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An overly detailed history of Star Wars' Mandalore: What we know and why you should care

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Jan 31, 2019

Great things are already churning in the galaxy far, far away in 2019. The comics are going strong, E.K. Johnson’s book Queen’s Shadow is not far away, and Star Wars Resistance is constantly adding new lore while having a ton of fun in the process. All of that said, the year’s biggest riches lie ahead of us.

The main event is Star Wars: Episode IX at the end of the year. Nothing is going to come close to topping that in terms of excitement, but two other Star Wars projects will come pretty kriffin’ close. Both of them are set to debut on the small screen. A live-action series from Jon Favreau called The Mandalorian, and the long-anticipated (and completely unexpected) return of the animated sensation Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Both will debut on Disney+, and both will have more than a little to do with the planet Mandalore.

The planet in question has had a long and complicated history, both in the Star Wars universe and behind the scenes. Many books were written about the planet and its warrior culture before Lucasfilm began re-writing that history in Season 2 of The Clone Wars. Before long, the entire expanded universe turned into “Legends,” and everything we thought we knew about Mandalore was changed. The new canon of Star Wars has given us quite a lot of new history, so now is a fine time to catch up on all of the major events before Manda-mania hits our screens.

What is Mandalore?

It’s a planet in the Star Wars universe, located in the Outer Rim.

Is it gonna be in Episode IX? Is it where Snoke came from?

It is unlikely that it will feature in Episode IX, and no, I don’t think that it has anything to do with either half of Supreme Leader Snoke. Mandalore has yet to appear in any of the feature films, aside from the fact that both Jango and Boba Fett wore Mandalorian armor.

Got it, so the Fetts were Mandalorians. Cool.

Well, actually no. They were not Mandalorians.

Did you just "well, actually" me?

Yes. Jango Fett wore Mandalorian armor, but in the Season 2 episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars called "The Mandalore Plot," it is revealed that Jango himself was not a Mandalorian at all. Dave Filoni has said that this was a directive that came from George Lucas himself. This point was recently reiterated at the end of the comic Age of the Republic: Jango Fett.

If he wasn’t a Mandalorian, then why did Jango wear the armor?

Why does anybody wear anything? It looked cool, Mandalorians had a fierce reputation, and the armor came with a large utility belt full of tricks that proved useful for a bounty hunter. Boba was a clone of Jango, so he wasn’t Mandalorian either. He could’ve traveled to Mandalore at some point in his life, but if he did, we don’t know about it yet.

So they’re fierce warriors, and Jango stole their style?

Sometimes they’re warriors, sometimes they aren’t.

Just start from the top, I know you want to.

In ancient times, Mandalorians were a proud warrior culture and went up against the Jedi many times. The Mandalorian Tarre Vizsla actually became a Jedi and wielded a black-bladed lightsaber known as the "darksaber." This weapon ended up in the Jedi Temple until the members of House Vizsla stole it and used it to unify the planet under their rule.

It didn't last. After countless years of warfare, the surface of the planet Mandalore was scorched — people took refuge inside giant dome cities, and the planet rejected the old ways. The majority of the population decided to turn peaceful, and the ride-or-die Mandalorian warriors were exiled to a moon called Concordia. The ancient history of the darksaber is recounted in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels in the episode "Trials of the Darksaber."

So the Mandalorians were pacifists from that point on?

They tried to be. They declared themselves neutral during The Clone Wars, but eventually they got caught up in the drama. Obi-Wan Kenobi travels there in Season 2 of the series and reunites with their leader, Duchess Satine Kryze (voiced by Anna Graves). They once had a romantic liaison that Obi-Wan couldn’t follow through on.

Because of Jedi attachment, love, don't like sand, all that stuff?

Yes.

Is Satine actually Rey’s mother?

No. Ignoring that question.

While investigating the planet, Obi-Wan is told by Prime Minister Almec that Jango Fett was not a Mandalorian. He also witnesses terrorist activities carried out by "Death Watch," a group of the aforementioned exiled warriors who are hell-bent on returning Mandalore to its warrior roots. They wear the classic armor and use semi-rectangular blasters. Governor Pre Vizsla (of House Vizsla, the descendant of Tarre, and in possession of the darksaber) is secretly one of them, and also on Count Dooku and the Separatist Alliance's payroll. Most of this gets uncovered as Obi-Wan goes about the business of protecting Duchess Satine and not giving in to his obvious love for her.

Why would they join with the Separatists?

If Mandalore sided with Dooku, then Chancellor Palpatine could order the Grand Army of the Republic to invade the planet. That is exactly what ends up happening, but not quite yet. After the Duchess momentarily subdues Vizsla and Death Watch, she has to deal with rampant corruption, the duplicity of Prime Minister Almec, and some school kids getting sick from poison tea.

You made that up.

