The Great Purge has been introduced to Star Wars canon thanks to The Mandalorian, but while many Mandos were killed, a few survivors have already been confirmed. First mentioned in The Mandalorian season 1 premiere, the Great Purge has been referenced a few times throughout the show’s run, although much of the truth behind it remains something of a mystery. The basic facts that’ve been established, though, are that the Empire realized they would never be able to truly rule Mandalore or its people, and so instead wiped them out.
From the sounds of it, the Great Purge is essentially the Mandalorian equivalent of Order 66, in which most of the Jedi Order was killed. That may have been before the Empire rose to galactic power, but the net result is more or less the same: removing a powerful opposition, and sending what’s left of their people fleeing across the galaxy, reduced to hiding in the shadows. That’s where the Jedi were after Order 66, and it’s where the Mandalorians are by the time The Mandalorian takes place.
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The Great Purge is said to have killed almost all of the Mandalorians, and while the Empire has since fallen, those who remain still have to live their lives in secret, with Imperial forces remaining in place. Despite its attempt at a Mando genocide, there are several survivors in Star Wars.
Din Djarin (& Baby Yoda)
The center of The Mandalorian, Din Djarin is the audience’s entry point to the Great Purge, and to understanding more about Mandalorian history and culture as a whole. A child during The Clone Wars, Din was rescued from a Separatist attack by a member of the Death Watch, a Mandalorian group who believed in their old warrior traditions. Din was raised as a child of the Watch, subscribing to the Way of the Mandalore. Din’s exact age isn’t confirmed, but he’s likely in his late-30s during the events of The Mandalorian; given that the Great Purge presumably happened sometime between the events of Star Wars and Return of the Jedi, then he’d have been around his late-20s or early-30s when it took place.
It’s unclear exactly how Din escaped during the Great Purge, but The Mandalorian has teased his connection to Moff Gideon, with the villain revealing Mando’s true name back in season 1, and like others of his kind he believes Mandlore to be a cursed planet. While not a Mandalorian when the Great Purge happened, Baby Yoda has since been made one as a foundling looked after by Din, making him an honorary survivor, since he was alive at the time.
Like Din Djarin, the Armorer is a member of the Mandalorian group known as The Tribe, and it’s through her Star Wars fans learn more details about the Great Purge, including that the Imperial forces collected beskar during it, which was now returning to Mandalorians. Unsurprisingly, she’s shown to be a skilled warrior, and has much greater knowledge of galactic history than Din Djarin, informing him of the ancient order of sorcerers viewers know, of course, as the Jedi. Again, much of the Armorer’s backstory is unknown, but it’s possible she was heavily involved in the Great Purge, given her age and clear experience within both Mandalorian culture and the galaxy as a whole.
Another member of The Tribe who survived the Great Purge, Paz Vizsla is depicted as being the Mandalorian among them who was most deeply affected by it. As shown by his confrontation with Din Djarin in The Mandalorian season 1, he has a deep-seated hatred for and distrust of the Empire and anything to do with them, suggesting he witnessed first-hand the devastation of the Great Purge. In keeping with that theme, Vizsla is perhaps the most one character on the show who, so far, most seems to conform to what the typical idea of a Mandalorian warrior is, with a hardline belief in the Way of the Mandalore, and being portrayed as a highly skilled, fierce combatant. That could have something to do with his lineage too; Pre Vizsla (who, like Paz, was voiced by Jon Favreau) was a member of the Death Watch who attempted to take power on Mandlore in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It’s unconfirmed if there’s a familial link, but if so it would explain a lot about Paz’s beliefs and actions. With Vizsla and several other unnamed members helping Din escape, his fate and that of many others who had survived the Great Purge is left uncertain.
Having previously appeared in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, Bo-Katan Kryze made her live-action debut in The Mandalorian season 2, episode 3, “Chapter 11: The Heiress”, playing the titular role. Bo-Katan, like the members of the Tribe in season 1, references the Great Purge, although this time with stronger implications that she was very active during it. Thanks to the events of Star Wars Rebels, Bo-Katan was awarded the Darksaber and became the Mandalore, the leader of the Mandalorians. That would mean the Great Purge happened during her time as the Mandalorian leader, making the genocide extra personal for her since she felt a responsibility to her people, and clearly still does. As well as presumably losing friends and others, Bo-Katan also lost the Darksaber, which is now in possession of Moff Gideon. Judging by her appearance in “The Heiress”, Bo-Katan will do whatever it takes to reclaim the Darksaber, unite the Mandalorians once more, and avenge the Great Purge.
Introduced alongside Bo-Katan in The Mandalorian season 2, episode 3, Koska Reeves is another confirmed survivor of the Great Purge, although less is known about her at this stage. Clearly a highly-trained and skilled warrior, it’s likely that she’s been with Bo-Katan as a member of her Nite Owls ever since the Great Purge happened, perhaps becoming a member when the ranks of Mandalorians were depleted. Like Bo-Katan, Koska has no issues with removing her helmet, rather than subscribing to the Way of the Mandalore like the Children of the Watch do. She also similarly has the trademark blue beskar armor, further marking her affiliation.
The third of the Mandalorians to appear alongside Bo-Katan and Koska Reeves in The Mandalorian season 2, once again little is known about Axe Woves’ backstory. However, as with Koska, it can be assumed that he has been with Bo-Katan either since or shortly after the Great Purge, which likely necessitated them sticking together more closely. The Nite Owls is traditionally an all-female group, so Axe seemingly isn’t an official member, but he nonetheless works closely with them, and has well-established relationships with both Bo-Katan and Koska.
Few Mandalorian characters have been as well fleshed-out as Sabine Wren, who was among the main characters of Star Wars Rebels. Born into the noble Clan Wren, Sabine once claimed the Darksaber for herself, taking it from Gar Saxon, before ultimately choosing to pass the weapon to Bo-Katan, making her the true leader of the Mandalorians. Still, since Sabine is the one who took the Darksaber in battle, it’s possible The Mandalorian could yet reveal her to be its rightful owner, and the person who ends up ruling the Mandalorians. While Sabine hasn’t appeared in The Mandalorian (yet), her survival of the Great Purge was confirmed by the end of Star Wars Rebels, which showed her after the Battle of Jakku. Since that was the fall of the Empire, and the Great Purge took place when the Empire was in power, then she must have survived – but the question of how, and what involvement she had in it, is something that’s begging to be answered.
While Boba Fett is not a true Mandalorian, he did spend years wearing its armor and looking like one. If the Empire had been intent on wiping Mandalorians from the galaxy, then it wouldn’t be impossible Boba was mistakingly targeted, although he had the advantage of existing relationships with Imperial forces, having worked for Darth Vader among others. Similarly, it seems the Great Purge was largely centred on the planet of Mandalore itself, which isn’t somewhere Boba Fett would have frequented, while he also had some time to hide in the apparent safety of the sarlacc’s stomach. Now that Boba Fett has returned to Star Wars in The Mandalorian season 2, it remains to be seen just what connections it draws between him and the real Mandalorians.
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