“I accept this sword for my sister, for my clan, and for all of Mandalore. “
Welcome back to Star Wars Women. This week we look at the sister of the Duchess, Satin Bo-Katan. As I mentioned last time, the sisters share few personal beliefs and are in direct conflict over the future of Mandalore. I find this very interesting and wish they had worked together more during the Clone Wars. They share a complex characterization that makes both characters believable rather than sympathetic. They also want strong leadership for Mandalore, but they disagree on what form that power should take. Is it possible to have a world without power? Does that make you a hypocrite who uses violence to support peace? Do we embrace our cultural heritage or take bold steps toward a better future? The two sisters are stubborn and unyielding, working together only briefly when the alternative sees Maul on the throne of Mandalo Saxon.
I find Bo-Katana to be a fascinating character because of her complex nature. Unlike most Star Wars characters, she is neither a hero nor a villain. The appropriateness of her actions and how they relate to or go against the goals of the characters are completely arbitrary. She begins as a true terrorist, sowing devastation and chaos with Pre-Vizla, in contrast to her sister’s progressive and pacifist policies. The fact that she joined Ahsoka Tano during the Mandalore siege and tried to unite the Mandalorian people can be seen as an arc of redemption, and I am sure some will interpret it that way. But, Bo-Katan is more like Ahsoka than Asajj Ventress. She learns from experience and adjusts her strategies and goals, but her overall ethics and beliefs do not change over time. Either way, Ahsoka is an agent of good who helps everyone, while Bo-Katana always serves herself and her goals at Mandalore. I love that Kati Sackhoff was able to turn the character in the animation into real action, and I hope they can use the same actors for other characters in the transition.
Bo-Katan can be seen in season 4, episode 14, “Friend in Need.” Here we see her leading the Death Watch with Pre Vizsla, but her name is not yet given and there is no indication of her relationship with the Duchess. Lux Bonteri, Ahsoka’s lover and son of her friend Padme Mina, invades a meeting of separatist and republican senators led by Duchess Satin, who is neutral. The distraught young man storms in and accuses Count Dooku of murdering his mother. The Separatist senators educate him so the Count can take care of him himself, but Ahsoka runs off to help him. With Padme’s blessing, Ahsoka spends most of her “Necessary Friend” saving Lux from outside threats and her own foolish ideas. Although she only encountered Dooku’s hologram, Lux used a device that can track the hologram’s signal to find him. Ahsoka and Lux escaped in a ship with R2, but he quickly knocked her unconscious so he could fly to Karlak without her interference. There he meets the Death Watch and offers them tracking information if they kill Count Dooku.
Ahsoka wants nothing to do with the Death Watch and asks Lux to leave before it is too late. Lux is the kind of man who never sees what is in front of him and insists that Vizsla and her men act honorably and keep their word. However, the behavior of the Death Watch speaks for itself, and Lux realizes what really happens when a tribe of locals come to claim their women. Among other things, Vizla uses them as slaves for cooking. He agrees, which strengthens Lux’s confidence in him. But in the morning, when the men return, Pre shoots the chief’s granddaughter, and a fight ensues. Bo-Katana doesn’t stand out much in “Needy Friend,” but he shows that she is tolerated and even encouraged. Killing Count Dooku is all well and good; he’s a rare example of a character from the prequel to “The Clone Wars” that isn’t humanized or has a bad ending, and killing him (if it had worked) would have benefited everyone but Palpatine. But she and her terrorist friends occupy the planet against the will of her people, and she watches as they take the natives as slaves and kill them for no reason. This is the first glimpse we see of Bo-Katan, and it shows someone who wants nothing more than Mandalorian rule. If their alliances and methods can change, this is the first indication that under the surface Bo-Katana is not a “good” person. Unless it is directly related to her personal goals, she does not care about the suffering of innocents, even if it is indirectly her fault.
Bo-Katan’s next appearance will be in season 5, episode 14, “Eminence.” As I mentioned last time, this is the beginning of the story of the Second Civil War in Mandalore (as far as we know). The Death Watch finds Maul and Savage Opress in their destroyed ship and decides to work with them to get Mandalore back. For the first time, Bo-Katana shows that she believes in something; on several occasions, she advises Pre Vizsla not to trust these self-proclaimed Sith Lords. She says that the Sith are no better than the Jedi, and that if they trust Maul, he will only betray them when the time is right. Maul silences her, however, and Vizsla seems more impressed than desperate. Once the gangsters are neutralized, Bo-Katan joins Vizla in the Mandalorian capital of Sundari. There they publicly question the Duchess’ leadership. Thanks to the false arrests of Maul’s new allies, the Death’s Watch does the people a favor and locks up Satina. Bo-Katana feels no guilt and is reluctant to help her sister until Maul beheads Pre Vizsla and declares himself the rightful ruler of Mandalore. It is not the senseless violence that makes Bo-Katan change her mind, nor even the terror that the people of Mandalore provoke. The idea that an outsider like Maul would take the throne convinces her to free Satina and fight the Death Watch. She is joined by some of her Night Owls, an elite group of assassins who have joined the Death Watch with her. But some stay behind and split the Death Guard and the Night Owls in two.
