The final countdown for Star Wars Rebels has begun, and with it comes the series’ first core character death. Some saw it coming by virtue of the original films’ Jedi population, but new insight from showrunner Dave Filoni reveals that fiery last stand might have gone very differently.

You’re warned of full Star Wars Rebels Season 4 spoilers from here on out, but yes – the absence of Kanan Jarrus from the original films or Hera’s subsequent adventures has officially caught up with the series. Monday’s “Jedi Night” premiere saw Kanan rescuing Hera from Imperial forces on Lothal, albeit at the cost of his own life – holding off a fuel depot explosion to allow Hera, Ezra and Sabine to escape. It’s a huge moment that will hang over the remaining five episodes, but one that was certainly on fans’ minds, if Kanan wasn’t present during the Rebellion’s most famous battles against the Empire.

Not only that, but The Empire Strikes Back saw Yoda identifying Luke (or Leia) as the Jedi’s last hope, so is Ezra in trouble as well? Not necessarily – nor was Kanan’s death guaranteed – as Filoni told audiences at a screening that Yoda’s line was open to interpretation (h/t Nerdist):

It has nothing to do with [Yoda’s line]. I can’t stress that enough. ‘Rebels’ exists apart from whatever the consequences of all the other characters are, and you don’t know when Yoda tells Luke that what he’s trying to drive Luke towards … People take every line as this complete doctrine, and that’s absolutely not the case. To try to believe–you have to then parse that line out and start dividing it. Like what does it mean even to be a Jedi and does Yoda get to be the only person to define that. What he’s saying is, ‘You’re the only person left, Luke, trained in the art of a Jedi and being a Jedi that is around right now the way that Obi-Wan and I taught people.’ I could take it that way.

Filoni went on to explain that Gandalf’s death in The Lord of the Rings served as inspiration for Kanan’s end, if only to push Ezra toward a new level of selflessness (don’t expect “Kanan the White,” though). Additionally, fans may have noticed that Kanan’s eyesight did return in his final moments, as the Force seemingly connected he and Hera. You can watch Filoni’s explanation of the moment at 4:30 in Rebels Recon below, as well as the recording session in which Filoni broke the news to the cast. Poor Freddie Prinze Jr.:

In the meantime, Star Wars Rebels has its share of unanswered demises, so is there hope yet to see Kanan before the end? Will the rest of the Ghost crew’s fates prove so dire, if only Hera and Chopper are hanging around the original trilogy?

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