For many Star Wars fans, the Mandalorians need no introduction. This warrior-based culture originated from Boba Fett‘s iconic debut in The Empire Strikes Back. Even though the Expanded Universe generated a trove of lore about them, the Mandalorians didn’t enter current Star Wars canon until the TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Moreover, the Mandalorians are set to reappear in Star Wars Rebels.
Who are the Mandalorians, and how will Rebels advance their story? Let’s tap into their rich history and find out.
The Clone Wars: Pacifists or Warriors?
After Boba Fett’s striking armor captured fans’ imaginations, the Mandalorians became an integral part of Star Wars. The Expanded Universe detailed their history through stories like Jango Fett: Open Seasons, the Republic Commando novels, and the Knights of the Old Republic comic series. However, The Clone Wars TV series added an untold chapter to their complex (and often violent) history: Pacifism.
Two of the major protagonists of The Clone Wars were Duchess Satine Kryze and her estranged sister, Bo-Katan Kryze. Whereas Satine and her New Mandalorians clung to peace and nonviolence, Bo-Katan had different values. Bo-Katan collaborated with her sister’s political rival, Pre Vizsla, to oversee the Death Watch. This splinter group aimed to overthrow Satine’s peaceful rule of Mandalore and revive its warrior culture.
Understandably, the Mandalorians’ competing ideologies led to recurring violence. The Death Watch entered into two alliances during the Clone Wars. Vizsla’s first partnership was with Count Dooku, but their combined efforts failed to topple Satine’s government. Though Vizsla’s second alliance — this one with Darth Maul — succeeded in deposing Satine, it also had severe repercussions for Mandalore.
When Maul beheaded Vizsla and seized control of the Death Watch, Bo-Katan refused to recognize Maul’s claim to Mandalore. She and her loyal Nite Owls thus deserted from the Death Watch to form the Mandalorian Resistance. Yet, it would take Bo-Katan until the end of the Clone Wars to change the balance of power on Mandalore. She also lost her sister, Satine, whom Maul killed as an act of revenge on Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Son of Dathomir: The Super Commandos
Apparently, Maul had a substantial effect on his Death Watch soldiers. His loyal warriors colored their armor red and became Mandalorian super commandos. The comic miniseries Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir chronicled an important part of the super commandos’ history, especially as they helped Maul wage war on Count Dooku and Darth Sidious.
In Son of Dathomir, two of Maul’s primary lieutenants were Rook Kast and Gar Saxon. Both Kast and Saxon led Maul’s Shadow Collective in its campaign against Dooku and Sidious. However, Maul’s shadow war ended badly for the Mandalorians. They lost their key allies, the Black Sun criminal cartel and the Pyke Syndicate. Moreover, Sidious and his allies killed Maul’s mother, Talzin, the matriarch of the Nightsisters.
The unreleased series finale of The Clone Wars focused on the siege of Mandalore. In that climactic event, ex-Jedi Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex worked with Bo-Katan to capture Maul on Mandalore. Yet, everything changed when Sidious issued Order 66. Maul escaped from Mandalore, as did Rex and Ahsoka. Meanwhile, violence gripped the Mandalorians’ homeworld once more, leaving it vulnerable to Imperial takeover.
Star Wars Rebels: Divided Loyalties
Star Wars Rebels has begun to detail the current state of the Mandalorians. Sabine Wren, one of the series’ protagonists, is part of Clan Wren of House Vizsla. In addition, her mother was a member of the Death Watch. Yet, though Sabine openly honors her Mandalorian heritage, she hasn’t expressed any personal ties to the Death Watch. And she’s certainly no fan of the Empire, which still occupies Mandalore.
The Mandalorians appear divided in their loyalty to the Empire. The Rebels episode “The Protector of Concord Dawn” showed that some Mandalorians worked for the Empire. Fenn Rau and his Protectors received Imperial payoffs to patrol the Concord Dawn system. However, Rau wasn’t fond of the Empire — or the Death Watch, for that matter. Ultimately, Sabine and Kanan Jarrus captured Rau, turning the Protectors into uneasy allies of the rebellion.
Other Mandalorians remain more committed to the Empire. Gar Saxon joins the Rebels cast in the upcoming episode “Imperial Supercommandos.” Over 17 years after he served Darth Maul, Saxon has become the Imperial Viceroy of Mandalore. It seems like the Empire modeled its rule after that of Maul, who also oversaw Mandalore via a puppet leader, Prime Minsister Almec. What’s more, Saxon leads a squad of Imperial supercommandos.
We still have much to learn about the Mandalorians’ future. Will Mandalore ever renounce the Empire? And what parts will Sabine and Fenn Rau play? Moreover, Bo-Katan is set to debut on Rebels soon, though it might not be during season three. Nevertheless, I’m sure that “Imperial Supercommandos” will serve as an important chapter in the Mandalorians’ continuing history.
Catch “Imperial Supercommandos” this Saturday, October 5 at 8:30 P.M. on Disney XD. And don’t forget to come back for our Recap and Reaction! Until then, Ret’urcye mhi.