“It is time to retake Mandalore.” That’s what every Mandalorian in the galaxy far, far away wants to hear. Most just don’t want to hear it from the Armorer. She’s leads an outcast clan of zealots who live by their culture’s most ancient and strict creed. The Armorer knows how others feel about her kind, though. That’s why on The Mandalorian she’s sending a helmetless Bo-Katan Kryze to bring more of their fellow exiles to their shared cause. Bo-Katan is not only capable, she saw the mythosaur, a sign the Armorer believes heralds “the next age” of Mandalore. And because Bo-Katan “walks in both worlds,” the covert leader believes she is uniquely capable of recruiting Mandalorians in a way the Watch never could.
But the Armorer’s plan to unite Mandalorians of every kind is far from guaranteed to work. Mythosaur or not, Bo-Katan’s past failures hang over her like a dark shadow. They are why she recently found herself alone without a clan of her own. And while she might have seen her people’s legendary symbol in the sacred Living Waters of Mandalore, she does not possess the Darksaber. All of which is why the Armorer might have accidentally sent Bo-Katan off to start another civil war among Mandalorians.
Bo-Katan’s recent heroics showed the Armorer what Bo-Katan is really all about. She is a fearless, capable warrior who will risk her life to not only save a Foundling but someone else’s friend. Combined with the fact Bo-Katan saw a mythosaur—which the Armorer believed only existed in legends—that was enough to make the covert leader reflect on what’s really important for her people. And what’s important has nothing to do with wearing a helmet all the time.
The Armorer explained herself to Bo-Katan while standing over the small ruined forge she used on Nevarro. She compared it to the Great Forge that once stood on Mandalore. “It was large and ornate, and the air rang with the music of a hundred hammers,” she said. “And here stood a simple one. Yet they were both forges. They served the same purpose.”
That purpose was to make armor for Mandalorians. A piece crafted by a skilled armorer would accomplish the same job no matter which forge they used to make it. Now the Armorer and all Mandalorians have a grand purpose bigger than any one clan. “Our people have strayed from The Way,” said the Armorer. “And it is not enough for a few to walk it. We must walk it together. We must walk the way together. All Mandalorians.”
Based on what the Armorer said, Bo-Katan is the only Mandalorian to ever successfully “walk” both the old ways and the new. She more than proved herself to the Watch, just as she had previously proven herself to the vast majority of Mandalorians who don’t follow The Way. She is uniquely qualified to go speak to the latter about the former’s honor and bravery. They’ll need lots of convincing, same as she did. Bo-Katan once rolled her eyes at Din Djarin for following the ancient ways. Now she can tell the Mandalorians who feel the same way about the Watch why they are wrong. They might have their differences, but they are all the same in the way that counts. As the Armorer finally realized, a helmet does not make a Mandalorian.
The Armorer wants Bo-Katan to be more than just an ambassador between worlds, though. She believes Bo-Katan can unite all tribes because she can speak to the many weakened factions that need one another. Only together as a cohesive group and Mandalorians retake their home world. Bo-Katan has done that before, so it’s reasonable to think she can do it again.
At least she can in practice. In reality, the Armorer’s plan is far more tenuous than she seems to realize. Bo-Katan, unfairly or not, is a twice disgraced former leader of Mandalore. It was under her rule the planet fell to the Empire. And her second reign ended when Moff Gideon destroyed Mandalore during the Great Purge.
Despite that, she still led her own clan until recently. But even the Nite Owls abandoned her when she returned to them without the Darksaber. Moff Gideon had stolen it from her previously, but Din Djarin won it from the Imperial officer in combat, the way creed says a Mandalorian must. Bo-Katan had that famed sword handed to her by a friend when she got it. That moment launched her second reign, but considering how that ended for all Mandalorians, it’s even more important for her to earn it back the right way. That might be the only way to regain the respect of her former followers.
Even with her helmet off, Bo-Katan will have a tough time getting Mandalorians to listen to her. Without the Darksaber in her possession, it might be impossible for her to do what she most wants to do in life and lead. It’s why even if she convinces exiles to come to Nevarro and join forces with the Watch, the question of who should ultimately lead them will cast a pall over everything the Armorer hopes to achieve. She knows they won’t name her Mand’alor, but they might not want Bo-Katan as ruler either. Not unless she’s willing to fight Din Djarin for the Darksaber.
What happens then? What happens if Bo-Katan (or anyone) tries to rule without the Darksaber? Or if Din Djarin refuses to lead or is challenged for the iconic weapon? How will those many tribes choose one among them to lead them all? They might not. And if that happens, Mandalore’s history points towards a future of more death for its people.
Anytime you get a bunch of Mandalorians together without someone to unite them civil war breaks out. Mandalorians spent years fighting amongst themselves. That’s what left them vulnerable to the Sith and the Empire. If the Armorer’s big bet on Bo-Katan isn’t a winning one, neither of them will usher in a new age of Mandalore. Instead they might destroy it for good.
Thats a lot of heavy burden for anyone to carry, even Bo-Katan. So it’s a good thing she doesn’t have a helmet to weigh her down on her mission to save her people.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.