10 things to know before watching The Mandalorian

The new Star Wars TV show, explained

Boba Fett.
(Image credit: Screenshot/Disney Plus)

Star Wars is about to take its first step into a larger world: live-action television.

Lucasfilm is days away from the launch of The Mandalorian, the first ever live-action Star Wars TV series. Starring Pedro Pascal as a bounty hunter in the galaxy's crime-ridden outskirts, it's the big ticket item of Disney's new streaming service, Disney+, and with a hefty Game of Thrones-level production budget to boot.

Although Disney has been notoriously secretive in the lead-up to The Mandalorian, here's a break down of everything Star Wars fans should know before the series finally makes the jump to lightspeed.

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1. A long time ago First things first, it's crucial to get The Mandalorian's place in the timeline straight: it picks up five years after Return of the Jedi and 25 years before The Force Awakens.

The Empire has fallen and the Galactic Civil War of the original trilogy is over, but showrunner Jon Favreau says the series will explore what the world looks like afterward, asking questions like, "the revolution is successful, and then what happens? Now what?"

2. The outer reaches — By this point, the New Republic has formed after the defeated Empire signed the Galactic Concordance peace treaty roughly a year after Return of the Jedi. But the show is described as taking place in the galaxy's outer reaches, beyond this new democratic government's authority, with Favreau comparing the situation to "the Old West, when there wasn't any government in the areas that had not yet been settled."

"You get that the Rebels won and they're trying to establish a Republic, but there's no way that could have set in for everybody all at once," producer Dave Filoni told Entertainment Weekly.

Expect to meet plenty of characters who aren't too thrilled about the Empire's downfall, including a former Imperial governor antagonist played by Giancarlo Esposito. There's also a villain played by Werner Herzog, who in the trailers wears an Imperial medallion and suggests with dismay that the world is no "more peaceful since the revolution" while declaring "we must restore the natural order of things."

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3. Rising from the ashes — Imperial loyalists like these later bring about the First Order, the Empire successor from the sequel trilogy, so keep an eye out for The Mandalorian to shed more light on how this villainous organization came to be.

A series of canonical books has already explained that the First Order rose after remnants of the Empire fled into the Unknown Regions of the galaxy looking to rebuild, and it engaged in a cold war with the Republic in the years prior to The Force Awakens. But plenty of details about the First Order's history have yet to be revealed, and Favreau suggests the show will explore the conditions under which their rise was possible.

"Somehow, things weren't necessarily managed as well as they could have been if [the galaxy] ended up in hot water again like that,” Favreau told Entertainment Weekly.

4. The man himself — In Star Wars canon, Mandalorians are warriors who hail from the Outer Rim planet of Mandalore and fought the Jedi during the time of the Old Republic. Their planet was later taken over by the pacifist New Mandalorians, who sought to put this violent past behind them, though not everyone was willing to do so. The Empire eventually occupied Mandalore, but the planet's Imperial governor was defeated not long before the original Star Wars.

Our lead in The Mandalorian is a bounty hunter and "lone gunfighter" who we still don't know a lot about, including his actual name. Pascal says, though, that his character is "very much built on the iconic presence of the Man With No Name in the Sergio Leone movies, played by Clint Eastwood, [and] the lone samurai in Akira Kurosawa," and that "some might say he has questionable moral character."

5. Boba Fett? Where? — This Mandalorian bounty hunter isn't to be confused with that other Mandalorian bounty hunter, Boba Fett, who brings a captured Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt in the original trilogy. Technically, though, Boba wasn't really a Mandalorian but instead a clone who happened to wear Mandalorian armor.

Favreau tells Entertainment Weekly that unlike Boba, "our guy is a Mandalorian," with Favreau also promising the series will "definitely explore the culture of the Mandalorian," as fans have previously seen on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels; one of the heroes of the latter animated series, Sabine Wren, was also a Mandalorian. Mandalore's status since Return of the Jedi isn't totally clear, but that will presumably be addressed in the show.

6. The 'freaky' side — In addition to being inspired by Westerns, Favreau tells The Hollywood Reporter he aims for The Mandalorian to evoke "not just the first [Star Wars] film but the first act of the first film," especially the famous cantina scene, promising to look at the "darker, freakier side of Star Wars, the Mad Max aspect of Star Wars."

7. Fleshing out the cast — In addition to Pascal, Esposito, and Herzog, the show will also feature Carl Weathers as the head of a guild of bounty hunters who recruits the Mandalorian for a mission, Gina Carano as a former shock trooper for the Rebel Alliance, Nick Nolte as an Ugnaught, Ming-Na Wen as an assassin, and Taika Waititi as IG-11, a childlike droid reminiscent of IG-88 from The Empire Strikes Back.

8. Week to week - You won't be able to binge The Mandalorian without holding off until the season ends, as Disney is forgoing the all-at-once Netflix model in favor of weekly releases. The Mandalorian's eight-episode first season will stretch from Nov. 12 through Dec. 27, mostly releasing on Fridays after the Tuesday premiere, with its finale airing the week after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters.

9. Where no Star Wars has gone before? — The Mandalorian could make Star Wars history, with Collider's Steven Weintraub teasing that one scene answers "a question that I don't think has ever been explained/shown" in Star Wars. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports the first episode contains a "dramatic Star Wars universe spoiler."

It's anyone guess what those could be, though the latter report instantly sparked conspiracy theories that Boba Fett survived his apparent Sarlacc death in Return of the Jedi. Either way, don't expect The Mandalorian to be some irrelevant side project for the franchise.

10. It's crucial to the future of Star Wars — Indeed, The Mandalorian's first season should provide a key glimpse into what the future of Star Wars looks like.

After all, Disney is concluding the Skywalker saga with The Rise of Skywalker and taking a three-year break from Star Wars movies after 2019. In the meantime, shows like The Mandalorian will fill the void. Numerous other Disney+ Star Wars series are also on the way as well, including one focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi and another focused on Rogue One's Cassian Andor.

With the state of the franchise very much in flux, The Mandalorian's success or failure could influence just how big a role these streaming shows will play in Star Wars' road map going forward. Seeing as a second season is already in the works, though, it seems Disney has a really good feeling about this.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.