When The Mandalorian launched Disney+ in November 2019, the final shot of the season premiere broke the internet and set toy factories around the world into overdrive, introducing fans new and old to the Child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda. With the second season’s premiere, once again directed by Jon Favreau, the creators have set up a similarly shocking final shot, although this one is far less adorable. Who exactly is that mysterious figure overlooking the action on Tatooine as the Mandalorian speeds across the desert? It’s the return of the character who started it all.
First, a little history. The very concept of a Mandalorian builds on the fame of the iconic Boba Fett, who was last seen falling into a Sarlacc Pit in Return of the Jedi. The silent bounty hunter became a fan favorite in the ’80s, but he has been considered Sarlacc food in the canon of Star Wars for over 35 years. There had been rumors about his return to this universe through The Mandalorian before the season started, and there’s even a hotly debated Easter egg in “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger” from season one, wherein fans argued about a figure at the end of the episode that looked and sounded a lot like Mr. Fett. But nothing has been confirmed — until today.
Instead of just sending our Mandalorian right into the arms of the man in whose footsteps he follows, Favreau & Co. cleverly play around with an impostor plot line in the season premiere. But it’s not entirely of their own invention. The bulk of “Chapter 9: The Marshal” actually builds on a story from a 2015 book by Chuck Wendig called The Aftermath, which is considered canon. In that book, Wendig introduced Cobb Vanth, who appears now in “The Marshal” as the title character, a lawman played by Timothy Olyphant. The Mandalorian is startled to see Vanth wearing Mandalorian battle armor, and the marshal explains how he traded valuable crystals for Boba Fett’s armor from a group of Jawas. Naturally, viewers could be led to believe that the Sarlacc ate Boba Fett, spit out the armor, and the Jawas found it. But not so fast.
After the action of Mando and Vanth helping the villagers and Tusken Raiders defeat a legendary Krayt Dragon, the last shot of “The Marshal” features Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett, watching Mando speed away with armor that he once wore. If viewers are wondering how they’re supposed to know that is Boba himself risen from the dead, it’s largely a matter of casting. Morrison played Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and Jango is the character from which the Mandalorian bounty hunter was cloned in the first place. Yes, it’s still possible that is another clone cut from the Jango mold who has returned to Tatooine, but that would feel pretty cheap, right? Revealing him at the end of an episode about Boba Fett’s armor that casts doubt on how said armor got out of the Sarlacc Pit in the first place makes it seem pretty likely that The Mandalorian just shattered Star Wars canon and brought back a character presumed dead for 37 years.
So what happens now? Some are speculating that the season will now shift to Boba Fett hunting down the Mandalorian for his armor, but that seems like it could be too direct a plot line to expect right away. It could happen, but he could just easily return to the shadows, making viewers wait for the questions about what Boba has been doing on Tatooine for the last five years (that’s how long it’s been since Jedi — check this timeline for more details).
Whether Boba Fett becomes a central character in episode two or remains a mystery held back for later in the season, one thing is clear — the world of Star Wars isn’t the same as it was yesterday. The producers shook up the Lucasverse with the addition of something new in Baby Yoda in year one, and they’ve done it again with the return of a character long considered dead. If Baby Yoda and Boba Fett’s return got the entire fan base buzzing, the best question may be what could they possibly do next season to top them?
Update: An earlier version of this article implied that all Mandolorian bounty hunters were cloned from Jango, rather than just Boba Fett. It has been corrected.