This article includes spoilers for the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy of novels, as well as The Mandalorian season two episode “Chapter Nine: The Marshal.”
For a note about The Beat’s coverage of The Mandalorian’s sophomore season, please click here.
Last Friday’s episode of The Mandalorian brought Mando and The Child back to Tatooine, and introduced viewers to lawman Cobb Vanth, played by Timothy Olyphant. Savvy Star Wars fans may have recognized that name, as a character called Cobb Vanth with a similar background previously appeared in a trilogy of new canon novels. Are those two characters one and the same? The Beat investigates.
Star Wars: Aftermath
The Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig were some of the first books of the current canon published by Lucasfilm after it was acquired by Disney, with the first volume in the trilogy being released on September 4th, 2015 – one of the books in the “Journey to The Force Awakens” cycle, leading up to the release of Episode VII in December 2015.
Taking place shortly after the critical defeat of the Empire at the Battle of Endor, the trilogy reveals a galaxy in the throes of dramatic change, with the burgeoning New Republic struggling against the remaining Imperial forces who refuse to admit that their hateful machinations have been thwarted.
In addition to the main storyline, which follows an ensemble of interesting characters (including Wedge Antilles and a young Temmin “Snap” Wexley – played on the big screen by Greg Grunberg), each book in the Aftermath trilogy also includes a handful of “Interludes.”
These Interludes provide a glimpse of the stories taking place all over the Galaxy during this time period. In some instances, the characters featured in the Interlude for one book return for an additional Interlude in a subsequent book – providing multiple windows into a character’s story over the course of the trilogy.
Some of these Interludes feature characters with whom Star Wars fans will already be familiar, but others introduce new characters, such as Eleodie Maracavanya, the Pirate Ruler of Wild Space, who captures an Imperial dreadnaught and makes it into zher capital ship.
One new character was given Interludes in all three of the books in the Aftermath trilogy, a self-appointed lawman on the backwater planet of Tatooine: Cobb Vanth.
Aftermath (2015) Interlude
The first Interlude is largely told from the perspective of a character named Adwin Charu. He’s an agent of the Red Key Company, a mining company that has set its sights on Tatooine in light of the power vacuum created by the fall of both the Empire and Jabba the Hutt. Charu is negotiating with some Jawas in their sandcrawler (with little success) when a man arrives and introduces himself as “Cobb Vanth.”
Vanth explains that the Jawas work on rapport, which can only be established over time, but invites Charu to benefit from the relationship Vanth has already established with them. The two men follow the Jawas into a backroom, where they have their finest wares, including wreckage from the late Jabba’s sail barge.
Among the artifacts is a box with a complete set of Mandalorian battle armor, presumably the property of Boba Fett, who was last seen falling into the Sarlaac in The Return of the Jedi. While Charu attempts to lay claim to the armor, Vanth quick-draws, shooting the agent of the Red Mining Company in the shoulder and claiming the armor for himself, declaring himself “Sheriff Vance” (most likely a typo).
Before Vanth leaves with the armor, he tells Charu to tell his boss, Lorgan Movellan, to pack up and take the hyperspace lanes out of the sector.
Aftermath: Life Debt (2016) Interlude
The Interlude featuring Vanth in Aftermath: Life Debt is told from the perspective of Malakili, Jabba the Hutt’s beastmaster (who memorably wept over the body of his dead pet Rancor, who was named Pateesa). Eventually forced to admit that living at the late Hutt’s Palace is no longer tenable after Jabba’s sail barge is destroyed by Luke Skywalker during the events of The Return of the Jedi, Malakili visits the Great Pit of Carkoon.
When he arrives, he discovers that the Sarlacc was injured by some of the burning wreckage that fell from the crashing barge. As a result, some of the Sarlacc’s body had been unburied, and Jawas had seized the opportunity to cut open its stoma-tubes and pilfer armor, droids, and weapons from its digestive tract.
Soon, Malakili is attacked by a pair of agents representing the Red Key Company, but just before he is dispatched, he is rescued by Vanth.
Vanth offers Malakili an opportunity. He says that he is the Sheriff of Freetown, the new name for Mos Pelgo. Vanth tells Malakili that he needs someone to help them train a pair of rontos – and to help teach a baby Hutt that has become one of the residents of Freetown. Malakili readily agrees to the proposition.
