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Star Wars: The Untold Truth Of Moff Gideon

The Mandalorian's Moff Gideon is the newest big bad to enter the Star Wars universe and he's already made an enormous impact on fans and the fictional world alike. The first season of the show initially led us to believe Werner Herzog's character, the Imperial army client who originally hired the Mandalorian, was the main antagonist of the series. Then Gideon showed up at the end of the first season and it immediately became clear who the real villain was — and his fingerprints are all over The Mandalorian season 2 as the puppet master pulling multiple strings. 

As a character he hasn't been around long, so there's little in-depth backstory on him and involved details of his history have been scarce. But a number of Easter eggs and hints in the show — and interviews with Gideon actor Giancarlo Esposito — have actually revealed quite a bit about who he is... if you know how to put the pieces together. It's become clear that Moff Gideon has a much greater influence on the established Star Wars universe than we imagined — both the past and potentially the future. 

A high ranker

If you're not familiar with the Star Wars universe, you might be forgiven for thinking "Moff" is Gideon's first name. "Moff," however, isn't a name, but a title in the Imperial army — and a high-ranking one at that. Moffs essentially act as sector governors, second only to Grand Moffs — as in Grand Moff Tarkin. Gideon clearly showed much promise, rising through the ranks quickly and wielding an enormous amount of power and influence in the Imperial Army. He was a big deal before the collapse of the Empire. But men like Gideon don't just go away quietly when their side is defeated. Even though the Galactic Empire no longer exists in theory, the reality is that Gideon ranked high enough as an officer to have troops that continue to be loyal to him and to carry out grand plans on his own, even without the support of the Empire in its original incarnation. In fact, thanks to Gideon's background, he's uniquely suited to thrive now that the Empire has seemingly disappeared. 

A covert agent

Moff Gideon may have been a high-ranking officer in the Imperial Army, but it would be a mistake to think of him as a common soldier or military man. He's more. Far more. See, before he rose through the ranks to become a Moff, he used to be an officer in the Imperial Security Bureau, the Galactic Empire's intelligence agency and secret police. He was essentially the Star Wars version of a high-ranking CIA operative. But more than that, the Imperial Security Bureau often functioned like something closer to the Russian KGB or the Nazi Gestapo, and Gideon picked up all the tricks of his trade in that environment. The skills of an elite covert agent blended with the ruthless mindset of a fascist secret police force and an obsession with inhumane scientific experiments in the interest of advancing a cause make for one formidable villain. Gideon's unique set of skills ensures that he will survive like a cockroach — if that cockroach were also a brilliant strategist and had big plans. Big, terrifying plans. 

The Mandalorian purge

The Mandalorian exists in a world in which there are few Mandalorians left. It's been mentioned a few times that there was a war they fought in which many of them were lost, but what's not always been made clear is that it wasn't a war as much as a pogrom against the Mandalorians. The Great Purge was the wholesale slaughter of the Mandalorians at the hands of the Galactic Empire. Allies of the Mandalorians, like Cara Dune's force, were also killed as they fought alongside the Mandalorians, but Mandalore was the focal point of the Great Purge. And Gideon was a major player in the Great Purge, commanding forces against the Mandalorians, strategizing, and intelligence gathering. 

In fact, it's his background as an operative that explains why he's so familiar with the Mandalorian and Cara Dune. He was the one who had all the intel on the opposition, the spymaster holding all the cards. It's how he knew the Mandalorian's real name is Din Djarin and Cara Dune's full name is Carasynthia Dune and that she used to be an Alliance shock trooper during the Galactic Civil War — he's the one who had all the intel on them. He's the one who wiped out their troops. The revelation adds a few more layers to his web of influence over the galaxy. 

Keeping a low profile

After the Galactic Civil War and Great Purge, the Empire was finally defeated — or so we thought. Similar to the Nazis after World War II, a number of Imperial Army escaped and assimilated into the world. But not Moff Gideon. Gideon knew that if the New Republic suspected a high-ranking officer like him were still alive, they'd never stop chasing him, so he spread rumors of his own death — and it worked. Even Cara Dune thought he'd been executed for war crimes. 

