‘The Mandalorian’ Explained: Chapter Eight

For fans of tangential ‘Star Wars’ content, the final episode delivered a delicious slice from the canon.
Mandalorian Season 1 Moff Gideon
By  · Published on December 28th, 2019

The final chapter of The Mandalorian Season 1 offers many avenues of considered thought for Star Wars fanatics, while still withholding the big questions proposed by “Chapter 1.” Mainly, who or what is Baby Yoda, and what plans do the leftover remnants of the Empire have for him? We can hopefully stop referring to the lead character by the derogatory slur of Mando, and call him by his birth name: Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal). We learned that Cara Dune (Gina Carano) is a child of the doomed planet Alderaan. Greef Karga is a disgraced magistrate, and IG-11 (Taika Waititi) is the most badass and deadly nurse on this side, or any other side, of the galaxy. Oh yeah, and Pedro Pascal finally got to show us his gorgeous (if bloody) mug.

While Mof Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) had Din Djarin and his pals pinned with their backs against the walls inside the Client (R.I.P Werner Herzog)’s bunker, showrunner and screenwriter Jon Favreau unloaded as much character info as he could. In revealing the humanoid beneath the Mandalorian helmet, Gideon exposes his own identity to the wild bunch within. As explained by Djarin, the only record of his family name was inside the registers of Mandalore, and only Gideon had access to those records because he was an ISB (Imperial Security Bureau) Officer during the Great Purge. Cara Dune believed Gideon to be dead, but the vicious weasel somehow escaped such a fate.

How? A fragment of the answer reveals itself in the final moments of The Mandalorian “Chapter 8: Redemption,” the subtitle of which most certainly does not apply to the seemingly unkillable Mof. The creep has his showdown with Djarin at the mouth of the lava river that runs below the city streets of Nevarro. It’s TIE fighter vs. Mandalorian jet pack (recently gifted to Djarin by Emily Swallow‘s Armorer). They exchange blaster fire, but Gideon’s confidence is easily shattered when the Mandalorian plants a couple of incendiary devices upon his wing pylon attachments. BOOM. The Mof goes down. End of story, on to the next season.

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Shortly after Djarin says his goodbyes to Karga and Dune, accepting his mission to nurse and protect Baby Yoda until he can reunite the foundling with his clan, the camera pans across the landscape toward the flaming TIE fighter wreckage. Jawas do what Jawas do: snatching scraps for resale. Suddenly, from within the command pod, sparks shoot outward, and a vibrating black blade slices its way through the buttery metal. Mof Gideon kicks his way out of the downed vessel, scares off the Jawas, and climbs aboard the heap that was once his ship. He may be down for the count, but he’s ready to get back in the game and claim the Mandalorian’s life.

For anyone who followed The Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon series, the moment the black blade pierced the haul of the TIE, a shockwave of awe reverberated through their bodies. That is no mere Jedi lightsaber or vibroblade. Uh-uh. The instrument in Mof Geidon’s mitt is none other than the fabled Darksaber. Who – wha – huh?

First appearing in the second season episode of The Clone Wars entitled “The Mandalore Plot,” the Darksaber is explained to be the weapon of Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian ever inducted into the Jedi order and a great ancestor of Pre Vizsla (voiced by Favreau in The Clone Wars) and presumably Paz Vizsla (voiced by Favreau in “Chapter 3” of The Mandalorian). When Tarre died, the Jedi watched over the black blade until it was liberated by Tarre’s descendants. For generations, it was secured, then Pre Vizsla used it to aid in his Death Watch revolution against the seated Mandalorian government.

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After various failed plots against the Republic, the Mandalorian government, and the Jedi, Pre Vizsla agreed to an uneasy alliance with Savage Opress and his brother Darth Maul (how the hell is that guy still walking around after The Phantom Menace? Guys, you really should have watched The Clone Wars). That friendship broke up when Maul snatched the Darksaber from Pre Vizsla and lopped off his head. For years, Maul galivanted across the galaxy with the Darksaber in tow, fruitlessly wielding it against his former master Darth Sidious (a.k.a. that rascally Emperor).

During Rebels, Maul tried to lure Jedi-in-training Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray) over to the Dark Side using the black blade as a token of trust. Ezra snatched it from the Sith and gave it to his pal and the wandering Mandalorian Sabine (Tiya Sircar). She kept it safe for a while but eventually presented the Darksaber to Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) so that she could lead her people to a new golden age of prosperity as the Rebellion against the Empire kicked into full swing.

So, what the hell is it doing in the hand of Mof Gideon? Whatever prosperity Bo-Katan attempted before the events of A New Hope, based on what we saw of Din Djarin’s clan on Nevarro, her actions never returned the Mandalorians to their place of galactic prominence. The implication is that during the Empire’s assault on Mandalore, which the Mof refers to as “The Night of 1,000 Tears,” Gideon slaughtered Bo-Katan and claimed the Darksaber as his own.

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Protected by such a weapon, Mof Gideon was able to get out of a lot of scrapes that his fellow Imperials could not. Case in point, freeing himself from that flaming hunk of junk TIE fighter. Casting Giancarlo Esposito in the role adds an extra layer of menace to your main villain, but also placing the Darksaber on his person elevates Mof Gideon’s scumbag status to one of the great Star Wars bad guys. This Mof is a monster.

The first season of The Mandalorian concludes with our hero and his adopted force-flinging child setting out on a quest for knowledge. On their heels is not just some stern-looking Imperial. No, Mof Gideon is a fanatic. His Empire has crumbled, but he maintains a firm grip on their message of terror. He alone dominated the Mandalorian people and stole a relic representing their magnificence.

Mof Gideon supplants his purpose over all others. He is a demon of hateful supremacy. The Darksaber is an extension of his grotesque will, but like all who have made it their own, he will die most likely from its blade. Such is the circular nature of the weapon.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)