The Mandalorian, only a season and one episode in, already stands out as one of the great stories in the Star Wars universe because it’s a show that pays homage without rewiring mythology. Unlike, say, a trilogy-capper that tries to connect every dot in the suffocating Skywalker saga for twist value, the Disney Plus series, created by Jon Favreau, reverse engineers the excitement of the original trilogy by lifting from the far reaches of canon — from alien races to weird lore quirks — and tipping a hat to moments, even goofy ones, that have become iconic in fan circles. George Lucas once said of his Star Wars prequel trilogy, “You see the echo of where it all’s gonna go. It’s like poetry. They rhyme.” The Mandalorian does the same for every generation of Star Wars stories.
While each episode of The Mandalorian is propped up by its own propulsive action, Favreau litters every scene with catnip for fans. Here are a few of the Easter eggs, cameos, references, and giddy lore moments that made it into season 2, episode 1, “The Marshal.”
Please be Constable Zuvio
Constable Zuvio was an alien created for The Force Awakens that Lucasfilm introduced in the first wave of toys for the film. But here’s the twist: Zuvio was entirely cut from J.J. Abrams’ finished film! Though rumors cropped up that fans could catch a glimpse of the Kyuzo during Rey’s first vision, Lucasfilm story overlords debunked the cameo, suggesting that the character never made it to screen.
The shitposty legacy of Zuvio lives on in The Mandalorian season 2 premiere. Early on in the the Gamorrean fight, we cut to a spectator sporting the unmistakable armor of a Niima Outpost militia man. A mask obscures the alien’s face, but we’re choosing to believe this is Zuvio’s moment, for the good of Zuvio.
That’s a John Leguizamo alien
The double-crossing Abyssin who really shouldn’t have messed with Mando was voiced by none other than John Leguizamo, famous for his roles in the Super Mario Bros. movie, John Wick, and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Leguizamo’s short-lived cameo as Gor Koresh is yet another name to add to the list of funny people making Mandalorian appearances, following Taika Waititi, Horatio Sanz, Jason Sudeikis, Brian Posehn, Bill Burr, Adam Pally, Amy Sedaris, Richard Ayoade, and Werner Herzog.
Incidentally, Leguizamo’s character mentions the Gotra, likely a reference to the Droid Gotra, the Clone Wars-era army of aggrieved droids that fought for droid rights and served as muscle for the Crymorah crime syndicate.
The return of R5
The astromech droid R5-D4 is still kicking it on Tatooine, now in the employ of Amy Sedaris’ Peli Motto. The unwanted droid with a bad motivator — Favreau lingers on its blast mark, just so it’s 100% clear which famous R5 unit we’re looking at — is apparently now serving as Motto’s dedicated holomap projector. It’s an inauspicious fate for the droid, which made the briefest of cameo appearances in season 1’s “The Gunslinger.” Don’t forget that R5 is a hero of the Rebellion; he didn’t simply malfunction in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, but instead risked his own life to help R2-D2 accomplish his mission, according to the Star Wars short story anthology, From a Certain Point of View.
Timothy Olyphant’s entire character
Olyphant brings Cobb Vanth to life in The Mandalorian, but this isn’t the character’s first appearance in the Star Wars universe. He actually comes from Chuck Wendig’s book Star Wars: Aftermath, which tells the story of what happened immediately after the fall of the Empire. The book more or less tells the story that we see in this episode’s flashback of Vanth’s time in Mos Pelgo. While the references to a book character will certainly be appreciated by some hardcore Star Wars fans, it’s Vanth’s armor that’s likely to get most people’s attention.
Vanth is wearing armor that was found by “some Jawas” on Tatooine, which also happens to be the armor of Boba Fett, one of Star Wars’ most famous bounty hunters. Fett’s trademark armor was last seen in the series disappearing into Tatooine’s sarlacc pit with Fett still inside at the beginning of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. However, we get a mention of the pit in this episode, and apparently there’s no longer a Sarlacc in it at all. While Mando suggests that this could have been the work of the Krayt dragon, it’s possible that everyone’s favorite Fett killed the monster himself to survive his Return of the Jedi fall. One thing that doesn’t explain is why he’s missing his armor now.
A bartender worthy of Deadwood
Olyphant isn’t the only members of the “The Marshal” cast that has Western cred. Underneath the makeup of Mos Pego’s Weequay cantina owner is actor W. Earl Brown, who is best known for playing Dan Dority on Deadwood. Dan, of course, was the barkeep at Al Swearengen’s Gem Saloon, and a key player in the campaign against George Hearst — led by Olyphant’s Seth Bullock. Yee-haw!
Anakin’s podracer finds new life
Does podracing still exist in the post-Empire world? All signs point to the retirement of the deadly racing sport. The Mandalorian suggests that times have been tough enough on Tatooine since the Emperor and Darth Vader took hold of the galaxy that most podracing parts have been cannibalized for other purposes.
In “The Marshal,” we see Cobb Vanth riding a speeder bike made out of a podracer engine. But they don’t look like just any spare parts: The yellow air scoops, the red shield protecting the combustion chamber, the circular compressor — it appears to be Anakin Skywalker’s old racer, as seen in his fateful race against Sebulba in The Phantom Menace.
A takeoff worthy of Boba Fett’s jetpack fail
Cobb obviously sports Boba Fett’s armor in “The Marshal,” but the bounty hunter reference that cut deep comes around the 45-minute mark, when Din Djarin and Cobb Vanth hold their ground against the giant Krayt dragon.
The Mandalorian, being an actual warrior, has a plan to activate the remaining bantha bombs in the creature’s belly. But to do that, he needs to get Cobb out of the area — and there’s no time to ask. So he takes advantage of the major design flaw in Boba Fett’s jetpack, first demonstrated in Return of the Jedi’s sarlacc pit action sequence, and sends his new pal flying in the opposite direction of the fight. From the motion Pedro Pascal gives to tap the jetpack to the aerial flailing, it’s the perfect homage to one of Star Wars’ lovably dopey moments.
The Krayt dragon pearl
Krayt dragons are some of the coolest and most under-explored creatures in all of Star Wars, at least in the movies. In fact, their only appearance in the films comes in A New Hope, when C-3PO wanders by the skeleton of one. Thankfully, this episode gives us plenty of Krayt dragon action.
While The Mandalorian’s entire Krayt dragon fight is fun to see, the best part is the tiny moment at the end when the Tuskens find a pearl inside the dragon. In the extended Legacy universe of de-canonized books and games, Krayt dragons are known for their extremely valuable pearl, which can sometimes be used in lightsaber creation. In fact, there’s a Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic mission that has you blow up a Krayt dragon using a bantha to lure it onto explosives. And when you finish the monster off, you’re rewarded with a shiny pearl.
Seeing the Tuskens quickly searching for the pearl and celebrating when they found it, without much fanfare from the other characters, who have probably never seen a dead Krayt dragon and have no idea how much the pearl is worth was a very nice little touch.
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