The Women of Star Wars: Satine Kryze, the Pacifist Duchess of Mandalore

"The most dangerous weapon in the galaxy is money, Captain."

About a year ago, I started a series about the female characters in Star Wars. Naturally beginning with Leia, I made it through most of the characters I wanted to talk about. But this project got sidelined before I made it to Bo-Katan, and I’m glad it did since she’s now appeared in season 7 of The Clone Wars and Season 2 of The Mandalorian. This is also an excellent opportunity to talk about one of the most tragic characters introduced in The Clone Wars, Bo-Katan’s sister Satine, Duchess of Mandalore. Satine’s first appearance came in The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 12, “The Mandalore Plot.” Bo-Katan’s introduction came later, in Season 4, Episode 14, “A Friend in Need,” although she was a minor player. They didn’t even say her name yet at this point.One of the biggest missed opportunities in the series was not giving these two more screen time together. The sisters hold wildly different political beliefs and personal philosophies, and as such, they don’t get along very well. They were only shown together a couple of times in the entire show, during one of which Bo-Katan was in full armor opposing her sister’s policies with Death Watch. The Clone Wars’ anthology style served it very well overall. It had room to explore lots of characters and storylines that would have otherwise been neglected or left to books or games. However, sometimes it inevitably led to storylines being left hanging when the show was unceremoniously canceled by Disney. Not every character got as much development as Maul or Ahsoka, for example. However, wanting more of something is a pretty good flaw to have. I really like both of these characters, and I just wish they interacted more, given their relationship and personalities.

Satine Kryze

Satine is introduced first and initially has more significant ties to the show’s principal characters. Her story starts off with a bang; “The Mandalore Plot” concerns a coup d’état staged by Death Watch with support from Count Dooku. Death Watch (which seemingly has ties with the clan that took in The Mandalorian) is a terrorist organization headquartered on the Mandalorian moon Concordia. Obi-Wan arrives to investigate claims that Duchess Satine Kryze is building a secret army to join the Separatists. This is where Prime Minister Almec famously brushes Jango Fett off as a bounty hunter in Mandalorian armor. One wonders if Lucas and Filoni had an inkling of the years of debate this would spark online. Almec assures Obi-Wan that Mandalore’s warrior ways are over under Satine’s pacifistic leadership. However, Obi-Wan and Satine witness a Death Watch bombing, the perpetrator of which then commits suicide. Together, they travel to Concordia in search of answers from Governor Pre Vizsla (Jon Favreau), who reveals himself to be the group leader. Satine and Obi-Wan share a bit of adversarial repartee as she insists that the Separatists aren’t involved, and Mandalore must remain neutral in the war. It seems clear to Obi-Wan that the Separatists must be involved, setting them at odds. “Voyage of Temptation” finds them onboard the Republic ship Coronet, where tensions run high as Obi-Wan and Anakin guard Satine against her wishes. There are indeed assassin droids aboard, which prove to be the work of Senator Tal Merrik, whom Satine had wrongly considered a friend. Merrik takes the Duchess as a hostage in his attempted escape, prompting her to tell Obi-Wan she’s always loved him. Obi-Wan remarks that the circumstances aren’t appropriate. However, he reciprocates and tells her he would have left the Jedi Order for her had she only asked.

Satine Kryze

This leads to one of my favorite moments in the entire series. Knowing that the Duchess is a staunch pacifist, Merrik asks who will fight him and prove themselves a cold-blooded killer. Satine steals a gun but doesn’t want to use it, and Obi-Wan is left torn, wanting to save her but afraid of alienating her by killing a man. All the drama and bickering distracts Merrik from the real threat: Anakin, who sneaks up behind and kills him instantly and remorselessly as Kevin Kiner’s musical score toys with “The Imperial March.” This scene is perfect and had a brilliant pay-off. “Duchess of Mandalore” follows the group to Coruscant, where Satine pleads the case for Mandalore’s neutrality in the war to the Galactic Senate. While she has allies in the Senate, such as Padmé Amidala, Chancellor Palpatine, and others, vote to send aid in light of recent Death Watch activity. This would put Mandalore under the Republic’s protection and jurisdiction, pushing them into the war. This would directly violate Satine’s pacifist leanings. Under Count Dooku’s orders, Pre Vizsla sends an assassin for Satine. However, he only kills Satine’s informant, who had already given her evidence she uses to change the senator’s minds.

Satine Kryze

Satine’s next significant appearance comes in the two episodes “Corruption” and “The Academy.” The former sees Padmé visit Mandalore to see the good aspects of Satine’s pacifist society. Instead, the two end up working with Satine’s guards to root out a black market ring. Satine takes Padmé to the newly built hospital, only to find it’s inundated with sick children who prove to have been poisoned by diluted tea. In “The Academy,” Padmé heads home after the excitement, and Ahsoka is sent to Mandalore to teach the children about corruption and how to keep public officials honest. This also quickly turns to intrigue, as Ahsoka’s students, emboldened by her teachings, discover that Prime Minister Almec is the one behind the forbidden trading and responsible (if unintentionally) for the poisonings. This is where we meet Satine’s nephew Korkie, as he’s one of Ahsoka’s pupils and spearheads the investigation. This is also the first of two times Korkie is involved in rescuing his aunt.

