Spoilers for Star Wars Rebels: Legacy of Mandalore!
No, you weren't hearing things, Star Wars Rebels and Legends fans, when Ursa Wren, Sabine's mother, was talking about the current governor of Mandalore under the Empire, Gar Saxon, she referred to him by a specific title we've never heard in canon before: the Hand of the Emperor.
Yes, like Mara Jade.
For more casual fans, or those who didn't read the Expanded Universe novels and comics, now known as Legends, hearing a phrase like "Hand of the Emperor" probably didn't mean all that much. It's an important-sounding title, sure, and probably a little more important than your average governor, but nothing too special otherwise. For Legends fans, though, it's an elite operative of the Emperor's, and in that world was usually someone Force-sensitive, carrying out missions directly for the ruler of the galaxy. The most famous of these was Mara Jade, who would eventually go on to be the wife of Luke Skywalker in that world.
Well, the term (and thus some form of the station) is coming into canon from the Legends world, but not much else, we're afraid. ComicBook.com went directly to Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni for the scoop.
"The Emperor's Hand saying is probably just a little sly nod to a character type. I think it would probably be meant more innocently, but the minute you say it I'm like, 'Good grief.' I know exactly where everyone's going to go with that," Filoni told us with a laugh. "I know, with the hopefulness of it all, but I wouldn't dwell too much on that. It's more of a generic reference to that type of character that exhibits in history of the world, like the emperor has a hand, there's someone who's always sitting at the right hand that's gained great power."
But yes, Mara Jade fans, the team at Lucasfilm knew it would at least bring her up in your minds.
"Hey, if it brings to life the idea of a character like Mara Jade who's existed in the Expanded Universe. Again, I think it just shows a bit of respect for the character and the great work and love the people have for it. So much inspiration comes from all over," Filoni said.
So while Mara Jade may still be on the sidelines, another bit of EU history is now an official part of Star Wars canon, joining things like the Jedi-Mandalorian War, the TIE defender, and even Grand Admiral Thrawn all in this season alone.
Star Wars Rebels airs Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD.
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