This Star Wars article contains spoilers for The Mandalorian.
Few characters not named Skywalker or Kenobi or Organa have suffered as much tragedy in Star Wars as Bo-Katan Kryze. Born into the royal house of Mandalore, joining the wrong side of a bloody civil war that claimed the life of her sister, and then losing her homeworld and most of her people when the Empire glassed the planet in the Night of a Thousand Tears, Bo-Katan has known loss for most of her life. While much of this played out in The Clone Wars animated series, Bo-Katan’s bad luck streak continues on The Mandalorian.
We learn in season 2 of the live-action series that Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan is on a mission to reclaim the Darksaber from Moff Gideon and the Empire. Once she defeats Gideon and becomes the rightful wielder of the legendary blade, Bo-Katan will be able to use it to unite all the Mandalorian clans under her banner and retake Mandalore. But that’s not what ends up happening: instead, it’s Din Djarin who disarms Gideon in the season 2 finale and unknowingly wins the Darksaber, suddenly putting him first in line for the title of Mand’alor, the warrior leader of the Mandalorian people.
Since the weapon can only be won in combat, this immediately puts Din at odds with Bo-Katan. Of course, Din wants nothing to do with it and tries to offer Bo-Katan the blade, but she refuses. It simply doesn’t work that way, as she herself learned years ago. You see, Bo-Katan used to carry the Darksaber and rule the Mandalorians before the Original Trilogy, but her claim to the weapon was technically illegitimate since she was offered the blade and didn’t fight anyone for it. (It’s a long story, just go with it.) We learn in The Book of Boba Fett that some in Din’s own tribe of Mandalorian religious extremists actually blame the downfall of Mandalore on Bo-Katan’s decision to accept the blade instead of following ancient warrior tradition.
So when The Mandalorian season 3 kicked off, the stage seemed set for a big confrontation between Din and Bo-Katan. Surely, the Mandalorian warrior wouldn’t just let the Darksaber go that easily? But when Din finally pays a visit to Bo-Katan in the season 3 premiere, he’s greeted by someone who’s given up fighting. A sour Bo-Katan informs Din that the other members of her clan have abandoned her, gone off to work as bounty hunters, after she failed to secure the Darksaber. She says she’s no longer interested in retaking Mandalore and would rather just sit alone in her throne room and sulk. Bo-Katan doesn’t even take this opportunity to challenge Din for the weapon. Why bother?
That last bit may come as a surprise to fans of The Clone Wars who’ve watched Bo-Katan wage war against countless Mandalorians, including her own pacifist sister, Duchess Satine Kryze, to get her way. She’s never had any issue fighting her fellow warriors before, what makes Din so different? In the second episode of season 3, “The Mines of Mandalore,” Bo-Katan even briefly wields the Darksaber again to save Din from a biomechanical cyborg spider thing, but doesn’t try to lay claim to the weapon then, either. She really seems over it. This is a very different side of Bo-Katan than even where we left her in The Mandalorian season 2.
“We have to go back to see why she’s doing what she’s doing,” Sackhoff told Deadline this week when asked about Bo-Katan’s decision to give up on her quest for the ancient weapon. “This is a person who has fought against her own people. She’s fought forever and she realizes that doesn’t work. You can’t continue to fight amongst yourselves. I think with Din — I don’t know if I’ll go as far as to say that she respects and trusts him — but she doesn’t not. If [he] didn’t have the Darksaber, he’s done nothing that would make him her enemy. She’s not going to fight someone who she doesn’t have a reason to fight.”
Sackhoff suggests that Bo-Katan feels that she’s tried every way to accomplish her goals, even fighting her own family in a civil war on Mandalore, but that it’s all ultimately been for nothing: “Every single possibility, every place that she’s at right now, every direction she’s done before didn’t work before. That’s what she’s trying to figure out.”
Of course, fate and destiny are very hard to shake when it comes to the Star Wars universe, and just an episode after she declines to join Din’s pilgrimage to the Mandalorian homeworld, she’s thrust back into his story anyway when Grogu comes knocking in “The Mines of Mandalore.” And by the end of the episode, her faith in what she believes to be true — that the old warrior ways and rituals are just Mandalorian hokum — has been absolutely shaken by the very real and alive mythosaur she encounters in the living waters of Mandalore. Now that she has a sense that Din’s beliefs aren’t entirely nonsense, will this inspire Bo-Katan to get her clan and throne back? Well, that’s easier said than done, according to Sackhoff.
“If you go by the timeline that Jon [Favreau] and Dave [Filoni] are acting on, in that it’s been a few years, she has had time to lose all her people,” Sackhoff explained. “They’re not following her anymore, which means she’s not a leader without the Darksaber, but she doesn’t know how to go about getting the Darksaber in such a way that’s going to result in her not losing her people…She says that they abandoned as soon as she returned without the Darksaber. I think these are people who thought Bo would do anything to lead, that Bo would fight anyone to lead, and that’s what she wanted and that’s why they were following her. And when they saw something in her that they didn’t respect, they left. She lost her people, her home, she lost her family, she lost everything.”
What’s next for Bo-Katan is unclear at the end of “The Mines of Mandalore,” as she sits shell-shocked, staring out at the living waters, trying to piece together the impossible thing she’s just witnessed. Will this spark the old warrior spirit in Bo-Katan and set her on a collision course with Din for the Darksaber? Or will she choose a different approach to get what she has long desired? For things to finally work out for House Kryze, Bo-Katan might do well to embrace change for good.
The Mandalorian season 3 streams on Wednesdays on Disney+.