No matter what happens on The Mandalorian, the galaxy far, far away can’t escape what’s coming: the First Order. It also can’t escape who’s coming back: Palpatine. How will the fascist organization become a dominant force in 25 years? And who helped the Emperor to “somehow” return? “Chapter 23” of the Disney+ series showed how the Shadow Council—a group of loyal Imperial officers that included some infamous figures—conspired to undermine the New Republic.

What Is the Shadow Council on The Mandalorian?

Lucasfilm

The Galactic Empire seemingly fell for good after the Battle of Jakku, fought one year after Palpatine’s (first) death. But the New Republic never completely destroyed its old foe. Loyal Imperial officers continued working on behalf of their fallen Emperor to undermine the new government and restore themselves to power.

The Mandalorian‘s “The Spies” revealed the leadership of this underground effort was a group known as the Shadow Council. The nine high-ranking Imperial officers each controlled their own sector of the galaxy. They also controlled their own remnants of the Empire’s assets, though they did share them when deemed necessary. Despite working together towards one grand purpose, they wisely kept their union and its mission hidden from the New Republic.

How Did Loyal Imperial Officers Hide From the New Republic?

Lucasfilm

The Mandalorian takes place roughly five years after the Battle of Jakku during an era of forgiveness in the galaxy. Former members of the Empire were able to serve the New Republic via its Amnesty Program. But that was also an era of chaos, as the new government struggled to assert its authority and establish an efficient bureaucracy. It was also infiltrated by spies like Elia Kane. And, like many real-world postwar environments, power vacuums made pockets of the vast galaxy ripe for plunder and abuse. That’s what

Lucasfilm

By seeming to be more like independent contractors, they maintained their secrecy. Because, as they said, “anything else would lead the New Republic” to “increase its efforts” to hunt them down. Not having to worry about survival and arousing suspicion is why, even though the New Republic was “vulnerable,” the Shadow Group was “cautious” of showing a sign of its “true strengths.” It was biding its time for the right moment.

Waiting and self-control was easier for some than others. Opportunities to get rich were hard to ignore for certain members. Especially those who did not have as many resources as other sector leaders. But the Shadow Council did agree a show of force would galvanize the many citizens “on every planet” in the galaxy who remained loyal to the Empire. You can’t create a First Order without first declaring there’s something to join.

Who Are the Members of the Shadow Council?

Lucasfilm

The Shadow Council consists of nine former, high-ranking Imperial officers. The episode’s credits identified six of them only as “warlords,” rather than by the characters’ names and Imperial titles.

In addition to Moff Gideon, we do know two of the other members. Both are notorious figures Star Wars fans have met before: Commandant Brendol Hux and Captain Gilad Pellaeon.

Is Commandant Brendol Hux Related to Domhnall Gleeson’s General Armitage Hux?

Lucasfilm

Not only are the characters related, so are the actors. (That’s why their smug smirks looked so much alike.) Brian Gleeson plays The Mandalorian‘s Commandant Hux. He is the real-life brother of Star Wars sequel trilogy star Domhnall Gleeson, who played the detestable First Order sycophant Armitage Hux.

But while the two sons of actor Brendan Gleeson are brothers, their characters are father and son. Brendol Hux, a character who had previously only appeared in Star Wars books, has a long history in the galaxy. That’s where we learned how an evil man who was also a horrible father raised a son even more terrible than himself.

What Do We Know About the Life of Commandant Hux?

Lucasfilm

Brendol Hux was a junior officer in the Grand Army of the Old Republic before he became a Captain for the Empire. He was there for the Clone Wars, the Empire, the New Republic, and the First Order.

During his time in the Empire, Brendol Hux created his own secret, handpicked group to train as Commandant’s Cadets, which caused problems for him with other Imperials. His loyalty to Palpatine was unwavering, and following the Emperor’s demise Commandant Hux continued working for the Empire and its fallen leader.

His previous work and commitment made him a valuable commodity, which another major figure in the Emperor’s contingency plan recognized. Gallius Rax, close servant of Palpatine, appointed Hux to what we now know was the Shadow Council. Hux was an important enough Imperial that he also knew about the plan to resurrect his dead Emperor and restore him to power. He also controlled more Imperial resources than most of his other warlords on the council.

When Was Brendol’s Role in Armitage Hux’s Life?

Lucasfilm

Right before A New Hope Brendol sired an illegitimate son he named Armitage. The boy’s mere existence caused problems for Brendol. So did Armitage’s weak constitution, physical stature, and emotional inature. To toughen up his son, Brendol abused his child both emotionally and physically. He also raised Armitage to serve the Empire. Armitage was his father’s son in every way and eventually exceeded his father’s own rank. He became a high ranking general and useful lapdog for First Order Supreme Leader Snoke. If not for Kylo Ren, Armitage might have briefly ruled the galaxy himself.

Snoke’s sudden emergence and command of the First Order surprised Brendol (a noteworthy fact in light of this episode’s revelations). But unlike most First Order officers whom Snoke killed or imprisoned, he kept both Brendol and Armitage in his service. Snoke/Palpatine realized the value of the fiercely devoted Hux family to his cause.

