This Star Wars: The Mandalorian article contains spoilers.
The assassin introduced in The Mandalorian season 1 episode “The Gunslinger” seemed like an exciting new character to add to the show’s noteworthy lineup of rogues…until she was unceremoniously killed off. Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) was a masterful sharpshooter, known for her skills with a sniper rifle and as one of the most dangerous assassins in the galaxy, so it seemed like a waste that she was set up as a one-off character.
Accomplished actor Ming-Na Wen brings gravitas and cool combat moves to the mercenary. She’s best with a sniper rifle, but hand-to-hand combat and knife-wielding are equally important parts of her skill set. A true scoundrel, she’s a fast talker willing to turn bounty hunters against each other if it means she gets out of the situation alive. In “The Gunslinger,” she talks her way around Calican after fighting her way around him, too. It takes Din Djarin to capture her, and once he does, Calican goes against his own partner’s wishes and shoots her.
Fortunately, it seems you can’t keep a good character down. Despite appearing to have died in “The Gunslinger,” Fennec returns in “The Tragedy.” Even though we, as the old media adage goes, “saw the body,” death still isn’t the end in Star Wars. So how did Shand survive?
How Did Fennec Shand Survive?
Shand was shot essentially point-blank in the stomach with a blaster, so it’s very surprising that she survived. But Boba Fett is a master of surviving things he shouldn’t have, and he put those skills to use for someone else here.
The Mandalorian hinted several times that Fett was still on Tatooine after Din Djarin left. The shot of someone walking with spurs in “The Gunslinger” is implied to be him, and he appears in full at the beginning of season 2. So he was in the right place at the right time (or perhaps the wrong place, considering the scars he got from falling into the sarlacc’s mouth) to find Shand.
This still begs the question of what Fett was doing for five years after Return of the Jedi. He seems to have been living on Tatooine, but also to have had access to his ship the whole time. Maybe he had plenty of other adventures between the end of the Galactic Civil War and when Fennec Shand appeared on his radar.
What we know for sure is that Fennec is part-cyborg now, her stomach not only patched but reinforced with metal struts. Because this is Star Wars, there is plenty of precedent for metal parts working medical miracles. Darth Vader is only alive because of his prosthetics and mechanical lungs, and General Grievous’ entire body was rebuilt as a droid. There is an implication in the movies that mechanical parts are a hallmark of villains or of a fall toward the dark side, although this gets less clear when it comes to Luke Skywalker’s mechanical hand. Nevertheless, adding droid parts to a dying organic body is just part of the Star Wars universe.
The operation probably also involved some bacta, the miraculous substance used to heal almost any wound. It’s seen in the movies after Luke is attacked by the wampa beast and nearly frozen to death in The Empire Strikes Back. It makes sense that Boba Fett would have a store of bacta somewhere in order to treat his own wounds. It’s through a mix of all of these long-tested Star Wars medical procedures that Boba Fett probably saved Fennec. Those cybernetics could be either an asset or a liability if she plans to continue in a job that involves being shot at pretty often.
Her near-death experience might have changed Fennec a little, although it’s hard to tell. Is she more willing to trust others now that she’s had to rely on Fett? She doesn’t seem to hold a grudge against Din Djarin for capturing her, and indeed makes a good team with him.
It’s impossible to say how much she’ll be involved in the show beyond the finale, which is clearly setting up a big showdown between Moff Gideon and all of Din’s bounty hunter friends. Maybe she’ll keep working with Din Djarin and Boba Fett after that adventure is done. Maybe only the latter; she seems quite content being Fett’s partner for now. But she’s still a mercenary, and that means going where the credits go. At least one thing is for sure, and a big relief for fans: as of now, she’s canonically alive.