Warning: spoilers ahead for the fifth episode of The Mandalorian Season 1, called "The Gunslinger." If you're not caught up on the latest adventures of Mando and Baby Yoda, check out now!
The Mandalorian has kept such a tight lid on spoilers that not even the huge Baby Yoda twist from Disney+'s first live-action Star Wars TV show leaked ahead of time, partly thanks to the lack of merch. So, viewers probably weren't shocked in Episode 5 when the mysterious figure who showed up to stand over the body of Ming-Na Wen's Fennec Shand didn't show their face. Still, the shots of boots and the hem of a cloak/coat were enough for me to wonder: is this a Clone Wars character? A famous Clone Wars bounty hunter, perhaps?
I'll be the first to admit that it's a bit of a leap to say that this mystery character -- whose only distinguishing characteristics seem to be dark clothes, a cape or long coat, and boots -- is anybody in particular, let alone somebody specific from Star Wars' beloved animated series The Clone Wars, especially since The Clone Wars itself is coming back in early 2020 to catch viewers up with those characters. Just bear with me here.
My knee-jerk reaction to this scene in the show about bounty hunters was that this person is none other than Cad Bane wearing his long Clone Wars coat.
Now, was it 3 in the morning when I came to this conclusion, battling a vicious head cold after a day of writing about TV? Yes it was. But the fact that the first image to pop up on screen following this scene was "Directed by DAVE FILONI" only fueled my late-night suspicion that this black-booted character could be Cad Bane. Filoni was writer, developer, and supervising director of The Clone Wars in its original run, and he even spoke with CinemaBlend about how Clone Wars will be different in its Disney+ revival.
This was the second episode of The Mandalorian Season 1 directed by Dave Filoni, and given that the first of his episodes seemingly touched on a plot from Star Wars Rebels (which Filoni also helmed), surely it's reasonable to think that this episode could feature a nod to Clone Wars, right? And that Boba Fett/Cad Bane deleted scene that revealed how Boba Fett got the dent in his helmet never aired, so it's not necessarily canon, right?
Look, I know in the light of day that the mysterious figure in Episode 5 of The Mandalorian probably isn't Cad Bane. I'm going to shout it from the rooftops if somehow, some way, I got this right, but the long gap between the Clone Wars era and the post-Return of the Jedi era of The Mandalorian, coupled with showrunner Jon Favreau's comments about original characters, I know that the odds of Cad Bane are pretty low. In fact, the odds at this point are probably best that this is Giancarlo Esposito's character.
Sure, some of Dave Filoni's comments go a little less hard than Jon Favreau's about preexisting Star Wars characters visiting The Mandalorian, but I'd say Cad Bane's odds of appearing at this point are more or less on par with the odds of Thrawn appearing. Thrawn did also make his current canon debut on an animated series, after all!
So, what was the point of writing about my 3 a.m. theory that Cad Bane jumped to live-action to lurk over the body of Ming-Na Wen's gone-too-soon character, other than the fact that it seemed like a very good idea between sneezes at the time?
Because the beauty of The Mandalorian Season 1 so far has been that we haven't been able to rule much out, and speculation has been a joy. Basically all we've been able to say for sure before each episode is that Baby Yoda will be adorable and Mando will keep his helmet on. If this wasn't an appearance by Cad Bane or any other Clone Wars (or Star Wars Rebels) character, that doesn't mean the future doesn't hold nods to the animated series, especially if Dave Filoni continues to contribute. Who could know more about how to incorporate animated characters into live-action than Filoni?
Star Wars is more fun to me now than it has been in a long time, and speculation about The Mandalorian at this point is devoid of the divisiveness currently surrounding all things Skywalker. See what happens next for Mando, Baby Yoda, and this mystery character when new episodes of The Mandalorian release Fridays on Disney+, with one exception. For more viewing options in the not-too-distant future to pass the time between Mandalorian and the return of The Clone Wars in February on Disney+, swing by our 2020 winter and spring TV premiere schedule!