My problem is not the story, but Bo-Katan’s reasoning. I was always frustrated that she didn’t make a fuss when Vizla recruited Maul. She and Vizla are at the head of the Death Watch, and some of the band members only joined because of her; I can’t believe she had no choice but to follow Vizla and Maul until she got there. At one point Maul used the Force against her. But it was meant to annoy her, not suppress her protests. I don’t think she was surprised when he killed Vizla, or later her sister. After Satin is killed by Maul in her own throne room, Bo-Katan says a lot about her. She seems really devastated after the murder, she talks about her leadership style and the fact that she was a leader, and she even takes the lightsaber for her sister. I think it’s all a little unfair, especially from a character who isn’t used to eating. But I think most of these problems are due to the time spent in front of the screen. They had three 22-minute episodes to get Maul into Death Watch, recruit all the major gangs, start a civil war in Mandalore, kill two political leaders and be crowned. There will be more intrigue with him after that, but it would fit better in another theme. The fact is that the sisters only have to deal with each other twice in this storyline, and Bo-Katan is not much more resistant to Maul’s influence. Probably because they didn’t have time to process everything. It’s one of my favorite storylines and it shows how much they wanted the series to be dark. I also like to explore the politics of Mandalore; The Clone Wars shows that politics in Star Wars can be fascinating and even enhance the drama between characters. It should be treated with caution. That said, this arc also adds the mystery of the Bo-Katana. It’s hard to say exactly what she expected and how far she would have gone had Maul not taken the throne. I like that she occasionally reflects on her late sister and their relationship; it’s powerful, and I think it provides a moderate sense of regret and guilt. But I think it’s a real shame that they didn’t have more time together when Satin was alive. I also want them to explore Bo-Katana’s guilt, if there is any.
Bo-Katan appears in season 7 of The Clone Wars. She appears briefly in “Dangerous Duty” and “Together Again,” which sees Ahsoka with the Martez sisters on Oba Diach. Once her deal with the Pikes is complete, Ahsoka is approached by Bo-Katan and the two Night Owls, who ask her for help to recapture Mandalore. This breaks down into the extremely excellent arc “Siege of Mandalore,” which is the most cinematic and probably the best story arc in the entire series. In “Old Friends Not Forgotten,” Ahsoka and Bo-Katana contact Obi-Wan and an ecstatic Anakin with a tempting offer: reliable Republic help during the siege and Maul as a prisoner. But it’s not that simple, as politics, as one would expect, invades Jedi affairs. However, Anakin decides to split the 501st in two, uniting Ahsoka and Rex to lead a division connected to Mandalore. Amidst the jokes, Bo-Katan makes a sarcastic remark, noting that satin once had meaning for Obi-Wan. He replies that she did and still does, but that he cannot allow his emotions to cloud his judgment and get in the way of such an important decision. This shows once again that Obi-Wan has more control over his emotions than Anakin. In Ghost Apprentice, Ahsoka and Bo-Katan interview Prime Minister Almek, who reveals that he heard Skywalker’s name in a vision and lost his mind. Ahsoka and Bo-Katan find Maul in the throne room, and he goes outside to join the fight. This brief alliance of former enemies ends in “Shattered” as Ahsoka hunts down a restrained Maul. This is one of my top three arcs in Clone Wars history, and I honestly think it’s perfect. It is interesting to see how vehemently Bo-Katan complains in “Old Friends Not Forgotten” and “Ghost Apprentice” that the people of Mandalonia will not tolerate the occupation of the Republic. She goes on to say that they won’t tolerate it either. It’s just funny that the whole operation was her idea, and she was furious when it seemed the Jedi weren’t going to help, but now that the troops are here, they can’t leave fast enough. I don’t think she’ll ever thank Ahsoka, although they are saying a meaningful goodbye.
