We’re about halfway through this latest season of The Mandalorian, the sci-fi action-adventure series starring Pedro Pascal (The Last of Us) as the eponymous bounty hunter Din Djarin, and so far it’s been, uh… well, it’s been pretty odd. So far we’ve seen Din taking part in what my colleague Joshua Rivera so succinctly described as a “weird baptism” to redeem himself in the eyes of his Mandalorian brethren, while the third episode, “The Convert,” abruptly shifted focus to center on a story with some questionable takeaways as it relates to the politics and governance of the New Republic.
Compared to the previous two episodes, the season’s fourth episode, “The Foundling,” is a relatively straightforward one. After proving that he has in fact “bathed in the Living Waters beneath the mines of Mandalore,” Din has redeemed himself in the eyes of the Children of the Watch and is thus welcomed back into the fold, with his foundling ward Grogu and former Nite Owl leader Bo-Katan Kryze in tow. All in all it’s a serviceable episode, with Din and Bo-Katan being enlisted to rescue a Mandalorian foundling from a Reptavian nest and a brief flashback to Grogu’s escape from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant following the Order 66 massacre of the Jedi.
That said, there’s a major development of this season so far that both this week’s and last week’s episode have not touched, one that only becomes more glaring the longer the show goes without addressing it: Bo-Katan is now technically, arguably, the wielder of the Darksaber. Which is kind of a big deal, so why isn’t anyone talking about it?
To be fair, the lore and rules surrounding the Darksaber have been iffy since the weapon was introduced in the series in a post-credits scene at the end of The Mandalorian’s first season. In the Star Wars Extended Universe, the Darksaber is a black-bladed lightsaber that was created and wielded by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian ever inducted into the Jedi Order (and an apparent ancestor of Paz Vizsla, the father of the Mandalorian foundling Din and Bo-Katan rescued in this season’s fourth episode and a member of the Children of the Watch).
The Darksaber was subsequently passed down through the generations of Vizsla’s family and used to unite the warring factions of Mandalore under one banner. Whoever wields the Darksaber is considered the rightful heir to the throne of Mandalore, but to attain the weapon, one must defeat the previous wielder by either killing them or otherwise convincing them to yield. Which is why Bo-Katan, the leader of the Nite Owls and whose family ruled over Mandalore prior to the Imperial siege and destruction of the planet’s surface, wanted so desperately to fight Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian’s second season — somehow, by either theft or trial by combat, Gideon came into possession of the Darksaber, and in order to reassert her claim to the throne of Mandalore, Bo-Katan must best him in mortal combat.
Unfortunately, her well-laid plans are upended when Din Djarin defeats Moff Gideon in the finale of the second season, making him the new wielder of the Darksaber. Naturally, this creates a palpable rift of resentment between Bo-Katan and Din, with her campaign for the throne once again thwarted, though this time inadvertently by one of her own. Since then, Din has taken to swinging around the Darksaber while bounty hunting across the galaxy — though admittedly, he’s not very good at it. He can barely even lift the damn thing.
Din Djarin is not exactly the type of guy known for getting his ass whooped. In the second episode of The Mandalorian’s third season, “The Mines of Mandalore,” however, he comes close to getting his ass whooped not once, not twice, but three times in the span of a single episode. First by a group of Alamite barbarians who ambush Din and proceed to take turns mollywhopping the shit of him while he struggles, yet again, to even lift the Darksaber; the second when Din is again ambushed by what can only be described as a Phil Tippett-ass-lookin’ monster piloting an arachnid-like cyborg body; and the third time being when Din is dragged under the Living Waters and rendered unconscious by a Mythosaur residing at the bottom of an underground cavern. Before his defeat at the mechanized claws of the second, Din sent Grogu to get Bo-Katan to ask for her help in rescuing him. And she does, rescuing Din from the clutches of that creepy spider creature by slaying it with the Darksaber, which said monster happened to drop during its battle with Bo-Katan.
Since then, we haven’t seen either Bo-Katan or Din wielding the Darksaber, leaving open the question of just who exactly now possesses — or even has a right to — the fabled weapon. The specifics as to the exact nature of transitive properties of the Darksaber’s ownership are a little sketchy at this point, but given what has been revealed through the series so far, Bo-Katan should — by virtue of having defeated the creature that itself defeated Din — be the wielder of the Darksaber.
Whatever Bo-Katan really feels about joining the Children of the Watch, it’s theoretically second to her ultimate aim: reclaiming the throne of Mandalore. The Darksaber is a big part of that, lore-wise. Whether she plans to do that by returning to Mandalore and reasserting her claim to the throne by merit of taming the Mythosaur that dwells beneath the mines of the planet — a tremendous feat for which the first ruler of Mandalore, known simply as “Mandalore the Great,” was legendary — still remains to be seen. In any case, it raises the question of what exactly, if anything, this season is hoping to accomplish by hinging what is presumably going be a major defining moment of this season’s finale on a development that should already be apparent to any viewer paying close enough attention.