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With “Star Wars” Day (May 4) less than a month away, Lucasfilm and Disney have teamed up to drop the biggest surprise trailer reveal to build up hype for the annual celebration. The long-speculated and anticipated sequel of “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” (this time titled “Tales of the Empire'”) is finally coming to Disney Plus, and with it will come a deeper dive into two key characters and their imperial affiliations. Both Morgan Elsbeth (Nightsister and ally to Grand Admiral Thrawn) and Barriss Offee (former Jedi Knight and orchestrator of the infamous bombing of the Jedi Temple) will be the main focus of the series this time around. This pivot from a series believed to be recounting tales of Jedi throughout the “Star Wars” Universe was as unforeseen as it was welcome. Let’s dive into what the trailer showed us.

What to Expect in 'Tales of the Empire'

A woman seizes control of a people in this image from Lucasfilm.
In a divided world, it’s difficult to know who to trust. (Image: Lucasfilm)

“Tales of the Empire” will roll out similarly to its predecessor, “Tales of the Jedi,” only this time it’ll spotlight Dark Side narratives. Based on snippets of the narrative unveiled in the trailer, it seems we’ll get a closer look at the painful history behind Elsbeth’s (Diana Lee Inosanto) vengeful air as well as the long-awaited revelation of Barriss’ (Meredith Salenger) whereabouts after being exiled from the Jedi Order in Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”

The new series will mostly retain the stylistic approach made recognizable by the teams behind “Tales of the Jedi” and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” save for a handful of welcomed refinements. Aside from its narrative strengths, the trailer showcases several improvements to its animation across the board, most notably in its finer details, from zeroing in on grains of sand to flooding the frame with roaring flames. The series will also retain its anthology structure — a three-part storyline for each character, with each episode spanning a 15-20 minute running time.

Dave Filoni remains at the helm of the latest installments in the Star Wars Universe, this time stepping up as creator, supervising director, and executive producer after receiving a promotion to Chief Creative Officer of Lucasfilm in 2023. With Filoni and Jon Favreau overlooking production of the series, it’s safe to say the show is in good hands.

Characters You Need to Know (and Where to Watch Them)


A military leader recruits a member for the cause in this image from Lucasfilm.
Evil comes in all shapes and sizes. (Image: Lucasfilm)

Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), also recognized as Mitth’raw’nuruodo, was a callous Chiss strategist and leader who sought to serve the interests of Emperor Palpatine, ultimately earning rank alongside the likes of Darth Vader due to his unparalleled success in ridding the galaxy of rebels. He maintained a noteworthy career and position of power until he was thwarted by Padawan rebel Ezra Bridger when caught in an elaborate plan involving a breed of hyperspace-jumping whales known only as the Purgill. With the empire’s most notorious Grand Admiral and the rebels’ newest hope vanishing into hyperspace, the fate of the galaxy remained bleak and uncertain.

However, Thrawn’s unrelenting efforts don’t end with his exile into extragalactic space. True to his unrelenting nature, he uses this time to rebuild his fleet in secret in preparation for his eventual return — upholding his mission and his promise to crush the rebellion. A mission that, without the help of Nightsister Morgan Elsbeth, would be impossible to accomplish.

Feel Thrawn’s cold wrath firsthand by streaming “Star Wars Rebels” and “Ahsoka” on Disney Plus.

Morgan Elsbeth

A woman watches her world burn down in this image from Lucasfilm.
Anger is the fuel that keeps the Dark Side ablaze. (Image: Lucasfilm)

The path to the Dark Side beckons those with pain and anger seared deep into their hearts. Just as it preyed on Anakin’s fear, the Dark Side seduced a genocide-struck Morgan Elsbeth. “Tales of the Empire” will spotlight a core part of Elsbeth’s history: the day her home was engulfed in flames. We’ve witnessed Elsbeth in her final moments — the result of years of planning and cunning execution to locate and free Thrawn from an otherwise eternal exile. This series will focus on her upbringing, rounding out her past by providing the context necessary to understand how Elsbeth became such a powerful witch and force of reckoning for the empire.

Catch up on Elsbeth’s role in Thrawn’s revival in “The Mandalorian” and “Ahsoka” on Disney Plus.

Elsbeth and General Grievous

A military leader massacres a race of witches in this image from Lucasfilm.
Revenge is a dish best served cold. (Image: Lucasfilm)

Fans of the prequel trilogy and “The Clone Wars” will be keen on the reveal that Grievous will return with a drastically scarier and overall refined design. The trailer for “Tales of the Empire” revealed that Elsbeth was present during The Battle of Dathomir, not only as a witness to the genocidal massacre of the Nightsisters but blade to blade with Grievous at one point during the event. After all, Grievous is partially responsible for Elsbeth’s vengeful spirit; their duel will be one for the books.

Barriss Offee

A former Padawan is held captive in this image from Lucasfilm.
Our choices define us. (Image: Lucasfilm)

Nothing could’ve prepared me for the overwhelming reveal of Barriss Offee’s return during this massive event of a trailer. Offee’s direct impact on Ahsoka and her relationship with Anakin was too monumental when it happened to have been left unaddressed. But it was — for years. It wasn’t until “Ahsoka” was announced that I speculated we might catch another glimpse of Offee and get answers to what became of the exiled Padawan. Alas, the series came and went without mentioning the rogue Padawan. With that, I set aside my hopes, wondering if I might be right whenever Season 2 of “Ahsoka” happened to come around. The timing and delivery of Offee’s resurfacing are better than I imagined. I only hope that the consequences of Offee’s actions don’t result in us not seeing her again outside of “Tales of the Empire.”

Barriss and Vader

Military personnel await the arrival of their leader in this image from Lucasfilm.
Be careful what you wish for. (Image: Lucasfilm)

Toward the end of the trailer after a crescendoing climax, all falls quiet and the Grand Inquisitor tells Offee, “It is time you meet your new master.” For an instant, I held my breath and thought to myself, “It can’t be, but it might be” — and it surely was. The trailer-crushing finale reveals she will serve Darth Vader. It’s impossible to tell how Vader will react to seeing Offee again after all this time — if, when, and where he’ll choose to take out his anger, if not on Offee herself. This dynamic is what I’m looking forward to the most from the series.

Those unfamiliar with Offee who don’t resonate with the implications of this fateful pairing or understand why an entire anthology series is being dedicated to her can brush up on her back story by streaming “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” on Disney Plus.

Final Thoughts

A powerful force is unleashed in this image from Lucasfilm.
The light will always triumph over the dark. (Image: Lucasfilm)

I have high hopes for the upcoming wave of “Star Wars” television and film installments. “The Mandalorian,” “Ahsoka,” and “Andor” have all contributed meaningful stories, characters, and themes to the expanding galaxy. Smaller animated series “Visions” and “Tales of the Jedi” have contributed vibrant back stories and extensions to life within the preexisting universe as well. Despite the dense anticipation of a second season of “Tales of the Jedi,” Filoni’s pivot into other areas of the “Star Wars” Universe is a promising one. It has the potential to set “Star Wars” fans up with series such as “Tales of the Bounty Hunters,” “Tales of the Rebellion,” or “Tales of the Outer Rim” — and I can’t wait.

Watch “Tales of the Empire” on Disney Plus on May 4.

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