It’s a bit of a relief to see “The Mandalorian” back on our screens in the midst of a very turbulent 2020. The Disney Plus show was a smash success when it debuted last year at this time. Now, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, unrest, and a nasty bare-knuckle brawl of an election, it’s comforting to return to the Star Wars world created by Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni.
Season two finds our Mandalorian friend and the adorable and now ubiquitous Christmas gift, Baby Yoda, on the search for more Mandalorians so Mando can get “The Child” back to his kind—the Jedi.
They seek out a trader of information who happens to be at a Gamorrean pit fight on some unknown planet. The one-eyed alien, played excellently by common Favreau collaborator John Leguizamo, tries to double-cross our Mando friend, but is soon beaten. He sends our pair on a journey to the planet where Star Wars started in 1977, the dune seas of Tatooine.
The Return of a Legend, Sort Of
After getting a quick assist from Amy Sedaris, Mando and The Child head out to Mos Pelgo, a small mining town nearly destroyed after the Empire fell. There Mando meets a Star Wars character known only to those of us sad souls who read all the accompanying Star Wars novels, comics, and other material that pours fourth from the halls of Lucasfilm each and every year.
The man is Cobb Vanth, but the armor he wears is that of Boba Fett. Now, for those of you who don’t read all those novels and comics, or who don’t have Wookieepedia (yes, I spelled that correctly) on your internet browser favorites list, Cobb Vanth is a character from the Aftermath novels by Chuck Wendig.
Vanth acquired the armor of the legendary bounty hunter off some Jawas, who found it expelled from the Sarlacc Pit that ingested Boba Fett outside Jabba’s Palace at the beginning of 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” Vanth is played here by the always amazing Timothy Olyphant, known for his roles in “Deadwood” and “Justified.”
At first, our titular hero is going to have an Old West-style shootout with Vanth for the armor, before the town is attacked by a giant Krayt Dragon, the Star Wars equivalent of those nasty giant, carnivorous worms from the cheesy horror hit, “Tremors.” The dragon eats a Bantha while destroying some of the town. Vanth proposes to give the armor to Mando if he helps him take down the beast.
Fighting a Dragon
After a long negotiation, Mando gets the local Tusken Raiders and Vanth’s townspeople to join forces to destroy the menacing beast. They track it to an abandoned Sarlacc Pit, and set a trap for the dragon. When they lure it out of its nest and the trap fails to kill the beast, Mando and Vanth use their Mandalorian jet packs, and a Bantha full of explosives to eventually kill the dragon in a fantastic fight scene.
After the battle is over Vanth gives up Boba Fett’s armor and heads back to Mos Pelgo to continue his role as the town’s “Marshall.” As Mando and Baby Yoda (who did little in this episode but look adorable, and sell plenty of Halloween costumes and Christmas toys) ride off into the sunset, we see the face of a dune dweller looking on.
That face is Temuera Morrison, the man who played the father of Boba Fett, bounty hunter Jango Fett, in the Star Wars prequel movies; the man whose face is the face of every Clone Trooper; and the man whose voice is the voice of Boba Fett.
The Man in the Desert
So who is Morrison playing in “The Mandalorian”? Well, it could be one of two likely people. Most people speculate that he is playing Boba Fett, old, grizzled, and risen from the stomach of the all-powerful Sarlacc, as C-3PO would say. After shedding his armor, he’s been living in the desert of Tatooine eking out an existence.
I think it’s someone else, though, someone just as legendary, and more tied to series co-creator and executive producer Filoni. I think Morrison is playing Captain Rex, one of the clone commandos that survived Order 66, joined The Rebellion, and is the best friend of a former jedi that Mando might like to find: none other than Miss Ahsoka Tano.
I say that because Morrison’s costume in the closing seconds of this episode are a spitting image of a drawing Filoni made of Ahsoka and Rex riding in the desert. You’ll notice that he’s wearing the same sort of brown cloak in this drawing from Filoni that he is in the freeze frame from the episode.
There has been much speculation in the last year that Ahsoka Tano would be part of this second season of “The Mandalorian.” Our titular hero needs to find a Jedi to train The Child, and we know that Ahsoka is wandering the Star Wars galaxy during this point in the timeline with a Mandalorian friend of hers, Sabine Wren, and likely her trusted ally and old friend Captain Rex. I’m betting the former jedi, student of Anakin Skywalker, and friend to Ezra Bridger makes her debut in next week’s episode.