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The Untold Truth Of The Darksaber

Spoilers for the first two seasons of The Mandalorian follow.

The Mandalorian ended its inaugural season with one heck of an image: Moff Gideon, played by the ever-menacing Giancarlo Esposito, standing on top of a wrecked TIE Fighter as he holds a sinister black lightsaber. It's a great cliffhanger. It's also a scene steeped in Star Wars lore, provided that you know where to look. 

While the eighth episode of The Mandalorian marks the first live-action appearance of the black blade — known as the Darksaber — the weapon has appeared a number of times on two animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. In those shows, the Darksaber isn't just a cool-looking lightsaber. It's a key piece of Mandalore's history and has the power to both unite and destroy the Mandalorian people. If Moff Gideon has his hands on it, that's bad news — but it also made for a thrilling second season of The Mandalorian. Here's everything you need to know about the Darksaber.

It was forged by the first-ever Mandalorian Jedi

As The Mandalorian implies, the Jedi and the Mandalorians didn't always get along. Well over a thousand years before the Rebel Alliance and the Empire engaged in the Galactic Civil War, the warrior culture of the Mandalorians fought against the Force users in a conflict that ultimately ruined Mandalore's environment, forcing its people to live inside sealed domes.

However, the two warring factions forged a temporary truce when Tarre Vizsla, a Force-sensitive Mandalorian, was inducted into the Jedi Order. As per Jedi tradition, Vizsla forged his own lightsaber, which had a black blade with a white rim that crackled with energy. This weapon became known as the Darksaber, and when Vizsla returned to Mandalore, he used it to unite the warring clans and become leader of the entire planet.

The peace didn't last. After Vizsla died, the Jedi honored him by placing the Darksaber in one of their temples. Later, hostilities broke out again. As the Old Republic fell, Mandalorians invaded the Jedi temple and stole back the Darksaber, taking it to Mandalore, where it became a potent symbol of Mandalorian power.

The Mandalorian's creator has a unique connection to the Darksaber

The Mandalorian isn't filmmaker Jon Favreau's first dalliance with the Star Wars universe. Before he created the first-ever live-action Star Wars TV show, the Lion King and Iron Man director had a recurring part on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. His character was named Pre Vizsla. Sound familiar? Good. You've been paying attention.

Pre Vizsla was one of Tarre Vizsla's descendants and the leader of both House Vizsla and Death Watch, a group of rebel Mandalorians that fought against the pacifist New Mandalorian government. Using the Darksaber to solidify his position as the head of both groups, Pre Vizsla teamed up with Darth Maul and conquered Mandalore in an attempt to return the one-time warrior society to its former glory.

As such, it only makes sense that Favreau would bring the Darksaber back in his Mandalorian-focused TV series. It's not the only Clone Wars reference Favreau snuck into the show, either. In The Mandalorian's third episode, "The Sin," the jetpack-wearing Mandalorian that helps our hero rescue Baby Yoda is named Paz Vizla and is, once again, voiced by Favreau himself.

It sparked a civil war...

Here's the thing about the Darksaber. Not only does holding it ensure that its wielder will lead House Vizsla, but there's only one way to claim it. You have to beat its former owner in combat.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what Darth Maul did. After the former Sith lord — who, incredibly, survived getting chopped in half in The Phantom Menace — helped Pre Vizsla conquer Mandalore, the alliance between the two fell apart. Maul challenged Vizsla for control of the Darksaber and won. Vizsla died, and with the Darksaber in hand, Maul became the new leader of House Vizsla and, accordingly, the planet.

That was simply too much for many Mandalorians, who refused to bow to a non-Mandalorian overlord. Some of Vizsla's former supporters, including Bo-Katan Kryze, switched sides, fighting against Maul's forces and helping the Jedi and the Republic drive Maul from the planet. Maul didn't give up the weapon after his defeat, though. He stashed it away on his home planet, Dathomir, where it sat for the next 30 years.

...and reunited Mandalore

Over time, the Republic became the Empire and Mandalore once again fell under fascist rule. The Darksaber saved it. In Star Wars Rebels, a Mandalorian exile named Sabine Wren found the Darksaber on Dathomir. Sabine learned how to use the blade thanks to some training from the Jedi Kanan Jarrus, then took the Darksaber to Mandalore to free her people.

While some Mandalorians initially questioned Sabine's claim to the Darksaber — after all, she didn't actually beat Darth Maul to get it — many, including Sabine's family, rallied behind Sabine and the saber and rebelled against their Imperial overlords. With the Darksaber in hand, Sabine rescued her father from Imperial clutches, destroyed an Imperial superweapon, and raised a small army.

When the fighting was done, Sabine gave the saber to Bo-Katan Kryze, who used the Darksaber's traditional powers to reunite the Mandalorians and lead the planet to a new, if brief, period of peace.

It's not your typical lightsaber

Obviously, the Darksaber doesn't look like a normal lightsaber. Its blade is shaped differently than its regular counterparts, and its black-and-white color scheme is unique in Star Wars lore. However, as the Star Wars Rebels episode "Trials of the Darksaber" reveals, the weapon also has some unique abilities that set it apart from its blue, green, and red kin.

