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The new season of The Mandalorian began on Friday, and the first episode is a joy. Cobb Vanth is a major reason why, but he’s not a new character created for the show. Vanth originally appeared in the Tatooine interludes of the Aftermath trilogy novels by Chuck Wendig. While Vanth is still a lawman in Mos Pelgo wearing Mandalorian armor, that’s about all that was kept. Here’s how The Mandalorian retcons Cobb Vanth and Freetown.
SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 1, The Marshal. If you have not seen the episode and want to remain spoiler-free, do not continue reading.
Cobb Vanth’s origin story still involves the Red Key mining company, but their brutality is accelerated. In Aftermath: Empire’s End, Red Key takes control of the town and Vanth is captured. The “mayor” allowed himself to be captured as part of a trap to wipe out the Red Key with the help of Tuskens. The combined forces are victorious and it’s the last we hear of Vanth or Freetown in canon.
In the show, the Red Key shows up just after the Battle of Endor. Rather than fight, Vanth runs, seemingly for help. He wanders the desert and is rescued by Jawas just before dying. He traded a camtono of crystals for Boba Fett’ said armor, salvaged from the sarlacc pit. Armored up, Vanth returns to Mos Pelgo and kills the murderous Red Key crew to a man before taking up a role as the town’s marshal.
The Mandalorian retcons aren’t exclusive to Vanth’s origin. Entire characters are cut out. Gone are the Twi’lek deputy Issa-Or and the Beastmaster Malakili, as well as the huttlet he raises. Red Key boss Lorgan Movellan is never mentioned by name, though it is possible he is present in the initial raid on the cantina.
It is entirely possible we’ll see Issa-Or and Malakili again, but I’m not betting on it. It could be that their stories are also reworked, along with the return of Red Key, while Din Djarin is off-planet, but it seems unlikely. The alliance with the Tuskens that comes in Aftermath: Empire’s End has already happened as well. Red Key coming back against that much opposition seems foolhardy.
The retcon goes beyond plot and characters and gets into the small details too. For one, Mos Pelgo is never called Freetown. The idea that the townspeople are freed slaves is ignored as well. Another small detail change is Vanth’s title. In Aftermath, he calls himself the sheriff. In Aftermath: Empire’s End, he’s referred to as the mayor. Both titles are ignored, and instead, Vanth is called the marshal, which is also the episode’s title.
The marshal title is likely a reference to actor Timothy Olyphant’s character from Justified, Marshal Raylan Givens. Considering Vanth gave himself the sheriff title, and the mayor title was only ever uttered by Movellan, he may not have an “official” title, so being the marshal isn’t necessarily a retcon. Either way, the term is new.
These changes aren’t the first tweaks the Lucasfilm story group has made to previous canon material. There may be a larger reasoning or a simple explanation like Vanth being something of an unreliable narrator. Perhaps we’ll find out more when Cobb Vanth makes his likely return later in the season. Until then, the marshal reigns over Mos Pelgo.
Season 2 of The Mandalorian is now streaming exclusively on Disney+. New episodes launch on Fridays at 3 am Eastern.