How Does Anakin Return in Ahsoka Episode 4? World Between Worlds Explained

The following story contains spoilers for Ahsoka Episode 4, “Fallen Jedi.”

IF YOU’RE FEELING a bit confused by some of Ahsoka, don’t worry—you’re not alone. The show is walking a difficult tightrope in attempting to be a sequel of sorts to please longtime fans of the Star Wars animated series (namely The Clone Wars and Rebels) and also bring in more “casual” fans who have perhaps only seen the movies and the live-action Disney+ shows. (If you’re curious about everything you need to know before watching Ahsoka, we’ve got you covered right here.)

And so far, through four episodes—half of the show’s eight episode run—it’s done it fairly admirably. The show includes a bunch of references to characters who originated in the animation medium—a hero named Ezra and a villain named Thrawn are mentioned frequently—but it’s nothing that can’t be figured out with a bit of context.

Still, this has meant that much of the earlygoings for the show have gone toward setting things up, building characters and situations to eventually pay off. And in Episode 4, “Fallen Jedi,” that started to pay off with the most action packed episode yet. While there was quite a bit of character development and action, the peak of the episode came when Ahsoka Tano met Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson), another former Jedi who is her mirror image in just about every way. The two had a fairly epic lightsaber battle, as Baylan desperately tried to overcome Ahsoka and convince her padawan, Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) to fork over the map to Ezra and Thrawn (you can learn more about Thrawn in the many Star Wars books centered on him).

Skoll, at this point, is clearly more powerful than Ahsoka—and was able to force her to the edge of a cliff and push her over. It seemed, for a little while like Ahsoka may have been dead, halfway through her own show. Uh, what gives? Of course, that wasn’t the case. By the end of the episode, the titular character awoke in a very unfamiliar live-action setting, greeted by a very familiar greeting—”Hey Snips.” She turned and saw her old master, a very alive-looking Anakin Skywalker.

It’s a sight that Star Wars fans must love to see. But where, exactly are we, and what are we seeing? We can explain some of that.

What is the World Between Worlds and how did Ahsoka get there?

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The World Between Worlds is a relatively new piece of the ever-expansive and long-running Star Wars lore, originally introduced in the 2018 episode of Star Wars Rebels titled “A World Between Worlds.” To put it in a nutshell, the World Between Worlds is essentially a realm that exists outside of space and time; the Rebels episode found Ezra plucking Ahsoka from her present timeline where she was in a fatal duel with Darth Vader into this new realm.

Based on the blankness of this world and the energy budding off her being, you’d think that Ahsoka was in some kind of in-between afterlife realm—but it’s really the World Between Worlds, and somehow, it seems that Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) has brought her there, saving her from the presumably fatal fall that followed her duel with Baylan. It’s kind of a cross between Marvel’s Ancestral Plane (as seen in Black Panther) and the TVA (as seen in Loki) existing outside of time.

Yes—Anakin Skywalker. More on that below.

How is Anakin Skywalker still alive?

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“Alive” may be a stretch. But Anakin—at least, this version of Anakin—is somewhere, and definitely not gone forever. Somehow Anakin Returned.

We know from the end of Return of the Jedi that after Darth Vader killed Emperor Palptaine, he was redeemed, and that’s why he appeared alongside Yoda and Obi-Wan (in Force Ghost form). When George Lucas updated the movie, he even made Anakin appear in the form of actor Hayden Christensen—for a very specific reason. “The idea was that your inner person would go back to where we left it off, when it turned to the dark side—when you got burned up and everything, but before you got burned up,” Lucas said in a 2005 interview with Moviefone. “So when you come back to the good side of the Force, it’s your former persona that survives, not the Darth Vader persona.”

But we also know (from that same final Return of the Jedi scene) that Force Ghosts don’t need to appear in some special out-of-time plane like the World Between Worlds. This isn’t Anakin’s Force Ghost—it’s something else.

It’s possible that this was just Anakin’s way of saving Ahsoka and reconnecting with her; it’s also possible that this is an Anakin from another timeline, perhaps one who never gave in to Palpatine’s temptation and went to the dark side in the first place.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Headshot of Evan Romano

Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.

This article was originally posted here.

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