Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth’s introduction on The Mandalorian established her as a relevant character, but not an especially interesting one. The series revealed she’d been a close ally of Grand Admiral Thrawn and possibly knew how to find him, but the galaxy is full of Imperial loyalists who are relevant only because of their proximity to important figures. Now Ahsoka has turned an unremarkable evil bureaucrat into one of the franchise’s most fascinating and intriguing villains. Elsbeth is not just any Empire sympathizer. She is a witch from a magical race that played an important role in Star War past, one thought all but extinct years ago. Morgan Elsbeth is one of the few remaining Nightsisters of Dathomir. That makes her a powerful enemy of both the New Republic and the Jedi Order she blames for her coven’s demise. But who are Star Wars‘ Nightsisters of Dathomir, and how exactly does Morgan Elsbeth connect to them? Let’s take a look.
Who Are the Nightsisters of Dathomir in the Star Wars Universe?
Dathomir is a remote, strange planet in the Outer Rims. Its nearby star covers the misty world in an unsettling dark red light. The world also features many swamps and weird vegetation, including forests of twisted, bent trees. Dathomir is also the native home to lots of large, terrifying insects and creatures, like rancors. It’s also the home of a legendary Sith Lord, Darth Maul.
Maul was a member of the Nightbrothers, Zabrak warriors subservient to their female counterparts, the Nightsisters of Dathomir. That powerful, ancient matriarchal ruling coven of Force-using witches—capable of incredible spells, curses, possessing others, and more—controlled the planet and their brothers with dark magic. The Nightsisters’ magic manifests in swirling green light, as seen in Ahsoka‘s second episode when Morgan Elsbeth elevated the star map.
Where Did the Nightsisters of Dathomir Learn How to Use Magic?
Dathomir itself has a strong dark side presence in the Star Wars universe, which the Nightsisters used as the source of their magic. The planet also produced many dark side users. But the Nightsisters kept their world neutral from outside politics and matters. The Jedi let the Nightsisters govern themselves and generally stayed out of Dathomir’s business. That worked both ways, as denizens of the planet rarely left their strange world and rarely allowed anyone to visit.
The Nightsisters might not have existed at all without the Jedi, though. Roughly six centuries before Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, an exiled Jedi warrior trained the Nightsisters in the ways of the Force. Legend says those who studied with her were the very first Nightsisters of Dathomir. In the end, it was a former Jedi who destroyed them.
Why Happened to the Nightsisters During the Clone Wars?
The Nightsisters stayed neutral during the Clone Wars, even though they had a recent history with Darth Sidious. The Sith Lord had traded dark side secrets with the Nightsisters, though they themselves were not Sith. Their leader, Mother Talzin, also let Sidious take her son Maul on as an apprentice.
The coven still remained neutral when one of their own, Asajj Ventress, became Count Dooku’s apprentice. But when Sidious, fearful of Ventress’ growing power, ordered Dooku to kill her, she returned to her home world. The Nightsisters accepted her back and swore vengeance on Dooku. To get close to the secret Sith, they sent him a new apprentice secretly loyal to them, Maul’s fellow Nightbrother Savage Opress.
Become Like Shadows
In the end, though, it was Dooku who killed the Nightsisters in the Star Wars world. After their assassination attempts against him failed, Dooku ordered General Grievous to wipe them witched out. They held off the attack initially with the help of their resurrected zombie army of the dead, in a truly creepy display of their dark powers. But only a handful of witches survived the massacre.
The clan—including Mother Talzin, who’d helped restore Darth Maul’s body and mind, turned Savage into a powerful killing machine, and died in a later encounter with Dooku—nearly returned from beyond the grave via their dark magic during the Clone Wars. But despite their incredible abilities even in death, ultimately, the Star Wars‘ Nightsisters all but disappeared from the galaxy far, far away.
We do know, though, one Nightsister did serve as an Inquisitor. Her fate after the Empire’s collapse is unknown. That’s worth keeping in mind since a mysterious Inquisitor is now working for Morgan Elsbeth, herself a surviving Nightsister.
What Did Ahsoka Reveal About Morgan Elsbeth’s Work for the Empire?
Prior to Ahsoka, we knew Morgan Elsbeth had been a major Imperial official who helped build the Empire’s fleet. Her mysterious past also hinted at lasting anger and resentment over the destruction of her home world.
Now we know she controlled a major Imperial port on Corellia, homeworld of Han Solo. Despite the New Republic converting the operation to serve its need, Elsbeth’s former employees—kept on to keep the work going—were secretly loyal Imperialists—some out of sincere belief, others out of greed.
There they were also amassing gigantic hyperdrive cores for Elsbeth to use in her massive Eye of Scion. It’s an enormous version of a hyperspace transport ring, the kind that allows X-Wings to travel through hyperspace. She needs all that firepower to travel deep across the universe to a spiral-shaped galaxy far, far away. It’s where she believes Thrawn is. Morgan Elsbeth only knows that because of an ancient map the Nightsisters created long ago.
What Was the Map Morgan Elsbeth Used to Locate Thrawn, and How Did It Relate to the Nightsisters?
When Ahsoka Tano captured Morgan Elsbeth she used non-Jedi methods to get information out of her prisoner, who otherwise would not have betrayed Thrawn. That led Ahsoka to an ancient temple on Arcana built by the Nightsisters of Dathomir. There Ahsoka found an encoded star map that Sabine Wren ultimately unlocked.
Elsbeth didn’t actually know where Thrawn was when Ahsoka captured her in The Mandalorian. She didn’t even know how to find that map among the ruins on Arcana. What Nightsister Morgan Elsbeth did know, thanks to her magical connection with the Force, is that it would point the way to Thrawn, who “calls out” to her from across space and time.
She explained everything to her Force-user mercenaries, Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati, in terms of what the map means. They’d met at the reflex point on the planet Seatos where the map showed them a path created by “an ancient people from a distant galaxy.”
Baylan called it the “pathway to Peridea,” a seemingly mythological place. But he dismissed Peridea as a story told by the Children of the Jedi Temple. Only Morgan Elsbeth said it’s a tale “based on truth,” and she’s going to use the Eye of Scion to go there and bring back Thrawn. She’s confident she will succeed, too, because the “threads of fate do not lie.”
If she were any other Imperial loyalists, we might not believe her. But The Clone Wars fans know to never doubt powerful, angry Nightsisters with a purpose, which is especially true for Morgan Elsbeth. She’s not just someone who has Thrawn’s trust and a map to find him. She’s a witch who hates the Jedi because she believes one of their own destroyed her people. This makes her a very dangerous foe to face.