‘The Mandalorian’ Explained: Timothy Olyphant Deals More Western Swagger to ‘Star Wars’

With the addition of Timothy Olyphant to an already crowded cast, we go wild with character speculation.
Justified Bloody Harlan

The Mandalorian Explained is our ongoing series that is keeping an eye on Lucasfilm’s ongoing series about the Galaxy’s most dangerous single dad.

The hottest casting in town right now surrounds the second season of The Mandalorian. Just when we think we can’t possibly be more excited or downright curious about what comes next for Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and lil’ “Baby Yoda,” a mic drop announcement lands online. Rosario Dawson: check. Temuera Morrisoncheck. Katee Sackhoff: check. Ray Park: (maybe) check. Timothy Olyphant: what? Hell yeah, check!

This latest news comes courtesy of Variety, who claims the Deadwood and Justified cowboy will be locking his chiseled Clint Eastwood-like stare with Mando come October. For a series steeped in Western mythology, Olyphant’s addition makes all the sense in the world. He’s a ridiculously charming and handsome rapscallion who always has one boot firmly planted in the frontier aesthetic.

Olyphant is the kind of gunslinger you could imagine on either side of the fence, delivering justice at the end of his six-shooter or spitting chaw on some feeble tin star sheriff. Good guy or bad guy, we’re into it. Our only ask is that he’s not a one and done character, falling by the wayside as one more notch on Djarin’s blaster grip.

Looking at the new gang of folks already assembled, it’s hard not to jam Olyphant into our previous Clone Wars speculation.  One of the big reveals at the end of the last season was Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) possessing the Darksaber. When we last saw the ancient blade in the animated series Star Wars: Rebels, it was in the grip of Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze.

How does the Darksaber travel from the Mandalorian regent to Moff Gideon? Timothy Olyphant could be responsible, and based on Darth Maul’s presence, as well as Ahsoka Tano (Dawson) and Captain Rex (Morrison), the second season might spend significant time filling out that backstory.

What we do know about Mandalorian history is that during the time of Imperial rule, Bo-Katan Kryze refused to follow the orders of the Emperor. As referenced during the first season, a great purge occurred on Mandalore. Kryze was betrayed by her Shadow Collective colleague Gar Saxon. What went down exactly? Not sure, but Kryze lost her control of Mandalore, and Saxon was made Governor and Imperial Viceroy working hand-in-hand with Moff Gideon.

Olyphant could wear Saxon’s skin quite well. While the character is voiced by Ray Stevenson in The Clone Wars, Rosario Dawson’s hiring reveals that The Mandalorian producers are not necessarily tied to the voice cast. Olyphant can easily pull off the goose-stepping smugness of Saxon, savoring the chewing of scenery. Watch Live Free or Die Hard. He’s not above it.

Of course, the moment you start to think you have a handle of what’s going on behind the scenes is the moment you look the most foolish. If you have Timothy Olyphant at your disposal, do you want to waste him on a bad guy who’s gonna get smoked in a flashback? Probably not.

Here’s my way-out-there theory: what if The Mandalorian is setting up the classic Boba Fett bait-and-switch storyline from the Expanded Universe?

Yes, Temuera Morrison is coming back to Star Wars. He played Jango Fett, the bounty hunter whose DNA was used to raise an army in Attack of the Clones. We know that he kept one of the clones as his own son, but he barely had the chance to raise the boy before getting his head lobbed off by Mace Windu.

Boba Fett grew up wearing Morrison’s face. He became a mighty fine bounty hunter, working for Jabba the Hutt as well as Darth Vader. He went out like a punk when Han Solo blindly knocked him into the belly of the Sarlacc. Burp. Belch. Done deal.

Near the end of Chapter Five of The Mandalorian, we hear a pair of familiar-sounding spurs strut up next to the corpse of Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). We assume this is Boba Fett, as played by Temuera Morrison. What if it’s Boba Fett, as played by Timothy Olyphant? Or…a guy pretending to be Boba Fett. There is a precedent.

When Boba Fett died in Return of the Jedi, he left a void of cool. His armor could not be tossed aside. Creators could not accept that their dude could go out like such a chump. A solution had to be formed. Someone had to fill Boba Fett’s shoes.

As explained in the Expanded Universe stories of the roleplaying games, comic books, and novels, the character of Jodo Kast wore a similar suit of Mandalorian armor. When he heard Fett was dead, he masqueraded across the galaxy as the famous bounty hunter. Kast kept the costume relevant and marketable. Readers could keep their movie canon as well as their respect for their Boba Fett action figures.

Then, suddenly, Lucasfilm granted the real Boba Fett a life outside of the Sarlaac pit, and he could swagger amongst the rest of the Expanded Universe characters. In the Dark Horse Comics series Twin Engines of Destruction, Fett confronts Kast, telling the dunce there isn’t enough room in the galaxy for the both of them, and he murders the fool.

After his goofy death in Return of the Jedi, Boba Fett can never be cool again. His rad design is redeemed through the actions of Din Djarin. If we’re still so eager to have a badass Boba Fett, and Mando is somehow not enough of a fashionable replacement, let’s find a way to put Olyphant in the armor.

As Joda Kast, Olyphant could excel with the perfect mixture of pathetic and cool. Such an awkward blend of compelling repulsion is where he thrived in Justified. His Raylan Givens could be the king of gunslinger bluster one moment and a total dope with ladies the next. He’s the kind of actor you can forgive when his character is stumbling around the frame.

You root for Olyphant. He can make Joda Kast work, and in doing so, get us beyond the Boba Fett Return of the Jedi embarrassment. Use him and Kast to elevate Djarin’s place in Star Wars lore. Mando can act as our revenge for what George Lucas did to our toy in Return of the Jedi.

And this ends my fanfic.

Brad Gullickson: Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)