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Star Wars: The Untold Truth Of Fennec Shand

Spoilers ahead for episode 14 of The Mandalorian.

Another episode of the live-action Star Wars saga The Mandalorian is upon us, and things are really starting to get sticky for ol' Mando (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu (a.k.a. The Child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda, a.k.a. the cutest creature to ever hit the small screen). 

The latest chapter in the duo's saga (titled "The Tragedy") was directed by none other than Robert Rodriguez (Sin CityAlita: Battle Angel), and found the two-man crew of the Razor Crest venturing to a Jedi temple on the planet Tython in hopes of getting little Grogu some much needed Force training. Said training is interrupted, however, by the return of a pair of Star Wars baddies many presumed to be dead.

Those baddies are the legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett (who managed to avoid a thousand-year digestive death sentence in the belly of the all-powerful Sarlaac), and Ming-Na Wen's Fennec Shand (last seen gut-shot and left for dead in the sandy wilds of Tatooine). With a little help from her newfound friend, Shand managed to survive those wounds, and the two allied to get Fett his prized armor back from Mando.

While both returns are quite welcome to Star Wars fans, Boba Fett will certainly need no introduction. Shand is a relative newcomer to the galaxy far, far away, having made her debut in the season 1 episode of The Mandalorian titled "The Gunslinger."

As such, considerably less is known about the character, other than she's an elite mercenary who's deadly with a blaster. And after being saved by Fett, it appears she's still got a part to play in Mando's unfolding adventure. 

That means there's no better time to get to know the character. Here are a few things you may not know about Fennec Shand.    

A seriously shady past and dealings with the Hutts

Those who've already watched the first season of The Mandalorian know Fennec Shand entered Mando's orbit because her shady past as a contract killer earned her a hefty bounty from New Republic brass. That bounty is indeed what led the famed assassin to go into hiding in the barren desert lands of Tatooine.

We still don't know many details regarding Shand's past dealings, but we do know she'd made enough of a name for herself that Mando knew exactly who she was when her name and face popped up in that bounty puck in "The Gunslinger." So much so that he's quick to point out to his would-be partner Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale) that she's an "elite mercenary" who "made her name killing for all the top crime syndicates, including the Hutts." 

Yes, the not-so-sly "Hutt" name-drop should've gotten the attention of even the most casual of Star Wars fans as a certain Hutt figured prominently in the O.G. trilogy. That Hutt was the one and only Jabba, who famously put out a bounty on Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and enslaved both Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) before tangling with the wrong Jedi (Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker) in Episode VI before watching his criminal empire go up in literal smoke.

That showdown famously came on Tatooine, of course. And while Fennec Shand was nowhere in sight when Jabba's mobile palace exploded, Boba Fett was (even if he was in the Sarlaac pit by the end of the conflict). And even if we still don't know much about Shand's past or her dealings with Jabba, that Hutt tease is just another clever way The Mandalorian is tying the entirety of the Star Wars universe together.   

Her name, look, and style were inspired by a wily breed of fox

If you do count yourself among the legions of Star Wars die hards out there, you already know that the franchise on the whole has made great sport of assigning particular meanings to virtually every character through their names. It should hardly come as a surprise, then, that the name Fennec Shand also carries extra meaning for Ming-Na Wen's character. More succinctly, it was inspired by a wily species of fox known as the Fennec Fox.

For those who know nothing of the Fennec Fox, it's a desert-dwelling species that calls the sandy vistas of northern Africa home, so it's more than fitting that we first meet Fennec Shand on the desert planet of Tatooine. Said fox is also known to be quite stealthy and a bit of a loner when on the hunt. It uses its desolate surroundings as a means of survival, concealment, and capturing prey. And yes, those characterizations are all well on display in Shand's season 1 debut. 

Per Wen's 2019 Vanity Fair interviewThe Mandalorian creative team took matters even further in Shand's fox-like existence, fashioning the character's costume (with distinct flourishes of foxy oranges) and braided hair style after Vulpes zerda itself. Add to the mix the character's cunning demeanor and the fact that her dealings with humans are the very definition of "sly as a fox," and you've got a distinctly fox-y femme.

And yes, The Mandalorian creators even assigned particular meaning to the character's surname as well, with Shand being defined as " shame, scandal, and disgrace." It's also English slang for a counterfeit coin, all of which cleverly alludes to Fennec's dodgy past.

Fennec Shand broke a particular mold in regards to Star Wars villains

As it is, there's still much to learn about Fennec Shand and her life before and after the fall of the Galactic Empire. Given the character has been so well-received to date, there's every reason to suspect we'll get to learn a lot more about her moving forward. 

Overwhelmingly positive reception aside, Shand carries even bigger meaning for Ming-Na Wen and even the Star Wars franchise as a whole. For Wen, joining the cast of The Mandalorian was extra special as it re-united her with the Disney bosses who put her in both the 1998 animated classic Mulan and it's recent live-action adaption, and cast her in a lead role on Marvel's small screen hit Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Even more important than that Disney reunion, landing the role of Fennec Shand made Wen the first female of Asian descent to play a villain in the Star War universe. During a 2019 interview with Vanity Fair's Still Watching podcast, Wen even noted how much more of an honor that is considering Star Wars has borrowed heavily from Asian culture (particularly Samurai culture) over the years. "There were so many influences of like the Asian costumes that she wore... Natalie Portman's character, Padmé. There was all this incredible imagery, but yet there were very few Asians in the films. Any sort of representation is important and necessary. And I'm just happy that I got chosen."

It's safe to say Star Wars fans the world over are happy Ming-Na Wen was chosen to portray Fennec Shand on The Mandalorian as well. Here's hoping we get more of her story in episodes and seasons ahead.