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In Defense Of The Mandalorian's Bo-Katan Kryze

Bo-Katan Kryze has gotten a bad rap of late. The Mandalorian warrior who debuted in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" has continued to play a role in the franchise ever since, with her ongoing stint in "The Mandalorian" Season 3 stretching her arc to about three in-universe decades. That's a lot of time to grow and change, but Bo-Katan largely stays the same. She starts out as a disgruntled radical vying for power, and that's essentially the role she plays in "The Mandalorian." Even the actor behind Bo-Katan, "Battlestar Galactica" veteran Katee Sackhoff, stayed constant in the transition from animation to live-action. So, the character hasn't really changed that much ... right?

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. These days, many fans call Bo-Katan an angry hypocrite, and to be fair, that label isn't entirely undeserved. She's certainly done some bad things in her life, and she's supported people who've done far worse. At best, she's a reformed extremist who fought for a rogue faction (Death Watch) that killed numerous innocents. At worst, she's a self-serving schemer with no sense of loyalty, who is willing to do anything to gain power for herself.

Honestly, though, Bo-Katan is far more than her worst interpretation, as we're here to prove today. Though deeply flawed, she deserves more credit than she's been getting recently from fans, and she actually has one of the most interesting and tragic character arcs in all of "Star Wars."

Bo-Katan has done a lot of good things

In her youth, Bo-Katan certainly did some rash things. Disagreeing with her sister Satine's vision of a pacifist Mandalore, she joined the renegade extremist group Death Watch and served as one of its highest-ranking officers. She fought alongside leader Pre Vizsla until they took Mandalore from Satine during the Clone Wars, but she abandoned the group when Darth Maul took over. This power struggle also resulted in Satine's death, prompting Bo-Katan to ally with Republic.

From there, though, her track record is pretty good. She fights alongside Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex to retake Mandalore from Death Watch and capture Maul. Then, after the Empire ousts her and installs Clan Saxon as the new rulers of Mandalore, she works with the Rebel Alliance to unite the other clans against Palpatine's regime. She even wields the Darksaber at this time, but because she doesn't win it in combat, her rule is questioned by many.

Even in "The Mandalorian" Season 2, when Bo-Katan is fully jaded and self-righteous, she wields her power for good more often than not. She and her soldiers fight valiantly to defeat Moff Gideon, making the whole galaxy a safer place in the process. So while yes, Bo-Katan has made some big mistakes and done some bad things, she's also directly caused a lot of good.

Bo-Katan has tried everything to help restore her people, and none of it has worked

Bo-Katan's story isn't always heroic, but it is one of the saddest character arcs in all of "Star Wars." She was born into an era of civil war on Mandalore, and from the start, her family was at the center of it. We know from "The Clone Wars" that her sister Satine went on the run, with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn assigned to protect her. Bo-Katan believed that embracing pacifism would lead to Mandalore's downfall, so she joined the only major group that opposed Satine's stance — Death Watch.

Was she wrong to do so? Yes, but Satine's government does indeed fail. Maul easily co-opts Death Watch and uses his own underworld army to take the planet. And because Satine stayed neutral in the Clone Wars, there's no external military force to help. Through all this, Bo-Katan's mission remains the same — securing a prosperous future for her people. So she does what Satine refused to do and allies herself with the Republic to oust Maul. Only then, the Republic becomes the Empire, and her people are subjugated by yet another tyrannical regime. So she joins the rebels and fights back. And what happens then? Moff Gideon and his Imperial forces decide to glass Mandalore as recompense, pushing its people to the brink of extinction.

By "The Mandalorian" Season 2, Bo-Katan has tried everything. She's fought with the good guys, the bad guys, and on her own, all just to try to return her homeworld to its former glory. And at every turn, she fails.

By The Mandalorian Season 3, Bo-Katan is a broken woman

Bo-Katan's quest for the Darksaber in "The Mandalorian" is a last-ditch effort from a woman near the breaking point. She's spent her entire life fighting for a free, prosperous Mandalore, and she's tried to achieve that goal in every conceivable way. Believing that her mistake before was not winning the Darksaber in combat, she tries to win it again, but Din Djarin comes away with it instead. Dejected, she refuses to take it from him.

This is a bit confusing at the end of Season 2, but it makes much more sense in Season 3 Episode 1, "The Apostate," in which Din visits Bo-Katan on her homeworld of Kalevala. He finds her living alone in the castle her family used to rule from, sitting uncomfortably on the throne that once belonged to her dead sister. When Din asks about the effort to retake Mandalore, she practically laughs in his face. Does she hate him? Almost certainly. But she also seems to pity him. "Wave that thing around," she tells him sardonically, referring to the Darksaber, "and they'll do whatever you say."

Is this a condemnation of the Mandalorians' reliance on tradition, or a jealous dig at a rival who stole her victory from her? Honestly, at this point, it doesn't really matter. It's clear in this moment that Bo-Katan has given up hope of every rebuilding Mandalore. She's spent her entire life fighting to do it, and now she likely thinks she'll die with her people still scattered to the wind.

If she weren't so morally gray, this would be absolutely heartbreaking. "There's nothing left," she tells Din when he mentions Mandalore. It's clear she's not just talking about the planet.