There’s a version of The Mandalorian season 3 where the titular Mandalorian is not Din Djarin, but Bo-Katan Kryze. Katee Sackhoff’s deposed warrior princess bears the season’s clearest arc, going from one of many exiled Mandalorians to the leader of a reborn Mandalore, leading her once-divided people in a united campaign to restore their homeworld. Trouble is, The Mandalorian kept undermining her every step of the way — making her a leader, sure, but an extremely uninspiring one.
When we’re first reunited with Bo-Katan in “The Apostate,” the third-season premiere of The Mandalorian, Bo-Katan is in a position best described as embarrassing. She’s taken up bitter residence in an abandoned castle, where Din Djarin learns that her crew of (secular) Mandalorian followers has abandoned her to work as bounty hunters after they learned that she did not defeat Moff Gideon in combat, and that Din wields the Darksaber.
This adds insult to injury, as previously, Bo-Katan was infamous for surrendering to Moff Gideon after the Night of a Thousand Tears, when the Empire moved to wipe out Mandalore and Gideon made her give up the Darksaber, offering mercy in return. (He lied.) This only gets worse when you consider the character’s Clone Wars history, where she and fellow Mandalorian Pre Vizsla get absolutely worked by Darth Maul, who used them to temporarily seize the throne of Mandalore, and the Darksaber.
That pesky blade continues to haunt Bo-Katan. After she challenges her former colleague Axe Woves for leadership of her old clan and wins, he undermines her by saying she cannot truly be leader without the Darksaber, which she refuses to take from Din. So Din awards it to her on a technicality, since she saved Din from a monster that defeated him in the season’s second episode.
It’s an underwhelming resolution to a huge ideological conflict, basically coming down to who has a better understanding of the Monopoly rules. Doubly so when, for almost no reason at all, The Armorer decides that her cult’s strict creed allows it to partner with heretical Mandalorians for the purpose of retaking Mandalore, and that Bo-Katan has “walked both worlds” after diving into the Living Waters to save Din and keeping her helmet on for a few days.
All told, it’s such a flippant way to handle a character that has such a deep history running across multiple Star Wars series. What’s worse is that The Mandalorian also doesn’t satisfy Bo-Katan’s primary conflict on this show, as Moff Gideon bests her in every fight, destroys the Darksaber (which is curiously not a big deal afterward?), and only goes down after Axe Woves crashes a giant spaceship into him.
The Mandalorian’s season 3 finale ends on a triumphant note with all the Mandalorians united under Bo-Katan, but because of all this, it feels like a hollow victory. Across three seasons, The Mandalorian’s writers continually stressed the various creeds, prophecies, and beliefs of the Mandalorian people, and when Bo-Katan takes her place as the fulfillment of all these things, it’s only barely under those rules. This sucks! Bo-Katan’s journey on paper is real heroic epic stuff, the kind of thing worthy of The Mandalorian’s flowery language about adding one’s name to “the Song.” It’s triumph over sustained tragedy, a people’s victory represented in one of their most storied citizens. Her story deserved its own show, not an underdeveloped subplot in another guy’s journey.