The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again?) of Star Wars' Darksaber
The Darksaber is gone. The black blade that became the symbol of Mandalore’s leader is, seemingly, no longer there to guide them in their new era of rebuilding and reunification after the events of The Mandalorian season three. But is anything ever really gone in Star Wars? If we look to the weapon’s own history, and Star Wars’ future, there’s reasons to believe that that’s not necessarily true.
The Mandalorian Jedi
The Darksaber’s tale begins generations before the story of The Mandalorian. Forged by the first ever Mandalorian to become a member of the Jedi Order, Tarre Viszla, the weapon’s design and rarity speaks to its age. From its black-white kyber crystal to its angled blade, the weapon was wielded by Viszla as a not just a Jedi Knight, but the first Mand’alor, the mantle that would be given to the Mandalorian warrior who could unite the warring tribes and houses of their people into a single society.
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After Viszla’s death, the Darksaber was interred by the Jedi in their temple on Coruscant, and as time passed the relationship between the Order and Mandalore Viszla had come to represent broke down. Descendants of House Viszla infiltrated the Jedi Temple and secreted the Darksaber away back to Mandalore, where it quickly became a symbol of the legitimacy of rule. It also became a symbol of resistance against the Jedi and the Old Republic itself, as Mand’alors led their people on the great crusades against the Jedi across generations of conflict—evolving their way of life and traditions to shape how they combatted the warrior monks of the Order.
Civil War and Death Watch
The Crusades broke Mandalore. The planet itself transformed into a barren, barely hospitable wasteland, while Mandalorian and Jedi alike perished in climactic battles of the conflict on worlds like Malachor. But even then, conflict was never far from the Mandalorian people—and thousands of years after Mandalore’s great crusades, in the waning decades of the Republic, the planet was once again torn apart by war. This time, however, it was an internal conflict rather than external. Factions divided between martial traditionalists, who sought to preserve Mandalore’s warrior culture, and Neo-Mandalorians, who rejected military conflict in the name of neutrality and interstellar independence. The sides engaged in bloody conflict for years to decide the fate of their people, with the Jedi directly intervening on behalf of the Neo-Mandalorians to safeguard their leader, the young duchess Satine of House Kryze, from repeated assassination attempts.
Satine’s Neo-Mandalorians emerged victorious in the civil war, and while Kryze became the leader of Mandalore’s new ruling council, the remaining martial traditionalists were exiled to Mandalorian colony worlds—including the scion of House Viszla, Pre, who reclaimed his family’s ancestral weapon and used it to forge the remnants of the traditionalists into a new guerilla faction: Death Watch.
At the height of the Clone Wars wreaking havoc across the wider galaxy, Viszla and the Death Watch staged multiple strikes against the Neo-Mandalorian government, culminating in a successful coup d’etat staged in part through an alliance with the Shadow Collective, a criminal syndicate backed by the former Sith apprentice Maul and his brother, Savage Opress. After betraying Viszla and executing him in ritual combat, rightful ownership of the Darksaber passed to Maul, who used it in turn to execute Satine Kryze, bringing an end to the Neo-Mandalorian government.
Maul’s rule of the planet was short-lived—his coup collided with the climax of the final hours of the Clone War, where Mandalore was besieged by Republic forces supporting Satine’s sister, Bo-Katan Kryze. After Maul was rendered into the custody of Ahsoka Tano, the Clone War was brought to an abrupt end with the systemic execution of Jedi Generals across the galaxy, the unconditional surrender of Separatist leadership, and the transition of the Republic into a Galactic Empire. Maul, embracing the chaos around him, escaped Republic custody and took the Darksaber with him to his ancestral home, Dathomir, where it remained in secret for over a decade.
The Mandalorian Resistance
The Darksaber left Maul’s grip after an encounter with the young fledgling Jedi padawan Ezra Bridger, who in turn passed the weapon to a young Mandalorian in his Rebel cell, Sabine Wren. An exiled member of Clan Wren, a small family vassal of House Viszla, Wren brought the weapon to Mandalore in an attempt to return it to its status as a liberating, unifying symbol for her people, who in the wake of the Clone Wars were subjugated by a proxy government of the Imperial regime.
Wren eventually willingly handed the Darksaber over to Bo-Katan Kryze, who spearheaded the Mandalorian resistance against the Empire, ultimately fighting back against Imperial control following the death of Mandalore’s Vichy leaders, Gar and Tiber Saxon.
