Welcome to Women of Star Wars: Animated Edition!
I’ve profiled several prominent women in the world of Star Wars films, including Leia Organa, Padme Amidala, Jyn Erso, Rey, and Q’ira. It’s been awhile since the last post on this subject, but I was busy watching Clone Wars and Rebels; now I have several more inspiring women to write about, including Satine Kryze, from Clone Wars.
Satine Kryze is the Duchess of Mandalore during the Clone Wars time period. She is the leader of a group of star systems that don’t wish to get involved in the Clone Wars, on either the Republic or Separatist sides. Satine is a staunch pacifist, which is a bit bewildering as it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mandalorians. (Think of Djar Dinn in The Mandalorian: “I’m a Mandalorian. Weapons are my religion.”)
The Mandalorians are traditionally a warring culture, filled with warriors obsessed with weapons and combat. It’s this obsession with war that caused Satine to do a complete about-face and try to change the Mandalorian way into nonviolence.
I don’t claim to know or understand all of Mandalorian history, but what I do know is that during a particularly violent time in their history, a young Satine had to be protected by Jedi Knights: Qui Gon Jinn and his young apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi. They spent a year protecting the young Duchess, and it was during this time that Satine and Obi-Wan fell in love.
When the violence was over, Satine’s world had been decimated, and her experience caused her to become a pacifist, determined to turn Mandalore into a nonviolent world. Despite their feelings for each other, Obi-Wan and Satine parted ways, he to continue his Jedi training and she to rebuild her shattered world. This is all backstory, only told through dialogue between Obi-Wan and Anakin in “Voyage of Temptation”, Season 2. (And I would dearly love a novel or comic concerning this story. Why hasn’t anyone written one yet????).
It’s also during this episode that Obi-Wan and Satine bicker constantly and argue about the merits of pacifism. I truly believe Obi-Wan understands Satine’s decisions and admires her for it, but his feelings for her causes him to worry about her safety. He thinks Mandalore should join the Republic and defend itself against the Separatists. Satine will have none of it. She knows herself and her mind, and stands firm in her ideals. It’s clear to me that she thinks Obi-Wan, and the Jedi in general, betrayed their own ideals by getting involved in the Clone Wars to the extent they have. “I remember a time when the Jedi were not generals, but peace-keepers,” she says to them.
Their bickering is also a symptom of their unresolved feelings for one another. In that same episode, when Satine believes she’ll never see Obi-Wan again, she confesses her love for him. When pressed (and one must press Obi-Wan when it comes to his feelings), he admits that, “If you had said the word, I would have left the Jedi Order.” In typical Obi-Wan fashion, he tells her he loves her too, without, you know, actually saying “I love you too.” But it’s enough. In the third episode of the arc, she appeals to the Galactic Senate not to intervene in her world in the name of the war, and with Obi-Wan’s help, she succeeds.
In Season 3, Padme helps Satine uncover corruption on Mandalore, but Obi-Wan doesn’t see her again until Season 5. In “The Lawless”, Satine has been imprisoned by Maul, who has taken over Mandalore with the help of Death Watch. Obi-Wan, without the Council’s blessing, returns to Mandalore to help her.
He frees her, but they’re caught by Maul. Maul uses Satine as a tool for revenge, impaling her on the Dark Saber simply to cause Obi-Wan pain. Before she dies, she tells Obi-Wan “I have loved you always. And I always will.”
I love the character of Satine, not only because she’s the love interest of Obi-Wan, but because she’s a three-dimensional character in her own right. She’s a ruler who managed to change a violent world into a peaceful one–for a time, anyway. She stood by her ideals, some might say stubbornly, when it seemed foolish to do so; even when the man she loved urged her to do differently. She was a ruler who tried to stay above the fray of politics and follow her ideals. Perhaps it was naive, but I admire that.
As Anakin tells Obi-Wan in Season 2, “She’s an extraordinary woman.”
And Obi-Wan answers, “Indeed.”
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