The Mandalorian: Bo-Katan's Star Wars Origin and History on Mandalore Explained

The Mandalorian Season 3 follows Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) on his pilgrimage to Mandalore searching for absolution for his sins against the Way of the Mandalore. To accomplish his quest, Din Djarin seeks the aid of Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), a Mandalorian who follows a different path than the Way, but whose goals overlap with Din Djarin's in that she wishes to reclaim Mandalore. However, while both seek a return to Mandalore, Din Djarin and Bo-Katan's desires and beliefs meet at some awkward angles, particularly concerning the Darksaber and what it means to wield it or to take it from another.

We've offered explanations about who Bo-Katan Kryze is before, but her life and her mission can only be fully understood when placed in the context of Mandalorian history. Here we'll look at both to see how the latter informs the former:

Ancient Mandalorian History and Tarre Vizsla, the Mandalorian Jedi

Star Wars canon has offered few details about Mandalore's early history. What is known is that the planet, located in the galaxy's Outer Rim, bred warriors. Those warriors fought in many galactic conflicts, including many battling the Jedi during the era of the Old Republic (the old Star Wars Legends canon went into more detail, but those accounts are no longer canon).

During the Old Republic era, a Force-sensitive Mandalorian named Tarre Vizla became the first Mandalorian to join the Jedi Order. During his lifetime, Tarre Vizsla founded House Vizsla, which became one of Mandalore's most prestigious lineages He also forged the Darksaber, that unusual black-bladed lightsaber that remains Bo-Katan's fixation generations later. After its creation, Tarre Vizsla wielded the Darksaber as leader of Mandalore, taking up the title of the Manda'alor. (It is unclear whether Tarre Vizsla left the Jedi Order to become Mand'alor, or if the Jedi Order's rules about attachments and titles among its members were different during the Old Republic era.) After Tarre Vizsla's death, the Darksaber came to rest in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, where it remained until members of Houser Vizsla raided the temple during the fall of the Old Republic. They took the weapon back to Mandalore and passed it down from generation to generation within their House.

(Photo: Duchess Satine Kryze)

The New Mandalorians and Civil War

Centuries of warfare turned Mandalore's once verdant surface into a barren landscape. A reckoning with what constant conflict had done to Mandalore led to the rise of the New Mandalorians, a pacifist faction who came to lead the planet. However, holdouts who still kept to the traditional Mandalorian values and practices remained.

Sometime during this era, Bo-Katan was born into House Kryze. She had a sister named Satine who believed in the pacifist teachings of the New Mandalorians. Bo-Katan, meanwhile, inherited a set of traditional Mandalorian armor passed down through the Kryze family for generations. While Satine and Bo-Katan were close as children, it seemed almost destined that they'd walk opposite paths. Satine became Duchess of Mandalore, leading the planet on behalf of the New Mandalorians. Bo-Katan became taken with the old ways.

During Satine's time as Duchess, a civil war broke out on Mandalore. The conflict wiped out the majority of Mandalore's population. Satine likely only survived through the intervention of the Jedi Order, which sent Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to protect Satine while on the run. Satine and Obi-Wan formed a romantic bond, but Obi-Wan ultimately abandoned the relationship to return to the Jedi Order and its rules, which forbade such attachments. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's departure marked the end of Jedi involvement in Mandalore's affairs, forcing Satine to rebuild her broken world on her own.

The civil war had destroyed what little grasslands and other vestiges of Mandalore's original state that had remained on its surfaces. Thus, Mandalore's remaining warriors were exiled to the moon of Concordia while bio-domes were built on the surface to support Mandalore's remaining population. With the planet's previous capital city, Keldabe, in ruins, one of the new bio-domes, Sundari, replaced it.

(Photo: Bo-Katan Kryze with Death Watch)

The Clone Wars and Death Watch

Satine remained in power when the Clone Wars began. Following the New Mandalrians' pacifist philosophy, she chose to keep Mandalore neutral in the conflict. Unbeknownst to Satine, the exiled warriors managed to survive on Concordia and formed a terrorist group called Death Watch. By the time of the Clone Wars, the Death Watch had come under the leadership of Concordia's governor, Pre Vizsla, a member of Tarre Vizsla's house who had the Darksaber in his possession. Still believing in the old ways of Mandalore, Bo-Katan joined the Death Watch, leading an elite group of female Mandalorian warriors called the Nite Owls.

