Three days after it debuted, the buzz around Chapter 11 of The Mandalorian remains significant. Bryce Dallas Howard’s episode packed a major punch and did so in in a short amount of time but it’s something that we didn’t see on screen that fans who aren’t extremely well-versed in Star Wars mythology might want to brush up on: the Darksaber.
If you watched Season One of The Mandalorian but have yet to catch up on The Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels, two animated series whose events are now canonical, you have seen the Darksaber before, though to be fair, you might not have known what you were seeing when you saw it. In last season’s final episode, when Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon used the Darksaber to slice his way out of his downed Tie Fighter, fans of the show got a look at the weapon while hardcore fans lost their minds. I don’t recall Gideon saying, “let me bust out this Darksaber”, so you’re excused if you didn’t know that’s what it was but now we know the purpose of that scene was to establish that the weapon was in Gideon’s possession and now, thanks to one brief bit of dialogue in Chapter 11, we know that Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan wants to get her hands on it and is almost certainly on a collision course with Gideon. If you thought to yourself, “that looks like a black lightsaber”, you’d be correct. The Darksaber is in fact an old Jedi’s weapon and has a rich history, most of which has been told through The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels; however, now that it’s made it’s way into live-action along with Bo-Katan, who first appeared in The Clone Wars herself, it’s probably a good time to get a brief overview of the blade and why exactly Bo-Katan is after it.
Created by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian to become a Jedi, the Darksaber has changed hands quite a bit throughout its history and its power is certainly more symbolic than absolute. During the fall of the Old Republic, the weapon was “liberated” from the Jedi by Mandalorians belonging to House Vizsla and remained in their family for generations. When a civil war erupted on Mandalore between the pacifist regime led by Bo-Katan’s sister, Satine, and the traditional Mandalorian warriors, the pacifists prevailed and exiled the old school Mandos to the planet’s moon, Concordia. There Pre Vizsla, an ancestor of the Jedi, created a group of hardline warriors called the Death Watch who used and included Bo-Katan among their numbers. Led by Vizsla and the Darksaber, the Death Watch retook Mandalore, though as seems to be the way it goes on Mandalore, it didn’t last long. Later, during the Reign of the Empire that saw Mandalore under Imperial rule, another Mandalorian named Sabine Wren came into possession of the Darksaber and gave it Bo-Katan, who sought to use it as a symbol under which to unite the many splinter groups of Mandalorians and take back their planet from the Empire. At some point, Gideon took possession of the weapon and, as we saw in Chapter 11, Bo-Katan wants it back and hopes to finally restore Mandalore to its former glory.
Of course having the Darksaber come back into play just as Din Djarin comes face to face with the fact that he might just not know everything there is to know about Mandalore and Mandalorians was an incredibly clever move on Howard’s part because she has put the audience and Djarin in the same place moving forwards. Just as you and I have questions about the unknown history or Mandalore, so does our Mando and we’ll almost certainly come to understand them together.