Anakin Skywalker appeared once again in the Star Wars universe via a cameo in Ahsoka, but there's still a lot of debate surrounding what it actually was. The complicated nature of the "World Between Worlds" opened the door to a lot of possibilities regarding the character's status going forward, though I think the past movies explain his appearance rather easily.
Following the release of "Part 5: Shadow Warrior" and lots of speculation about Anakin Skywalker, I'm throwing my hat in the ring into what I think went on in this episode. Granted, I am as in the dark as everyone else as to what the true intentions and meaning of the episode were, but I think there's evidence from the movies that could make it clearer.
There Are Many Theories About Anakin's Appearance
Anakin Skywalker is confirmed to be a Force Ghost in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, so I wouldn't be surprised if the gut instinct of many is to assume he was a ghost in Ahsoka. One wrench in the theory is that Anakin is not blue like most Force Ghosts we've seen, and he does much more than we've seen Force Ghosts do. Others, like The Nerdist have theorized he's something beyond that, which is basically just calling him a Force Ghost with more powers.
Star Wars Rebels fans will point out that Ezra Bridger saved Ahsoka from dying in her battle with Vader during the series by ripping her through the portal before the temple collapsed. In fairness, if that happened then time travel rules would say that Ahsoka never actually died because Ezra did that the first time we saw it happen. Plus, when Ahsoka was pulled through she didn't magically get mystical powers. I doubt Anakin somehow found his way to the World Between Worlds while alive, and I highly doubt he is back from the dead like some do.
How The Star Wars Movies Could Explain Anakin's Presence
The Ahsoka scene reminded me of when Luke Skywalker entered the cave attuned to the Dark Side in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. When Luke asked Yoda what was in that cave, he said, "Only what you take with you." Luke then went on to face what he believed was Darth Vader, only to kill him and see his own face behind the mask.
Mark Hamill actually has a funny story about shooting the cave scene and why that moment looks so real.
A moment similar to the cave scene happened again in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker when Rey battled a darker version of herself amidst the wreckage of the Death Star. Ultimately, Dark Rey was not real, and just like with Luke, Rey was struggling internally with herself and what her place was in the universe.
I believe that both of these scenes speak to what happened to Ahsoka and that the Jedi manifested a vision of Anakin that tied to specific points in her life. Like the cave on Dagobah or the wreckage of the Death Star, the World Between Worlds is a place where The Force has a significant presence and one that is capable of manifesting challenges for those in its presence.
With Sabine back in her life, Ahsoka is clearly thinking back to her own unfinished Jedi training with Anakin. It's no surprise that he would manifest in a vision and help her come to terms with the conflict in her mind about feelings regarding him. Perhaps Ahsoka felt that in abandoning Sabine's training, she was no better than Anakin?
Obviously, I'm just out here theorizing with the rest of the world, but I think there's a good enough track record to suggest that Anakin Skywalker was never physically actually in Ahsoka in any form. However, there's still enough show left for me to be proven wrong. So we'll see how the rest of this series plays out. In the meantime, perhaps I should binge Star Wars Rebels all over again with my Disney+ subscription.
Ahsoka premieres new episodes on Disney+ on Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. ET per the 2023 TV schedule. Tune in for the eventual reveal of Grand Admiral Thrawn and Ezra Bridger, and stick around for whatever excitement comes next.