This article contains spoilers for The Mandalorian Episode 8
With the first season of The Mandalorian over, the last episode sent us off with a bang. Between being action-packed and emotional, the best parts of episode 8 were actually the hints of information we got about the Mandalorians and their culture!
The first hint was when Moff Gideon suggests that Din Djarin, our main Mando, had heard songs of the “Seige of Mandalore.” This is most likely a reference to a battle during the Clone Wars, in which Darth Maul’s control over Mandalore was broken by Republic forces led by Ahsoka Tano and Rex. Following this, Gideon mentions another severe event called the “night of a thousand tears” in which fields of Mandalorian recruits were killed. We can assume that this event occurred during the Siege of Mandalore. With the new season of Clone Wars coming out on Disney+, there’s hope that the Siege of Mandalore will be depicted on screen so some of the questions we have about this event may yet be answered.
This is perhaps linked with what many characters have mentioned of a “Great Purge” on Mandalore. With the fall of Darth Maul and the rise of Palpatine, Republic control of Mandalore turned into Imperial rule. However, in Star Wars Rebels, we were left with the image of Sabine Wren leading a revolt and defeating the Imperial governor posted on Mandalore. But this great purge perhaps indicates that the Empire later swept in and wiped out most revolt, leading to the deaths of many Mandalorians and the acquisition of beskar steel by the Empire. Those Mandalorians that survived fled and are in hiding because of it.
From earlier conversations between Din and the Armourer, we get a feeling that the Armorer and the rest of the covert are from the more war-orientated sects of Mandalorian culture. The flashback in which we see a young Din getting saved by Clan Vizsla members cements the fact that Din himself has been raised in this culture, instead of the pacifist one that governed during the time of his parents’ deaths. During the Clone Wars, we see a huge divide in the Mandalorian people: the New Mandalorians believing in a peaceful people while a group of traditional Mandalorians who believed in the warrior’s way formed the group called Death Watch. Pre Vizsla led this faction and used Clan Vizsla’s emblem to indicate members of Death Watch. So given that members of Death Watch saved Din, it’s likely that he was raised in traditional Mandalorian culture much like the rest of the Mandalorians we see in The Mandalorian.
This isn’t the only reason why Clan Vizsla is a name to remember. They are integrally linked with the darksaber, a black-bladed lightsaber that we see Gideon use to extract himself from his ship at the end of the episode. The darksaber has been a staple in Mandalorian culture, being created by the first Mandalorian to become a Jedi: Tarre Vizsla. When Vizsla became Mandalore, the ruler of all Mandalorians, the darksaber became a symbol of power for both his clan and the Mandalorian people.
However, after Vizsla passed away, a group of Jedi took the saber and housed it in the Jedi Temple for safekeeping. Understandably, this didn’t go over well with Clan Vizsla, so they stole it back. It has since been handed down through generations of Mandalorians, usually through combat. Pre Vizsla acquired it and used it himself during the Clone Wars. Even Darth Maul wielded it for a time after taking over Death Watch. The last we saw of it was when the Mandalorian Sabine Wren handed it off to Bo-Katan Kryze in Star Wars Rebels. Kryze then used it to unite the Mandalorian people against the Empire.
Because Gideon now has the blade, we can assume to worst for Mandalore; we can probably assume that Gideon acquiring it has something to do with the great purge. Due to the rule of combat, it’s likely that Kryze has been killed off-screen, most likely by Gideon, and the Mandalorian people are without a Mandalore, again. Given that season two seems to be about Din finding Yodito’s home planet, and Gideon pursuing the two, it’s going to be interesting to see how Din reacts to Gideon wielding a weapon sacred to Mandalorian culture.