Force-sensitive girls from the crib until their early teenage years to act as navigators for their ships. Every major Chiss vessel has its own sky-walker and her caretaker. Sky-walking is a Force-induced trance that takes a huge toll on the navigator, but their training and care make Chiss girls more resilient. In the 2018 novel Thrawn: Alliances, an Imperial mission takes Thrawn and Darth Vader to the Chaos, where Vader has to learn to sky-walk and navigate the Star Destroyer Chimera himself — a rather wholesome moment for the person who used to be Anakin Skywalker, even if he turned out to be a murderous Sith Lord.
Finally, there’s the purrgil. Hyperdrive engines were developed with the animals as a model, but we don’t actually know how they jump to light speed. It’s reasonable to think that they are able to travel at least as far as where the map points, as animals have larger migration routes than sentient beings. Ezra was able to call upon them to make the journey, so perhaps the best way for Ahsoka and Sabine to travel that far is to try and do the same. Morgan Elsbeth is doing it using her ship, the Eye of Sion, but perhaps the purrgil are a more reliable means of transportation.
New episodes of Ahsoka premiere every Tuesday night on Disney+.