This week’s episode of The Mandalorian season 3, “The Pirate,” saw the return of Caron Teva, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee’s New Republic Starfighter captain who first crossed paths with Din Djarin last season. But Teva wasn’t the only familiar face — as a certain purple-haired Lasat starfighter made his first live-action Star Wars appearance this week. That’s right: that tall alien commiserating with Teva at the bar was none other than Star Wars Rebels’ Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios.
For those unfamiliar with Star Wars Rebels, the 2014 animated series co-created and produced by Dave Filoni, who serves as executive producer on The Mandalorian, here’s the gist: Zeb is a former rebel starship pilot-turned-New Republic captain who served as a member of the Spectres, a group of resistance fighters and the protagonists of Star Wars Rebels. Steve Blum, the voice actor best known for his voicing the character of Spike Spiegel in the English dub of the 1998 anime Cowboy Bebop, reprised his role as Zeb in this week’s episode for the first time since Rebels wrapped.
The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett have been sprinkling Easter eggs calling back to 2008’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars and 2014’s Star Wars Rebels as early as the former’s second season. Mandalorian has featured the live-action debut of not only Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s former apprentice-turned-Jedi-in-exile; and an offhand mention of Grand Admiral Thrawn, the namesake of Timothy’s Zahn’s trilogy of novels who made his first now-canonical appearance in Star Wars Rebels; but also Cad Bane; the ruthless, red-eyed, blue-skinned bounty hunter from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, who made his live-action debut in the final episode of The Book of Boba Fett.
Zeb’s appearance in this week’s episode can be seen as just a cool “Hey, I know that guy” moment for long-time fans of Dave Filoni’s Star Wars series. But it could also be a hint at things to come. Eman Esfandi (The Inspection) is set to appear in the upcoming Star Wars TV series Ahsoka as Star Wars Rebels’ Ezra Bridger, one of the members of the Spectres who served alongside Zeb in the Rebel Alliance’s war against the Galactic Empire. So it seems that the events of Rebels will hold no small place in Ahsoka, and this cameo may not be the last we’ve seen of Zeb and his fellow crewmates.
If nothing else, it’s a sign that Star Wars Rebels still holds an important place in the future of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.