Satine Kryze

There’s a lot of speculation around Korkie, specifically regarding his parentage. Bo-Katan is the only sibling Satine ever mentions, and she doesn’t seem the mothering type, let alone the lack of affection shown between the two. Some have wondered if Korkie is secretly Obi-Wan’s son with Satine, presumably conceived when he and Qui-Gon Jinn protected her from a Mandalorian insurgence years ago. This seems like a cool theory on the surface and would explain why Satine is so much closer to the boy, and Bo-Katan shows no concern for him, and he does look a little like Obi-Wan. But this was never confirmed, and I’m not sure I like the idea. I see Satine and Obi-Wan’s love for her as a foil to Anakin and Padmé. Anakin isn’t the only Jedi who ever fell in love. It shows that Obi-Wan struggled with the same issues and implicitly tells us how much stronger he is. Whether we as the audience agree with the Jedi code or not (and I imagine most wouldn’t), Anakin agreed to it and willfully breaks it. Obi-Wan even mentions that he would have left the Order for Satine. Even if they had been together, he would have sooner left the Order than lived a lie, avowing beliefs while continually breaking them. I can’t help but feel like if Obi-Wan secretly had a kid and then just abandoned him, it would weaken this entire throughline and the character himself.

Satine Kryze

Satine also appears briefly in Season 4, Episode 14, “A Friend in Need,” hosting the neutral meeting of Republic and Separatist senators. This episode does serve as Bo-Katan’s introduction, which we’ll be saving for next time. While Satine doesn’t appear in season 5’s 14th episode, “Eminence,” it concerns her. Pre Vizsla, the traitorous governor of Concordia, allies Death Watch with Maul and his apprentice Savage Opress. This is also where Maul beats the crime syndicates into submission, adding their numbers to his Death Watch soldiers. This is the first time Bo-Katan shows any personality, opposing Maul’s presence and growing power within the organization. She tells Pre that the Sith are no better than the Jedi and shouldn’t be trusted. The short-sighted leader only cares about dethroning Satine and getting Mandalore under the thumb of Death Watch. This leads right into “Shades of Reason,” in which Maul, Savage, and the various gangsters they’ve recruited launch an attack on the Mandalorian capital of Sundari. It’s all a ruse so that Pre and his followers can personally arrest them, showing that only force and violence can protect the people. It works, and soon Death Watch has the people on their side. Satine is thrown in jail next to Almec, forced to listen to him proselytize about her failed government and how his black-market scheme kept her in power.

Satine Kryze

Meanwhile, when Maul mentions taking over the other neutral systems led by Mandalore, Vizsla indicates that he doesn’t care about that. For him, it was always about Mandalore and returning to their warrior ways. Maul and Savage are briefly imprisoned too, but Savage busts the jail cell open, and they decide to choose a new Prime Minister for Mandalore. Satine tells them how corrupt and greedy Almec is and not to trust them. For Maul, though, this is an endorsement; he can control Almec and have a puppet government as long as Almec gets what he wants. They take Almec out of prison with them, and Maul challenges Pre to a duel, which he is honor-bound to accept. It’s a stunning fight, but Maul ultimately decapitates Vizsla, taking the Darksaber and enraging Bo-Katan, who insists that an outsider will never rule Mandalore. After fighting their way out, she and some like-minded Death Watch soldiers bust Satine out. They also bring Korkie, who reassures Satine that Bo-Katan is here to help this time. Satine sends Obi-Wan a message asking for help, but as soon as she does so, she’s captured again. This was also part of Maul’s plan, as he knew a few things. Surely someone would come for the Duchess. Then she would obviously call Obi-Wan, Maul’s nemesis, for help, luring him into the trap. To top it all off, with Mandalore being a neutral system, Maul knew the Jedi Council would offer no aid, forcing Obi-Wan to come alone. In “The Lawless,” Obi-Wan borrows a ship from Anakin and rushes to Mandalore. He steals a Death Watch uniform and infiltrates the prison, freeing Satine but only temporarily. Having anticipated all of this, Maul’s forces recapture the Duchess along with Obi-Wan. In the Mandalorian throne room, Maul taunts Obi-Wan and pronounces this the moment he’s been waiting for; revenge at last. With Obi-Wan beaten and defenseless, Maul impales Satine on the Darksaber right in front of him. With her dying breath, Satine again pledges her love to Obi-Wan as all-out war rages outside the palace. Bo-Katan helps Obi-Wan escape, and as he boards a ship, he realizes that she must be Satine’s sister she mentioned. They share a sorrowful farewell.

Satine Kryze

Satine is an interesting character with different beliefs from most Star Wars characters. She’s an idealist, but to an extreme that outpaces even characters like the Jedi and Padmé. She hates violence and any kind of corruption. But more than that, she proves herself willing and able to jump in and challenge criminals and her own government. She seems like a refined lady at first, especially compared to her sister, but she will get her hands dirty when something isn’t right. She can be diplomatic, as seen with the Senate and her personal friendship with Padmé, but quickly becomes shrill and difficult when displeased. Ultimately, she’s a good person, but not a nice one. She’ll do what it takes to protect her friends and the people of Mandalore as long as it adheres to her peaceful goals. However, she’s largely unwilling to make compromises or show any mercy to guilty parties. I like this character, but she’s the type of person I know I wouldn’t like in real life. She’s very blunt and lacks the kindness and willingness to meet people in the middle that Padmé shows. However, her hot temper and stubborn ways make her more like a real person as well. I really wish Satine could have shared more scenes with Bo-Katan before she died, and more episodes with Obi-Wan, for that matter. Satine’s ideals proved a little too optimistic to work in practice, and forcing an entire system to live by her personal beliefs probably wasn’t the way to go about it. Is the rough-and-tumble Bo-Katan more suited to the throne? We’ll be looking back on her misadventures next time.

Comments (2)

January 31, 2021 at 1:45 pm

Star Wars has always had the best women of any western franchise. What Disney did trying to imply that there characters were breaking new grounds was bizarre.

    January 31, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    I completely agree. Part of my intent in doing this series was to point out how dumb it is how Kathleen Kennedy tried to act like she invented women in Star Wars. Thanks for reading and responding!

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