Star Wars Rebels has become a major player in Star Wars canon, especially when it comes to the unenviable task of connecting the dots between the prequel era and the original trilogy, all while expanding the overall Star Wars story and adding nuance to the original trilogy.
It appears the next dot Rebels plans to connect from the prequel era is the darksaber from The Clone Wars. Not to be confused with the superweapon from Star Wars Legends (a non-canon cannon, you could say), the darksaber in current continuity is an ancient sort of lightsaber with a black blade and strong ties to the Mandalorians.
The darksaber recently reappeared in Star Wars Rebels as a part of Maul’s collection of artifacts on his home planet of Dathomir, where it comes into the possession of Sabine Wren. The darksaber has a history in Star Wars animation dating back to The Clone Wars, where it’s carried by the Mandalorian Pre Vizsla (voiced by Jon Favreau), but he loses it in a duel to Darth Maul when the former Sith Lord challenges him for control of Death Watch and Mandalore.
At that time, the ancient saber had a history that extended back to the fall of the Old Republic at the end of the Jedi Sith Civil War when the Mandalorians seized it from the Jedi Temple. A New clip previewing next week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels shows that the darksaber has a much older history than previously revealed.
In the clip (starting at 5:40 in the video at the top), the former leader of the Mandalorian group “The Protectors of Concord Dawn” details the ancient history of the blade to Kanan:
"Legend tells that it was created over a thousand years ago by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian ever inducted into the Jedi order. After his passing, the Jedi kept the saber in their temple. That was, until members of House Vizsla snuck in and liberated it. They used the saber to unify the people and strike down those who would oppose them. At one time, they ruled all of Mandalore, wielding this blade."
The first thing of note in this clip is the stylized animation that displays the history of the Mandalorians at the time of the blade’s creation. Star Wars animated shows aren’t foreign to full-on flashbacks, but this storytelling tool is a fun way to show this legend without using an actual flashback.
The second interesting aspect is that this is some of the most detail given about this age in Star Wars history. While there have been hints of ancient Jedi, this goes into more detail, and the idea of a Mandalorian Jedi should definitely excite most fans, especially those that loved seeing Obi-Wan wear Mandalorian armor during The Clone Wars.
The final point of note is that the blade was originally crafted by the Mandalorian Jedi Tarre Vizsla, and has a long history within his lineage, eventually ending up in the hands of Pre Vizsla. As revealed in the Rebels season 2 episode “The Protectors of Concord Dawn,” Sabine Wren is actually a member Clan Wren, House Viszla, giving her a legitimate claim to the darksaber (which she already has), meaning Mandalorian tradition would also recognize her as the rightful heir to the throne.
The Rebels season 3.5 trailer shows Sabine training with the darksaber after Fen Rau tells her that “all of Mandalore” might follow her if she wields the darksaber, including shots of her returning to what appears to be the Mandalorian moon of Concordia from The Clone Wars to present herself to the Mandalorians - possibly including her mysterious mother.
This has a major impact on Sabine’s story and a very interesting impact on the Rebels. No overt participation from Mandalore is evident in the Rebellion in Rogue One or the rest of the original trilogy and other material set during that timeframe, so fans should be excited to see how things play out in the remaining season 3 episodes.