Right at the end of The Mandalorian, the series has introduced a slick new Star Wars-y twist that is sure to be a big deal in season 2. But wait a minute! Just like Darth Maul popping-up at the end of Solo, this “new” Star Wars thing in the season 1 finale of The Mandalorian is something your kids might be able to explain to you, assuming they’ve been into the animated Star Wars cartoons for awhile. One huge thing at the very end of the episode actually comes from both The Clone Wars and Rebels. Here’s why it’s cool and which episodes of those Star Wars cartoons to watch on Disney+ next; with or without the kids while you fill the void for season 2 of The Mandalorian.
Spoilers ahead for The Mandalorian episode 8, “Chapter 8: Redemption.”
So, at the very end of the episode, it’s pretty clear that Moff Gideon isn’t dead, because Giancarlo Esposito is a little too badass to just use in two episodes. And sure enough, the final scene if him cutting himself out of his crashed TIE Fighter. And he’s cutting himself out with…what looks like a blake-bladed lightsaber. Here’s the deal. This thing is called a “Darksaber” and it’s pretty much the Mandalorian version of a lightsaber. And I don’t mean that figuratively, I mean that literally. The Darksaber was actually made by Mandalorians, like a thousand years in the past.
Back during the animated Clone Wars series, the planet Mandalore was a kind of a big deal. In fact, the ruler of the then peaceful Mandalore was named Duchess Satine and she was Obi-Wan Kenobi’s secret girlfriend. Long story short, there’s a huge civil war on Mandalore during The Clone Wars (around the time Din Djarin was a little kid) and Darth Maul ended up taking over the planet for a little while. During all this, the ancient Mandalorian weapon, the Darksaber was knocking around, and while several Mandalorians busted it out, it was used by Darth Maul to kill Obi-Wan’s main squeeze.
Later in Rebels (set about 20 years after that, but about 6-to 10 years before The Mandalorian, give or take), the Darksaber found its way into the hands of Mandalorian warrior Sabine Wren, who was also a member of the Rebellion.
Sabine took her helmet off all the time, so “the way” is a little dicey, but anyway, in a 2017 Rebels episode called “Trials of the Darksaber,” we learned that the Darksaber was one of a kind, and made by a guy named Tar Vizsla nearly 1,000 years prior. Here’s the dope thing: Tar Vizsla was both a Jedi and a Mandalorian, in fact, he was the first Mandalorian (maybe only) to become a Jedi, too. As was made clear in this final episode of The Mandalorian, being a Mandalorian is not a species thing, but instead, a culture thing…kind of like the Jedi. Now, the woman who gives Mando (not calling him Din yet, sorry just can’t) all his armor mentions that the Mandalorians and the Jedi had beef in the past, and that’s true, but it’s never really been depicted on anything you can watch. In fact, more recent history would have had the Jedi and the Mandalorians roughly on the same side, around the time of the prequel movies.
What does all this mean for your Disney+ binge? Well, if you want to get caught up on the origin of the Darksaber, here’s how you do it.
Technically, the Darksaber first appears in a three-part story in season 2 of The Clone Wars, consisting of “The Mandalore Plot,” “Voyage of Temptation,” and “The Duchess of Mandalore.” But honestly, season 2 of The Clone Wars is not the greatest, so if you want to start your Darksaber rewatch start with this stuff. (Disney+ links to each episode below)
The Clone Wars Season 5
There’s then a bunch of other Clone Wars stuff and Rebels stuff in-between, but you want to get right to the Darksaber lore, so go ahead and jump to Rebels. (Which, again, keep in mind, is set after Clone Wars, but still before The Mandalorian.)
Rebels season 3
Will all these episodes answer all your questions about why the Mandalorians in The Mandalorian behave the way they do? NOPE! But, it does give awesome backstory to the Darksaber, which, clearly, will be a big deal in season 2 of The Mandalorian. Let’s just see if Mando can keep that thing away from Baby Yoda.
Season 2 of The Mandalorian has not yet been announced.