HEAT VISION

How 'The Mandalorian' Premiere Set the Stage for a Showdown

The Mandalorian
Courtesy of Disney+
Timothy Olyphant's character Cobb Vanth opens up all sorts of possibilities for season two.

[This story contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season two premiere, "Chapter 9, The Marshall."]

The Mandalorian is back, and already there’s the promise of this new season being much larger in scale than the last as the story and spectacle of the Mandalorian aka Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Baby Yoda aka the child’s journey unfolds across the galaxy.

The season two premiere of the Disney+ series picks up shortly after the season one finale with Mando searching for leads that will point him to fellow Mandalorians who can aide him on his quest to bring the child back to his own people. The information he receives, through necessarily violent means, leads him back to Tatooine where he meets a man in possession of Mandalorian armor, a man who might be familiar to Star Wars fans, but not the character one might immediately think of upon hearing about that armor.

In “The Marshall” written and directed by creator Jon Favreau, Djarin and the child find their way to Mos Pelgo, a small mining town on Tatooine. There they meet the town’s marshal, Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) who has struggled to hold the town together after attacks by Tusken Raiders and a massive krayt dragon.

While The Mandalorian marks Vanth’s first onscreen appearance, the character made his debut in Chuck Wendig’s novel Star Wars: Aftermath (2015). In the events of that novel, Vanth finds himself in an argument with Red Key criminal Adwin Charu who wants Vanth’s Mandalorian armor, which previously belonged to the bounty hunter, Boba Fett, for himself. Vanth is forced to kill Charu and further establishes himself as protector of Mos Pelgo against the threats of the Red Key Raiders and Tusken Raiders. A former slave on Tatooine who rose to become a hero, Cobb Vanth follows in the grand tradition of Star Wars heroes born into poverty on Tatooine who eventually fight against the galaxy’s abuse of power.

While Chapter 9 of The Mandalorian initially seems to set Djarin and Vanth on the path to become adversaries they quicky establish a partnership and then friendship by the end of their battle against the krayt dragon. Keeping his word, Vanth gives Djarin his armor as repayment for uniting Mos Pelgo and the Tusken Raiders against the krayt dragon. Vanth tells Djarin that he hopes their paths will cross again, and given the episode’s end, it seems safe to bet that a reunion will happen before the seasons’ end.

While Djarin and Vanth were focused on the krayt dragon, a shadowy figure clad in black had been watching them. That figure is none other than the original owner of Vanth’s armor, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison).

Just as he had in previous expanded universe stories, now dubbed Star Wars Legends in their out of continuity status, Boba Fett survived the Sarlaac following his seeming demise in Return of the Jedi (1983). Fans have been expecting Fett to show up in The Mandalorian since the first season and Djarin’s earlier trip to Tatooine in episode 5, “The Gunslinger.” Some fans deeply entrenched in the Star Wars mythos were even already betting the spurred boot heels that approached Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) belonged to Vanth rather than Fett. And in a way, they were right. Vanth did have Fett’s armor, but it seems that it was Fett who approached Shand.

Scarred and angry as ever, Boba Fett undoubtedly has revenge on his mind, and might be building a roster of bounty hunters to aide him. While Djarin and the child may be a curiosity at this point, if he’s not already working for Grand Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) that is, Fett does have reason to take personal grievance with Vanth for wearing his armor and giving it a new association.

Fett will undoubtedly be on Djarin’s tail before too long but Vanth may get caught in the cross-fire and become a casualty of Fett’s ruthlessness. Is too early to start making bets on the season’s death toll? Maybe. But Vanth is a character with established history who has proven to be immediately likeable, thanks in no small part to the charm of Olyphant’s performance. If he meets his demise, it would surely hurt, and Star Wars is a franchise no stranger to delivering hurt through the death of likeable characters. And if we’re being real here, Boba Fett has never really done much within continuity, outside of The Clone Wars, to establish himself as a threat or earn the kind of fandom that he’s acquired over the decades. Djarin and Vanth’s budding friendship, put to an end all too quickly, might be just the move that finally establishes Boba Fett as a villain worthy of all this attention.

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