Whatever Happened to…Zare Leonis?

The concept of multiple Force-user past Order 66 was not new by the time the first episode of Rebels aired on October 3, 2014. So when we meet Kanan Jarus and Ezra Bridger, it is not surprising. But other fates for Force-sensitive beings were hinted at in The Clone Wars and further developed within the Rebels corner of Star Wars. In season two of The Clone Wars, Anakin and Obi-Wan have to rescue four Force-sensitive children from the bounty hunter, Cad Bane. Darth Sideous hired Bane to bring them to Mustafar for never revealed reasons, and the Jedi never learned who was behind the kidnappings. 

It is the first indirect mention of Project Harvester, but the official title for the secret program came in the novel “Rebel in the Ranks.” The book was the second part of the Star Wars Rebels Servants of the Empire series starring Zare Leonis, an Imperial cadet who changes allegiance when his sister goes missing from the Imperial Academy. Not believing the official statement from the Empire (that Dhara had run away), Zare takes matters into his own hands with the help of his mother, Tepha, and slicer girlfriend, Merei Spanjaf.

Although Leonis made his first canon appearance in the first book, “Edge of the Galaxy,” most people know him from the season one Rebels episodes, “Breaking Ranks” and “Vision of Hope.” Under the pseudonym Dev Morgan, Ezra infiltrates the Imperial Academy on Lothal, posing as a cadet to retrieve the location of a powerful kyber crystal from Agent Kallus’s files. 

The Servants of the Empire junior novel series was the first introduction of Zare Leonis leading up to the Rebels premiere in October 2015 | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Zare catches on that “Dev” has ulterior motives and helps Ezra avoid detection. Zare confides to Ezra about his sister’s disappearance. While Ezra gets the files, he and Zare discover that the specific training program is to find potential Force-sensitives, putting him and another cadet he helped, Jai Kell, in danger. 

Zare ends up helping Ezra and Jai escape but stays in the Imperial Academy, using that knowledge to get more information on Dhara’s whereabouts. Ezra sees Zare again briefly, getting intel later in the first season in “Vision of Hope,” where Leonis mentions that he will leave to go off-world to an Officer Academy. And then, that’s it for Zare in the Rebels series. We do not see him again in the next three seasons; neither Ezra nor Jai, who joins the Rebellion on Lothal, mentions Zare.

If you wanted to learn whether Zare was successful in finding his sister, you had to complete the junior novel series. If you had no clue those books existed, you might have wondered what happened to Zare and if he ever found his sister. Luckily, a quick search would answer your question (he did!), but that is not the particular mystery in this post. What happened to the Leonis siblings after they escaped the Imperial Academy? And will we ever see them, or read about them, again?

What Happened Post-Rebels

While Zare helped Ezra and fellow cadet Jai Kell escaped the Imperial training center, he stayed behind | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

First, let’s revisit what happened after that Rebels episode where Zare and Ezra (still using the name Dev) said their goodbyes. The off-world Officer Academy Zare mentions is the Arkanis Academy. Arkanis, while first referenced in this book series, was also mentioned in YA and adult Star Wars novels like Lost Stars, The Aftermath Trilogy, and Bloodline. The Arkanis Academy’s overseeing officer was Commandant Brendol Hux, father of Armitage Hux from the Sequel Trilogy. Aside from being the location of Project Harvestor, Arkanis was also the location of the Commandant’s Cadets, a selective group of cadets that would be the basis for the First Order military taking children and training them to be soldiers from birth. Zare manages to infiltrate this group but is found out by a teammate and sentenced to death. Zare escapes with the help of allies within and outside of the Academy and locates Dhara’s holding cell. She is weak and disoriented from her long captivity when he finds her, but she still manages to use her Force powers to help them escape on Hera Syndulla’s ship, the Ghost. Ezra finally shares his real name with Zare, happy to be introduced appropriately. When Merei tells Zare that her father is working on new identities for both of their families to resettle far away from all this, Zare is not confident they can run from the Empire.

“I’ve seen how powerful the Empire is—and how powerful it will become if it isn’t stopped. The commandant at the Academy had a vision of an Empire that will rule the galaxy forever.”

Jason Fry. Star Wars Rebels Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy. Disney Book Group.

Where We Could See the Leonis Siblings Again

Zare’s skills (from the Star Wars Rebels Visual Guide) definitely could have come in handy if he continued to help the Rebellion | credit Lucasfilm Publishing

There is never a definitive answer on whether Zare, or Dhara, will fight the Empire, and it is currently their last reference in canon. “The Secret Academy” takes place 4 BBY during season two of Rebels, after the Grand Inquisitor’s death. Because the Servants of the Empire novel series (and the two episodes of Rebels) contains the entire Leonis siblings’ story thus far, there are many possibilities for one or both to show up.

First, I do not think either will appear in a show like Ahsoka. That series will have its hands full, at least in the first season, introducing so many animated characters into live-action. Sabine, Hera, Ezra, and Thrawn are confirmed, and I am sure other surprises. All those characters will need backstories for viewers who did not watch Rebels. And, given no one on the Ghost crew, including Ezra, mentions Zare after the events in the final novel, it is unlikely that they would suddenly resurface so many years later.

We know they are at least around while the Inquisitors are still active. Obi-Wan Kenobi provided even more insight into the side of the Rebellion focused on protecting Force-sensitives from Project Harvest. While Filoni did not write or direct the Kenobi series, his influence touched the show as Kenobi reads the name Quinlan Vos from a wall of people along The Path. A season two of Obi-Wan Kenobi is still possible, as well as spinoffs based on who survives from the series that could follow members of The Path during the Reign of the Empire. Haja is a character in Obi-Wan Kenobi who helps families with Force-sensitives acquire new identities and relocate. Haja could be the person Merei’s father contacted.

One far-fetched theory is that if we do not see Zare or Dhara again, we may see their descendants in Sequel Trilogy or post-Sequel Trilogy content. Is it possible we have already seen their descendants? 

Elia and Kel’s first appearance in season one of Star Wars Resistance as the only survivors of their town in the Unknown Regions | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Genetic inheritance of Force-sensitivity is wonky in Star Wars, and the Skywalker family is the exception, not the rule. Most beings with a Force connection come from families where they are the only ones. Most Younglings and Padawans did not come to the Jedi Temple with their siblings during the Prequels or The High Republic era. For every Depa Billaba and Sar Labooda, there are many more Ahsokas. 

At the risk of trying to connect everyone in Star Wars, the idea that one sibling is Force-sensitive and the other is not is rare in Star Wars canon. In Star Wars Resistance, we meet another brother and sister; the sister is Force-sensitive, and the brother is not. Kel and Elia escape The First Order on the Colossus after everyone in their town on Tehar are killed by the First Order and Kylo Ren. We do not know anything about the siblings’ parents, so the two could be the children of either Zare or Dhara. 

Tehar is in the Unknown Regions where The First Order established itself, removed from the watchful eye of the New Republic. Not sure how the Leonis family would find their way to the Unknown Regions, but if they wanted to go someplace where they believed the Empire would not find them, Tehar would be an ideal location. 

It is doubtful that the Servants of the Empire series will be adapted to screen, but Lucasfilm has already invested time in Zare Leonis’s character. And there is very little still known about Dhara Leonis, so exploring their older selves or potential descendants could lead people back to those early Rebels novels.