*** Be warned that FULL SPOILERS ARE AHEAD for the most recent episode of The Mandalorian, so if you haven’t watched it yet, don’t read this article. ***
Chapter 12 of The Mandalorian, “The Siege,” included plenty of action and lots of intrigue, including in the final scene of the episode.
As an Imperial officer informs Moff Gideon that a tracking device has been installed on the Razor Crest, we see that Gideon is standing in a room lined with what looks like soldiers or armor, while an Imperial scientist (wearing the logo of those who worked on the Death Star) works nearby.
But what project are we getting a glimpse of? Watching the episode with the Audio Description on reveals it: these are Dark Troopers.
So what are Dark Troopers? I’m glad you asked!
Dark Troopers appeared in Legends material as a formidable group of Imperial combat droids. They were first introduced in the video game Dark Forces, which also first introduced Kyle Katarn, the Imperial-turned-Rebel-turned-Jedi who appeared in a number of Legends stories.
The Dark Trooper project had a number of different phases, morphing as it went on. The first phase involved the Empire experimenting on clone troopers by using similar technology that was used in Darth Vader’s suit to turn the clone troopers into cybernetic warriors. This was met with middling success, but the Dark Trooper project eventually progressed to the next phase, where the troopers were enhanced and advanced combat droids. This led to the next phase, which was the most successful and most widespread, as the Dark Troopers were equipped with heavily resistant armor and significant weaponry that made them most formidable in combat. A final phase of the Dark Troopers was developed, though it never was widespread, and included significant advances as an exoskeletal suit – which was worn by General Rom Mohc, who oversaw the project for the Empire aboard his ship, the Arc Hammer.
Mohc was killed and his ship destroyed by Kyle Katarn, however, and with him died the Dark Trooper project.
But that’s all in Legends. What about canon? Well, we don’t really have much to go off of, besides the fact that Dark Troopers are indeed canon, introduced in the Star Wars: Commander mobile game. It’s unclear how much similarities they bear to the Legends version, but we know that there were multiple phases of this Dark Trooper project too and that the Empire used these advanced combat droids in battle. Additionally, the Imperial sentry droids seen in Star Wars: Rebels were inspired by the Dark Troopers in Legends.
So what can we learn about the Dark Troopers in The Mandalorian? Well, there’s a lot we still don’t know, but I expect that the troopers that Moff Gideon has at his disposal are an elite group of combat droids that bear armor heavily resistant to most weaponry and are formidable soldiers to face in combat. In other words, Moff Gideon doesn’t just wield the darksaber have a group of stormtroopers under his command, but also Imperial scientists and a squadron of Dark Troopers, too.
He seems a lot more powerful than we thought.