I’ve often heard football fans say it’s a hard life supporting (enter your team name here). I’m not remotely interested in the game but I always felt I could relate to this. When you go all in on something, you naturally wind up in a position where you find yourself having to defend it, perhaps for your own reassurance that your time wasn’t wasted.

That triumphant GOAL moment came to me at around quarter of an hour into the last Friday’s episode of The Mandalorian, the first out the gate of season two, officially known as ‘Chapter 9 – The Marshal’. Here’s why..

WARNING: Contains plot details

In the lead up to season two, plenty of rumours circulated about the actors cast and the character’s they’d be playing. I’ve long known better than to invest too much in leaks, either way you look at it they’re spoilers, it dampens the surprise or falsely sets your expectations. Some of the whispers in this case seemed plausible, one was a bit a bit of a wild card.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if Timothy Olyphant is playing Cobb Vanth?”

It wasn’t unreasonable to think that this character might play into the the unfolding story. In the canonical Aftermath trilogy of books, the character appears in a series of interludes and it’s suggested that he has donned the fallen Boba Fett’s Mandalorian armour. These stories being set in largely the same period of time as The Mandalorian, as well as the much debated fate of Fett all pointed to the possibility of questions being answered, whether that might be in a minor or major way.

© Lucasfilm, 2020

When Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 it was announced that all future Star Wars storytelling across films, TV, books, comics, games would exist in the same continuity. An ambitious plan and one that came at the cost of much of the old ancillary material (the ‘Expanded Universe’ or EU as it was known) being labelled as ‘Legends’. Having committed to absorbing all of this new content in past five years, I can understand the frustration of those who felt thirty years of stories had been made less relevant. I hadn’t ever really dived much into the EU, so was in the fortunate position of both not being effected by the decision and placed in a prime position to start a journey with the new canon.

Now, it would be unfair (and totally incorrect) to say that these stories don’t connect. There’s plenty of examples of where they do and characters who have side stepped between mediums. Perhaps the most significant was the early win of lifting Saw Gerrea from The Clone Wars animated series for 2016’s Rogue One.

The sequel trilogy, the first three tentpole movies of the Disney era, didn’t succeed with this quite as well, at least on the surface. I’m a big fan of the Force Center podcast feed, whose presenters Joseph Scrimshaw, Ken Napzok and Jennifer Landa present a compelling case on a weekly basis for how the themes connect, even if the names and places don’t. There are also film making reasons to factor in, with production timelines, confidentiality of information and evolving storylines not always allowing for other creatives to play too close to the centre of the sandbox. It’s my hope that now this set of films has wrapped, we may get more tales that enhance what we saw, or in some cases didn’t see, on screen.

I wouldn’t say it was essential to my enjoyment of the veritable ton of Star Wars content I’ve consumed since 2015 that I see the plot lines connecting. Each story that’s been told has had it’s merits as a standalone, within a larger universe granted. More recently I’ve begun to wonder whether a conscious effort has been made to ensure this is the case in an attempt to avoid the feeling of being left cold as a fan.

So why did I jump in the air and cheer when Olyphant’s character was asked his name and he replied “Cobb Vanth”? Because I felt rewarded. And not necessarily for all of the hours invested. I felt rewarded for being a fan. For believing in the mission statement and for coming to it’s defence when it was cast in doubt.

Unfortunately I don’t even need to use the football league table as an analogy here. Box office charts and industry rankings determine the general consensus of a franchise sadly and this sets the climate of conversation you’ll find yourself in as a fan at any given time. So just like the supporter of a sports team, I’ve experienced the highs and lows of being “all in”. This moment felt like a personal victory.

Now let’s see Rae Sloane.

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