Sunday, April 14, 2024

How Star War Rebels Created Another Martell in Sabine Wren

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Something we like to do at the Fandomentals is compare character archetypes, story telling, and even guilt complexes. To honor this tradition, today we shall compare Sabine (Vizla) Wren and how she stacks up against the “Martell Criteria,” a time honored tradition for all Dutiful Princesses.

The Martell Criteria, named after the Martell House from the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, is a lost of traits that compose the backbone of clever, internally guilty, and ruthlessly loyal characters. To be a Martell is an honorable and paradoxical position, and their appearance signals either good writing or very elaborate projections. So it is with great pleasure I welcome the newest Martell to the family, Sabine Wren, by analyzing her actions though  Martell Theory.

Martell Trait 1: Internalized Guilt and Self Deprecation

Sabine is feeling a lot of guilt. As Zach and I spoke about in our latest review, she has guilt complexes upon guilt complexes. To briefly surmise everything, she has internalized her mistakes and feels deep regret over herself and her actions. Sabine really says it best herself.

The truth is that… I left to save everyone. My mother, my father, my brother, everything I did I did was for family, for Mandalore. I built weapons, terrible weapons. The Empire used them on Mandalore, on friends, on family. People that I knew, they controlled us through fear. Ha. Mandalore, fear the weapons I helped create. I helped enslave my people. I wanted to stop it. I had to stop it. I spoke out against it. I spoke out to save them. To save everyone. But when I did…my family didn’t stand with me. They choose the empire, they left me, gave me no choice. The Empire wanted to destroy worlds, and they did. They destroyed mine.

Her monologue is packed to the brim in guilt over her past. She lives in shame and feels that she not only helped the Empire destroy her family, but her entire civilization also. She has a lot of emotions to unpack. It’s no wonder she never talks about her past except when it’s utterly vital to a mission, she feels way too guilt, especially because of her…

Martell Trait 2: Genuine and Deep Affection for Each Other (Family)

Despite all of her issues, Sabine still cares for both the family that abandoned her, and the family that adopted her. First let’s examine her relationships with her biological family. Despite having been turned away from her family, Sabine still cares for them, despite of, or perhaps even because of, what the Empire has done to them. On them level, she feels like she has disappointed them, and still cares about them and how they perceive her. Even estrangement has destroyed her deep seeded affection for her house.

Her other family, the Rebel cell Spectre, crew of the Ghost, has gained her affection and become her second family. In a way, Hera is like her mother, Kanan is her space dad, Zeb is the the older brother figure who grew way before her, Ezra is her little brother and the Chopper is the family cat. She trusts her team in a way she can no longer trust her own family.

This affection runs deep to even old friends such as Ketsu, someone who betrayed and abandoned her. She still treats her well and even encourages her to join the rebellion with her. Despite everything she’d been through, Sabine has one of the biggest hearst on the show.

Martell Trait 3: Creating More Conflict By Trying to Avoid it

Sabine, due in part to her estrangement of her family and other issues, is prone to running away from her problems instead of facing them. Instead of working on her emotional problems, she instead distracts herself with art and being a Rebel. She creates more conflict in herself by avoiding her problems when avoiding it. This comes to its ultimate conclusion in Trials of the Darksaber, where he reluctance to open up about her emotional issues ends up preventing her from training effectively. She paralyzes herself and ends up looking instead for distractions from her conflict, which ironically leads to her having to confront her problems. Its all pretty ironic. And speaking of irony…

Martell Trait 4: Shakespearean Flaws

Part of Sabine’s Martell Angst is that she was the one who helped to insure the inslavement of her world. Through her own actions of trying to make her family and Mandelore proud, she ironically did the opposite, helping Mandelore became part of the Empire’s stomping grounds. She helped to cause the decline of the Mandalorian Empire.

As such, its not wonder she feels guilty. She was part of the Imperial War machine, and recognizes how terrible it was. Yet she internalizes this feeling and rather hides her emotions under a layer of Rebellion by join the Spectres group. She uses her guilt as both a motivation and way to remind herself about her own morals and motivation. Her motivation feeds into her internalized guilt, but also her…

Martell Trait 5: Idealization of a Parent Or of the Past

Despite any family issues she has, Sabine has deeply held ideals about Mandalore’s cultural history. Despite her estrangement, she proudly wears her Mandalorian costume into missions. Further, she continues to fight like a Mandalorean, using dual pistils and an awesome jet pack. When Fenn Rau gave her some weapons Mandalorians used against the Jedi, she is excited and eagerly uses them.

Never get between a Mandalorian and a weapons package.

She also reflects on how Mandelore has changed from its Imperial occupation. Further, she still idealizes her culture while simultaneously hating it due to her guilt issues. She fights not just to bring justice to the galaxy, but also to restore her ideal of Mandalore.

Martell Trait 6: Self Destructive Behavior

Sabine is really young. She was only 13 when she ran away from her family. (Yeah….all things considered she’s pretty well put together.) Being that she is so young and has so much guilt issues, her behavior may often be self destructive or counter to what will actually help her. For instance, her training and family issues with Kanan largely revolved around her distrust of herself and unwillingness to communicate her feelings. She was so closed off she couldn’t train effectively, because training effectively would mean confronting her own issues. Not a very constructive way for her to deal with her emotions.

Trait 7: Difficulty with Other Relationships

Due to her Empire guilt, Mandalore guilt, and general Martell guilt, Sabine keeps herself and emotions at a distance from the ghost crew and by extension her Mandelorean heritage as represented by Fenn Rau. (While also ironically idolizing Mandelore.) She never talks about her past except when it’s utterly vital to a mission, and even then she shares absolutely no more than necessary. As such, she closes herself off from others and can create difficulties when others are trying to know about her. The most obvious example is her difficulty with her family relationships. Due to the intersection of her Mandalorian honor, honor to her family, and various guilt complexes, she has abandoned the family she loves, creating difficulty as she balances both her society and familial duties while simultaneously being a forerunner in the Rebellion. Her role meaning she must be aware of her…

Martell Trait 8: Conscious Manipulation of Public Image

This is gonna happen.

Currently Sabine has hardly needed to provide a public image in the sense of being a leader(though this is about to change in the next few episodes.) But she is very careful about how she lets her the Ghost Crew, her adoptive family, view her. She will not let herself be seen as the former imperial cadet and disgraced family member. No, she is Sabine Vizla Wren, the awesome graffiti artist and rebel with a capital REBEL. Look, she even changes her hair and paints over her armor, she’s nothing like the empire. All of this hiding her crippling self-doubt and rage over her past. In the next yet to be released episode of Star Wars Rebels, the Dark Saber and her image as a member of house Vizla will be vital to her character and her arc.

Martell Trait 9: Sass

Oh god yes.

“I read your book. It’s a short one!”
“Miss me Bucketheads?”
Annoying Kid From Iron Squadron Episode: “Try not to touch anything. Its organized the way we like it.”
Sabine: “If you like a junk pile.”
Ezra: What took you so long?”
Sabine: “I was using strategy – it takes longer!”
You know, this “Jedi philosophy” stuff doesn’t work for everyone.
Sabine is probably one of the sassiest characters in canon. She could give Obi-Wan a run for his money.


There is a lot to unpack with Sabine. Since “Trials of the Darksaber” she had become of the shows most complex characters, from tragedy, to guilt, to relationships, she has multiple and interesting facets to her and her life. She’s a rewording character to analyze. Though she may feel guilty, she using her smarts to not only help her people, but also her adoptive family and the galaxy at large.

All Images Courtesy of Disney

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