One would’ve assumed that the most notable thing about the season two premiere of The Mandalorian would be the delightful, longed-for return of Baby Yoda. One would be right! But The Mandalorian has a habit of throwing in some unexpectedly great cameo appearances, and the first episode provides a gift I didn’t even know I wanted: Timothy Olyphant, in all his magnificent salt-and-pepper glory, as the marshall of a nearly abandoned Tatooine mining town called Mos Pelgos named Cobb Vanth.
Wait, seriously? I can hear you thinking. They typecast Timothy Olyphant as a lone gunman-type law-enforcement officer and put him in the Star Wars universe? Yes. Yes they did, and it is every bit as good as you’re hoping.
Olyphant walks into The Mandalorian wearing full Mandalorian armor — a situation he eventually explains in a long flashback sequence — and it’s an ideal little bit of Olyphant myth making. It’s not just that he’s well-known for playing breaks-the-rules law-enforcement officers, it’s that those characters tend to have important relationships with their hats. In Deadwood, Olyphant as Sheriff Bullock rarely wore the cowboy hat. It was a sign of Bullock’s reluctance to fully assume a position of authority. When he did put that hat on, though, whoo baby. Things were gonna get real. On Justified, Olyphant then fully embraced the hat, stalking through the Kentucky hill country with an impressive, wide-brimmed cowboy hat that became a key part of his character Raylan Givens. That hat was the hat of a confident man. That hat did not care if you saw it coming. It wanted you to see it coming.
So casting Olyphant in The Mandalorian as a character wearing a costume that notably involves never removing your helmet, and to then have his crucial introduction scene involve removing the helmet, is just a fantastic nod to Olyphant’s career. Plus, once he takes his helmet off, you can see his perfect, perfect haircut.
Thank you, Mandalorian. It’s great to see Baby Yoda back, but Timothy Olyphant speeding along on a sand bike, with his swooping salt-and-pepper haircut glinting in the light of Tatooine’s two suns? This is the way.
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