??Warning: Spoilers for Season 2, Episode 1 of The Mandalorian??
There are new faces in The Mandalorian Season 2, yet they harken to familiar faces of the past. In the second season opener, we meet Cobb Vanth, a mysterious Marshal from a small mining town on Tatooine, played by Timothy Olyphant.
It turns out we’ve actually met Cobb Vanth before, but only book readers could make this connection. Vanth first appeared in the Star Wars novel Aftermath published in 2015 and written by Chuck Wendig. The Aftermath novels take place in the period after Return of the Jedi, which is also the period when The Mandalorian is set.
It’s been speculated ever since Aftermath was released that the armor that Vanth wears is, in fact, Boba Fett’s. The speculation came primarily from the following passage:
From the box, [Adwin] 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.”
“Pitted and pocked, as if with some kind of acid…” Star Wars fans took this line and jumped to a logical conclusion: It was armor that had spent time in a Sarlacc’s stomach acid. The Krayt dragon spewing acid in The Mandalorian season opener was simply a nice homage to that, particularly after the episode indicated the Krayt dragon had settled into its lair by eating a Sarlacc.
But who was the Adwin character mentioned in the Aftermath novel? Well, Adwin Charu was a representative for the Red Key Raiders, a crime syndicate that sprouted up on Tatooine after the death of Jabba the Hutt, that also went by the name the Mining Collective, the name used in The Mandalorian.
Adwin meets with the Jawas for some mining equipment, yet cannot come to any agreement with the Jawas. But Cobb Vanth has a rapport with the Jawas and agrees to help Adwin purchase some equipment. But as they are examining the wreckage of Jabba’s barge, they come across some Mandalorian armor, which they both want, leading to Cobb pulling a blaster on Adwin.
This brought the Red Key into conflict with Freetown, the nickname given to Mos Pelgo, the town shown in The Mandalorian. Cobb Vanth acts as the sheriff or marshal of Mos Pelgo and has pledged to protect its citizens.
Cobb Vanth makes several more small appearances in the two Aftermath sequels but the events don’t play out the same as in the flashbacks that are shown in The Mandalorian, but some creative liberties need to be taken in order to give us nerds nice things.
I also can’t recommend the Aftermath novels. Chuck Wendig writes in a present tense fragmented style that reads like William Shatner talking. But it is wonderful that tiny bits of lore from the new Star Wars books are now showing on up the screen.
Want more lore tied to Cobb Vanth? As Vanth and Mando ride out to kill the Krayt dragon, it’s hard not to notice Vanth’s modified speeder because it seems to be scrap from an even older piece of Star Wars history: Anakin Skywalker’s podracer.
A sidecar is seemingly bolted on to one of the two engines Anakin used to power his podracer. There are modifications of course, but the appearance is striking.
When discussing it in our Nerds on Earth Discord, I theorized that maybe it wasn’t necessarily Anakin’s pod racer parts. It’s plausible that since Anakin had so much success in the podraces that racers in the years that followed may have copied the look/feel of his racer, yet they wouldn’t be as talented, which would result in a lot of wrecked pods that looked similar. But there is no denying that the callback was intentional.
Also intentional was the appearance of Temuera Morrison looking on at the end of the episode. If you remember, Temuera Morrison played Jango Fett in the prequels and, being clones, the same actor playing Boba Fett is perfect. This was an intentional acknowledgment that Boba Fett is indeed alive on Tatooine, sans armor.
So, we saw Cobb Vanth in possession of Boba Fett’s armor, despite him not following the Mandalorian code. Then we watched as Mando was in possession of the armor as he rode across Tatooine as Boba Fett looked on.
Regardless, my guess is this won’t be the last we’ll see of Cobb Vanth. Sure, he may seem like a minor character in the Star Wars galaxy but one just doesn’t come into possession of such an iconic item(s) without having more of a role to play.