Except he hadn't. He'd only gone underground, careful as always. With the focus off him, Moff Gideon was able to concoct his plan and put it in motion without the gaze of the New Republic on him. A man like Gideon is one the New Republic would have wanted to keep in their sights. If they could have seen what he was doing, they could have kept him in line, or at least have created a plan to squash his machinations. But Gideon operates best in the shadows — and he was able to operate that way for years, putting the pieces in place. Instead of being dead, he'd been very much alive and gathering intelligence all that time. He never revealed himself until he was ready, instead using proxies like the Client to represent him.

A galactic warden

So what is Moff Gideon's plan, exactly? In an interview with Good Morning America, Gideon actor Giancarlo Esposito described his character as "the warden of the galaxy." In another interview with IGN, he said Gideon "is trying to put the universe back together." He mused further before the second season began. "What does he really want?" the actor asked in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "Does he want to empower other people or take all the power for himself? Or does he want to rebuild the galaxy or create the world's most formidable army?"

The answer appears to be both. On the surface, restoring order to chaos isn't a bad thing. But Moff Gideon is the sort of zealot who believes his way is the only way, that the control he could wield over the galaxy is preferable to what the galaxy is now. By their nature, wardens are peacekeepers and law enforcers. Gideon, however, is a self-appointed warden who believes in enforcing order no matter the cost, which is why he's willing to wipe out an entire culture or perform horrible experiments on a creature with Force sensitivity. To Gideon, they're but small, necessary sacrifices for the greater good.

Wielding the Darksaber

Moff Gideon has shown himself to be far more than meets the eye. This was made especially clear when it was revealed at the end of The Mandalorian season 1 that he wields the legendary Darksaber, just one more tie to the Mandalorians. The ancient lightsaber was made by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian to ever join the Jedi order. The Darksaber has changed possession over the years, eventually finding its way to Darth Maul, then to the Mandalorian Bo-Katan, and then to Moff Gideon, presumably in the Great Purge. It's why, when we meet Bo-Katan in season 2 of The Mandalorian, she's hellbent on tracking Gideon down and retrieving it, an indication that it was Gideon himself who took it from Bo-Katan, presumably in battle. After all, tradition holds the Darksaber can only be taken by besting its owner in combat. The Darksaber is an object of unique significance both in Star Wars lore and in the in-universe galaxy. Sure, it's the only one of its kind and looks incredibly cool with its dark blade that seems to absorb all light. Yet knowing the Mandalorians as he did, Gideon would have known exactly what it was when he picked it up and why it was so important. It's entirely possible that Gideon fought Bo-Katan specifically to acquire the Darksaber. Gideon's prize is another visual symbol of his role in the Great Purge; the executioner of the Mandalorians now possesses one of their most revered weapons. 

The dark troopers

The Darksaber isn't the only dangerous weapon Gideon has. He also controls a legion of dark troopers, an elite unite of droids with advanced skills. Star Wars Legends (i.e. the non-canon universe) previously explored the dark troopers, but being Moff Gideon's elite combat unit in The Mandalorian now makes them canon. In The Mandalorian, they appear to be simple droids, though extremely advanced ones. But in Legends, there was a unit of dark troopers that became exoskeletons for stormtroopers, and this version of the dark troopers could beat armor made of Mandalorian beskar as well as being imbued with dark side powers. This element of the dark troopers from Legends would mesh perfectly with the story unfolding in The Mandalorian. Gideon clearly has big plans, and they involve using Grogu. But what does he plan to do with Grogu, exactly? It was unclear before, but the introduction of the dark troopers provides a potential answer to that question. 

A potential darkness

Moff Gideon's entire focus has been on getting Grogu (a.k.a. "Baby Yoda") and extracting his blood for experimentation. Grogu is a powerful Force-sensitive being at a time that the Jedi are all but wiped out. That fact alone would have made Grogu an invaluable asset, but Gideon has long known a crucial piece of information that, to him, makes Grogu even more valuable: The adorable child has the makeup of a powerful potential dark side wielder. When Din Djarin brings "The Child" to the powerful Jedi Ahsoka Tano, she reveals some key pieces of information, such as that his name is actually Grogu. But she also reveals something more disturbing: she senses a great amount of anger and fear in him, and refuses to train him. As a former apprentice of then-Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka had a front row seat to Anakin's turn to the dark side and his transformation into Darth Vader, and she sees the same dangerous makeup in Grogu's emotions.

