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[This story contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season two premiere, “Chapter Nine, The Marshal.”]
Audiences might finish this week’s episode of The Mandalorian and want more of Timothy Olyphant’s character, the episode’s titular “The Marshall.” Good news — there’s already a lot more of him to discover, for those looking in the right place.
“The Marshall” wasn’t the first appearance of Olyphant’s Cobb Vanth; that would be the 2015 novel Star Wars: Aftermath, the first of a trilogy set between 1983’s Return of the Jedi and 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with each of the three books written by Chuck Wendig. Although Vanth wasn’t one of the core cast of the Aftermath series, he nonetheless appears in all three novels, going through a series of events alluded to onscreen by Vanth himself.
Perhaps fittingly, it’s maybe Vanth’s debut in Star Wars: Aftermath that may be the most compelling to Mandalorian audiences, as it specifically sets up events in “The Marshall” episode. In an interlude from the main events of the novel, the scene shifts to Tattooine, where a man called Adwin Charu is dealing with Jawas for equipment, only to be interrupted by Vanth.
The focus of the interaction between Vanth and Charu centers around the latter’s employers, a criminal syndicate known as the Red Key Raiders, in an exchange which sets up Vanth’s plot line through the trilogy — a conflict between Vanth and Red Key that escalates into the criminal occupation of Freetown, the village otherwise known as Mos Pelgo; that name may be familiar to Mandalorian viewers, given that it’s the town mentioned as the setting for the mining collective attack Vanth survived.
Almost incidental to that extended plot line, which plays through both Star Wars Aftermath: Life Debt and Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End, is a small element of the first exchange, where Charu discovers something notable amongst the Jawas’ haul:
“From the box, he withdraws a helmet. Pitted and pocked, as if with some kind of acid. But still — he raps his knuckles on it. The Mandalorians knew how to make armor, didn’t they? ‘Look at this,’ he says, holding it up. ‘Mandalorian battle armor. Whole box. Complete set, by the looks of it. Been through hell and back. I think my boss will appreciate this.’ ‘I actually think I might take that home with me,’ Cobb says.”
It’s exactly what it appears to be: Vanth discovering the very armor that draws the Mandalorian’s attention in the first place. His off-hand explanation of how he came to have the armor missed some details, if we take the Aftermath account to be true — he didn’t mention that he shot someone to claim it, for one thing — but we can, perhaps, assume that Vanth is almost certainly an unreliable narrator and doesn’t give up any more information than he wants to at any given opportunity.
There is, however, one piece of implied information from Aftermath that sets up The Mandalorian’s second season arc: the armor that the Jawas had possession of belonged to none other than Boba Fett, discovered after he had, presumably, emerged from the sarlaac’s mouth. If the Mandalorian now has Boba Fett’s armor in his possession, no wonder the character played by Attack of the Clones actor Temuera Morrison will end up in pursuit — whether or not he’s actually playing Boba Fett himself, or another clone of Boba’s dad, Jango Fett.
New episodes The Mandalorian debut Fridays on Disney+.
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