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Why Bo-Katan's presence in 'The Mandalorian' is a big deal

Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze in The Mandalorian.
Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze in The Mandalorian. (Image credit: Disney+)

This post contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, and mild spoilers for "The Heiress" episode of The Mandalorian.

The Mandalorian Season 2 has struggled in two primary areas. The first is that the premiere didn’t do its job (despite giving us a delightful performance from Timothy Olyphant) in setting up the season, and “The Passenger” elected not to provide a further narrative either. The next issue snowballs from their refusal to set up a narrative until “The Heiress,” in that they were stuck with a bit of an exposition dump and gave casual fans no information as to why they were supposed to care about the suddenly introduced Bo-Katan Kryze.

Before we hop in, it’s important to understand that there are multiple stories involving Bo-Katan that exist in the overall Star Wars mythos. Think of it in the same way we think about superheroes and their multiple comic book narratives. After the original Star Wars trilogy, a whole host of novels were created. The franchise declared that these stories were no longer canon (whatever canon means to a space epic), so we’ll be sticking to her story in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.

The Timeline

Let's break down the order of everything that’s going down – and has gone down – in LucasFilm approved Star Wars canon before we hop in. Your little friends with * are directly relevant to what we’re talking about today, while the rest of the canon is tangentially important but not actively pertinent in the current context.

  • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
  • Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars*
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Star Wars Rebels*
  • Rogue One
  • Star Wars: A New Hope
  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  • The Mandalorian*
  • Star Wars Resistance
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The Origin of Bo-Katan Kryze

Bo-Katan has a bit of a troubled origin story. In her early years, the human lived on Mandalore and fought as a member of the Death Watch. The Death Watch’s story is a long one, but the gist of their crusade is the fact that they believed Mandalorians should return to their status as the most feared warriors in the galaxy rather than remaining under the pacifist rule of Duchess Satine Kryze. Those with a keen eye will note the same last name there. The Duchess and Bo-Katan are sisters. 

The rebellious Mandalorian was a trusted lieutenant of Pre Vizsla, the leader of the Death Watch. When he was murdered by Darth Maul — who very much survived being sliced in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi — Bo-Katan continued to lead a group of Death Watch loyalists against Maul and his planned rule of Mandalore.

A Complicated Allegiance with the Jedi

Though their ideas for the future of Mandalore were fundamentally different, Bo-Katan still loved her sister. The Duchess had a bit of a “It’s Complicated” relationship with Obi-Wan Kenobi, which made her a prime target for Darth Maul. The very same Darth Maul who had aspirations to rule Mandalore and had recently murdered Pre Vizsla and taken possession of a good number of his troops as well has the Darksaber.

When Darth Maul murdered Satine, Bo-Katan formed a tenuous allyship with Obi-Wan in order to take the Sith Lord down. The Mandalorian believed that the Jedi and the Sith were equally evil, but she knew that the Jedi would be able to intervene in the problem now that it was an issue that included the Sith. Though Obi-Wan warned that the Republic would invade the planet in order to eradicate the Sith, Bo-Katan showed little concern. "Mandalore will survive. We always survive."

While her opinions of the Jedi were not swayed by Obi-Wan, her complicated relationship with the Order would continue when she asked Ahsoka Tano to assist against Maul as well.

Mandalore Occupation and the Passing of the Darksaber

With the assistance of the Jedi Order and the Republic, Darth Maul was eventually bested and taken into custody. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the end of the Mandalorians’ trouble with the Empire. With Mandalore ultimately leaderless and left with a people trying to restore order after countless hardships, the Empire swooped in and occupied the planet.

During the Empire’s occupation of the planet, Bo-Katan would partner with notable Mandalorian rebel Sabine Wren. At the time, Sabine was the wielder of the fabled Darksaber. After the two (and their allies) managed to take down a Imperial weapon built to target Mandalorian armor, Sabine gifted Bo-Katan the Darksaber, thus uniting Mandalore for the first time since their conqueror roots.

The current present

We’ve got some blanks here! Now, it seems most likely that the Darksaber transitioned directly from Bo-Katan to Moff Giddeon based on what we know from the timeline and how directly irked the Mandalorian leader is by his possession of it. What we don’t know is how. Rebels didn’t necessarily “solve” the Empire’s occupation of Mandalore, and Bo-Katan and her Watch were after the weapons to take back their planet.

The issue The Mandalorian runs into now is that this particular story is infinitely more interesting than finding Baby Yoda’s people. Of course, the reason this piece needed to be written is because the series felt no need to actually explain to casual fans why they should care about Bo-Katan’s presence in the first place. So … give and take?