There has been a lot of speculation around the late Ray Stevenson’s character in Ahsoka, especially after the first trailer introduced Baylan Skoll and his apprentice Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) with their unique orange-red lightsabers. Even though Skoll clearly fights with Ahsoka at some point based on the trailer, it’s been unclear if his allegiances lie with the remnants of the Empire, himself, or another entity entirely.
IGN has been among those to speculate that Skoll is or once was an Inquisitor working for the Empire given his Force capabilities and the remnants of red hue in his lightsaber. It’s a valid theory given the recent image from Ahsoka featuring a masked Inquisitor and the fact that Empire magazine recently revealed that Skoll is a survivor of Order 66.
However, Empire (via Collider) has also confirmed that, after the traumatic events of Order 66, Skoll used his skills to become a mercenary, not an Inquisitor. He was eventually hired by Grand Admiral Thrawn as an enforcer, leading him to become one of Thrawn’s most trusted allies. In the aftermath of Thrawn’s disappearance and the fall of the Empire, Skoll’s current goals include “roaming the galaxy and ensuring order [is] followed in the way that the fallen Empire would have wanted it to be,” according to the magazine.
As a survivor of Order 66, Skoll could have easily become an Inquisitor as Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Reva (Moses Ingram) did, but according to Stevenson, Skoll doesn’t seem to harbor as much anger or resentment as many of the Jedi-turned-Inquisitors do. Stevenson told Empire that his character “is not genocidal or malicious or overly aggressive. He will request that you get out of his way. But if you don’t, he will take you out [of] his way.”
Based on this description, and what we know about his character so far, it sounds like Skoll won’t be so easy to label on the show. He may in fact be a Disney canon example of a “Dark Jedi,” a type of dark sider first introduced in the now non-canon Legends novel Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, which is a big influence on Ahsoka. In that old continuity, a Dark Jedi was a Force user who followed the dark side but wasn’t aligned with the Sith or the Inquisitors. It was the label used to describe the mad Jedi clone who served Thrawn in that book, Joruus C’baoth, who seems to have at least lightly inspired Skoll.
Skoll’s background as a mercenary and allegiance to Thrawn may also explain his lightsaber’s unique coloring. He’s allied with the Empire, but not in the way that the Sith or Inquisitors are. He may have done some questionable things, but it doesn’t seem like he’s given himself fully over to the dark side like the Inquisitors do.
Order 66 was traumatic for the Jedi, so it makes sense that we’re starting to see more survivors who have a complicated relationship with the Force, especially in a show centered on Ahsoka. The titular hero is clearly a force for good, having worked with the Rebellion to try and stop the Empire, but she also has a complicated relationship with the Jedi that goes back to the Clone Wars. Choosing to leave the Order after being accused of a crime she didn’t commit, Ahsoka forged her own path and has since adopted white lightsabers rather than the blue or green typically wielded by Jedi. Perhaps Ahsoka and Baylan Skoll will find more in common than they think.
Star Wars: Ahsoka will premiere on Aug. 23 on Disney+.