The History of "The Mandalorian"'s Darksaber Is an Important Piece of Star Wars Lore

The season one finale of "The Mandalorian" introduced a terrifying new weapon for viewers of the series: the Darksaber. In the episode's final moments, it's revealed that the villainous Moff Gideon, an Imperial officer who has personally hunted down and murdered untold numbers of Mandalorians, had this legendary weapon. While that episode served as the weapon's entry into the live-action universe, viewers of the Star Wars animated shows recognized it right away. And it all comes down to some of the backstory of Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and the Mandalore home world.

Here's what we know about the Darksaber and what role it's playing in season three.

What Is the Darksaber?

The Darksaber, in simplest terms, is a black lightsaber. But it's a weapon that has deep historic ties to Mandalore and its people. According to the lore of the extended Star Wars universe, the weapon was first wielded by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian Jedi. As "The Mandalorian" reminds us, the Jedi and the Mandalorians have historically been enemies, but with Tarre Vizsla's position as both Mandalorian leader and Jedi, there was a brief period of peace between the factions. After his death, his saber was returned to the Jedi Temple, but it was stolen by members of his Mandalorian clan during the time right before the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire (Tarre himself lived about a thousand years earlier).

During the clone wars (and as shown in the "The Clone Wars" animated series), Pre Vizsla, one of Tarre's descendants, uses the Darksaber to lead his faction Death Watch to overthrow Duchess Satine Kryze, who's the head of the planet and trying to get Mandalorians to move toward nonviolence. Deathwatch allies with the Sith Lord Darth Maul (who did not die in "The Phantom Menace"), but once they win, Pre betrays Maul and the Sith. Maul challenges Pre to a duel and kills him, taking possession of the Darksaber.

During the Imperial era, rebel Sabine Wren stole the Darksaber and learned to fight with it (some of this story is covered in the "Rebels" animated series). Wren eventually gives it to Bo-Katan Kryze, the sister of Duchess Satine. She accepts the saber and her role as leader and unites Mandalore once more.

Alas, the Empire attacks Mandalore, genociding its people, and Bo-Katan loses the saber. Years later — and after the fall of the empire — the saber pops up again in Moff Gideon's hands. Gideon led the Empire's purge of Mandalore, so it seems he fought Bo-Katan and took the saber during that time.

How Is the Darksaber Different From Jedi Lightsabers?

The Darksaber both is and isn't different from traditional Jedi lightsabers. It was crafted by the first Mandalorian Jedi, and traditionally lightsabers are also crafted by the first Jedi to use them. But there are differences that set it apart. The handle is made of beskar — the same material used in Mandalorian armor — so it's indestructible. It's also the only known lightsaber that's black; more typical colors include green, blue, red, yellow, and white (and, of course, Mace Windu's iconic purple from the prequels). And it's the only lightsaber that non-Jedi or Sith use, too. However, as shown in both "Rebels" and "The Book of Boba Fett," a person needs a clear mind to be able to focus on it and wield it correctly. That's not precisely a Force connection, but it's close.

What Role Does the Darksaber Play in "The Mandalorian" Season 3?

Din Djarin, aka the titular Mandalorian, has the Darksaber at the start of season three after winning it in battle against Moff Gideon at the end of the second season. Din didn't want it and tried to give it to Bo-Katan during that episode, but it can only be passed in battle; otherwise, it leads to misfortune and woe. At the start of the new season, Din is most worried about going back to Mandalore and purifying himself from the sin of taking off his mask. Din uses the Darksaber to fight off new enemies — especially new aliens called Alamites — on Mandalore, and once he's captured, Bo-Katan also uses it to save him.

While saving Din and helping him bathe in the living waters, Bo-Katan sees the Mythosaur, the legendary Mandalorian creature. The Armorer (Emily Swallow), after learning this, tells Bo-Katan that she's meant to lead all Mandalorians and the Mythosaur is a sign of that. In episode six, she, Din, and Grogu hunt down her former Mandalorian allies to try to get them to join the Children of the Watch, but they point out that Bo-Katan doesn't have the Darksaber. Din explains that Bo took it from him when she saved him, so it's rightfully hers, and everyone agrees. Bo takes possession of it once more.

Why Is the Darksaber Heavy For The Mandalorian?

In episode two of season three, when Mando tries to use the Darksaber, he's not very good with it. It's very heavy for him and he struggles to fight with it. That's happened other times he's used it, too, and the explanation seemed to be that Din was heavy with thoughts of Grogu, who he was separated from both times. Wren explained part of why it's so hard to work with the Darksaber in "Rebels," saying, "Energy constantly flows through the crystal. You're not fighting with a simple blade as much as you are directing a current of power. Your thoughts, your actions, they become energy. They flow through the crystal as well — and become a part of the blade."

Now that Bo-Katan has the saber once more, it seems Din struggled with it because he ultimately wasn't meant to wield it.

New episodes of "The Mandalorian" air on Wednesdays on Disney+.