(Disclaimer: Spoilers for Star Wars Rebels below — proceed with caution!)
When Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise, they had to make a choice regarding the decades worth of novels, comics, and games that made up the Star Wars lore. Disney opted to wipe the slate clean, allowing them to write new stories without having to worry about how it might contradict the wider Star Wars lore. This gave birth to the new official Star Wars canon, and that means there is still a lot of history that we don't know about.
Piece by piece, we have been getting a better picture of Star Wars history, thanks to the new novels, comic books, and #StarWarsRebels. So far, Rebels has revealed many subtle but powerful Rogue One tie-ins and easter eggs, and brought Grand Admiral Thrawn back into canon. Most recently, the show referenced material from Knights of the Old Republic that hints that it might be part of the new canon.
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Trials of the Darksaber
Sabine's journey has been a focal point of this season of Star Wars Rebels; so much so, people are speculating that she may be a very important figure in the new canon indeed. This episode confirms that Sabine's legacy may be one that has a huge impact on future Star Wars properties.
The most recent episode, 'Trials of the Darksaber', was filled with Mandalorian lore, and gave us an in depth look at Sabine Wren's back story. The episode focused around the Darksaber; a weapon that could unite House Visla, and bring glory back to the people of Mandalore. At its core, the story was about Sabine conquering her own demons, and learning how to become one with the Darksaber, in order to lead her people.
It was revealed that Sabine left her people because she had created weapons that were used by the Empire to destroy her people. He inner struggle mirrored what most Jedi go though when they are learning what it means to be at one with the force. By the end of the episode, Sabine had relieved herself of the burden of guilt, and had started on the path to becoming a mighty warrior.
This episode was filled with a lot of new nuggets of information that are sure to make any Star Wars nerd sweaty. We learned the origin of the Darksaber, and about its creator, Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian Jedi. This was all revealed by Fenn Rau during a conversation with Jedi Master Kanan Jarrus:
"Legend tells that it [the Darksaber] was created over a thousand years ago by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian ever inducted into the Jedi Order. After his passing, the Jedi kept the saber in their temple. That was until members of House Vizsla snuck in and liberated it. They used the saber to unify the people and strike down those who would have opposed them. One time, they ruled all of Mandalore wielding this blade."
As we learned in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Darksaber was stolen by Death Watch — a group of Mandalorian extremists — and was used to conquer Mandalore. House Vizla reigned over Mandalore, until the fall of Pre Vizla at the hands of Darth Maul. After Pre Vizla's death, House Vizla has been in disarray, and Sabine is the only one who can bring order back to House Vizla.
References To The Mandalorian Wars In The New Canon
'Trials of the Darksaber' also dropped a reference to an event that we thought was lost when the old Star Wars canon (The Star Wars EU) was wiped clean: The Mandalorian War. This nod to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic came by way of Jedi Master Kanan Jarrus, as he addressed Sabine Wren:
"History lesson: The Jedi won the war with Mandalore. Your tricks and tactics may save you from time to time, but not in the long run."
This is a very interesting quote — however, it is not the first time that the Mandalorian Wars has been referenced in official canon. On Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the aforementioned Pre Vizla spoke of the war with the Jedi to Obi Wan Kenobi, who was defending Duchess Satine:
"For generations, my ancestors fought proudly as warriors against the Jedi. Now, that woman tarnishes the very name Mandalorian. Defend her, if you will."
It is worth mentioning that before The Mandalorian Wars were mentioned recently on Star Wars Rebels, many fans just assumed that anything said on Clone Wars didn't have much weight unless we witnessed it on screen. This second reference on Rebels, however, seems to have confirmed that this was just not a bit of throwaway dialogue.
A Brief History Of The Mandalorian Wars
The Mandalorian Wars were one of the of the biggest historical events in the Star Wars EU. The conflict between Galactic Republic and the Mandalorians was a huge part of the story in the extremely popular Knights of the Old Republic video games and comic books. The Mandalorian Wars followed the Great Sith War, and had far-reaching consequences for both the Jedi and Mandalore alike.
The Mandalorian Wars came about after Mandalore the Ultimate was manipulated by a Sith Lord, who used the Mandalorians as a way to test the Republic's defenses. The conflict that would follow lasted 16 years, and saw many casualties on both sides.
The wars began with Mandalore attacking small worlds, but as with most wars, things escalated quickly. The wars raged on, with Mandalore having struck several core worlds, and leaving the Republic on its heels. However, the actions of one Jedi won the war for the Republic: Jedi Master Revan.
The war concluded after Revan and his troops pushed back the Mandalorian forces and the final assault on Malachor V. The leader of Mandalorians, Mandalore the Ultimate, saw their defeat was imminent, and challenged Revan to single combat. Revan defeated Mandalore, and the Sith spell over him had broken, leading him to tell Revan of the Sith plot that began the war. After this final battle, Revan would soon be consumed by the dark side, and would become Darth Revan.
For The Love Of The Old Republic
Fans became enamored with the lore of the Old Republic from the video games and the comics. Many fans saw the story as an alternative to the sub-par prequels. The story was rich with character, and Darth Revan amassed quite a fan base over the years. His descent into the dark side is a harrowing tale, but is still relatable on many levels. In many ways, Revan's story was the better-told version of Anakin Skywalker's journey to become Darth Vader.
The Knights of the Old Republic video game is still popular, but during its move to PC gaming MMOG in 2011, the game was absolutely huge, with players investing 635 million hours in the game. The games have over 104 hours of voiced cinematics that help to deepen the lore of the EU.
When Disney erased the EU from Star Wars canon, fans who had spent hours playing the games and reading the comics were suddenly left out in the cold. Many were bummed that Darth Revan had been wiped clean, along with all the rich history of the Mandalorian Wars. However, the reference to The Mandalorian Wars on Star Wars Rebels, me hope that some of those elements might be made canon.
Grandfathered Into The New Canon
Just because Disney wiped out the old EU, doesn't mean all of it never happened. It seems that since The Clone Wars is canon, everything that was ever referenced on the show is canon as well.
If The Mandalorian War did get grandfathered in, than anything that has be mentioned in the new official Star Wars canon, is permanently part of the lore. This information is sure to have many nerds (like myself) scouring The Clone Wars for any more references to the old EU. If the Mandalorian Wars exists, they're could be more fan favorite EU material that could become canon as well (please be Revan!).
Watch the Season 3 trailer for Star Wars Rebels below:
This season of Rebels only continues to get better and better. We are learning so much about the new Star Wars Canon, and we haven't even gotten to Obi Wan Kenobi yet. They continue to deepen the lore, as well as tell great stories along the way. We can't wait to see what unfolds over the rest of the season. Make sure you catch Star Wars Rebels on Saturdays nights at 8:30PM/ET on Disney XD!