“There are dark places in the galaxy where few tread.”
The Star Wars universe knows planets specifically associated with the Sith. In Rogue One and The Last Jedi, we have seen planets associated with ancient Jedi, but the Jedi are not the only ancient order of Force users.
Malachor was a dark legend among the late Jedi, an ancient place lost and forgotten. Its name had been deliberately erased from Jedi records by the time of the Clone Wars. Its history stretched centuries into the past, its surface scattered with remains of an ancient war. By the time of Emperor Palpatine’s reign, however, it still hosted the ruins of a Sith temple on its surface. In recent Darth Maul comics, Darth Sidious took his young apprentice to visit the place, to show him a memento of ancient Sith’s power and to stir his hatred of the Jedi who had destroyed what was once great.
Malachor’s first appearance in current Star Wars canon was in Season 2 of Rebels. In the season finale, Yoda sends Ezra Bridger to visit the place to seek answers. Upon arrival, he and his friends find a landscape of petrified corpses, the result of some terrifying cataclysm. They also find broken lightsabers, some akin to Kylo Ren’s cross-hilted sword, proving the ancientry of the design.
Ahsoka Tano talks to Ezra about the planet’s past:
“It looks like at one time, thousands of years ago, Jedi Knights attacked the temple.”
“And the Jedi won, right?”
“From what I can tell, nobody won.”
Nothing much more has been revealed about the place’s history. Something can be pieced together from hints. In Rebels, there is an ancient holocron speaking with a female Sith voice, and the temple hosts an ancient superweapon – which gets destroyed before it can be used. There are other sources, no longer canon, which have inspired this portrayal.
History Before The History
Before Rebels, there had been more than one Malachor. A planet named specifically Malachor V appeared in Knights of the Old Republic 2 video game as the place of a final battle in the Mandalorian Wars. This destructive conflict between the Republic and the warrior clan society devastated the Jedi. Malachor V was destroyed in a cataclysm, after the activation of a superweapon that had destroyed armies on both sides.
Besides Malachor V, there was also Malachor Two and Malachor Three. Not much is known about Malachor Two. Malachor Three was the final resting place of ancient Sith Lord Terrak Morrhage, the original inventor of a Force sickness known as “the Dark Plague”. This is featured in the story of the Jedi Consular in Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG. The planet is also mentioned as a site explored by both Jedi and Sith archaeologists.
All planets in the Malachor system had one in common: they lay on the fringes of the ancient Sith Empire, and eventually, they became forgotten tombs, their names associated with darkness that should not be disturbed. Rebels brought this atmosphere back in a convincing manner, with almost H.R. Giger-esque horror-like aesthetics.
If we had to conclude which of the abovementioned Malachors is the Malachor from Rebels, all would be promising candidates to a degree. In the old canon, Malachor V had been largely destroyed in a cataclysmic event, but I am sure an inventive mind would find a way to explain some parts of it being preserved to a degree.
More importantly, since the old canon is not canon anymore, we are open to form alternative histories of the planet. The Rebels’ Malachor is meant to be the spiritual heir to all Malachors, in a sense. However, it seems likely that it is primarily intended as the legacy of Malachor V.
Malachor V’s history is comparatively richer to that of Malachor III. Also, it was the first Malachor to be ever mentioned in all of Star Wars. There are other elements in Rebels that resemble Malachor V from KOTOR 2. The architecture (we have no visuals of the other two anyway), the fact that hundreds (thousands?) of Jedi died there in some ancient battle, the presence of a Sith temple. And the small detail that the dark holocron Ezra discovers speaks in a female voice, and offers itself as a weapon to destroy not only the Jedi, but the Sith as well: something reminiscent of the philosophy of Darth Traya, a character strongly connected to Malachor in KOTOR 2.
Just A Taste Of Darkness
Whatever the case, even in the new canon, Malachor stands as a monument to the unknown history of ancient Sith. It shows that there is something dark and unknown, in an almost Lovecraftian manner – just a hint to spice up, but not to disrupt the atmosphere of the Star Wars universe.
It is only proper to conclude with the words of Darth Traya: “There is a place in the galaxy where the dark side of the Force runs strong. It is something of the Sith, but it was fueled by war. It corrupts all that walks on its surface, drowns them in the power of the Dark Side‚ it corrupts all life. And it feeds on death.”