All Jedi have a personal relationship with their lightsabers, but the Darksaber takes it even further. While a kyber crystal focuses the Darksaber's energy, the blade is also controlled by its wielder's thoughts and emotions, which "guide" its power. As a result, the Darksaber seems to change size and weight depending on who's holding it, and it crackles with electricity when its wielder is excited, agitated, or angry.

In addition, the Darksaber attracts other lightsaber blades kind of like a magnet, making it easy to parry incoming blows, and it has all of the powers of a regular lightsaber as well. All in all, it's a formidable weapon. You can see why it's so popular.

It was created by George Lucas himself

Pre Vizsla wasn't always going to wield the Darksaber. Before the Mandalore arc of The Clone Wars started production, Vizsla was going to wield a vibroblade — a heated, electrified metal sword.

Except George Lucas didn't like that. As The Clone Wars, Rebels, and Mandalorian executive producer Dave Filoni tells IGN, Lucas wasn't pleased that a non-lightsaber weapon, especially one made out of metal, was blocking the Jedi's iconic weapon. And so he changed it.

Rumors suggest that Lucas went through a few different iterations, including a Rise of Skywalker-like yellow lightsaber, before settling on the Darksaber's final design. That's completely unsubstantiated, though, so we'll never know for sure if it's true. However, thanks to Filoni, we do know that the Darksaber is 100% a Lucas creation. Even in the days just before he sold Lucasfilm, the man who started it all was still adding to the mythos in all kinds of interesting ways.

Solo almost beat The Mandalorian to the punch

The Darksaber's appearance in The Mandalorian is the weapon's live-action debut, but the blade almost appeared in a Star Wars movie a year and a half earlier. When Maul makes his surprise cameo at the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story, revealing that the former Sith apprentice is the power behind the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, he wields a double-bladed lightsaber. Actor Sam Witwer, however, had a different idea: what if Maul had carried the Darksaber instead?

See, Witwer knows Maul very, very well. While Witwer wasn't involved in The Phantom Menace, where Maul first appeared, he played the character in The Clone Wars and Rebels, and provided his voice in Solo. So when Witwer heard that Maul would have a lightsaber in Solo, he made sure to ask which one. When he was told that Maul was going to be holding his Phantom Menace blade, Witwer pointed out that Maul didn't have that weapon anymore. He either needed to use his Inquisitor blade or the Darksaber.

Ultimately, Solo's producers chose to use the lightsaber Maul had in Rebels, not the Darksaber — Maul's best known for his double blades, after all — but it's still fun to think about what might've been. Besides, if the Darksaber had appeared in Solo, we probably wouldn't have that great Mandalorian moment. In the end, it all worked out for the best.

There's still a lot about the Darksaber that we don't know

The Darksaber's initial appearance in The Mandalorian raised more questions than it answers. What happened to Bo-Katan Kryze, its previous owner, in the ten years between Star Wars Rebels and The Mandalorian? Did Moff Gideon beat her in one-on-one combat, making him the Darksaber's rightful owner? If so, does that give him a legitimate claim as the leader of the entire Mandalorian empire? If not, how did Gideon get the weapon? Did anyone hold on to it in between?

Gideon has lots of history with Mandalore. As established in the Mandalorian season one finale episode, he was present during the Great Purge, which decimated the Mandalorians and forced them into hiding. He's privy to Mando's real name, which is only available in highly classified Mandalorian documents. And as he demonstrates repeatedly throughout the second season of The Mandalorian, he has ways of obtaining information about his rivals that almost always keep him one step ahead.

Hunt for the Darksaber

Unsurprisingly, the Darksaber is a fairly major part of The Mandalorian season 2. In the season's third episode, "The Heiress," viewers meet Bo-Katan, who saves Mando from a watery grave and helps him rescue Grogu, a.k.a. Baby Yoda, from being eaten. Although she and the members of her Death Watch are philosophically at odds with Mando — they don't share his insistence on wearing helmets at all times, for example — they team up long enough to raid an old Imperial ship. Once on board, Bo-Katan desperately grills the captain for information about Moff Gideon's whereabouts, insisting he has something that belongs to her. That something? You guessed it: The Darksaber. Bo-Katan's pursuit of the weapon converges with Gideon's pursuit of Grogu after Gideon sends his darktroopers to pluck Grogu from a seeing stone in an ancient Jedi temple on Tython, setting up the battle that takes up much of the Mandalorian season two finale.

Questions answered, questions raised

After warning Moff Gideon that he's coming for Grogu, he assembles a crew — one that includes Bo-Katan and the Night Watch as well as Cara Dune, Boba Fett, and Fennec Shand — and makes good on his threat. And despite some fairly hairy moments, he does everything he sets out to do, starting with defeating Moff Gideon in combat and taking the Darksaber from him.

As it turns out, this could be more trouble than it was worth for Mando. When he tries giving the weapon back to Bo-Katan, a laughing Gideon points out that she can't take it — the only way a Mandalorian can wield the Darksaber is if they best its previous owner in combat. Bo-Katan reluctantly admits he's right, which seemingly answers the question of how Gideon ended up with it in the first place — by beating her in a fight.

How did Bo-Katan escape her initial battle with Moff Gideon alive? And how will she and Mando resolve ownership of the Darksaber now that he's its rightful owner? These are just some of the many questions waiting to be answered in The Mandalorian season 3.