Spoilers, and answers, ahead!
Given how well The Mandalorian kept Baby Yoda a secret all the way up until its premiere, it’s not surprising that the show’s biggest twist was unknown until it arrived to drop everyone’s jaws in the finale’s last few seconds. That twist, that Giancarlo Esposito’s villainous character Moff Gideon somehow wields the funny looking lightsaber that any Clone Wars or Star Wars: Rebels fans would recognize as the legendary Darksaber, completely recalibrates what we know about his character. It also blows open a huge world of mythic possibilities for The Mandalorian Season 2.
First question, what is the Darksaber?
The Darksaber is a unique saber forged by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian Jedi, a thousand years before the events of Star Wars. No one knows why Vizsla’s saber is so funky, but its square-ish hilt, black color, and swordlike shape are only the beginning of what makes it special. It reacts strangely to other lightsaber blades and can channel powerful energies based on its wielder’s emotions, which is a very un-Jedi like property to have in a saber.
After Tarre Vizsla’s death, the Jedi kept his saber until the Mandalorians and Jedi went to war against each other, a conflict The Armorer mentions in The Mandalorian finale by referring to the “wizards called Jedi” as their people’s historical enemy. During that war, members of House Vizsla (Mandalorian Houses are kind of like Game of Thrones houses, but their ties are political instead of familial) stole the Darksaber and used it as a Jedi-killing weapon, cementing their power as the ruling House of Mandalore.
Further conflict followed the Darksaber through its history, but the important thing is that wielding the Darksaber became a symbol of power and dominance for all Mandalorians.
Further conflict, eh? That sounds like a story.
Yeah there’s a lot of story, some of which might be important considering the Darksaber is now in the hands of Moff Gideon, a former Imperial officer who took part in the Great Purge — the event that forced our Mandalorian’s tribe into hiding.
To summarize the Darksaber’s more recent history, House Vizsla still had it up until the events of the Clone Wars, when their leader Pre Vizsla lost it in a battle to the death with Darth Maul. Darth Maul then assumed power of the Death Watch, Pre Vizsla’s group of Mandalorian warrior radicals, and attempted to take over Mandalore with the saber and the Death Watch by his side.
Darth Maul later put the Darksaber in his collection of Jedi and Sith artifacts, where it was recovered by Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian rebel whose Clan was aligned with House Vizsla.
Sabine briefly wielded the Darksaber even though she wasn’t a Jedi but voluntarily gave it to a woman named Bo-Katan Kryze, a Mandalorian from House Kryze who used the saber as a symbol to unite Mandalore against the Empire in the years leading up to the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. Bo-Katan was the last known owner of the Darksaber…until now.
So how did Moff Gideon get the Darksaber from Bo-Katan Kryze?
He probably killed her for it. The Darksaber historically can only be passed on to a new owner if its previous owner loses it in fatal combat (Sabine Wren surrendering it was a rare non-violent moment in its succession), so Gideon wielding the blade doesn’t look good for Bo-Katan.
This ties into events referenced in The Mandalorian, specifically the “Great Purge” in which the Mandalorian people lost their supply of sacred beskar steel to the Empire. The same battle-slash-slaughter that sent the current era Mandalorians into hiding was likely connected to Bo-Katan losing the Darksaber (and the war) to the Empire, delivering her planet’s ancestral sword of power into the hands of an Imperial officer like Moff Gideon in the process.
What does this have to do with our Mandalorian, Din Djarin?
More than you might think! Din Djarin’s Episode 8 flashback explaining how he came to be rescued and raised by Mandalorians contains a clue as to why the Darksaber is important to The Mandalorian’s story. The Mandos that save him from the Separatist attack on his home bear a familiar signet on their blue armor…the signet of House Vizsla’s Death Watch.
Whether or not his rescuers were allied with Darth Maul is unknown at this time, since some Vizslas refused to work with Maul. But the fact that Din Djarin’s Mandalorian “father” was allied with the house that forged the Darksaber and used it to rule Mandalore for generations has to be significant for Season 2.
Showrunner Jon Fanvreu has confirmed that The Mandalorian Season 2 will arrive on Disney+ in Fall 2020. Until then, Mando fans will have to content themselves with all the wild, fun speculation and Baby Yoda memes they can stuff into the hiatus. It is Star Wars, after all. This is the way.