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The final scene in the season finale of Disney+’s The Mandalorian proved to be a double reveal — one that was relatively obvious to anyone who’s… well, ever seen any Star Wars before, and another that might not have made sense to anyone who wasn’t relatively deep in Star Wars lore.
The obvious reveal was that Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) had survived the crash of his TIE Fighter. That, again, was hardly a surprise — indeed, given the lack of visible explosion when the fighter crashed, it could be argued that no one was expected to have thought any different in the first place, even before the sight of Jawas clambering around the flaming TIE Fighter at the end of the episode.
As cliche as it may seem for the villain to survive the confrontation with the hero, Gideon living allows the show to further explore the mystery of the villain, which has continued to grow since his debut in the previous episode: What does he want with The Child? What role did he play in the Great Purge of Mandalore? That last question became even more pressing with the second reveal of the finale — that Gideon had the Darksaber.
The Darksaber, as the name suggests, is a form of lightsaber with an all-black blade. It’s not just a neat effect; it’s an object that has been part of Star Wars mythology for years, and specifically Mandalorian mythology. The Darksaber was created by the first Mandalorian Jedi in history more than a thousand years prior to the events of the first movie — technically, it’s somewhere around 1,030 years old by the time it shows up in The Mandalorian — and had, to this point, been an object that had been predominantly held by Mandalorians, or at least those intimately connected to Mandalore.
While the final episode of The Mandalorian’s first season is the saber’s first appearance in live action, it has an extensive history in animation, being central to running storylines in both Star Wars: The Clone Wars — where it was, briefly, in the possession of Darth Maul during his time on the planet — and Star Wars Rebels, where it was last seen being used as a symbol to unite the Mandalorian clans under one rule.
That the saber now belongs to Gideon only exacerbates his mystery. By the time he emerges from the TIE, he’s already someone with two apparent links to the Mandalorian culture: He knows the Mandalorian’s real name, seemingly as a result of his presence during the Purge, and he offered payment — though Werner Herzog’s intermediary — in Beskar, the alloy use to make Mandalorian armor. That he also has possession of an object so important to the Mandalorian culture underscores how tightly bound to it he himself is, but why?
The Mandalorian’s second season will have countless new stories to explore, and new worlds to visit, judging on its first. But perhaps the most unexpected may be, what if Moff Gideon is, himself, a Mandalorian gone bad?
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