One of the most intriguing villains in the world of Star Wars is Grand Admiral Thrawn, who was introduced as a major villain in ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ and ‘Ahsoka.’ The thing about Thrawn, however, is that he is a tough one to fool because of the fact that he is a master of strategy and deduction. In fact, he even found out that Darth Vader was actually Anakin Skywalker. But how did Thrawn find out that Vader was Anakin?
Thrawn found out that Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker because they had previous experience working together on a mission during the Clone Wars. After Thrawn joined the Empire, he and Vader were tasked to go on a mission together. Thrawn was quick to recognize that Vader was Anakin based on his habits.
We all know that the emperor made sure that Vader’s true identity was a secret, as it was important to do so to keep the populace under control. While that may be true, some people were still smart enough to figure out similarities between Vader and Anakin, and Thrawn was one of them. Now, let’s look at how Thrawn figured out who Vader was.
Thrawn and Anakin met during the Clone Wars
The storyline of Star Wars is actually one that’s quite unique in the sense that the lore of the galaxy and the different things that happened in this fictional universe were not only explored in the movies and shows but were also expanded in the canon novels and comic books. Of course, Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the characters whose history before the events of ‘Rebels’ was actually explored in depth by the novels. And while there was hardly any mention of him and Anakin in the same sentence in ‘Rebels,’ it is actually interesting to note that he was familiar with Skywalker.
Timothy Zahn’s ‘Thrawn: Alliances’ novel allowed us to see a flashback scene involving Thrawn and Anakin. During the Clone Wars, Thrawn was still with the Chiss Ascendency, which was a race of near-human people living in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. At that time, the Chiss didn’t know anything about the Republic and the things that were happening in the other parts of the galaxy because they were isolated in the Unknown Regions. Of course, the Republic was also unaware of the Chiss Ascendency’s existence.
However, Thrawn needed to travel to the known regions of the galaxy, particularly the space around the planet called Batuu, because he was looking for allies against a threat to the Chiss Ascendency. At the same time, Anakin Skywalker of the Jedi Order was also nearby because he was on an unsanctioned mission to find his secret wife, Senator Padmé Amidala. And that was when they came into contact.
Anakin and Thrawn worked together after they met as they needed to exchange information with one another. Thrawn, however, didn’t speak Basic because the Chiss Ascendency wasn’t familiar with the language. As such, he needed the help of a translator. And that was when he and Anakin could help one another fulfill their own goals.
What did Thrawn Think about Anakin?
When Thrawn first met Anakin, he was intrigued because this was the first time he had ever heard of the Republic and the Jedi Order. He also wasn’t familiar with how the Jedi used the Force even though the Chiss already knew how to use it in their own way, particularly regarding interstellar navigation. As such, he was interested in Anakin and his abilities both as a Jedi and a general.
Eventually, Thrawn parted ways with Anakin with such high regard for his abilities. He respected Anakin because he realized that he was a bold and brave warrior. This was one of the things that allowed Thrawn to easily earn Emperor Palpatine’s respect and trust years later when he was already with the Empire, as he respected Vader just as much as he respected Anakin.
How did Thrawn learn that Vader was Anakin?
Of course, we all know that Anakin fell to the dark side and became Darth Vader. As the masked Sith Lord, Vader kept his identity a secret from the rest of the Empire because the people’s trust would be shaken if they found out that the emperor’s most trusted lackey was a former Jedi hero.
But while it may be true that this was a huge secret in the Empire, it was also true that there were people smart enough to put two and two together based on the things that they knew about Anakin and Vader.
In fact, Grand Moff Tarkin, who worked together with Anakin in the past and was one of the most trusted allies of Vader, was able to eventually put the pieces together to conclude that the two people were just one and the same. And if someone like Tarkin could discover the truth, an even smarter person like Grand Admiral Thrawn would have also found out about it.
Zahn’s ‘Thrawn: Alliances’ told the story of how the emperor sent both of his most valuable assets, Vader and Thrawn, on a mission to Batuu after sensing a disturbance in the Force in that part of the galaxy. And it was through this that Thrawn finally met the masked Sith Lord for the first time.
But Thrawn realized that this wasn’t the first time he came into contact with Darth Vader. Based on Vader’s habits and behavior, Thrawn was able to quickly connect him to none other than Anakin Skywalker. As one of the most astute minds in the galaxy, Thrawn could use whatever information he had to see how different dots connect. This included the similarities between Anakin and Vader, as there were still habits that the Sith Lord could never shake, no matter how hard he tried to keep his identity a secret.
While Thrawn never told Vader outright that he knew he was Anakin, he constantly teased him throughout the entire time they were working together on that mission. Vader, of course, constantly had to tell the Grand Admiral that he was mistaken, only for Thrawn to tease him again. While Vader didn’t exactly tell him that his conclusion was correct, Thrawn was well aware that this was the second time he and Anakin worked together on a mission, thus making him one of the few people in the galaxy aware of Vader’s true identity. And the scariest part was that he only needed a few pieces of information to guess right.
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