I love the Empire and they’ve done nothing wrong. But when it comes to the vast array of unique races and cultures throughout Star Wars, nothing beats the Mandalorians in my opinion. This race of fierce warriors dates back to the days of the (Legends) Old Republic, where they frequently allied themselves with Vitiate’s Sith Empire as bounty hunters and mercenaries. They were known to wear distinct armor colored to reflect family ties and honored traditions, and their suits of tough armor were also renown for turning the wearer into a walking armory. Mandos get all the coolest gear, from jetpacks and wrist rockets to cutting edge blasters, tether cables, and jetpack-mounted missile launchers. Not only do I love them, but the Empire are apparently fans too. And that’s canon now, so let’s talk about it!
“Imperial Supercommandos,” the most recent episode of Star Wars Rebels, pits Sabine and Ezra against Mandalorians on two sides as they reach out to Concord Dawn to reestablish contact. Mandalorian soldiers loyal to the Empire and lead by former Shadow Collective member Gar Saxon have destroyed the encampment of Fenn Rau, and his forces are killed in the process. Seeking to escape rather than join the body count, Rau escapes in the new Phantom after Ezra distracts the other Mandalorians. Long story short, he has a change of heart and turns back to save Sabine and Ezra from the supercommando team. Okay, so that might be an oversimplification of the episode, but honestly I saw that ‘twist’ coming a mile away. However, I liked this episode a lot. Both the supercommandos and Fenn Rau are sympathetic, even though Rau does put the kids in a rough spot by leaving them behind. The Mandalorians under Gar Saxon want power to restore the former glory of Mandalore, and the only way to stay in power is to side with the Empire. Odds are it isn’t going to pay off greatly for them, but you can sympathize with a warrior culture wanting to stick to its ways while, at the same time, trying to cement a better future and hoping they can outlast the Empire.
This episode makes some great contributions to the new Mandalorian canon established by The Clone Wars series. First and foremost, Imperial Mandalorian soldiers are canon now. Originally that was just an idea back in the day when Boba Fett was just a better version of a stormtrooper, not a bounty hunter, and he wore all white armor.
Secondly, Gar Saxon is back and has become a pawn of the Empire, given a title of Viceroy of Mandalore. Sabine doesn’t care much for Gar, and rightfully so – he used to ally himself with Maul, who ruled Mandalore for a short time near the end of The Clone Wars. It’s great to see him back after his appearances in the Son of Dathomir comics. The only thing that bothers me is that he teases a lot of backstory on Sabine and none of it pays off in the episode. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Sabine gets the short end of the stick on this show most of the time. All this backstory is teased yet it doesn’t pay off or actually include her. We learn that Gar knows who Sabine’s mother is and that she is looking for Sabine. We still don’t know who she is, if that’s even true or if Gar is bluffing, or who her mother is. The Sabine episodes tease a lot of what I’m hoping will eventually be a very compelling Mandalorian character. But in the meantime, we’ve had several episodes explaining Chopper’s backstory. Chopper has PTSD after crashing in a Y-Wing during The Clone Wars, and he was rescued by Hera Syndulla (who also could use some more story time in my opinion.) Chopper can fend for himself, is often violent, and is so stubborn that he will often defy direct orders. What do we know about Sabine? She paints. She’s spunky and quippy. She’s from Mandalore and went to the Impreial Academy there, knows several languages, and has a mother she’s been distanced from. We don’t know how she came to the Ghost crew, much at all about her childhood on Mandalore, or what she’s truly fighting for. It’s arguable that she gets plenty of screen time, but I think her time could be used better on this show.
Moving on, the episode does take some steps in the right direction even if they are just teasing again with more light Sabine backstory. I like that this episode didn’t have a single “look how stupid the stormtroopers are” moment and that the rest of the Ghost crew wasn’t in the episode after the initial few minutes. It’s giving Sabine some time to do her own thing, dealing with people she recognizes in the only way Mandalorians know how; helmets on and blasters out. I was expecting Gar Saxon to have the dark saber but that didn’t happen, at least not yet. But we know Sabine gets it later on, and I think getting it from Gar makes the most sense. Either that or it’s in Thrawn’s collection somewhere. I appreciated seeing some Clone Wars loose ends tied up without having another cameo-of-the-week as well, though admittedly I am excited to see Bo Katan come back later on because it means more Mandalorian-centric episodes this season. Mandalorian participation in galactic events beyond mercenary wok is an interesting step in the right direction. Pre Vizla was shaping up to make big changes before he was killed by Maul. And while we’re on that topic, what are these ties between Clan Wren and House Vizla that keep coming up? How deep does that go?
Something I’m very excited about is that I think these Mando-centric episodes are going to set up some pre-A New Hope Boba Fett stories. These supercommandos probably don’t survive season three, but who do we know who is also an awesome Mandalorian? Boba Fett! I’d love to see him even if it isn’t until season four. He’s known to work with the Empire and we might even get to see how he establishes his connections with Vader. I’m probably dreaming, but that’ the episode I’d make if I was in charge. Oh if I was in charge…
So what did you think about this episode? Like Mandalorians as much as I do? Leave a comment below and let me know! And as always, thanks for reading.