During this time, Count Dooku tried to bring Mandalore into the separatist fold through a clandestine alliance with Death Watch. When their plans failed, Dooku betrayed them and left them to suffer the consequences. Satine exiled the now-revealed Death Watch from the Mandalorian system, including Pre Vizsla and Bo-Katan.

It was during this exile that members of Death Watch rescued Din Djarin from a Separatist droid during an attack on his homeworld. While in the Death Watch's care, Din and Bo-Katan met and formed a connection, but later forgot each other (at least according to Star Wars' Japanese social media accounts).

Having inducted him into the Mandalorian culture as a foundling, Death Watch eventually brought Din to Concordia, where he grew up. By the time he became an adult, Din Djarin had joined the Tribe, a sect of the Children of the Watch that dwelled on Concordia, whose strict religious practices had long fallen out of favor in mainstream Mandalorian society.

(Photo: The Shadow Collective)

Maul's Shadow Collective and the Mandalorian Resistance

As the Clone Wars continued to rage, Maul, the former Sith Lord who apprenticed under Darth Sidious, reemerged. The exiled Death Watch discovered Maul and his brother, Savage Opress, in an escape pod. Eventually, Maul revealed they were Sith Lords who had no allegiance to Count Dooku. Bonding over their shared hatred of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Maul, and Pre Vizsla decided to work together to both punish the Jedi and take control of Mandalore. Bo-Katan, remembering Dooku's betrayal, remained wary of allying with another Sith Lord, but abided by the Death Watch's vote to follow Maul's plans.

To achieve their goals, Maul took control of several criminal organizations operating throughout the galaxy, forming a single syndicate, the Shadow Collective, under his control. Maul had the Shadow Collective stage flash flag attacks on Mandalore, including attacking Sundari, which allowed the Death Watch to swoop in and play the role of heroic protectors. Pre Vizsla swore to work with Satine to protect their people, but quickly had the Duchess arrested behind closed doors.

As soon as they had control of Mandalore, cracks began to form in Maul and Pre Vizsla alliance. Maul plotted with another Mandalorian, former Prime Minister Almec. Maul challenged Pre Vizsla to single combat and emerged victorious in front of the rest of the Death Watch. Maul took the Darksaber and proclaimed himself the new Mand'alor, ruling the planet through Almec, his political puppet.

Seeing this, Bo-Katan took a group of Death Watch members and left the faction, forming a splinter group that would come to be known as the Mandalorian Resistance. The group attempted to rescue Satine from imprisonment. They failed, but a message did go out to the Republic asking for help.

The Republic and the Jedi Order refused to officially become entangled in Mandalorian affairs after the New Mandalorians refused to aid in the war but Obi-Wan Kenobi made it his personal mission to rescue Satine. Obi-Wan managed to infiltrate the prison and stage a jailbreak, but Maul caught up with them and killed Satine, letting her die in Obi-Wan's arms.

Bo-Katan helped Obi-Wan to escape. She assumed he'd return with Republic reinforcements to help overthrow Maul. Help didn't come.

Maul's Fall, Return, and the Siege of Mandalore.

While the Republic didn't take initiative to deal with Maul, Darth Sidious soon learned that his old apprentice had returned. The Sith Lord couldn't allow another power to rise to potentially challenge him. He paid a visit, slew Savage Opress, and imprisoned Maul. Sidious believed Maul finished, but the former Sith managed to escape and rebuild his Shadow Collective. He soon returned to Mandalore, which had remained under the control of his catspaw, Almec.

Bo-Katan and her Nite Owls fled Mandalore but continued tracking Maul's movements. They hoped to find the additional forces they'd need to end Maul for good, taking back Sundari and Mandalore in the process. They eventually ran into Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Tano's former padawan who had been expelled from the Jedi Order and refused to return after the expulsion was undone. Bo-Katan pleaded her case, pointing out that they had a shared enemy in Maul, and convinced Ahsoka to petition the Jedi and the Republic for help. The Republic agreed to send a force to Mandalore under the command of Rex, who received a promotion to Commander, and Ahsoka, in an advisory capacity. They'd work together with Bo-Katan's Nite Owls. The siege is successful. Maul is deposed, Bo-Katan is appointed Mandalore's regent by the Republic, and the Darksaber goes missing.

