Over the weekend Star Wars Celebration 2023 (an event dedicated to Star Wars news, panels, and more) happened, and while a lot of news came out of the event, the internet can’t stop talking about a relatively minor thing: Orange lightsabers. Are they really orange? What does that mean? Who are these new characters using them? And does this tie into any other upcoming Star Wars projects? Well, after digging around, I’ve got (some) answers.
Star Wars Celebration kicked off on April 7 in London with a bang. Lucasfilm announced new movies and showed off fresh trailers for upcoming projects. The opening day’s biggest and most exciting trailer gave fans their first real look at the live-action Ahsoka series. But while there are some interesting tidbits to pull out from that brief trailer—-like characters from Rebels showing up and a tease of big bad Thrawn—Star Wars nerds can’t stop debating and theorizing about the orangey lightsabers wielded by new characters: Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati.
Are the lightsabers in the Ahsoka trailer actually orange?
In the new trailer for the upcoming Disney+ show, Ahsoka, we see, among many other things, Baylan Skoll and his apprentice Shin Hati. At first glance, they seem like Sith or maybe Inquisitors (Jedi hunters), but I’m not sure if these two are either. The main reason I’m hesitant to place them in either group? Their orange lightsabers.
At first, I wondered if this was just a lighting quirk or artistic change. Lightsaber colors have long fluctuated over the decades as different creators use changing tech to depict the franchise’s iconic laser swords. And sometimes creators, like Dave Filoni (Ahsoka’s showrunner) choose to change how lightsabers look for creative reasons. A good example of this can be seen in the Filoni-led Rebels animated series. In that show, lightsabers were very thin, a call back to the original concept art for Star Wars.
However, in the trailer, we also see Ahsoka fighting what looks like an Inquisitor. These Jedi killers were trained by Vader and often used dual red lightsabers with easy-to-spot circular hilts—and that’s exactly what the Ahsoka Inquisitor seems to be carrying. More importantly, whoever this is, has an undeniably crimson-red lightsaber. So it seems unlikely that the orange sabers in this same trailer are a mistake or an artistic change if the show is keeping the classic red-colored sabers, too.
Fans still debated the lightsaber color, because Star Wars fans love to yell at each other online. Some pointed them out as an odd change for dark side users’ laser swords. Others claimed it was a sign Lucasfilm was lazy and didn’t care about Star Wars. And others suggested it was an example of unfinished CG. All of them were wrong
Shortly after the trailer debuted, Filoni himself confirmed the blades are indeed orange for reasons that he didn’t fully explain. Now the question is why? What does it all mean?
Why are there orange lightsabers in Star Wars Ahsoka?
Before we hop right into my theories about it, let’s first look at what Filoni had to say about the orange blades. Screen Rant was one of the first to ask the Clone Wars creator and cowboy hat enthusiast about the orange lightsabers and his answer both confirmed they were intentional and hinted at some mysterious reason behind the color, saying “Nothing is accidental.”
I made it a little bit more orange. That’s a really good eye. You’re the first person to catch that. That was very intentional. I didn’t make them just a stark red. I remember as a kid that Vader’s lightsaber kind of fluctuated from visual effects to being a little bit more orange.
I didn’t want to go straight up orange, but it’s identifying a little bit of something to kids that they might not straight up be what you think they are in the beginning. It’s good you caught that. Nothing is accidental.
That quote makes it clear Filoni wants viewers to clue in on the fact that these two new characters might not be what you think they are initially. Hmmm! Curious. Most people assumed right away that they were Force users aligned with the dark side. But Filoni specifically said these characters “might not straight up be what you think they are in the beginning.” If they ain’t Sith (most people’s first guess), then what could they be? And do the orange lightsabers give us any hints?
Well, back in the old days of the Expanded Universe, kyber crystals—the crystals that power lightsabers—worked very differently than today’s canon. I won’t be referencing the EU stuff because it’s not relevant anymore, but for you old Star Wars fans out there, if any of this sounds wrong that’s likely because you didn’t realize stuff had changed.
Today, red lightsabers are created through a process known as “bleeding.” This is when an evil, dark side character imbues a lightsaber crystal, often one from a fallen Jedi, with so much hate, anger, and pain that it causes the magical, Force-connected, light side-adjacent crystal to bleed like an organic being and become red. It’s some real edge lord shit and I love it.
So, one theory I have is that the orange lightsabers seen in the Ahsoka trailer are actually partially bled kyber crystals. Perhaps these new characters aren’t Sith, but are tapping into the dark side and have slightly corrupted their blades in the process. A popular theory is that these are fallen Jedi who are using the dark side to accomplish some as-yet-unknown goal in a post-Order 66 and Return of the Jedi galaxy. And I don’t think that’s a terrible theory, but I have another idea involving another aspect of the trailer and some Star Wars video games.
The orange lightsabers, time travel, and the High Republic
In the Ahsoka trailer, we see her fight the older Baylan Skoll. It’s not all that notable that the main character of the show will face off against the (presumed) big bad of the series. However, where they fight is what caught my eye. They seem to be dueling in the World Between Worlds. You might be going “The what between where?” I’ll explain. Briefly.
Introduced in Rebels, The World Between Worlds is a plane of existence outside of normal reality that appears to connect every moment in time together in a large void. While we don’t know much about it, we have seen it used to save a person from death once via a bit of time travel. And it also appears to be accessible only to Force-sensitive beings.
Now, what does this have to do with orange lightsabers? Well about 400 years or so ago before the events of the Phantom Menace, things were very different in the Star Wars galaxy. This era of the franchise is known as the High Republic. During this period, the Jedi were at their peak, peace had lasted for a very long time and the Jedi Order was more diverse than ever, not just in all the different species that were part of the group but also in all the various interpretations of the Force that existed.
This is visually represented in the books and comics by all the varying outfits Jedi at this time wore, but also by all the vibrant lightsaber colors that were used way back then—including orange ones. For example, a lightsaber that looks pretty dang orange to me can be spotted in the announcement trailer for Star Wars Eclipse, an upcoming game set in that earlier era of Galaxy.
Here’s my theory: These two characters are Jedi (or former Jedi) from the High Republic era who somehow used the World Between Worlds to time travel into the post-Return of the Jedi era seen in the Mandalorian series. It wouldn’t shock me if some Jedi from that time period didn’t like the way the galaxy was heading. The New Republic has been shown as a somewhat ineffective and powerless group after the war against the Empire, which would likely offend High Republic Jedi. Perhaps, even enough for them to align with Thrawn and the Imperial remnants to bring back order and peace to the galaxy, no matter the cost?
If this is indeed what’s going on, Ahsoka would be put into a weird position. Sure, she could argue that them jumping around time and likely cheating death is wrong, but that’s exactly what someone did for her in Rebels when she was spared by Ezra using the World Between Worlds.
This might seem a bit out there, but based on the trailers and what we know, it seems a similar storyline involving a long-forgotten High Republic Jedi gone rogue might be happening in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor out later this month.
One final video game connection that might help really solidify this theory: Filoni loves wolves. And the new characters using the orange lightsabers in Ahsoka are named after the wolves from Norse mythology who chase after the sun and moon. And what do the sun and moon create together? An Eclipse. And what’s the name of that new Star Wars game set in the High Republic that seems to include an orange lightsaber? Eclipse. Hmmmm….
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