The Mandalorian season two’s opening episode brought back a familiar face – or at least mask – as the well-known armour of a certain Star Wars icon returned.
However, there was more to this little piece of nostalgia than met the eye… and it involved a Sarlacc, a bunch of spin-off books and the guy from Justified. Read on to find out more, but beware – The Mandalorian spoilers lurk beneath the jump.
Still here? Then let's break this down. In season two's first episode the titular Mandalorian, aka Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), tracks down one of his kind to Tattooine – but it turns out it’s actually just an ordinary man wearing Mandalorian armour, bought from Jawas and used to protect a small settlement.
That man is Cobb Vanth, played by Timothy Olyphant – and Vanth has actually appeared in the Star Wars universe before. In Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath book series (which picks up with the galaxy shortly after the fall of the Empire, and is set before The Mandalorian) we follow Vanth as he acquires the armour of Mandalorian bounty hunter Boba Fett, and see him use it to free and protect the mining settlement of Mos Pelgo.
In the first Aftermath book it’s unclear who actually acquires the recovered armour (taken from the Sarlacc Pit where Fett apparently died in Return of the Jedi), but we meet Vanth properly in the sequels where he cleans out the Red Key Raiders and becomes mayor of Mos Pelgo, now named Freetown.
Interestingly, the details of Vanth's story are actually slightly different in the Aftermath books, with the way he acquires the armour in flashbacks within The Mandalorian contrasting notably with the on-page storyline (and omitting a few characters). Still, maybe Vanth simplified the story for his Mandalorian guest, and we just saw that version.
More confusingly, the Aftermath books also see Vanth cutting a deal with Tusken Raiders in return for the pearl from a Krayt dragon’s belly… despite the fact that in this new Mandalorian episode he appears more hostile and unaware of the Sand People's culture, and only takes on a Krayt Dragon with them in a TV story set years after his last book appearance. Hmm...
Still, we’re sure some dedicated Star Wars fan could work out how this all fits together. The end result is the same anyway – using the equipment and armour of Boba Fett, Vanth was able to protect Mos Pelgo/Freetown from various threats for years, until Din Djarin turned up about four years after the events of the last Aftermath book looking for Mandalorians.
After helping Vanth take down the Krayt Dragon and make peace with the Sand People, Djarin took the sacred armour away with him – but this may not be the last we see of Vanth or Olyphant in the series.
In season one, a load of one-off characters returned for the finale, after all – and based on the return of that character at the end of season two’s premiere, we’re betting Vanth has some explaining to do to the original owner of his armour.
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