Among all the fun Star Wars Easter eggs and callbacks to The Clone Wars in the fifth episode of Ahsoka, titled “Shadow Warrior,” we also got an iconic Star Wars character a shout-out: none other than Princess Leia Organa. Or, at this point in her life, Senator Leia Organa of the New Republic. X-wing pilot Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) mentions Senator Organa by name to Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). He tells Hera that Senator Organa was covering for them and their unauthorized mission, likely in the senate chamber. We could chalk this up to Leia being a badass as usual. However, the truth is she too would have a personal investment in this mission. And it’s not just to protect the galaxy from Grand Admiral Thrawn. Because as Star Wars Rebels once showed us, Leia knew the Ghost crew, and Ezra Bridger, personally.
Teenage Princess Leia Worked With the Ghost Crew in Star Wars Rebels
A teenage Princess Leia appeared in the second season Star Wars Rebels episode “ A Princess on Lothal.” She’s voiced by Julie Dolan, who also voiced her in the Disney Parks attraction Star Tours. The events of this episode take place about four years before the events of A New Hope. A 15-year-old Leia undertakes a mission for the Rebellion for her father, Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan. After the Phoenix cell loses several ships in battle with the Empire, Bail Organa concocts a plan to help them. The plan has his daughter Leia escorting several Alderaanian ships to Lothal, and then allowing the rebels to steal them. At this point in the timeline, Leia is not a part of the Imperial Senate yet. She’s just her father’s aide.
Princess Leia and Ezra Bridger Formed a Bond in Star Wars Rebels
Due to several mishaps, our Rebels heroes have to stage Leia’s kidnapping as well as steal the ships, so it looks like she’s a loyal Imperial representative on Lothal. It gives her plausible deniability. Leia’s true role as a part of the Rebel Alliance is not uncovered until A New Hope. During this mission, Princess Leia bonds with young Ezra Bridger. He is going through a tough time because he’s found out his parents are dead. During a hopeless moment, Leia assures Ezra that despite all the losses, this is a fight worth having.
Leia and Ezra have a few other things in common, although neither knew it when they met. For starters, they’re almost the exact same age. Ezra was born on “Empire Day,” the day Palpatine declared himself Emperor and transformed the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire. Leia and her twin brother Luke were born roughly a day or so later. Both events were pivotal scenes in Revenge of the Sith. And of course, both teenagers are also strong in the Force.
Leia Defying the New Republic Foreshadows Her Role in The Force Awakens
Given her mission with Ezra and the Ghost crew, it makes perfect sense why years later, Leia would see Ezra as more than just a faceless name. Of course, unlike other members of the New Republic Senate, she actually fought on the front lines of the Galactic Civil War. She would recognize a threat like Grand Admiral Thrawn more than other senators. Many of them likely stood on the sidelines during the conflict, waiting to see who would come out on top. But Leia would have a personal interest in the young man she bonded with in the early days of the Rebellion, and want to see him rescued. Especially since he sacrificed himself to save Lothal from the Empire years prior. The act of heroic self-sacrifice is something Leia Organa would ever forget.
Leia’s defiance of her fellow New Republic senators also foreshadows her role in the sequel trilogy. She recognizes a true threat when she sees one. She also trusts decorated officers like Hera Syndulla to have good judgment. If Hera thinks Thrawn is a threat, then Leia trusts her. It completely lines up with Leia decades later. When the New Republic is equally in denial of the First Order threat, she leaves and helps form a private Resistance. One can see how even a few years after Return of the Jedi, Leia was already frustrated with the short-sighted bureaucracies of the New Republic . Something Hera said in Ahsoka, “Once a rebel, always a rebel,” will always apply to Leia Organa.