[*** Warning: may contain spoilers for the Mandalorian Episode 5 ***]
In the closing scene of "The Gunslinger" [season 1, episode 5], an unknown character approaches and kneels near Fennec Shand. Only the character's legs and cape can be seen, while two distinct sounds can be heard: a short series of "beeps and whirs" and "chinking spurs." The scene is very dark. Altering the brightness on the still frames has the unfortunate downside of washing out the colors and muting the details, making it extremely difficult to pin down exactly what the figure is wearing.
Unfortunately, the identity of this character is never revealed in subsequent episodes of the season, leaving us only with fan speculation. The Geeks do have a few ideas on who the mystery character might be, but rather than talk about our opinions, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the various fan theories out there.
Speculation about Boba Fett has been largely tied to the aforementioned spur sound effects. As he enters the Cloud City scene in Empire Strikes Back, a nearly identical sound can be heard. Some have claimed that it is the exact same sound effect. The droid-esque beeps and whirs may also be an indicator. Although that sound wasn't heard in the original film release, it was heard in a deleted scene with Fett from the 1997 Special Edition release of A New Hope.
If you're thinking that Fett is dead, we certainly don't blame you. We all saw him fall into the supposedly inescapable Sarlacc pit on Tatooine. But that isn't necessarily the end of his story. In the now-Legends continuity, Fett escaped from the pit and went onto have more adventures. Of course, that isn't official canon. But Disney has teased that the Legends tales may have some merit. In the canon novel, Star Wars: Aftermath, a couple of travelers discover a Jawa Sandcrawler on Tatooine. Inside, they find parts from a wrecked sail barge and an abandoned set of Mandalorian armor, which is described as being partially melted and disfigured. Perhaps the result of the acidic intestinal juices found inside the Sarlacc? It's impossible to say, as the novel doesn't delve into much more detail.
There are a handful of clues that may contradict the Fett theory, though. The mystery character appears to have metallic thigh armor, which Fett isn't known to have worn. There also appears to be a blaster holstered on his right hip, where Boba usually had a pouch of some sort. And the cape the mystery character is wearing is ankle-length, while Boba's was only about thigh-length.
It's probably worth noting that Favreau and team have teased the audience with Fett-like characters at several points in the series. But none of them actually turned out to be him. Are the sound effects just more borrowed nostalgia that's intended to pay homage to one of the show's primary inspirations? You'll have to decide for yourself.
Moff Gideon, played by Giancarlo Esposito, is the final villain in this season. He's an ex-Imperial intelligence officer that has become something of an Outer Rim Warlord after the fall of the Empire. Some fans have speculated that he may have ties with Fennec Shand, and it was he that approached her body in the desert.
His boots, dark garbs, long cape and blaster holster definitely fit with visual the clues. But like Fett, he doesn't wear any metallic thigh armor. Moreover, we never hear any spur sound effects when he's present elsewhere in the series.
Cad Bane is a Duros bounty hunter that was introduced in The Clone Wars animated series, in the "Hostage Crisis" episode [season 1, episode 22]. Bane became one of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy following Jango Fett's demise. He worked for anyone that would pay, including Darth Sidious and the Hutts.
Bane was born in 62 BBY, meaning he would be somewhere around the age of 69 in The Mandalorian timeline. While that might seem rather old in Human years, the Star Wars 5th Edition roleplaying game guide notes that Duros live to an average of 150 years old. So he could certainly still be in his prime. And he's no stranger to the Hutts or other criminal cartels that might operate in the Outer Rim territories. He does wears spurs, however, and a blaster holster on his hip (both hips actually).
There are a couple of clues working against this theory. First, Cad Bane is depicted wearing rocket boots with distinctive protrusions on the sides. No such similarity exists with our mystery character. Second, while Bane's cape is the right length, it's split down the middle - effectively having two "tails." The mystery character's cape appears to be one solid cape. Nonetheless, we have seen that characters can often have significant differences in their animated and live action depictions.
Greef Karga, played by Carl Weathers, is less popular theory that's been floating around. Greef does have a cape but it's only calf-length. He also sometimes has a blaster at this side. However, we never see him wearing any sort of leg armor or hear the sound of spurs when he's walking around. Could he have employed Fennec Shand for some purpose? Well, that's certainly possible.
A Young Kylo Ren / Ben Solo
While this could have been an interesting twist to tie the live-action properties together, it's pretty much impossible. Ben Solo was born in 5 ABY, while The Mandalorian story takes place somewhere around 9 ABY. Ben Solo would have only been 3 or 4 years old. Not to mention, Kylo doesn't wear thigh armor, a blaster holster or spurs.
One of the more popular theories is that the mystery character is the Mandalorian himself. This certainly fits with most of the clues. He wears thigh armor - and as some have noticed, the mystery character's armor appears to have dents in the same spot. He has the boots, the blaster holster and the right cape length, too.
On the flip side, we don't recall hearing any spur sounds in any other scene with Mando. And the beeps and whirs sort of noises have been limited to "in helmet" shots elsewhere in the series. Moreover, just a few minutes prior to this scene, we watched Mando fly away from Tatooine in the Razorcrest - of course, he could have easily doubled back since we never see him enter hyperspace.
If it is indeed Mando, it begs the question "Why did he return to her?" Was Shand really dead, or was there still life left in her seemingly motionless body? Could the little Yodalorian have healed her? Perhaps, Mando just wanted to collect the body so he could claim the bounty later (it was dead or alive).
Let us know your thoughts! Have you seen other theories that seem plausible to you? We're happy to add them to our list. Who do you think the mystery character was?