Finally, Sabine has come back to Mandalore! Err the Mandalorian Sector, more specifically the planet Krownest, the stronghold of Clan Wren.
Nothing will be the same for Sabine after this week’s episode. She joined Kanan, Hera and Chopper on the Ghost running from her past. With them and the rest of the Ghost crew she began striking back at the Empire for what they did to her and with Phoenix Squadron those efforts increased to a larger and larger scale. In returning to Mandalorian space from her self-imposed exile she has stopped running and turned to face both her past and her future.
As a bit of a Mandalorian fanboy, I relish these episodes as we get to see tons of continued Mandalorian world building. The use of Mando’a, further details on how Mandalorian honor culture works, a better understanding of the Mandalorian political system, and more specifically details about Clan Wren and Sabine’s nuclear family. I highly recommend watching the latest episode of Rebels Recon as they build upon what is revealed in this episode, namely that Krownest is a planet that was conquered by the Mandalorians and absorbed into the culture. Pablo mentions that there is something like a thousand planets in Mandalorian space, while Dave adds that some wouldn’t consider the Wrens “true” Mandalorians, they are a people who were conquered and but as a Clan have been loyal to House Vizlsa and are respected for that. We also learn that Sabine’s mom is the head of her family, her dad came from a less powerful family so he took her name. This last fact is particularly interesting and points to a very utilitarian view of familial relations that rejects both a matriarchal and patriarchal system in favor of power and prestige. I am left with burning desire for a Game of Thrones style story set on Mandalore, either as its own animated series or in a book or series of books.
We get to meet Sabine’s mother (Ursa) and brother (Tristan) in this episode, and get a mention of her father who remains unseen on Mandalore. If there is one character trait that every member of Sabine’s family exemplifies it is self-sacrifice. Sabine puts herself into exile to help protect her family. Ursa betrays her daughter in an attempt to keep Sabine and the rest of her clan safe. Tristan subordinates himself to the service of Gar Saxon in order to restore some of his family’s honor and to keep his father safe. Sabine’s father allows himself to be taken hostage to protect his family.
We see another variation of Mandalorian armor style and color in this episode as Clan Wren boasts a grey base armor with mostly yellow accents. We see an awesome new location in Krownest. The snowy alpine location of the Clan Wren stronghold. The design of the stronghold is awesome, very angular and glass on the outside. While on the inside this continues, but is accented by marble, Mandalorian bonsai trees, and new Mandalorian art. The establishing shots we see in this episode look like gorgeous matte paintings while the animation and sound department do great subtle work on the snow and the way the characters walk through it.
The writing and acting in this episode were also very well done. Covering tons of storytelling ground without a lot of info dumping. Two relatively minor things that stuck out to me was the acting of Tiya Sircar when she was speaking Mando’a and the choice of Sabine to spare Saxon. Tiya has put in some serious good work in the last two episodes, but her Mandalorian sounded a bit rough, not a big deal but something to note.
The larger issue is Sabine’s decisions to spare Saxon after she disarmed him and he refused to yield. The best argument is that killing a disarmed enemy is wrong. The issue is that Sabine is someone who has shown no moral compunction about killing Imperials in sneak attacks. Is killing a Stormtrooper who is simply on guard duty at a TIE dock any more morally justifiable than killing Saxon who could always escape captivity or even rally support even while in captivity? Saxon is literally to dangerous to be allowed to live. Sabine’s decision to spare his life may make her feel morally good, but it is an irresponsible and dangerous decision both for herself, her clan and all of Mandalore. It is easy for the crew of Rebels to have Sabine kill faceless Stormtroopers but killing a disarmed Saxon is something I think they shied away from because of the show’s young target audience. Sabine’s decision to reject the “Mandalorian”way and show weakness sets the character on a possible course closer to Satine Kryze, which I think very few Mandalorian fans want to see.
Which brings me to the end of the episode where Sabine explicitly rejects the idea of becoming the Mandalore in conversation with Fenn Rau. She says she will not be the leader of Mandalore but will find that person and presumably give them the Darksaber. So Sabine sets for herself the role of Kingmaker. Now the obvious candidate would be Rau himself, but we also have the possibility though unlikely that Ursa or Tristan could also fill that role. But perhaps the most likely candidate is Bo-Katan, sister of perhaps the last legitimate ruler of Mandalore and unlike her sister accepting of the Mandalorian warrior tradition.
We know that in The Clone Wars an arc included Ahsoka returning to Mandalore with Republic forces and appointing Bo-Katan provisional leader of Mandalore, it looks likely that they may be recycling that story a bit with Satine taking the role of Ahsoka in making Bo-Katan the ruler of Mandalore.
In any event it looks like we aren’t likely to see Sabine again this season there is certainly promise of more to come in Season Four and the Mandalorian Civil War and possible Imperial invasion.