Spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2 episode 1 follow.
Episode 1 of The Mandalorian season 2 just released – and it's a real treat if you're a Star Wars fan, for a number of reasons. As well as featuring a gigantic Tatooine set-piece that looked more expensive than anything Lucasfilm pulled off in season 1 – with a giant sandworm getting blown up after eating a bantha laden with explosives – it also introduced a Star Wars character from the books to live action.
That was Cobb Vanth – the man wearing the Boba Fett armor in this episode, played by Timothy Olyphant, who's almost always playing some version of a cowboy when he appears in TV shows and movies (Justified, Deadwood, Rango and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, to name a few examples).
And that wasn't even the biggest surprise for Star Wars fans in this episode: what appeared to be Boba Fett himself turned up at the end, too – played by Temuera Morrison, who played Boba Fett's father, Jango, in Attack of the Clones – seemingly alive after escaping from Jabba's Sarlacc Pit.
Now, at the very least, it seems like Vanth is set up to be a recurring character in The Mandalorian's future. Vanth and Mando tell each other that they hope their paths will cross again at the end of this first episode – nothing forges a greater friendship than slaying a giant sandworm, after all.
But Olyphant is so big a star that Cobb Vanth feels like a potential candidate for a spin-off from The Mandalorian – and we know Disney wants to make a few of those.
Flash back to a Disney earnings call earlier this year – and the company's CEO Bob Iger said the following: "The priority in the next few years is television with The Mandalorian season 2 coming in October, and then more coming from The Mandalorian thereafter, including the possibility of infusing it with more characters and the possibility of taking those characters in their own direction in terms of series."
Surely Cobb Vanth seems like a good candidate for that?
Sowing the seeds
A Cobb Vanth spin-off could work – and this first appearance almost functions as a backdoor pilot episode for what that show could look like, as the sheriff and protector of this backwater Mos Eisley town (it's literally not on the map).
What really works about Vanth's introduction in this episode is that you don't need the baggage of his appearances in the Star Wars: Aftermath novels to understand who the character is. The show's creators take the time to tell you everything you need to know about him right away: how he came to become the protector of the town of Mos Pelgo, after obtaining Boba Fett's armor from the Jawas, and using it to defeat the miners who took over the town.
In this episode, he was wearing Boba Fett's armor over what looks like a jumper knitted by his grandma – by the end, he handed the armor back to Mando in exchange for saving the town.
It's great storytelling, because this approach to introducing the character doesn't rely on wordy exposition or Star Wars lore. To the viewer, he's just a cool guy who forges an understanding with Mando in battle – you don't need to read Wookieepedia to know any more. This shows how The Mandalorian can weave in wider elements of Star Wars lore without it seeming contrived.
This bodes well for later episodes in season 2 – which are rumored to introduce more characters from the canon.
The idea of a spin-off featuring Vanth makes sense for a few reasons. First, it's rare for The Mandalorian to give us an origin story this detailed for a one-off character – the flashbacks here are comprehensive. Second, Olyphant is a big name for this kind of one-off role, even by this series' standards – he would surely be a perfect lead for a Disney Plus Star Wars TV show.
Third, the choice to bring Vanth into live-action from other media feels significant – here you have a character who already has pre-existing stories to draw upon for inspiration. It might just be a nice Easter Egg for fans that he turns up here – but what if there are bigger plans in store at Lucasfilm?
Cobb Vanth, the spin-off TV show: make it happen. Let's hope we see him again before the end of season 2.
The Mandalorian season 2 releases every Friday on Disney Plus.