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Mick Joest

How The Mandalorian Season 3 Is Teasing More To The Empire's Return Beyond The First Order

The Mandalorian

Warning! The following contains spoilers for The Mandalorian episode "Chapter 23: The Spies." Read at your own risk!

The Mandalorian brought back Moff Gideon toward the end of Season 3 and revealed the inner workings of what remains of the Empire. The various warlords scattered across the Outer Rim are actually secretly in contact in the shadows, seemingly working toward the resurrection of the Empire. It seems like Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are further bridging the gaps between the original and sequel trilogy, but are they setting up more beyond that? 

I think so, and I think the seeds were planted that there's more than the First Order being born in these years of The Mandalorian. Let's dive into what we learned about the various warlords and how it signaled they all might be working toward other goals in the future. 

(Image credit: Disney+)

Hux Is Working On "Project Necromancer"

Brendol Hux spoke at the secret meeting about "Project Necromancer," and it isn't too hard to read between the lines on what that was. Necromancers communicate with and resurrect the dead, and we know that Hux was a large factor in the First Order coming to power. Of course, his son Armitage was leading the First Order when we saw the sequel trilogy, mainly because he teamed up with Captain Phasma to have his father killed. We learn that from the Phasma novel, by the way, not on any show you'd watch with a Disney+ subscription

In any case, I don't think it's a stretch to speculate that "Project Necromancer" is the initiative that gave us Supreme Leader Snoke and, of course, the resurrected Emperor Palpatine. Gideon even referenced during The Mandalorian episode that Hux liked his "clones," and we know that there were multiple Snoke strands created for the Emperor to puppet. That much we already knew, but it was the fact that not everyone in the shadow council seemingly agreed on that direction that made things so interesting. 

(Image credit: Disney+)

Gilad Pellaeon Wants To Wait On Grand Admiral Thrawn

Gilad Pellaeon wasn't necessarily in opposition of Brendol Hux's plans, but he did seem to have another idea of who should be the leader of a resurrected Empire. Pellaeon advised that the Imperial Warlords try to limit their attacks and prevent unwanted New Republic attention until the "imminent" return of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn, of course, was one of the Empire's most brilliant tacticians and could be seen as the next suitable leader in the absence of the Emperor. 

The problem is that Thrawn has been missing since he was pulled into hyperspace with Ezra Bridger and a bunch of Purgill. It doesn't seem that Moff Gideon or the other Imperial Warlords are aware of where he is or if he's ever returning, but we know that Lars Mikkelsen will reprise his voice-acting role in live-action in Ahsoka to play the Grand Admiral. Thrawn will return, and apparently, it's going to happen before the Emperor's resurrection. 

And yet, we don't know what's up with Thrawn during the sequel trilogy. He doesn't get a mention, and given his overall viewpoints on what he liked and disliked about the Empire (such as their use of super weapons), it seems like some of their biggest moments were done without his counsel. Is it possible one of the Empire's greatest warriors was defeated before the rise of the First Order? 

I'm not sure that's the case, and I'd reckon that if Thrawn saw the First Order repeating the exact same mistakes as the fallen Empire before it, he wouldn't be involved. I'd also like to think the fact that there was a splintered Empire possibly led to the First Order not being nearly as dominant as the original Empire. Of course, this is all just speculation, and it's entirely possible that Thrawn was long gone before Rey ever set out on her quest to take on the First Order. 

(Image credit: Disney+)

Moff Gideon Seems To Have His Own Plans

One thing that seemed clear in the latest Mandalorian is that Hux and Thrawn have plans, and Moff Gideon doesn't seem too keen on following either of them. I'd say that he's playing the good soldier for the time being in order to gather resources for this operation he's running on Mandalore. 

As for what those plans are... we don't know right now, but it seems like he's building toward something with his Beskar-armored soldiers and that Darksaber. Plus, it seems that he has some spies working for him, and one that even may be amongst the Mandalorians. In any case, it seems like Gideon is very much concerned with his own seat of power, and less about the overall health of what remains of the Empire. 

(Image credit: Disney XD)

Did Thrawn And Gideon Join The First Order? 

One question I find myself asking after this meeting is whether or not Thrawn and Gideon actually joined what eventually became the First Order. As it stands, each major warlord is pretending to act independently of one another while still maintaining ties in a shadow cabal. It seems, however, that these forces are spaced out to avoid detection, and if one of them were to suddenly break or start off their own subsection of the resurrected Empire, they could do so. 

Both Thrawn and Moff Gideon, based on what we've seen of both in the past, seem well organized and competent in a way that the First Order isn't. Additionally, they both seem like powerful enough leaders that they could command a sizable following if need be. After all, Thrawn's name was floated by Gilad Pellaeon as a successor to the Emperor, and Gideon seemed like he could gain the support of a couple of warlords by taking his place should Thrawn never return. 

My theory is that neither Thrawn nor Gideon joined the First Order, and that at least one of them was able to form their own competent revival of the Empire in a vision that more fittingly shaped their ideals. Why would Star Wars do this, and why would it be beneficial to do so? Well, the answer is quite simple really...

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

A New Faction Of The Empire Creates A New Villain Beyond The Sequel Trilogy

If Thrawn and Gideon were uninvolved with the First Order but still managed to survive through the sequel trilogy, it sets up one or both as a clear enemy to heroes in upcoming movies. After all, there needs to be some threat for Star Wars heroes to take on in the future, so why not them? 

My personal theory is that The Mandalorian setting up dissension amongst the Empire remnants introduces the idea of markedly different offshoots of the Empire. We've already seen the First Order, which was more or less the same as the Empire was during the Galactic Civil War. The Empire could look way different under any other warlord, including Gideon or Thrawn. Will any of them be around when Rey's movie arrives, though? I'm sure we'll know the answer long before its arrival. 

The Mandalorian streams on Disney+ on Wednesdays. No doubt the end of Season 3 will bring all sorts of questions, so be sure to check back in with CinemaBlend for more speculation and theories!

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