Satine Kryze seemingly changed Star Wars forever when she was introduced in Clone Wars as the face of a Mandalore unlike anything fans and stories had imagined in the decades since Boba Fett first appeared in Empire Strikes Back. But in her wake, as Star Wars has pushed deeper into Mandalorian storytelling, it’s like Satine has vanished from memory. Why?
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The simple answer is, well, she died. Near the climax of Clone Wars’ fifth season, Maul and Death Watch’s coup on Mandalore climaxes with both Maul’s usurpation of Pre Vizsla’s command and his execution of Satine in front of a horrified Obi-Wan. Although death is commonly impermanent in the world of Star Wars, Satine is low on the list of likely characters to show up either resurrected or in translucent blue.
But her death should not have displaced her memory in the narrative future of Star Wars the way it has in recent years, at a time where Satine’s perceived impact on Star Wars storytelling should arguably be at its height. For example, the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, a series predicated entirely on the traumas endured by its titular character in the wake of the prequel trilogy, does not mention Satine even in allusory terms—despite the fact that she was the one woman Obi-Wan was willing to leave the Jedi Order behind to be with, and died in his arms. There’s logistical and narrative reasons for Obi-Wan to have avoided Satine, at least; people unfamiliar with Clone Wars wouldn’t understand her impact, so it was perhaps better to focus on Obi-Wan’s regrets over Anakin. And to be frank, he has enough shit going on that even “so the guy you chopped in half two decades ago just gutted your maybe-girlfriend” ranks outside the top five traumas currently going on.
Where absences of Satine’s lingering essence are truly baffling are in the show named for her people, The Mandalorian. As Din Djarin’s world has expanded across three seasons , it’s become less of his own tale and more a story about the place of his adoptive people in the wake of their homeworld’s occupation—an occupation sparked by the coup that lead to Satine’s death. Furthermore, The Mandalorian has turned Satine’s sister, Bo-Katan Kryze, into arguably as primary a character Djarin himself is in its most recent season, focusing on her struggles to unite her people and confront the reasons for her desires to rule Mandalore. And yet, no one—not even her own sister—seemingly acknowledges Satine’s existence, nor the fact that she heralded in decades of a pacifist, non-interventional democracy on Mandalore that put aside the martial traditions The Mandalorian has re-aligned Star Wars’ view of the Mandalorian people around since then. Bo-Katan will tell Din Djarin that she was once a princess, but she won’t tell anyone that it was her sister who actually ruled, nor that she actually turned against her for a time in aligning with Death Watch.
The argument made for Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lack of a nod to Satine doesn’t quite work with The Mandalorian—a show so obsessed with the legacy of Clone Wars and other aspects of Star Wars that references are more than just Easter eggs, but vital elements of its storytelling. You can’t say it’d be difficult to onboard viewers who haven’t seen the animated series when the show has successfully lead to the likes of Bo-Katan and Ahsoka Tano wandering about the galaxy like it’s nobody’s business. Neither does, really, the argument that Bo-Katan would have no need to mention her sister or her passing—even with roughly 30 years between Clone Wars and The Mandalorian—considering season three saw her going through the same struggles her sister did trying to lead her people down a new path. Especially so as we slowly but surely saw Bo-Katan open up her past to the people around her.
Perhaps it is just an attempt to move on from what Clone Wars envisioned for the Mandalorians—a retcon of expanded universe interpretations that was so severe, and at the time of its airing so controversial, one author, Karen Traviss, quit working with Lucasfilm after the show’s pacifist Mandalorians overrode her portrayal of them as a warrior culture in the Republic Commando novels. For important as it was at the time of Clone Wars, the move back to portraying Mandalorians as the honor-bound, militaristically minded culture they had been in years of EU storytelling prior to Clone Wars has once again made that the de facto version of the Mandalorians in the eyes of mainstream Star Wars fans. There are simply far fewer people who have seen Clone Wars than there are people who watch The Mandalorian, despite their intense connections to each other as texts at this point. So why bother?
Because for The Mandalorian it just didn’t make sense from a character perspective that Bo wouldn’t at least invoke or acknowledge her parallels to her sister this season. She is arguably one of the most narratively rich characters on the show right now, but The Mandalorian has struggled with giving some of its characters an effective emotional hook (beyond Din and Grogu being cute together), and Bo-Katan’s complete lack of acknowledgement of Satine just feels bizarre. But that’s an issue The Mandalorian has long faced—whether it craves referential material as a way to spit infodumps at you over coherent storytelling, or makes references and familiar characters more important to the story than the show’s own protagonist, the series’ approach to Star Wars canon has always been a little up and down.
It didn’t have to be a name drop, it didn’t have to be a regurgitated wiki entry—it just needed to be something, to inject a little heart into the story of a character the show was, and still is, clearly fascinated with. And yet Satine remains seemingly lost to Star Wars history, consigned to fleeting nods in ancillary material, her moment in its story dwindling the further and further we pull away from Clone Wars’ impact. Perhaps, for once in a galaxy far, far away, at this point it’s better to let things left unsaid.
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