The Mandalorian Already Introduced Thrawn's Forces

This week's episode of The Mandalorian brought lots of Star War expanded universe goodness with it. There were some coy references to old Jedi lore, including at least one character from Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic. Ahsoka Tano made her live-action debut and is searching for Grand Admiral Thrawn, the classic expanded universe villain who returned to Star Wars in the new canon Star Wars Rebels. But a closer look at this episode of The Mandalorian, "Chapter 13: The Jedi," reveals that Thrawn's mark was hiding in plain sight the entire time. Fans only needed to take a closer look at the droids.

We're talking about the two HK-87 assassin droids that guarded Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth. We know from Ahsoka's interrogation that Elsbeth works from Thrawn. Well, the assassin droids were apparently on loan from the Grand Admiral himself. Fans on Reddit notices that the droids have a symbol on their heads. The symbol represents the Seventh Fleet of the Imperial Navy, simply called "Thrawn's fleet" in the Star Wars Legends continuity.

Insignia of the Seventh Fleet (Thrawn’s Fleet) on the HK-87 droids. from r/StarWarsLeaks

In the old Star Wars Legends continuity, Thrawn's fleet spent the Galactic Civil War in the Unknown Regions, building up a defense against possible threats from outside of the galaxy and only returned after the Empire's fall to battle the Rebel Alliance's New Republic. The Seventh Fleet may be serving a similar role as a force of opposition to the New Republic in the new post-Return of the Jedi continuity.

In the new Star Wars canon, the Seventh Fleet blockaded Lothal in Star Wars Rebels, leading to a conflict with the Phoenix Cell of the Rebellion. During the Liberation of Lothal, the Jedi Ezra Bridger called on the purrgil -- spacefaring, whalelike creatures who traveled through hyperspace -- to drag Thrawn's flagship, Chimaera, into hyperspace. Where they ended up was still a mystery at the end of the Galactic Civil War, which is why Ahsoka and the Mandalorian Rebel Sabine Wren set off to search for Ezra Bridger together.

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It seems that Thrawn and the Seventh Fleet survived the ordeal. But what became of Ezra Bridger? That remains to be seen and might be a question beyond the purview of The Mandalorian but perfect for a spinoff series to explore.

What do you think of The Mandalorian bringing in Grand Admiral Thrawn and the forces of the Seventh Fleet? Let us know in the comments. New The Mandalorian episodes debut Fridays on Disney+.