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The Untold Truth Of The Darksaber

"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 you know where to look. 

While Episode 8 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 makes for a thrilling story. 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" Episode 3, "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 sparks 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 "Star Wars: 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 reunites 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 "Star Wars: 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 "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," "Star Wars Rebels," and "The Mandalorian" executive producer Dave Filoni has revealed, 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 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 "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," where Maul first appears, he played the character in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars Rebels," and provided his voice in "Solo: A Star Wars Story." So when Witwer heard that Maul would have a lightsaber in the latter movie, 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, the producers chose to use the lightsaber Maul has in "Star Wars 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" raises more questions than it answers. What happened to Bo-Katan Kryze, its previous owner, in the 10 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 1's finale episode, he was present during the Great Purge, which decimated the Mandalorians and forced them into hiding. He's also privy to Mando's real name, which is only available in highly classified Mandalorian documents. And, as he demonstrates repeatedly throughout Season 2 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 Episode 3, "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 2 finale.

Din Djarin wins the Darksaber

After warning Moff Gideon that he's coming for Grogu, Din Djarin 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. 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. Djarin's victory comes not only from his skill, but also from his Beskar steel. It's one of the only substances able to block the Darksaber's blows — an advantage Gideon evidently didn't prepare for.

As it turns out, Gideon's defeat brings Djarin as much trouble as it does benefit. 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: He beat her in a fight. Djarin attempts to bend the law by formally yielding to Bo-Katan, thus accepting defeat without actual violence, but his fellow Mandalorian proves too rigid and prideful to accept.

The Darksaber weighs heavily on the Mandalorian

Due to the Darksaber's subconscious connection with its wielder, only those with pure and total commitment to the weapon can wield it to its full potential. This proves an issue for Djarin: Whenever he uses the blade, his swings become slow and his technique grows clumsy. In one of his first attempts to use the Darksaber — his battle against bounty target Kaba Baiz and his goons — the Mandalorian wields the weapon so poorly that he inadvertently slices his own leg. Djarin's ensuing struggles against the cave-dwelling monsters of the Mines of Mandalore go much the same way. The weapon feels heavy enough in the Mandalorian's hands to make every move a major exertion.

On top of Djarin's physical issues with the Darksaber, the weapon also brings the bounty hunter a freighter full of political problems. When he's finally reunited with his Mandalorian tribe on Glavis Ringworld, Djarin is almost immediately challenged for the blade by tribe-mate Paz Vizsla and only manages a narrow, lucky victory. Likewise, when Djarin reunites with Bo-Katan, the Darksaber casts its ebony pall over their meeting. Bo-Katan reveals that her failure to reclaim the Darksaber caused her Mandalorian troops to reject her leadership and go their separate ways.

Despite the tension between her and Djarin, Bo-Katan selflessly rescues the Mandalorian from the Mines of Mandalore. Moreover, though she no longer owns the Darksaber, she picks up the discarded blade and uses it to save Djarin — a choice almost certain to bring about unforeseen consequences.