(Photo: Mandalorian Sabine Wren with the Darksaber)

Imperial Occupation, Mand'alor Bo-Katan, and the Purge

Almost no time had passed between the Siege of Mandalore and Order 66's delivery, ending the Jedi Order and transforming the Republic into the Empire. Mandalore had traded Maul's tyranny for Imperial occupation. Bo-Katan opposed the occupation but Clan Saxan betrayed her, helping the Empire drive her from power on Mandalore. Gar Saxon took her place, becoming the Imperial Viceroy of Mandalore. Clan Saxon remained in power, doing the Emperor's bidding, for nearly 20 years.

During that time, the Empire founded an Imperial Academy on Mandalore to train Mandalorians to serve the Empire. Sabine Wren was one such cadet. A genius with machines, she developed a weapon called the Duchess, which could discharge energy that would interact with beskar armor, frying its wearer. Her family, House Wren, had remained loyal to Clan Saxon, but after learning that they planned to use the Duchess to suppress dissent among Mandalorians, Sabine fled Mandalore. As punishment, her father was made a prisoner of House Saxon.

Sabine joined the Spectres, where she met Ezra Bridger. Ezra discovered Maul on Dathomir and, in Maul's lair, the Darksaber. After 20 years under Saxon rule, House Wren stood against them. Sabine's mother, Countess Ursa Wren, slew Gar Saxon, plunging Mandalore into another Civil War. To end the war, House Wren believed they needed a Mandalorian strong enough to unite the clans under their leadership as the new Mand'alor. They found Bo-Katan and convinced her and her Nite Owls to ally with the rebels to take back Mandalore. They succeeded, and Bo-Katan's exploits earned her the loyalty of many clans, including Clan Vizsla. Sabine presented her with the Darksaber as a symbol of her new role as Mand'alor. However, the Children of the Watch on Concordia rejected Bo-Katan, believing she had been chosen because she was Duchess Satine's sister only. They also believed she'd taken the Darksaber illegitimately, having accepted it as a gift rather than winning it in combat.

Unfortunately, Bo-Katan's triumph only convinced the Empire that they'd never be able to maintain Imperial control over Mandalore for long. However, if the Empire couldn't have it, no one could. Thus began the Great Purge of Mandalore. Bo-Katan and her allied forces fought back, but they couldn't prevent "The Night of a Thousand Tears," in which the Mandalorians suffered near-genocide by the Empire. The cities on the surface, including Sundari, fell, and the mines of Mandalore were believed to be destroyed.

The few Mandalorians survived scattered across the galaxy, including Bo-Katan and the Nite Owls. The Tribe, a sect of the Children of the Watch that had been on Concordia during the Purge, began to operate in secrecy, allowing only one of them to travel aboveground at a time to hide their numbers. The Tribe believed that Mandalore was a cursed world and that any who went there would die. Other Mandalorians simply believed the planet was poisoned. Meanwhile, the Empire looted the planet, taking the beskar metal that once belonged to the Mandalorians.

(Photo: Bo-Katan Kryze)

After the Empire

After the fall of the Empire, Mandalore seems to occupy little interest for most citizens of the galaxy and it has become steeped in superstition. In reality, the planet's surface is little more than ruins scattered over a landscape crystallized by the Empire's bombs. Bo-Katan, however, still hopes to reclaim it for her people.

She allied with Din Djaring against Moff Gideon, a member of the Imperial Remnant who had been present at the Great Purge of Mandalore and had come to possess the Darksaber. She hoped to retrieve the Darksaber, but it was Din Djarin who defeated Gideon and took the weapon. Refusing to accept the Darksaber as a gift again, she returned empty-handed, and her support faded away while she took up residence in her family's castle.

Who is Bo-Katan Kryze?

Bo-Katan Kryze is an interesting character. The main throughline of her life is her dedication to Mandalore and the Mandalorian people. In her youth, she believed that meant dedication to traditional Mandalorian values. It's unclear how much she still clings to those ideals as she's been too busy reclaiming Mandalore over and over again to implement any of her policies. After having lived through multiple civil wars and occupations, one wonders if the harshness of her life has made her cling harder to the old, martial ways, or if it makes her yearn for the peace her sister valued.

The Mandalorian Season 3 debuts new episodes on Wednesdays on Disney+. Bo-Katan's story plays out in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and The Mandalorian, which are all streaming on Disney+.