Warning: Mild spoilers for the Season 3 finale of Star Wars Rebels, 'Zero Hour', to follow. Proceed with caution!
The Season 3 finale of Star Wars Rebels was a hit, with the Mandalorians playing a major role in the episode's resolution. With the Rebels pinned down, Ezra had no choice but to go Sabine for help. The Mandalorians dealt the Empire a devastating blow, successfully taking down Thrawn's remaining Interdictor. The Mandalorians may be going through something of a civil war right now, but they've just proved to be a major thorn in the Empire's hide. There's no way this will go without reprisals...
The Origin of the Mandalorians
The story of the Mandalorians spins all the way back to Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston's beautiful designs for The Empire Strikes Back. They began to work on a race of white-armored "Super Troopers", sworn enemies of the Jedi Knights. The race disappeared; but the armor designs formed the basis for Boba Fett, the much-loved mercenary.
Boba Fett was more popular than even #GeorgeLucas had expected, and it didn't take long for the concept to be revived. One old issue of Bantha Tracks described the armor as based on the "Imperial Shocktroopers", a race of warriors who were "wiped out by the Jedi Knights during the Clone Wars". That origin was swiftly nixed, with the comics introducing the term "Mandalorian".
Where Are the Mandalorians During the Original Trilogy?
The story of the Mandalorians was really begun by George Lucas and Dave Filoni in Season 2 of The Clone Wars. Under Lucas's direction, the season zeroed in on Mandalorian culture and history, gradually tying them in with Darth Maul. Filoni intended Season 6 of Clone Wars to show the final attack on Mandalore, simultaneous with Revenge of the Sith, but the series was canceled.
Season 2 of Rebels drew the Mandalorians back into play, with the Mandalorians divided into two factions: those who oppose the Empire, and those who support it. Sabine Wren, one of the stars of Rebels, has gradually played an important role in drawing her people into the Rebellion.
But here's the catch: the story of the Mandalorians can't possibly end well. We know that, by the time of the Original Trilogy, the Mandalorians have pretty much disappeared from the galactic map. There's no Mandalorian presence on Yavin 4 in A New Hope, and no Mandalorians participate in the attack on the Second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Chuck Wendig's 'Aftermath' trilogy, set after the events of Return of the Jedi, imply that Mandalorians are few and far between.
What Will Happen to the Mandalorians?
Realistically, the next season of Star Wars Rebels has to be a heart-wrenching one. There's no way Kanan and Ezra can be involved in the Rebellion by the time of A New Hope — and the series is currently set only two years before the moisture farmer Luke Skywalker claims his heritage and joins the Rebellion. The same is true for the Mandalorians, who aren't present on Yavin 4 in A New Hope; their story has to come to an end in this period, too.
In the final 'Rebels Recon' video of this season, Dave Filoni has admitted he sees Rebels as a series that ties everything together from Clone War. By accident as much as by design, it's completed the arcs of characters like Ahsoka and the resurrected Darth Maul. He highlighted the Mandalorians as an arc that has to be explored as well — and gave us a taste of some chilling concept art.
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The Mandalorians are one of the many loose ends back from the Clone Wars series, but it's clear their story is soon to come to an end. I'm expecting Rebels Season 4 to be an emotionally powerful one, bringing a tragic end to many beloved characters' stories — but also setting the scene for the rise a new figure of hope: Luke Skywalker, last of the Jedi!
What did you think of 'Zero Hour', the Season 3 finale of 'Star Wars: Rebels'?
(Poll Image Credit: Disney XD)