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Why The Comms Officer From The Mandalorian Looks So Familiar

Contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2, episode 6 — "Chapter 14: The Tragedy"

Another new chapter of Disney+'s The Mandalorian is here, and once again, Din Djarin (aka Mando, played by Pedro Pascal) and Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) find themselves in quite the intergalactic pickle. Chapter 14 is aptly subtitled "The Tragedy," as the episode ends with Grogu in the clutches of the Galactic Empire's Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito, further cementing himself as one of the great go-to TV villain actors). Not only does Gideon recognize the power that wee little Grogu possesses, but he also appears to have a sinister plan for it.

Of course, works of great evil are rarely accomplished alone. Gideon has an impressive team of baddies working with him to make things hard on poor Din. One of those hench-people is his Comms Officer — a small role, but one that has appeared during several crucial moments of the series. The character is played by actress and martial artist Katy O'Brian.

If seeing her in chapter 14 of The Mandalorian gave you flashes of déjà vu, you're not just being tricked by those cumbersome hats the Empire makes its officers wear. Before she joined up with Moff Gideon, O'Brian already had an impressive résumé of roles on a variety of genre TV projects, including a few other henchwoman parts that you may recognize her from.

Katy O'Brian showed her leadership skills on Z Nation

After a string of small roles on shows like The Walking Dead (she played Katy and "Savior POW #1") and How to Get Away with Murder (she portrayed "Cashier Girl"), O'Brian landed her first significant part through Z Nation, Syfy's take on the zombie apocalypse genre. 

She joined the cast in the fifth and final season, playing Georgia "George" St. Clair. George is the capable leader of a group of survivors trying to start a new and more fair society, but as many visionaries in the apocalypse learn, even things like "safety" and "not dying" are hard sells on a citizenry shellshocked by disaster.

For O'Brian, the role was a natural fit. During an interview with Occhi Magazine, she explained, "I felt very connected to George as a character, so it was easy to pull from my past and what I see in the world today to help me relate to her. [...] I was very much an idealist. As I experienced more in life, I realized, much like George, that one has to be able to balance their ideology with the reality of the world around them."

Once Z Nation ended, O'Brian continued to work in genre TV. However, the roles she played changed from idealistic leaders to hardened bad gals.

Black Lightning put Katy O'Brian's determination in the spotlight

After a season of playing the strong and compassionate George on Z Nation, O'Brian used her martial-arts-honed physicality to embody a different kind of determined character. In the CW series Black Lightning, an Arrowverse show based on the DC Comics character of the same name, she plays Major Sara Grey, a soldier with the nefarious American Security Agency (A.S.A.). She's introduced in the third season as a strongwoman for Agent Odell (Bill Duke). When he's injured, Major Grey even takes over command.

Unlike the character of George, who constantly faced difficult decisions that put her desire to do good at odds with the circumstances at hand, Major Grey's motivations are much simpler. As O'Brian told ComicBook.com, "It's less of me having to take the time to really get into the emotions of the character, because that, I pretty much know. I have a mission and I need to accomplish it."

The relentless drive to complete a mission made Major Grey a formidable antagonist during O'Brian's run on the show.

After Star Wars and DC, Katy O'Brian made the leap to Marvel with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

O'Brian completed her tri-fecta of playing villainous henchwomen on major sci-fi TV properties when she was cast in the Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Kimball, a member of Nathaniel Malick's (Thomas E. Sullivan) team. The group is made up of baddies who slipped past their pre-destined deaths by jumping through time and space, and considering that Malick was born into a HYDRA family, you better believe that one of the main priorities for this group of time-traveling terrors was to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. Sadly for Kimball, she put her money on the wrong megalomaniac horse — a fate she found out when she and the rest of Malick's crew were obliterated by Daisy Johnson, aka Quake (Chloe Bennet). 

While the series finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have had her thumbing through the evil henchwoman wanted ads, O'Brian clearly found a good fit for herself now that she's becoming a more established presence within The Mandalorian. We're sure to see Katy O'Brian putting her talents to use all over TV and film in the future.