Bo-Katan appears in the credits of Rebels “Heroes of Mandalore” season 4, a two-part series. She immediately confronts Sabine and rightly accuses her of making weapons that target Mandalore’s armor. But Bo-Katana has made some mistakes in the past. When Sabine first offers him her lightsaber, she refuses it, saying that she has had her chance to rule and failed. She also says that she is not her sister, which is strange under the circumstances. Can Bo-Katan question Sabine’s pacifist policies? Would she have been a great leader after all? Satin would never have wielded weapons, let alone the famous black sword. In Rebels, we also have a great animated story about Tarr Vizsla and Darksaber, in season 3, episode 15, “The Trials of Darksaber.” But Bo-Katana agrees to help Sabine and the rebels free Alrich Wren, her father held captive under the Emperor of Mandalore. At the end of this one-hour premiere, Sabine reaffirms that Bo-Katana is the rightful ruler of Mandalore and must take control of Darksaber. The clans of Vizla, Rena, Kryza, Eldar, Rook and Fenn Rau encourage her and she agrees. “Redemption” revealed in the final moments of the Mandalorians’ first season that Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) has somehow taken over the Bo-Katan’s lightsaber in the meantime. Star Wars has already filled Disney+’s plate, but I hope they tell the story at some point, even if it’s just a flashback of sorts. It’s hard to imagine Bo-Katan giving up the lightsaber before his death.
This clearly leads to two appearances by Bo-Katan in Mandalorian so far, in season two, episode three “The Heiress” and episode eight “The Saviours.” “The Heiress” is a very short, action-oriented episode that characterizes Dean Jarin more than Bo-Katan. It is appropriate because it is his show, and it ultimately points him toward Ahsoka Tano. After the breakup between Ahsoka and Bo-Katan, it was obvious, although I still hope they will end up in one of the series. But in Salvation, Bo-Katan has more to say. She rejects Boba Fett as a Mandalorian and claims that he is just a clone and that Django is just his donor. This seems to be a kind of role reversal from The Heiress, where Dean rejects Bo-Katan and his disciples as Mandalorians because they take off their helmets. Here she reminds me of her earlier ambivalence toward helping the Republic, when she told Bob and Koska to stop fighting. Bo-Katana points out that if they fought the Empire like this, they would still have a home planet. I find it funny because she lost Mandalore and started all this useless bickering and swearing. Her big moments come later in the episode when they approach Gideon’s ship and finally reach her. She mentions that Gideon must surrender to her personally, but does not explain why this is happening or when it will happen. As a result, Gideon is defeated by Dean in one battle to protect the child and get back the black sword. Gideon mocks the situation by telling the Mandalorian to fight Bo-Katana so that she can win the blade in battle. He tries to give it to her or give it up without a fight, but she suddenly and without reason rejects the object for which she had come. This implies that she originally lost Mandalore and the black sword because Sabine gave it to her of her own free will, or at least she thinks so. Perhaps some clans did not support her because her request was invalid without a fight. After all, that would be consistent with her own state of mind. An outsider like Maul cannot rule even if he legitimately took the blade, but she felt entitled to do so? This fight should take place in the third season, and I’m looking forward to it. It will be interesting to see how she gets the lightsaber back, or even if she can. Bo-Katan has tried to lead her people three times already, and never succeeded. What would the poetry be if she had to hand over to a stranger the very thing she previously refused to do?
Like his sister Satin, Bo-Katan is the kind of character I really like but know I wouldn’t like in real life. She’s unlikely, incoherent, and sometimes her beliefs seem a bit arbitrary. Killing and enslaving people is fine, but she draws a line under an alien who controls Mandalore. You can’t take control of Darksaber without a fight if it doesn’t feel right at the time. She asks for help and then questions the courage of those who help “occupy” her city. She sees Dean Jarin as a fanatical religious headliner, but rejects Bob because he is a clone. This is a fascinating portrait of a complex and unyielding mind, of a woman in constant conflict, who knows what she wants and will do anything to get it. At first glance, Bo-Katan seems to have gone from villain to hero, like Asajj Ventress or Darth Vader. But in reality, whether he is a good guy or a bad guy is not the right question. Bo-Katan is a power-hungry opportunist who is not interested in the moral implications of her actions. She reminds me of Voldemort’s words, “There is no right or wrong, only power and those who are too weak to seek it.”
Frequently asked questions
Bo-Katan is a Mandalore?
Bo-Katan Krys was a Mandalorian humanoid who was leader of the Night Owls and lieutenant of the Death Watchers, a terrorist group, and later became Mand’alor in the Imperial period.
Bo-Katan, the daughter of Obi Wan?
Although he is named Satine’s nephew, Corky’s parents remain a mystery. Satine has a famous brother from the Clone Wars, Boot Catan Kryze, and we know (almost certainly) that Corky is not the child of Boot Catan.
Who plays the gunsmith in Mandalorian?
Powerful. Zen, but with power”. Actress Emily Swallow knew these six words about her character, The Gunsmith, when she auditioned for the role of the chief blacksmith in The Mandalorian.