Another interesting detail about life on Tatooine revealed by the Interlude is that Malakili’s possessions include shiny chits and droid gears to “pay off” Tuskens. This is similar to the perspective of the Tuskens we get from The Mandalorian, both in the first season episode “Chapter Five: The Gunslinger,” and in the first episode of season two, “Chapter Nine: The Marshal.” One of the reasons this perspective of the Tuskens is so interesting is the effect it has on the way the viewer perceives the events of Attack of the Clones, underscoring the horror of Anakin’s violent slaughter of a Tusken village.
Aftermath: Empire’s End (2017) Interlude
In the third Interlude, the leader of the Red Key Company, Movellan, has arrived in Freetown and captured Vanth. Movellan seeks to make a public example of Vanth, bringing him to the center of Freetown and mocking his efforts to establish a settlement free from the oppression of the mining companies. Movellan notes that while Tatooine is a backwater planet, it does possess certain resources, including silicax oxalate.
During the confrontation, Malakili and the baby Hutt, Borgo, join Vanth in the center of town. At the signal of Malakili, the baby begins to wail.
Soon, it is revealed that this ear-splitting wailing is actually a signal, and a troupe of Tusken Raiders promptly arrive and dispatch the agents of the Red Key Company. As Vanth explains to the incapacitated Movellan, the agreement between the residents of Freetown and the Tusken Raiders was arranged thanks to the fact that Malakili had procured a special prize to give the Tuskens: a pearl that originated in the belly of a krayt dragon.
The Mandalorian, “Chapter Nine: The Marshal”
Like the Aftermath trilogy, The Mandalorian is set in the period of time between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
In the cold opening of “Chapter Nine: The Marshal,” the second season premiere of The Mandalorian (written & directed by showrunner Jon Favreau), Din Djarin gets word of a Mandalorian in the Tatooine city of Mos Pelgo.
When Djarin arrives on Tatooine, he meets up with Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) once again. He asks her if she’s heard of a Mandalorian in Mos Pelgo, and Moto says she hasn’t heard the name in a while. Moto tells Djarin that Mos Pelgo was wiped out soon after the fall of the Empire, which was a “free for all.” Moto says she has been afraid to leave the walls of Mos Eisley since then.
Djarin travels to the location where Moto says Mos Pelgo used to stand, and when he arrives, he finds not ruins but a vibrant desert settlement.
Soon, Djarin meets Cobb Vanth, the marshal, who wears the Mandalorian armor once possessed by Boba Fett. Vanth promptly removes his helmet, speaking to Djarin in an amiable tone with plenty of folksy verbal tics, revealing both a physical appearance and a personality that closely aligns with the character from Aftermath’s interludes.
When Vanth tells Djarin how he came to possess Fett’s armor, it is a somewhat different narrative than the one told by the trio of Aftermath Interludes, but it contains many of the elements from the novels – albeit somewhat shuffled.
According to the tale Vanth recounts on screen, he was in Mos Pelgo when word of the destruction of the Second Death Star reached Tatooine. Shortly thereafter, the agents of an unnamed mining company arrived and enslaved the people. Vanth fled the scene, stealing a camtono from a mining company speeder that turned out to be filled with silicax crystals (one of the local resources mentioned in the Aftermath: Empire’s End Interlude).
On the verge of death in the desert, Vanth was rescued by a Jawa Sandcrawler. In exchange for the silicax, the Jawas gave Vanth Fett’s Mandalorian armor. He returned to Mos Pelgo and used the armor to defeat the agents of the mining company.
Unlike the Vanth of the books, who independently establishes a mutually beneficial relationship with the Tusken Raiders, the Vanth of The Mandalorian still views the Tuskens as his enemy. However, over the course of the episode, Djarin helps the people of Mos Pelgo forge an alliance with the Tuskens in order to defeat a common enemy – a krayt dragon.
Ultimately, the combined efforts of the Tuskens, the people of Mos Pelgo, and Djarin are successful in defeating the krayt dragon – and one of the final shots of the episode is one of the Tuskens, triumphantly holding a pearl extracted from the dragon’s innards aloft.
Unification in the Dune Sea
While the details of the two Vanth stories do not precisely align, they do contain many of the same beats: Vanth’s possession of the Mandalorian armor thanks to the Jawas, his becoming the self-appointed lawman of Mos Pelgo (even if it’s renamed Freetown on the page), and the Tuskens being rewarded with the valuable krayt dragon pearl.
Does the inclusion of Vanth in The Mandalorian mean we may see additional characters from the Star Wars page making the leap to the screen? And what are the odds we’ll get to see rogue archeologist Doctor Chelli Aphra in all her live-action glory? Only time will tell.