Brendol was also instrumental in Captain Phasma’s ascent in the First Order. Ultimately, that would lead to his death. Phasma and Armitage conspired to kill Brendol, who dissolved in a bacta tank thanks to the beetle poison the Captain gave him. Thus ended a long life of service in the name of evil.

What Is Captain Pellaeon’s Star Wars History with General Thrawn

Lucasfilm

Brendol Hux and Moff Gideon are not the only infamous members of the Shadow Council Star Wars fans have met before. The other is Captain Gilad Pellaeon, a character first introduced prior to Disney’s purchase. That relegated him to the non-canonical Legends category of the franchise. He officially returned as a canon character thanks to Dave Filoni. He officially reintroduced Pellaeon on Star Wars Rebels, where we heard his voice.

There he aided in the blockade of Lothal as commander of an Imperial Star Destroyer in Grand Admiral Thrawn’s fleet. Since then he has also appeared in two new canonical Thrawn books. In both Legends and the Disney era, Pellaeon has remained a servant under the high-ranking Grand Admiral.

During the era of The Mandalorian, Pellaeon controls more Imperial resources than the rest of the Shadow Council, just as Brendol Hux does. As a result he holds an elevated position of power and influence within the group. But his connection with Thrawn alone makes him an especially important figure. That’s true whether he really knows where Thrawn is—a fact not even Moff Gideon possesses—or is simply pretending to.

Why Is Thrawn So Important to The Mandalorian‘s Shadow Council?

Lucasfilm

The natural tension bubbling underneath the Shadow Council was on display during their clandestine meeting. Some want to get rich at risk to the group. Others want to strike against the New Republic immediately. A few want new leadership period. And some, like Moff Gideon, seem to have desires on ruling themselves. Grand Admiral Thrawn— missing since Ezra Bridger used purrgils to whisk them both away into the void of deep space—would not only immediately take control of the group if and when he makes his return known, he would be a galvanizing force for all loyal Imperialists.

The cunning, wise, dangerous Thrawn was one of the highest ranking officers in the Empire. He sat far above his own officer Pellaeon and Commandant Hux who hold so much sway over the Shadow Council now. Thrawn ( in a nod to Star Wars Legends) is a natural heir to the Empire. And with his capabilities he’s more than capable of restoring it to its former glory.

Thrawn will be a huge part of the upcoming spinoff Ahsoka series. He isn’t in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, however. Something or someone will seemingly prevent him from playing a role in Snoke’s reign over the First Order. But that doesn’t mean he won’t prove instrumental in turning the Shadow Council from a small secret group into a powerful army. And it also doesn’t mean he won’t make sure Palpatine returns.

What Is Star Wars‘ Project Necromancer?

Lucasfilm

Disney+’s Star Wars series continue to provide insight into the “dark secrets” The Rise of Skywalker merely alluded to in explaining how Palpatine returned. Now The Mandalorian has given the program a name: Project Necromancer.

Brendol Hux’s comments made clear the Shadow Council knew who was ultimately supposed to rule over a restored Empire. All nine members were in on the project, which we know will also result in the creation of Snoke in a laboratory.

(Though Brendol Hux’s surprise years later at Snoke’s sudden emergence reveals something important about this scene. Either the creation of Snoke was not originally part of the plan, or not all parts of the project were shared with all members. If Snoke was always part of the project from the start Brendol would have been waiting for the lab creation to assume control. Also his son Armitage would have known who was really pulling the First Order’s strings. Was Snoke the result of Gideon’s separate, unsanctioned clone work, which frequently involved bodies in tanks? That seems very possible. Snoke certainly wasn’t part of Hux’s clone work.)

Lucasfilm

But the wiping of Dr. Pershing’s memories, along with Moff Gideon’s own experiments that Hux referenced, seemed to delay work on Project Necromancer for at least some time. We don’t yet know how long those delays lasted, but it wasn’t forever.

Efforts to resurrect Palpatine, which began long before Luke Skywalker ever saw a hologram of a princess calling out to Obi-Wan, will ultimately succeed. And the Shadow Council’s efforts apparently played a major role in making that happen. Just as it did in making sure Palpatine had the First Order army in place to fight the New Republic.

What Are Moff Gideon’s Plans for Mandalore?

Lucasfilm

The Shadow Council quickly acquiesced to Gideon’s request for resources when he told them about the recent unification of Mandalorians. Specifically they worried about Mandalorian plans to retake Mandalore would mean for them. By the episode’s end we found out why they were so scared. It wasn’t simply a matter of a dangerous foe regaining strength. Gideon was operating out of Mandalore itself. Mandalorians retaking their home world meant they’d find his Imperial ships, soldiers, and cloning project.

But while he wants to kill all Mandalorians, he doesn’t want to destroy their world. Instead he wants to rule a new Mandalore himself. He plans to do that while wearing his own beskar armor. And he appears to have help from a Mandalorian herself, the Armorer who seemingly betrayed her people.

Gideon admires “the cloners,” the Jedi, and even Mandalorians. He wants to take the best of each group to make something new under his command. Will he succeed? We don’t know yet, but hopefully not. There are already enough terrible things coming to the galaxy far, far away. They won’t stay in the shadows forever.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at   @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.