I most certainly did not. Check out the episode "Corruption" in Season 3 of The Clone Wars for all things related to poison tea.

I’m losing interest right quick.

It gets much more exciting.

Once Darth Maul bursts back onto the scene (a Darth no longer), he creates a “shadow collective” made up of all kinds of criminal syndicates. He uses this collective (and members of Death Watch, including Vizsla) to take over Mandalore.

Maul and Vizsla soon get into a saber-measuring contest, and Maul takes him out in an incredible duel. He uses Almec as a puppet leader, and when Obi-Wan comes to investigate... Maul gets in some revenge. He stabs a captured Satine through the chest with the darksaber (which he stole from Vizsla) right in front of Obi-Wan. It's horrible.

A civil war breaks out between loyal Mandalorians and those under Maul's sway, and Obi-Wan manages to escape thanks to Satine’s sister, Bo-Katan Kryze (played by Battlestar Galactica legend Katee Sackhoff). Everything's coming up Maul until Palpatine takes a little trip to the planet and reminds him who the boss is. Spoiler: the boss is not Mona.

There aren't any Mandalorians in that clip.

You do see a lot of Mandalorian architecture and murals, and the murals all highlight the epic battles of Mandalorian past. Also, who cares, just watch it.

Anyway, with the civil war raging, Palpatine now had a fine excuse to send in the clones. In an event called "The Siege of Mandalore," Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, Bo-Katan, and a ton of clones take the planet back.

That sounds amazing, where can I watch that?

You can see it in the new episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars that are coming soon. If The Siege of Mandalore doesn't feature in some way, I’ll drink a gallon of Lady Proxima’s pool water. We don’t know the specifics, but we do know that the Republic wins.

Good for them!

Not good for them because Order 66 happens at almost the exact same time, and the Republic very soon becomes the Empire. We know from Star Wars Rebels that Rex found a way around his programming, and we know from E.K. Johnson’s novel Star Wars: Ahsoka that Maul gets away and Ahsoka fakes her death, even leaving her lightsabers on the planet for Rex to put on the empty grave.

So the Empire was in control of Mandalore after that?

They were, yes. We go back there in Star Wars Rebels and the Empire is very much running the place. Series regular (and true Mandalorian) Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar) reveals that she trained at an Imperial Academy there, creating horrible weapons. Eventually, she had enough and got gone. She is a member of House Vizsla, and (thanks to Maul reappearing on the show) gets her hands on the darksaber. A new rebellion starts on Mandalore in this period — there’s Fenn Rau (Kevin McKidd) and the “Protectors of Concord Dawn” who are fighting for a free Mandalore on one side and there’s Gar Saxon (Ray Stevenson), lots of turncoats, and the Empire on the other.

What about…

Fun fact! McKidd and Stevenson played best buds on HBO’s Rome. Also, when Sabine returns to help a resurfaced Bo-Katan (still Sackhoff) give the Empire the boot, she goes up against an Imperial stooge who is using Sabine’s own weapon designs against her. Tobias Menzies voices that stooge, and he played Marcus Brutus on Rome. The casting department was on fire here.

All right. So, like, what happens?

Sabine, Rau, Bo-Katan, Sabine's family, and the Ghost crew liberate the planet. Saxon and friends go down. Rather than stay and lead them, Sabine passes the darksaber on to Bo-Katan, who steps up as the leader that she was always meant to be. A Kryze is once again calling the shots on Mandalore.

And then?

Then? We don't know. Some of the post-Empire history of Mandalore could (and likely will) be covered in The Mandalorian. It takes place after the Empire and before the First Order, and will center on “a lone Mandalorian gunfighter.” It seems like this particular Mandalorian actually is a Mandalorian, so he could potentially stop off back home at some point. If he does, maybe Fenn Rau or Bo-Katan are still around, and if so, they could potentially be played in live-action by McKidd and Sackhoff.

Bet you'd love that.

Who wouldn't love that? Incidentally, Jon Favreau (creator of the show) voiced Pre Vizsla in The Clone Wars.

If I want to catch up with all of this, what episodes should I watch?

In terms of The Clone Wars, definitely “The Mandalore Plot," ”Voyage of Temptation," and ”Duchess of Mandalore” in Season 2; "A Friend in Need” in Season 4; “Eminence," “Shades of Reason," and “The Lawless” in Season 5. For extra credit (and poison tea), there’s “Corruption” and “The Academy" in Season 3.

With Rebels, check out “The Protector of Concord Dawn” in Season 2; ”Imperial Supercommandos," ”Trials of the Darksaber," and ”Legacy of Mandalore” in Season 3; “Heroes of Mandalore” (Parts 1 and 2) in Season 4.

Jango Fett really wasn’t from Mandalore?

If he was, they’re not telling us yet. Anything can happen.


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