But where Ahsoka doesn't want to encourage Grogu to become more powerful, Gideon appears to want to play up those negative emotions so that Grogu may tap into the dark side of the Force more fully. When Gideon walks in on Grogu venting his fear and anger by Force-choking stormtroopers (the Force choke being a go-to move of darksiders), he's pleased with what he sees. He clearly has plans for the kid and they involve shaping him into a powerful Sith.

Scientific experiments

Gideon appears to be befriending Grogu but he merely sees the child as a means to an end, a powerful tool to achieve his ends and nothing more. While speaking to IGN, Esposito indicated that Gideon was "like any great leader or scientist — hint hint hint." Like any great leader or scientist "with someone who is advanced in a certain way" in the way Grogu is advanced, Gideon wants to "co-opt what is inside them to figure out how to make all of us a little better at humanity." 

We know Gideon wants to extract Grogu's blood and we know the midichlorians that make someone a powerful Force user reside in that blood. It's likely Gideon wants to fully harness Grogu's powers in order to extract them and transfer his Force sensitivity to anything. It would certainly create some canonical problems, but if anyone could figure it out, it would be Moff Gideon. This could be how he creates the dark troopers of Star Wars Legends, his elite military unit able to wield the dark side of the Force. If he can tap into Grogu's powers, he may be able to figure out how to fuse them with the dark troopers to create an army of killer droids or an elite unite of stormtroopers who are actually lethal for once. Gideon would be unstoppable then. 

A new Sith Lord

Gideon may even want to extract Grogu's powers in order to transfer them to himself, or to enhance ones he already has. There's evidence that Gideon is Force-sensitive — he can wield the Darksaber, for starters. Technically, anyone can wield the Darksaber. But it's powered by a black kyber crystal that works by acting as a conduit for Force energy; it would be pointless for someone without at least a minimal Force ability to use it. What's more, it also serves to tap into the dark side of a Force-sensitive person and enhance it, influencing them to take the most violent action in combat. There's a reason Gideon teased Grogu with the Darksaber. It's both a test to see if Grogu is attracted to its dark power and a carrot to dangle in front of the child. 

Gideon clearly has an understanding of the dark side of the Force that few non-Force-sensitive people have. It's true Gideon has never actually shown any powers, but he also lives in an era when Force-sensitive beings are treated with suspicion and Gideon isn't one to reveal his hand. There are a number of characters in Star Wars canon that can wield the Force without being Jedi or Sith, though darksiders tend not to be mere dabblers. It would make sense Gideon would want to tap into Grogu's powers in order to enhance his own to become the new Sith Lord of the galaxy.

Or a puppet master

Given Moff Gideon's history of covert intelligence and wanting to keep a low profile, he could very well be manipulating events in order to become the real power behind the throne — not a king, but a kingmaker. We've already seen that he is a master strategist who always thinks multiple steps ahead and plans for every outcome. He could reasonably be positioning himself not to be the next Sith Lord but the puppet master behind the new Sith Lord — Grogu. Bending Grogu to his whim and the dark side gives Gideon control over a powerful Sith and a leveled-up dark trooper army while he stays in the shadows and pulls the strings. From what we know of Gideon's preference for operating in the shadows, it would in many ways be the perfect scenario for him. Gideon would then hold all the power but be protected behind his new proxy, Grogu, who draws the focus of the New Republic while Gideon continues to manipulate and influence events behind the scenes.

The future

The Mandalorian takes place in an interesting time. It kicks off in 9 ABY, putting it five years after the defeat of the Emperor in Return of the Jedi. That means Moff Gideon exists in a time after the reign of Darth Vader and the Empire but before the rise of Kylo Ren and the New Order. Nature abhors a vacuum, and it's clear Gideon intends to fill it as the new ultimate power of the galaxy. It's not a coincidence his armor is closer to that of Darth Vader than the uniform of Grand Moff Tarkin. Esposito told IGN that he's approaching it as if the connection to Vader is deliberate. "I think it's a throwback to this guy," he said. "I mean, it really relates in a way to me, I like to think or imagine in my brain, that he has the kind of power that Darth Vader had." 

Esposito told EW that Gideon is set to have a huge impact on future seasons of The Mandalorian, with storylines that tie into the events of the wider galaxy. "You're going to start to see other storylines start to creep in," he teased, "when we start to realize there's such a deep connection [between the show's storylines and] the rest of the galaxy and what's really happening." Whatever Gideon's plans — and the plans The Mandalorian has for Gideon — it's clear he'll have a major impact on the Star Wars universe for quite some time.