It’s just a couple weeks until The Mandalorian season 3 debuts on Disney+. And it looks like it’s going to be a wild ride, with Mando and Grogu off to Mandalore itself to try and find the living waters somewhere deep within the planet so that Mando can be forgiven for the crime of having taken off his helmet and allowed himself to be seen by others.
As we discovered in season two of the series, Mando’s version of the Way is not held by every Mandalorian, or even most. Right now, there are at least three different groups who fly around wearing Mandalorian armor (and based on the season three trailer, there may be more to come).
Here’s who they are.
The Nite Owls
Midway through season two of the Mandalorian, Din Djarin encountered a group of people who wear Mandalorian armor, but take their helmets off, and have none of the religious beliefs of the Way—in fact they consider the Way a crazy sect.
This group, which refers to itself as the Nite Owls, was originally a part of a terrorist organization on Mandalore intent on overthrowing a government it believed had become weak in its vision for the people. Mandalorians were not meant to be honorable mercenaries, they argued, but to take what they wanted. But the group’s efforts backfired when their coup led to Darth Maul taking over Mandalore and murdering planetary leader Duchess Satine Kryze, sister of Nite Owl leader Bo-Katan Kryze (pictured above). At the end of the Clone Wars animated series, former Jedi Ahsoka Tano convinces the Jedi and Republic forces to help Bo-Katan overthrow Maul. Bo-Katan emerges as the new regent of Mandalore.
But between the end of Clone Wars and Star Wars: A New Hope, Mandalore was forced to accept Imperial rule. Refusing to serve the Empire, Bo-Katan abdicated her seat; but working with the crew of the Ghost (including fellow Mandalorian Sabine Wren), she was eventually able to wrest control of Mandalore away from the Empire. At that time she accepted from Wren the Darksaber, a black light saber that historically has been held by the leader of Mandalore.
At some point after Episode IV, the Empire launched the Purge of Mandalore, a worldwide series of carpet-bombing attacks against the planet which almost completely wiped out the planet’s population. During the attack, Imperial leader Moff Gideon took the Darksaber from Bo-Katan. Post-Return of the Jedi, Bo-Katan and the Nite Owls have become a raiding group, seizing Imperial ships and weapons plundered from Mandalore with the intent of using them to retake their homeworld.
Bo-Katan is intent on killing Gideon and reclaiming the Darksaber to prove she is the true ruler of Mandalore. But at the end of season two of the Mandalorian, it is Djarin who defeats Gideon and takes the blade. He tries to give it to Bo-Katan, but she refuses to accept it.
The Children of the Watch
Variously known as the Children of the Watch, the Tribe, and the Way of Mandalore, the group to which Din Djarin belongs is a religious sect that was living cloistered off-planet when the Empire launched the Purge of Mandalore. The Watch believe that the destruction of Mandalore happened because the Mandalorians had stopped practicing the old ways. They have made it their goal to keep the one true way of Mandalore alive while hiding in the shadows, until they can some day return to their homeworld.
Led by the Armorer (above), the Children of the Watch believe the armor of the Mandalorian to be almost sacred, a profound expression of their identity. Much of their religious ritual is built around the creation of new pieces of armor from beskar, an incredibly strong steel found only on Mandalore and stolen by the Empire. In their belief system, a Mandalorian must never remove their helmet in the presence of another person, nor allow their helmet to be removed. To do so is to be expelled from the community. And as Din Djarin has now learned, only contact with the living waters of Mandalore may bring one back into the Tribe.
The Children specifically connect the destruction of Mandalore with the fact that the former leader of Mandalore Bo-Katan carried the Darksaber without having won it in combat, as was the tradition of the Mandalorians.
Until recently Boba Fett was one of the great puzzles of all things Mandalore. While he wears Mandalorian armor, both in the original Star Wars saga and the prequels, he and his father Jango never identify themselves as Mandalorians. They do not follow the Way, nor take orders from anyone but themselves.
After losing his armor in the desert of Tatooine, Boba Fett goes in search of it, and learns Tatooine law man Cobb Vance gave it to Din Djarin, Fett hunts Djarin down and demands his armor back, but Djarin refuses, citing the fact that Fett is not a follower of the Way. All Mandalorian armor is the property of the Mandalorians.
But in the midst of battling with Fett against Imperial forces, Djarin learns that Jango had been a foundling cared for by the Mandalorians, and had in fact fought in the Mandalorian Civil Wars. As a result he relents in keeping Boba Fett’s armor, and the two become allies.
Thus far Boba Fett has shown no interest in the politics of Mandalore. He views Bo-Katan’s dreams of taking back the planet as ridiculous, given the destruction the Empire has wreaked upon it. Will he be content with ruling Mos Eisley in season three of the Mandalorian? Or could he be the unpredictable third party that changes the course of everything?
Could there be another?
Thus far no other groups have been mentioned or seen on the Mandalorian. But in the Clone Wars and Rebels TV series, there were always a number of competing political factions on Mandalore, some of them violently opposed to one another. So are there more groups to come, perhaps living in the ruins of the world?
And what of Sabine Wren, member of the crew of the Ghost, who had found the Darksaber and used it to help motivate her clan to fight the Empire. When last she was seen at the end of Rebels she was setting out with Ahsoka Tano to try and find her friend, Jedi Ezra Bridger. Tano has since been seen multiple times on The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. Can Wren be far behind?
Get more into this with our Star Wars watch order.