The resistance’s victory was short-lived. At some point during the waning years of the Galactic Civil War, Imperial forces led by the ISB agent Gideon began a retaliatory bombardment of Mandalore, destroying the world’s remaining dome cities and its capital, Sundari in the process. After Bo-Katan Kryze negotiated a ceasefire agreement and surrender to the Empire in the wake of the bombings, known as the Night of a Thousand Tears, Gideon betrayed their terms and continued the genocidal purge of Mandalore, forcing Bo-Katan and her remaining forces into hiding off-world and stealing the Darksaber as his personal trophy in the process.
In Mandalorian Hands
After the fall of the Empire at large with the destruction of the second Death Star, Gideon rose to be an influential figure in the Imperial Remnant, now a Moff operating a Shadow Council of warlords and intelligence assets seeking to restore the Empire’s rule. However, he would eventually lose the Darksaber in combat with the Mandalorian bounty hunter Din Djarin, who assaulted Gideon’s personal cruiser in an attempt to rescue the young Force-sensitive being Grogu, held captive by Gideon’s forces.
Inadvertantly realizing that traditionally his victory granted him the right to wield the Darksaber, Djarin was forced to conclude his temporary alliance with Bo-Katan Kryze and her remaining forces and take the Darksaber for his own, after refusing to fight Kryze for the right to wield it.
A Given Gift
The loss of the Darksaber was a devastating blow to Kryze’s leadership of the remaining Mandalorian resistance, who abandoned her to become roaming hired guns. Reuniting with Djarin and his own tribe of independent Mandalorians—a pseudo-religious cult born from the martial traditionalist faction and dubbed the “Children of the Watch”—Kryze was eventually re-gifted the Darksaber by Djarin on a technicality, after he was incapacitated during a mission to Mandalore and rescued by Kryze, who picked up the Darksaber to save his life. The Darksaber now once again hers, Kryze united both her former forces and the Children of the Watch to stage an expedition to Mandalore, with the intent to begin the process of restarting Mandalorian society.
The Darksaber’s End...
Kryze’s expedition ultimately learned that Gideon, who escaped New Republic custody after his previous encounter with Djarin, was marshalling his remnant forces deep beneath the surface of Mandalore. Going to battle against the Remnant, Kryze engaged Gideon in single combat, temporarily overwhelmed by his modified Dark Trooper program’s advanced body armor. Using his enhanced strength, Gideon disabled the Darksaber by crushing the weapon’s blade emitter in Kryze’s hand, breaking apart the housing and seemingly destroying the ancient weapon.
The damaged hilt was recovered by the Mandalorians in the wake of their victory against Gideon’s forces, placing it at the heart of Mandalore’s Great Forge—no longer a weapon, but a symbol of Mandalore’s past as its people made their own future once again.
... Or Is It?
But is anything ever really gone in Star Wars? It’s telling that the Darksaber was simply grievously damaged rather than completely destroyed—and even when the galaxy far, far away has seemingly gone out of its way to show a legendary weapon like a lightsaber being lost, it can still find its way into the hands of a new hero. While it seems like The Mandalorian and Star Wars at large are currently ready to move on from the rebuilding of Mandalore as a focal storyline, there are potential seeds in place that could tease the reforging of the Darksaber anew.
Ahsoka, the next Star Wars live-action streaming series set to air this August, is largely going to be set either concurrent with, or perhaps likely in the wake of, the events of The Mandalorian season three. What little we’ve seen of the show already indicates that it will focus on its own narrative, as Ahsoka gathers allies to prepare for the seeming return of Grand Admiral Thrawn, an intriguing character glimpsed in the first teaser trailer for the series gives Star Wars a potential way out to a Darksaber reborn.
That character is none other than the droid Huyang. Voiced by Doctor Who icon David Tennant, Huyang appeared briefly in Clone Wars as an ancient servant of the Jedi Order, who spent tens of thousands of years training Jedi younglings in the process of creating their first lightsaber. That he’s survived into the time of the New Republic already makes him one of the oldest Star Wars characters in existence at this point, but most crucially he is one of the few remaining characters with the knowledge of building and repairing a lightsaber, even one as old and as heavily damaged as the Darksaber is.
Given that Ahsoka will be teaming up with the Darksaber’s one-time wielder Sabine Wren in the series, and the need for all the help she can get against threat of Grand Admiral Thrawn... could Huyang play a vital role in returning to the Mandalorians a powerful symbol of resistance thought lost? We’ll have to wait and see.
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