There were a lot of questions raised about the season two finale of The Mandalorian.
One of them that I’ve seen people asking frequently is this: “Why wouldn’t Bo-Katan simply take the darksaber?”
Here’s the scene that unfolds in the latest episode of The Mandalorian: Bo-Katan agrees to help Din Djarin rescue Grogu, but insists that Moff Gideon be left to her. So she takes the bridge, but Gideon isn’t there – he’s with the Child. Djarin winds up dueling him in combat and winning, claiming the darksaber. But what he doesn’t realize is that this now makes him the rightful wielder of the weapon. Gideon gloats about this when brought to the bridge, urging Bo-Katan, “Why don’t you kill him now, and take it?” As Djarin offers the saber to her, Gideon then explains that, “She can’t take it. It must be won, in battle. In order for her to wield the darksaber again, she would need to defeat you in combat.”
Djarin yields, but Gideon continues: “Ohhh no. It doesn’t work that way. The darksaber doesn’t have power, the story does. Without that blade, she’s a pretender to the throne.” Reluctantly, Bo-Katan says that he’s right. This moment is then cut short by the arrival of the Dark Troopers, and so we don’t get any resolution to it in the episode.
But Star Wars fans will no doubt have questions about why Bo-Katan didn’t just take the darksaber – because that’s exactly how she got it previously.
In Rebels, Sabine Wren comes to possess the darksaber and then wins it by defeating Gar Saxon in combat. She later uses it to lead an attack on the Imperial forces on Mandalore and is aided by Bo-Katan. At the end of that fight, Sabine says that she now realizes that the reason the darksaber came to her was so that she could pass it on, offering it to Bo-Katan. She takes it, and other clans pledge their allegiance to her and kneel before her as she holds the darksaber.
So, in other words, Bo-Katan has previously just simply taken the darksaber. Why won’t she here?
I want to make it very clear up front that it’s irresponsible to call this a “plot hole” for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Dave Filoni is the guy who ran Rebels and is the guy who, alongside Jon Favreau, is running The Mandalorian. He is as familiar with these characters and these things as anyone, so I am very confident that he didn’t just forget or hope the audience didn’t notice. He pays attention to things, and the fact that the same guy is involved with both stories should indicate that he knows what he’s doing. Secondly, we’ve already had a different example that can relate. Remember when everyone was confused about why Djarin wouldn’t remove his helmet even though we’ve seen other Mandalorians remove their helmets? Well, as explained earlier in season two, there’s actually a very simple and logical reason for this. It’s one that many of us figured beforehand, and then it was eventually addressed. That should provide confidence that the same will happen here.
So anyway, I have full confidence that there’s a really good reason that Favreau and Filoni have in mind, and that we’ll come to learn it soon enough. But allow me to offer my speculation:
Let’s think through Bo-Katan’s history trying to rule Mandalore for a moment. After leading the Siege of Mandalore alongside the former Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano, Bo-Katan was appointed as regent of Mandalore. But this was very short-lived, as the Imperial occupation of the planet resulted in her position being supplanted by Gar Saxon, a pawn of the Empire. So Bo-Katan tried ruling Mandalore once without the darksaber, and it didn’t work. Many years later, then, came a spark of hope in the form of Sabine Wren, who was in possession of that ancient weapon. Together Sabine and Bo-Katan fought against Imperial oppression on the planet, and though Sabine wanted no part of leading this fight, Bo-Katan did. So she was given the darksaber and attempted to unite Mandalore in repelling the Imperial occupation.
But then came the Purge of Mandalore.
We really don’t know much about this, as it was first mentioned in this series and hasn’t been explored aside from several brief comments here and there. Piecing things together, it sounds like in response to this Mandalorian uprising, the Empire turned to drastic and deadly measures to ravage the planet. This resulted in the deaths of a lot of Mandalorians and the scattering of the rest. We’ve heard a number of comments in this series about the state of Mandalore now, and it’s not good. It sounds like the planet has been totally devastated, and the Mandalorian people are left to fend for themselves as they’re scattered across the galaxy – like, for instance, Din Djarin’s covert on Nevarro. It also sounds like Moff Gideon, who was an ISB agent at the time, played a key role in the Purge, and at some point he came into possession of the darksaber from Bo-Katan. After that, Bo-Katan continued to have her sights set on retaking Mandalore, but she knew that she needed the darksaber to do it.
In other words, I think it’s possible that after her first try at ruling, she realized she would need the darksaber to do it successfully. So in her second try at ruling, she did have the darksaber. She knows she still needs that, but perhaps she now realizes that she needs more than that. As Gideon say, it’s not the weapon that has power, but the story. I think it’s totally plausible to think that Bo-Katan now considers her previous actions in taking the darksaber a mistake. Heck, for all we know, maybe that’s even a large part of why she failed to unite Mandalore in their stand against the Empire. She even says in this episode of The Mandalorian that if they fought against the Empire as much as they fought against each other, they’d still have a home. It sounds like she’s speaking from experience.
So yeah, I think that this can simply and easily be attributed to Bo-Katan’s progression as a character. I think she probably considers her prior actions a mistake, and she probably has seen that she was unable to truly rule Mandalore since she was simply given possession of the darksaber rather than winning it. So this time around, she knows that she has to acquire it the right way.
Is that literally what happened? Who knows! I think it’s definitely the most plausible given what we know right now, but my point in this article is simply that there are very logical reasons why her actions could have changed, and I’m sure the showrunners are aware of all of it.