This Star Wars: The Mandalorian article contains spoilers.
Timothy Olyphant makes his Star Wars debut in The Mandalorian season 2 as a very minor character from the Star Wars Expanded Universe that no one ever expected to see in live-action. The character in question is Cobb Vanth, a mysterious figure who was first introduced in the Aftermath series of novels that take place just after Return of the Jedi. Cobb appears in interludes in each of the three books, and they chronicle his adventures as the marshal of a Tatooine settlement called Freetown, although the small mining town is referred to by its original name, Mos Pelgo, in the live-action series.
Much of Cobb’s backstory remains unclear, in part due to the fact that author Chuck Wendig tells the lawman’s tale from the point of view of other characters. In Aftermath, we meet Cobb through the eyes of Adwin Charu, a shady off-worlder who works for the Red Key Raiders crime syndicate. He meets Cobb while acquiring a chest of old Mandalorian armor from Jawa scavengers. The story hints that this is actually Boba Fett’s old armor, found in the desert after his demise in Return of the Jedi, making it a valuable discovery for Charu.
While Cobb pretends to aid Charu with his dealings with the Jawas, his intentions are quickly made clear: he wants the Mandalorian armor for himself. He shoots Charu in a duel but allows the criminal to live so that he can go back and tell the leaders of the Red Key Raiders that there’s a new sheriff in town.
How Cobb became sheriff of Freetown in the first place is a little hazy (he may have simply declared himself sheriff), especially since Olyphant’s story in The Mandalorian season 2 premiere “The Marshal” contradicts a bit of Wendig’s story. In the episode, Cobb explains to Mando that he’s always lived on Tatooine and was out celebrating in Mos Pelgo the night the Empire fell at the Battle of Endor. But almost as soon as the Empire left the planet, a mining syndicate swooped into the town and raided it, killing many of its citizens. Cobb barely managed to escape, unknowingly taking a container of valuable crystals with him believing it was full of water.
On the brink of death after days of wandering the desert, Cobb is eventually found by Jawa scavengers who are riding through the desert on a sandcrawler full of scrap. It’s in the sandcrawler that Cobb first sets eyes on Boba Fett’s old armor, and he trades the container of crystals for it. Donning the laser-proof beskar armor, Cobb returns to Mos Pelgo to free the town and chase out the mining syndicate for good. Once freed, the town welcomes Cobb as their gun-toting marshal, who we learn later protected the town from a Tusken Raider attack.
It’s unclear whether the live-action version of Cobb follows the rest of the story laid out by Wendig in the books since his origin story already seems a bit different on the show. Later Aftermath interludes in Life Debt and Empire’s End further flesh out some details from his past. Cobb was once a slave, freeing himself at some point before the events of Aftermath, but he still bears a star-shaped marking on his back from his enslavement.
The Red Key Raiders return in the next two interludes, too. In the second, Cobb stops them from smuggling a Huttlet and killing Malakili, Jabba the Hutt’s beastmaster in Return of the Jedi (he’s the shirtless guy who starts crying after Luke Skywalker kills the rancor in Jabba’s palace).
In the third and final interlude, the Red Key Raiders launch an attack on Freetown/Mos Pelgo, led by mob boss Lorgan Movellan, who plans to take over Tatooine and enslave Cobb’s people. But Cobb and Malakili had planned for this after foiling Red Key’s last plan, cutting a deal with the Tusken Raiders to help protect the town from attack. The Tuskens keep their end of the bargain, surprising Lorgan and his men so that Cobb can gain the upper hand. The last we see of Cobb, he’s carving a message on Lorgan’s forehead. Freetown is safe once again, thanks to its marshal.
Cobb has a rocky relationship with the Tusken Raiders at the start of “The Marshal,” with the Tuskens accusing Mos Pelgo of stealing their water. It’s possible that Cobb’s previous team-up with the Tusken Raiders never happened in the live-action universe, overwritten by the needs of The Mandalorian. But since the final battle with Red Key happened in 5 ABY, just a year after Return of the Jedi, it’s possible the relationship between Mos Pelgo and the Tusken Raiders has simply deteriorated since then (The Mandalorian takes place in 9 ABY). Either way, it seems Cobb and the Tuskens are able to mend their relationship during their krayt dragon hunt in “The Marshal.”
By the end of The Mandalorian season 2 premiere, Mos Pelgo is safe once again. But Cobb is forced to give up Boba Fett’s old armor in exchange for Mando’s help taking down the krayt dragon. Is this the last we’ve seen of Olyphant in the armor? Judging by the final reveal of the episode, that the real Boba Fett is in fact still alive and well, that might be the case. The old Mandalorian will likely want his stuff back. As for Cobb, hopefully this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him!
The Mandalorian season 2 airs on Fridays at 12:01 am PT/3:01 am ET on Disney+.