In the Season 2 premiere of The Mandalorian, Timothy Olyphant plays Cobb Vanth, a lawman similar to Raylan Givens, Olyphant’s character in Justified.
Finally, the wait is over; Season 2 of Disney+‘s critically acclaimed The Mandalorian has begun. In the first episode, “The Marshal,” Timothy Olyphant makes his debut as Cobb Vanth, a self-appointed lawman in the forgotten Tatooine mining camp of Mos Pelgo. Naturally, the character evokes the image of Olyphant’s star turn as Sheriff Seth Bullock in HBO’s Deadwood. But in his portrayal of Vanth, Olyphant is channeling his other iconic lawman role, Deputy U.S. Marshal, Raylan Givens from FX’s Justified.
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Justified was a Western crime drama that ran for six seasons from 2010 to 2015. It centered on Olyphant’s Givens, a charming, but reckless federal officer who enforces the law like it’s still the Wild West. Olyphant’s portrayal of the character received near-universal acclaim and Givens’ likability, in spite of his actions, is due in large part to his performance. Givens was infamous for his trademark cowboy hat and his penchant for putting criminals in situations where they are forced to shoot at him, that way when he draws on them he can claim the shooting was “justified.”
Originally working in Miami, Givens got in trouble dispensing his particular brand of justice after taking out a mobster on a rooftop restaurant in broad daylight and in full view of the public. With Miami cartels out to get him and a press nightmare for the Marshals Service, Raylan is punished and sent to work in the Lexington, Kentucky branch, close to his childhood home in Harlan County. Much of Justified revolved around Raylan’s complicated antagonistic relationship with former coal-mining friend, now criminal, Boyd Crowder.
Cobb Vanth, however, is not a new character in the Star Wars universe. Vanth first appeared in the novel Star Wars: Aftermath and its subsequent sequels. The novels cover much of the backstory Vanth shares with Din Djarin in the episode. Vanth is a former slave who cleared out a corrupt mining syndicate and bartered with Jawas for Boba Fett’s damaged armor. He goes on to look after Mos Pelgo’s inhabitants, who dub him “The Marshal.”
From the moment Vanth is introduced in The Mandalorian‘s premiere standing in the doorway of a cantina while clad in Boba Fett’s armor, it’s obvious it’s Timothy Olyphant under the helmet. The pose and the swagger give him away before he even speaks. Once viewers meet Vanth, it’s apparent he’s practical and pretty no-nonsense, much like Givens. He’s quick on the trigger too, but not so quick he isn’t willing to listen to reason and find peaceful solutions. Vanth cares for the people under his protection and will do what needs to be done. So, yeah, he’s basically the intergalactic Raylan Givens.
While the episode’s title “The Marshal” is a reference to the character, it’s also a clear nod to Olyphant’s casting. Justified is one of the best modern-day Westerns out there and Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is a beloved character, so Olyphant’s casting as the similar Vanth makes perfect sense. And his depiction of Vanth was a delight to see, much like it was watching him as Raylan Givens. Olyphant has recently paid homage to his iconic role in other shows like The Good Place, but seeing what Raylan would be like in the Star Wars universe was a particular treat.
Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian stars Pedro Pascal, with guest stars with guest stars Gina Carano, Carl Weathers and Giancarlo Esposito. Directors for the new season include Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, Carl Weathers, Peyton Reed and Robert Rodriguez.
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