Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Opinion: The Return Of The Mandalorians


By Ciaran Duggan,

"I built weapons, terrible weapons, but the empire used them on Mandalore, on friends, on family, people that I knew. They controlled us through fear. Mandalore! Fear of weapons I helped create, I helped enslave my people.

"I wanted to stop it, I had to stop it. I spoke out to save them, to save everyone, but when I did my family didn’t stand with me, they chose the Empire, gave me no choice. The Empire wanted to destroy worlds and they did, they destroyed mine.”
"The empire rules with fear. Your family is in a prison, one of their own making. It’s up to you to help them out of it."

These are some of the final words from last month’s Star Wars Rebels episode, "Trials of the Darksaber". In the climactic moments of a highly regarded Rebels episode, Sabine breaks down and reveals all to Kanan, Ezra and Fen Rau. She discloses to them her past, her feelings and why she left her family and her home.

Her allusion to the past generates further questions about what has happened to Mandalore since the era of the Clone Wars. We have been given small doses of information since Sabine was first introduced as a character on Star Wars Rebels, but things remain very ambiguous. So the purpose of this article is to contextualise what we know and perhaps provide a glimpse into the kind of Mandalore – it’s people, it’s ideology, it’s political state and galactic status -  we will see in this week’s episode.


From what we have seen on Rebels over the past three seasons, it is clear a divided Mandalore exists. For the most part we have seen Mandalorians siding with the Empire. Fen Rau and his crew from were a clear example of this in season two, with this notion cemented following the appearance, this seasos, of the pro-imperial Mandalorian commander Gar Saxon.
Gar Saxon

The Empire has managed to acquire the allegiance of Mandalore through a carrot and stick approach. Emperor Palpatine has provided Mandalorians with wealth and political independence, as in the case of Concord Dawn, but has also warned them that their independence will come under threat if there is any presence of rebel activity. Sabine’s reference to the fact that she helped build weapons to ‘enslave’ her people also demonstrates the Empire has used methods of intimidation to get their way, also.

Slowly however, embodied in the character of Fen Rau and Sabine, we are also seeing that some Mandalorians have spoken out and are willing to act against the Empire.

Evidently not all Mandalorians are content with the situation. Some see imperial rule as quashing their autonomy as they are in effect a quasi-independent state because of the Empire. 

In addition, division between the different Mandalorian clans and sects has existed before the time of the Empire, as witnessed with the Mandalorian civil war during the Clone Wars (which involved a larger gambit between Maul, the Jedi and Darth Sidious). 

Pre Viszla on Mandalore during the Clone Wars
These are some of the motivating factors as to why some Mandalorians are willing to switch sides, from pro to anti-imperial Another reason is based in their traditions and beliefs, which stem back way before the time of Darth Maul and Pre Viszla.

“Legend tells that is was created over a thousand years ago by Tar Viszla, the first Mandalorian ever inducted into the Jedi order.

After his passing the Jedi kept the saber in their temple. That was until members of House Viszla snuck in and liberated in. They used the saber to unify the people and strike down those that would oppose them. One time they ruled all of Mandalore wielding this blade.

“This saber is an important symbol to that house and respected by the other clans.

“If Sabine can wield this saber she can re-unite one of the most powerful houses in all of Mandalore.”

Tar Viszla has officially been named as the first Mandalorian Jedi in Star Wars canon. This is a ground-breaking revelation that Rebels disclosed last week because we now know where the Darksaber originated from and the mythological backstory behind (a) it’s creation and (b) it’s possession in the hands of the Mandalorians.

Tar Viszla
The traditions of Mandalore were first made aware in The Clone Wars when Pre Viszla and his Deathwatch clan proclaimed themselves as the ‘true Mandalorians’ and traditionalists. Their philosophy contrasted directly with the philosophy of Duchess Satine and her pacifist views. It remains to be seen whether any strands of pacifism still exist on Mandalore because the outcome of the civil war remains so ambiguous. If any Satine loyalists did survive, did they go into hiding? Are they still on Mandalore? The distinct ideologies could serve as an important plot point in future stories to come, perhaps even next week on Star Wars Rebels.

Politics & Galactic Status

Mandalore is still regarded as an important player in Star Wars Galactic politics. The fact that the Empire are engaging in a more conciliatory and ambivalent policy with the Mandalorians, not simply a policy of coercion as they have done with systems like Onderon, would suggest that the Empire doesn’t want to upset the Mandalorians, fearing the consequences of such an uprising.

Mandalore was a critical player in The Clone Wars too. Palpatine had to evolve his strategy with Mandalore, initially attempting a Separatist incursion of the planet (with the aid of Deathwatch) and then having to dethrone Maul from his position of power on the once neutral system. 

Obi Wan and Satine on Mandalore
However, what we do not know is what life is like on the ground on Mandalore. The only Mandalorians we have seen have all been off world from their home planet. What is life like for Mandalorian civilians? Or for Mandalorians aligned with the Empire? For protestors? 

Which characters will we see return who we have seen in The Clone Wars – for example Bo Katan, a Viszla loyalist who was also sister to Duchess Satine. Will we see these characters return in the next episode or future storylines?  

These questions remain unanswered, yet hopefully they won’t remain so when we go to Mandalore next week. Of course next week's plot slant be concentrated more on Sabine and her family but, even if it is through dialogue, it would be nice to learn how life on Mandalore has changed for the ordinary citizen on the planet.


So what have we learnt about Mandalore and where we stand in the context of next week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels.

Mandalore is in division, yet remains under the yoke of the Galactic Empire. How long will it stay this way, and will Sabine unite the divided clans of the people of Mandalore. My guess is by the time next week's episode ends there will be a new leader of Clan Viszla and maybe even Mandalore.

Source: Star Wars Youtube
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