In the season two finale of The Mandalorian, Din Djarin defeated Moff Gideon in combat, winning the darksaber in the process. Unbeknownst to Mando, however, this created immediate tension between him and Bo-Katan Kryze, who wanted the saber.
Djarin’s only concern had been rescuing Grogu, so he offers the darksaber freely to Bo-Katan – but Moff Gideon gloats about how it’s not that simple: the darksaber must be won in combat, and if it is not, Kryze would be a pretender to the throne. Bo-Katan agrees, resigned to that reality and contemplating her next move.
That’s all cut short in the episode by the arrival of the Dark Troopers, and then Luke Skywalker. But there emerged another question from fans: why wouldn’t Bo-Katan just take it? After all, she had done so before! In Star Wars Rebels, Sabine Wren winds up winning the saber but wants to find a more deserving leader of Mandalore, gifting the saber instead to Bo-Katan. What happened next, though, was tragedy on Mandalore, with the Empire initiating a great purge in the Night of a Thousand Tears.
Though some short-sighted fans at the time saw this as a plot hole, it seemed very reasonable to think that things had changed. My speculated explanation at the time went like this: Bo-Katan first tried to rule Mandalore after the Siege (without the darksaber), but it was short-lived as the Empire took over. It was plausible that she would think the darksaber would change that, so her second go at ruling the planet came once she received the saber. That went even worse, as instead of an occupation it was a destruction of the planet. As Moff Gideon said, it’s the story that has power, not the blade itself. I found it likely that Bo-Katan now saw her previous decision as a mistake and knew that to try once more to rule the world, she’d need to win the darksaber in a worthy way this time.
But regardless, what we really needed was patience. Fans had wondered why Din Djarin didn’t take his helmet off despite other Mandalorians doing just that, and then The Mandalorian answered that – and did so in a very satisfactory way! So why didn’t Bo-Katan take the darksaber? Not to worry – they would eventually answer that, and in a very satisfactory way!
That came in the most recent episode of The Book of Boba Fett, “Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian,” as Djarin talks with the Armorer about the darksaber.
Armorer: “What do you know of this blade?”
Djarin: “I am told it is the darksaber.”
Armorer: “Indeed. Do you understand its significance?”
Djarin: “Whoever wields it can lead all of Mandalore.”
Armorer: “If it is won by creed in battle. It is said one warrior will defeat twenty, and the multitudes will fall before it. If, however, it is not won in combat and falls into the hands of the undeserving, it will be a curse unto the nation. Mandalore will be laid to waste and its people scattered to the four winds.”
So according to the Mandalorian creed and prophesy, taking the darksaber like Bo-Katan did is actually the reason for the destruction of the planet! There may be more to the story, but that’s a pretty good and compelling reason why Bo-Katan wouldn’t just take it up again like she did before. She might view her previous actions as directly contributing to the destruction of her people, and so now her hope is that the other part of the prophesy would still hold true: that if won rightly, she could use it to reunite the people. This is a really good and understandable explanation for all of this!
Djarin also later asks the Armorer about Bo-Katan Kryze, and the Armorer responds by explaining what happened that night when Mandalore was destroyed:
“Bo-Katan is a cautionary tale. She once laid claim to rule Mandalore based purely on blood and the sword you now possess. But it was gifted to her and not won by creed. Bo-Katan Kryze was born of a mighty house, but they lost sight of the way. Her rule ended in tragedy. They lost their way, and we lost our world. Had our sect not been cloistered on the moon of Concordia, we would have been not survived the Great Purge. Those born of Mandalore strayed away from the path. Eventually the Imperial interlopers destroyed all that we knew and loved in the Night of a Thousand Tears. Only those that walked the way escaped the curse prophesied in the creed. Though our numbers were scattered to the winds, our adherence to the way has preserved our legacy for the generations until we may someday return to our homeworld.”
This is accompanied by our seeing Mandalore in live-action for the first time, but we see it as it’s being bombed by tons of Imperial bombers. They destroy the domed city of Sundari, and we see K2 droids and probe droids searching for any survivors, to eliminate them. This fills in more details about what happened – and the Night of a Thousand Tears certainly seems like an appropriate title for it. It also explains how Mando’s tribe survived it, and the tragedy that befell the world and the people.
The survivors are now scattered across the galaxy, without a homeworld and aimless. Much like Din Djarin is now, of course, having been excommunicated by his own tribe for removing his helmet. And all of this is setting up for him to embrace his destiny and be the one to wield the darksaber to unite Mandalore and redeem their planet. That’s obviously where this looks to be heading, and we now have good explanations for why it can’t just be Bo-Katan taking the saber as a gift. Like I said all along, a little bit of patience with storytelling would surely provide the answers.