Ray Stevenson died at the age of 58. He leaves behind a legacy as an actor who fully committed to their roles and helped his audience invest in the characters he portrayed. For me, his most memorable works included his roles in King Arthur, Thor, Star Wars Clone Wars and Rebels, and of course his most recent work as Baylan Skoll in Ahsoka.
Several of his former Ahsoka costars took to social media during or shortly after the premiere of episode 8 to express their sadness in seeing his final episode with them. Ivanna Sakhno, who plays his apprentice Shin Hati in Ahsoka, posted a picture of a painting by John Charles Dollman to her Instagram page with the words, “For my friend Ray. Forever your Wolf”, inscribed in the post. Ivanna’s post elicited responses from show lead, Rosario Dawson, along with Diana Lee Inosanto and Natasha Liu Bordizzo also making comments to the post.
The loss of Ray Stevenson leaves a gaping hole in the Star Wars community, not just because of the quality of Ray’s acting abilities, but because of the character he brought to life in season 1 of Ahsoka. Ray Stevenson’s portrayal of Baylan Skoll was setting up some important storylines that we would most likely see played out in season 2 of Ahsoka, or in an upcoming season of Mandalorian, or quite possibly Dave Filoni’s Mando-Verse movie.
The Story So Far
In Ahsoka, we are introduced right away to Master Baylan Skoll and his apprentice, Shin Hati. We see that they are in search of Grand Admiral Thrawn, along with Nightsister Morgan Elsbeth. We see Shin and Baylan part ways after reaching the planet of Peridea, where Thrawn has been marooned since leaving Lothal with Ezra Bridger. They split because they are looking for very different things. Shin Hati is looking for a force power that Baylan cannot help her to get, and so he releases her and sets about on his own quest to find the things that are of children’s stories and legends. We find out what those things are at the end of season 1 as Baylan stands atop the statue of the Mortis gods. On the outstretched hand of the Father, Baylan looks off into the distance, and the episode ends.
What to do with Baylan?
There are two possible ways that this loss of Ray Stevenson could be approached. First, they can write his character out of the show and make it so that his character was just lost to the wilds of Peridea, making it so that Ray is the only person to ever perform as Baylan Skoll. On the one hand, it would be easy to write to him out of the story from where he is. I am sure there is enough cut footage of Ray on set where they could do something like they did with Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia. Give a tribute to someone who has passed and it finishes their story on screen. OR …
Two, the show must go on. Not to be cold or heartless, but Baylan’s story still has much to tell, and it would be a shame for the additional details of his story not to be told. Recasting Baylan with another actor, such as Liev Schreiber, would allow the character to continue, which pays homage to Ray with his continued work. Liev is approximately the same age and size as Ray, and they have very similar features. It would be a very believable transition from one actor to another.
With the introduction of the Mortis Gods and their rediscovery by Baylan, it is important that he be the one helping to lead and develop the story as it unfolds. What was the beacon, or light, that Baylan was looking at off into the distance? Is Ahsoka the new daughter since the owl, or Morai, continues to follow Ahsoka and appear around her from time to time? Does Baylan’s timeline introduce Abeloth to Star Wars and does he unlock her from her prison?
If Baylan Skoll is written out of the series and not recast, we all lose. We lose the opportunity to pay continual respects to Ray, and we lose the story that could have been. Ray’s loss is tragic, and thus far unexplained, but we can honor him and pay a wonderful tribute to him by resting his last character.
Thank you Ray Stevenson for all the joy you brought into our world and for sharing your gift with us. Rest in peace our good sir.
The necessary business
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