The Mandalorian has a star studded cast full of revered acting talent, but one major figure has yet to appear in the series. The Mandalorian has the dual honor of being both the first major original series to grace Disney's shiny new streaming service, and the first live-action Star Wars TV series in the franchise's long history. With such a considerable weight placed upon The Mandalorian, it's no surprise that a stellar cast was assembled featuring the likes of Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano and Taika Waititi.
A frequently-used technique in the Star Wars franchise nowadays is to maintain an aura of mystery that even extends as far as the principal cast, partly to avoid spoilers, but also in order to generate interest and discussion among fans. Prior to the airing of The Mandalorian's premiere episode, viewers largely had no idea what to expect from the characters beyond some absolute basics. Werner Herzog's character was, and still is, merely referenced to as "The Client," virtually nothing is currently known about Bill Burr and Ming-Na Wen's roles, and the Mandalorian himself has proved a compelling protagonist, but all while keeping his name and face under wraps.
Considering The Mandalorian's added responsibility of attracting subscribers to the emerging Disney+, it's perhaps surprising how closely Jon Favreau has played his cards to his chest. Now almost at the halfway point of The Mandalorian season 1, it still feels like there's so much to learn about the cast, and one figure in particular has been conspicuous by his absence - Giancarlo Esposito's Moff Gideon. While Gideon has yet to appear in The Mandalorian, however, his introduction might've already been set up.
Everything Known About Moff Gideon So Far
Best known for his portrayal of Gustavo Fring in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Giancarlo Esposito has become somewhat of a go-to guy when it comes to calm yet insidious villainous types, and so it appeared when he was announced for The Mandalorian. Esposito was revealed to be playing a former high-ranking member of the Empire, Moff Gideon. Thanks to the presence of Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope, the rank carries significant weight, even with casual Star Wars fans, and immediately establishes Gideon as an imposing presence and a remnant of the Empire's recently-overthrown tyranny.
Esposito himself has described Gideon as a "savior" in interviews, placing considerable emphasis on the character's love for and desire to establish order. Given his loyal service to the Empire, Gideon's "order" is seemingly the kind achieved through violence and oppression. Trailer footage has revealed that despite his employer's defeat, Gideon still commands Death Troopers, Stormtroopers and Incinerator Troopers.
Why Moff Gideon (And Others) Haven't Appeared In The Mandalorian
Despite the widespread assumption that Esposito's character would act as the main antagonist of The Mandalorian's first season, events have transpired a little more unconventionally. Disney+ has released 3 of the 8 episodes that comprise The Mandalorian season 1, and Moff Gideon has been entirely absent. Instead, antagonist duties have been shared mostly between the Client and Carl Weathers' Greef Karga, all of which resulted in an action-packed rescue mission during the climax of The Mandalorian's most recent episode. As viewers wait for Moff Gideon's debut appearance, it's becoming increasing clear that Esposito's character is not going to be an episode-to-episode villain, at least for the current season.
Interestingly, Gideon isn't the only major character who was confirmed for The Mandalorian but remains unaccounted for. Gina Carano was positioned as one of the main supporting cast members in the role of Cara Dune, but will punch her first Mando ticket in episode 4, as confirmed by a teaser trailer. Ming-Na Wen is playing an assassin by the name of Fennec Shand, Bill Burr has a small role somewhere and Game of Thrones' Natalia Tena plays a Twi'lek who was glimpsed in trailer footage. All four, plus Gideon of course, have yet to feature in The Mandalorian.
At first glance, this feels like a lot of big names to leave until the second half of the season, but the move has perhaps contributed to The Mandalorian's popularity and success thus far. Light on dialogue and fronted by a character who never shows his face, The Mandalorian had its work cut out to make viewers care about its eponymous bounty hunter. Through body language and sparse exchanges with others, Favreau, as well as directors such as Dave Filoni and Deborah Chow, have steadily established Mando as an effective, mysterious anti-hero type who has the audience firmly onside despite certain ethical ambiguities. Fans have learned a lot about his character through small details, rather than the usual exposition dumps, but that has only been possible by focusing heavily on the title character for The Mandalorian's first 3 episodes. This could be a major reason as to why Moff Gideon - a character who will likely also demand a lot of on-screen exploration - has been absent up until now. Establishing a Jedi or a maverick pilot as the hero of a story is simple, making viewers invest in a faceless, mostly mute bounty hunter requires more space and dedication.
Moff Gideon Has Already Been Referenced (& Could Be Coming For Mando)
Giancarlo Esposito has yet to appear on-screen in The Mandalorian, but his ominous presence might've already been hinted at in the series' most recent episode. As the Client and his scientific advisor (Omid Abtahi's Dr. Pershing) continued their heated debate over whether The Mandalorian's Baby Yoda needs to be alive or not, the good doctor claims, "he has explicitly ordered us to bring it back alive." This line strongly suggests that there's a hidden Empire puppeteer behind Herzog's Client who is manipulating things from the shadows, and this figure surely has to be Moff Gideon.
With a guard of Stormtroopers, droids previously seen on the Death Star and links to Kamino, it's quite clear that the Empire are the ones hunting down the young member of Yoda's species, but the Client's position in Palpatine's crumbling hierarchy is unspecified. As such, it would make complete sense if the true mastermind of the operation was a former Moff. The only Imperials still fighting by the time of The Mandalorian are the most loyal, dedicated ones, and one of the few confirmed traits of Gideon is his goal to restore order to a galaxy in turmoil. This provides a potential motivation for Gideon arranging cell extraction from Baby Yoda - to, essentially, genetically engineer a replacement Emperor.
This explanation would provide an in-narrative reason for Moff Gideon's absence during The Mandalorian's opening episodes. All while business went smoothly, the Client could handle the transaction. Now that the middle-man has failed and Mando has made off with the prize, it naturally follows that the top boss would finally emerge from the woodwork and deal with matters personally.
The Mandalorian continues November 29th on Disney+