Having discussed what we learned about Mandalorians’ houses, clans, and factions in both Star Wars The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels season 2, we get a bunch more in the season 3 episodes “Imperial Supercommandos”, “Trials of the Darksaber”, and “Legacy of Mandalore”. These three episodes were among the most interesting of the season 3 episodes, as they delved more into Mandalorian history. Having having heard about Sabine Wren’s house and clan, as well as other groups, such as The Protectors and Death Watch, in season 2’s “The Protector of Concord Dawn”, these three episodes delved more into Mandalorians than what we had previously seen on-screen.
Imperial Control of Mandalore
In addition to clans and houses, we learn more about the Protectors, whom we encountered in season 2: “The Protectors are loyal to the throne”, says Sabine in “Imperial Supercommandos”. “They recruit the best warriors from within all the clans.” However, Fenn Rau claims that “They’re traitors. Mandalorians who serve the Empire.” We also hear Gar Saxon identifying himself as the “Imperial Viceroy of Mandalore” in the same episode. Fenn Rau tells Sabine, “He’s Clan Vizsla, like you. His name is Gar Saxon. He wanted to be our ruler, but he had no honor. That’s why the Empire put him in charge.” Later on, in “Legacy of Mandalore”, Tristan Wren tells Sabine, “He’s the Emperor’s Hand, the acting ruler and governor of Mandalore.”
While en route to visit Sabine’s mother at the outset of “Legacy of Mandalore”, Fenn Rau tells her, “Your mother is the leader of Clan Wren, Sabine. She may be with the Empire now, but I believe her true loyalty lies with Mandalore.” When Sabine is speaking with her mother, she asks her why she aligned with the Empire, to which Ursa Wren responds, “Do you think I didn’t try to stop it? There was nothing I could do, Sabine. Mandalore was on its knees before the Emperor. After he put Saxon in power, we had a choice: side with him or Clan Wren would be destroyed.” We hear more about Gar Saxon, when When Sabine says that Gar Saxon killed The Protectors, Ursa Wren says, “The Protectors were executed for treason, just as Fenn Rau will be when he is found.” Except that, as Sabine retorts, “They were loyal to Mandalore and Saxon betrayed them!”
We can’t talk about these episodes and Mandalorians without mentioning the darksaber. At the outset of “Trials of the Darksaber”, Kanan asks Fenn Rau about the darksaber that Sabine had picked up on Dathomir in the season 3 episode “Voices and Visions”, which he immediately recognizes and tells Kanan, “It is the darksaber, a symbol for the leader of House Vizsla, and, later, the group known as Death Watch.” When Kanan voices surprise that such a thing exists, Fenn Rau, in his describing the backstory of the darksaber, tells Kanan that it was created by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian ever inducted into the Jedi Order, but was kept in the Jedi Temple following his passing until “members of House Vizsla snuck in and liberated it. They used the saber to unify the people and strike down those who would oppose them. One time, they ruled all of Mandalore wielding this blade. This saber is an important symbol to that house and respected by the other clans.”
After Sabine trains with the darksaber, she shows it to her mother, but Ursa Wren isn’t terribly impressed: “You believe the Darksaber will protect you? It won’t. It’s only a symbol.” To this, Sabine responds, “Yeah, a symbol that’s united all Mandalorians in the past. Look, if we stand together now-” However, her mother interjects, “Stand together? Sabine, it’s everything I can do to keep the other clans from destroying us because of what you did.” Later on, in private conversation, Ursa Wren says, “Anyone can hold the Darksaber. The trick is keeping it, along with your head.” So, whomever wields the darksaber doesn’t necessarily command power, they have to be able to stay alive, and earn it.
We learn of some Mandalorian customs when Sabine Wren is fighting Gar Saxon, as Ezra tries to intercede, but Ursa Wren holds him back, stating that, “By Mandalorian custom and law, no one can interfere.” Later on in the battle, when Sabine has Gar Saxon on his knees and she could kill him, she asks him to yield, yet he responds, “I’ll never yield to you, girl. You’ll have to kill me.” To this, Sabine responds, “That might be the Mandalorian way, but it’s not my way.” So, apparently, the Mandalorian way to fight is to the death.
Descriptions of Mandalorians
When Sabine yields to train with the darksaber, and Fenn Rau is trying to convince her to train, he states that, “I know that family is important to the Wrens, just like it is to all Mandalorians.” It seems that not only is family important in an emotional sense, but that there are close ties that bind Mandalorians to each other. A very different thing we learn about Mandalorians is when Kanan is chatting with Hera about Sabine’s training, he identifies that “Sabine is blocked. Her mind is conflicted. She’s so expressive and yet so tightly wound. She’s so-” And Hera interjects, “Mandalorian.” Kanan agrees: “Very.” So, apparently, Mandalorians can be some tough folks.
This toughness apparently has resulted in a lot of fighting, as we hear Fenn Rau telling Ezra in “Imperial Supercommandos” that “The Mandalorians have endured wars since before the formation of the Republic.” Upon this historical contextualizing, Sabine remarks, “Too bad our people can’t stop fighting each other.”
Deeper Dive: Rebels Recon
In the Rebels Recon episodes following these two episodes, especially the episode following “Legacy of Mandalore”, we learn more about Mandalorians than what was shown on the screen. In the years since Sabine’s left, Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group says Sabine’s family has “been embroiled in the politics of Mandalore. The empire has taken over and has basically put someone like Gar Saxon in charge.” “They’ve kind of fallen on hard times, you could say,” said Henry Gilroy, co-executive producer. “It’s probably been a few years of damage control just to try to restore some of their status.” And Dave Filoni, executive producer, said “They’re very downtrodden and ostracized, and that’s why their armor is all gray, they have these subdued looks.”
A fascinating aspect that Dave Filoni mentioned is that “Sabine’s mother is the Wren. Her father, basically, marries into that family, but, because the Wrens are more powerful, he takes her name.”
What was pretty surprising is how many worlds there are that are part of Mandalorian territory. “When you think about Mandalore, understand that it encompasses a lot of territory,” says Pablo Hidalgo. “There’s something like a thousand worlds in Mandalorian territory that are neutral, not part of The Republic.” Dave Filoni says of Krownest, where the Wrens live, that “They’ve lived on that planet for quite a long time, that’s their stronghold. And you can think of everything like systems almost like provinces.”
One further item of interest that Filoni said: “There are clans and houses and there are some that see themselves as more rightfully Mandalorian and that would be like Vizsla. The Wrens are not from Mandalore. The Wrens fall into a group that would have been conquered by Mandalore. They are a branch of it and they’ve been loyal to Vizsla House, so they are thought of very highly.”
Amongst these three Season three episodes (and even a teeny bit in “Visions and Voices”), we learn a lot more about Mandalorians than in previous seasons, as well as Star Wars The Clone Wars, including more about houses and clans, as well as different Mandalorian politics and attitudes. Moreover, it is certainly helpful to have had the Rebels Recon go behind the scenes a bit and give us more information than just what we see on-screen in these episodes.