The Mandalorian: What Are Dark Troopers?
We May Have Seen Moff Gideon's Secret Weapon in the Star Wars Universe Before
If there's one thing The Mandalorian has proven time and time again, it's the dedication to Star Wars canon. During the last moments of episode four, "The Siege," we see Moff Gideon standing among a battalion of dark troopers. As evidenced by the events of the most recent episode, "The Tragedy," this doesn't bode well for Din Djarin and Grogu, the latter of which is kidnapped. Unless you're an avid gamer or well-versed in all things Star Wars lore, The Mandalorian may be the first time you're hearing of this new enemy. If you're unsure how or why they're any worse than stormtroopers or shadow troopers, they can use the Force, and the events of "The Tragedy" confirm that they are a part of Gideon's big plan.
Dark troopers were first introduced in 1995's Star Wars: Dark Forces as the game's most powerful enemies, while Force-sensitive dark troopers were introduced in a 1995 Dark Empire comic. They're a group of advanced battle droids with an exoskeleton that resembles a stormtrooper and were initially built in phases. Unlike the subsequent phases, Phase Zero dark troopers were cyborg clone troopers. Phases One and Two saw the battle droid forms with lightsaber-resistant armor and advantages that made them the most common combat units. Phase Three was never fully realized throughout the dark troopers' appearances in various Star Wars games, with the ultimate goal of them becoming the armor for the next generation of stormtroopers. The dark troopers seen on The Mandalorian most closely resemble the iterations seen for Phase Three, suggesting that Gideon finishes the work of the project's creator, General Rom Mohc.
Grogu is still a big prize for Gideon, and the callback to the midi-chlorians experiment from the first season sheds light on how he wants to incorporate Force sensitivity into his army. Seeing Gideon abuse Grogu's power is heartbreaking, and we can only hope that Boba Fett, Din Djarin, and Fennec are able to rescue him. It seem Gideon is going the route of droids rather than using the dark trooper exoskeletons as armor for midi-chlorian-enhanced stormtroopers or cyborgs. It's also clear that Din Djarin and Grogu are in more trouble than either could've imagined.