What to Expect From 'The Mandalorian' on Disney+

the mandalorian
'The Mandalorian' | Disney Media Distribution
'The Mandalorian' | Disney Media Distribution

After a couple historical stops and starts in the years when George Lucas ran Lucasfilm, the Star Wars Universe is finally getting a live-action TV series with The Mandalorian. The franchise's new overlords at Disney have given the show a marquee spot as part of the launch of its new Disney+ streaming service, with the first of eight episodes dropping on November 12, and subsequent episodes airing weekly starting November 15. The first-season finale (the show has already been renewed for Season 2) arrives December 27, just after the release of a tiny movie called Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Other than the schedule, what else should you know about The Mandalorian before it premieres? For one thing, it’s worth looking at when it takes place the overall Star Wars timeline, and examining who this mysterious Mandalorian is. Let's walk through the major questions ahead of the November 12 debut.

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When does it take place?

This has been a little bit of a moving target since the project was first announced. It was reported that, at the red-carpet premiere of Solo, Jon Favreau said the series took place seven years after Return of the Jedi. Apparently that was a mis-quote and Favreau meant to say it took place seven years after the Battle of Yavin (the space battle from the first Star Wars: A New Hope) which would place it three years after Return of the Jedi

The most definitive time stamp so far came from Jon Favreau himself at Star Wars Celebration this April when he said, “It takes place about five years after Return of the Jedi... this new character is a gunfighter, a bounty hunter, a citizen of the underworld of the outer reaches of the galaxy.” That’s 9 ABY (after the Battle of Yavin). The other markers we have for dates on this are Return of the Jedi in 4 ABY, the "End of the Empire" at the Battle of Jakku in 5 ABY (detailed in Chuck Wendig’s novel Aftermath: Empire’s End), then a bunch of stuff happened that's detailed in novels and comics before The Force Awakens takes place in 34 ABY. 

That was a lot of dates, so here’s what that means in terms of the galaxy far far away: The Emperor is dead (or so we think) and the central force of the Empire has been destroyed. What was once the Rebel Alliance is now The New Republic, led by Mon Mothma, who is rebuilding a governing body for the galaxy. Most of this is outlined in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy of Star Wars novels (which also has the most-canon story of what probably happened to Boba Fett’s armor -- more on Boba below).

The Imperials aren’t entirely gone, though. Governors of certain sectors (called Moffs) are without a larger Empire to support them, but have all the Imperial resources from their territories. Those territories would either fall to people and become New Republic systems, or the Moffs have entrenched themselves to become Warlords. Similar fates have befallen soldiers from both sides who can’t leave the war behind. It’s a tumultuous time in the galaxy.

Is it a Boba Fett series?

No. Or at least everyone who works on The Mandalorian wants you to think he’s not involved. In the movies, the "Mandalorian Armor" that Boba Fett wears is only seen on Boba in the Original Trilogy and his father Jango Fett in the prequel trilogy. Outside the movies, in the official Star Wars animated series, we’ve spent a lot more time on Mandalore the planet with actual Mandalorian warriors, not bounty hunters and their clone sons. 

Oh, right, Boba Fett was a perfect clone of his father built without any of the controls the Old Republic had built into the clones that became clone troopers. If you forgot that because you’ve managed to scrub Attack of the Clones from your brain: congratulations! You’ve made smart life choices.

Even though the title character of the show has the Mandalorian armor on, and is carrying a rifle that is based on the one Boba Fett originally used in the Star Wars Christmas Special, this character is not Boba Fett or his father Jango Fett. As far as we know, Mace Windu beheaded Jango Fett on Geonosis and Boba Fett fell into a Sarlacc Pit on Tatooine. The Fetts are dead.

the mandalorian
'The Mandalorian' | Disney Media Distribution

Who is the Mandalorian?

The crazy thing is: We don’t know. 

The Mandolorian, or “Mando” as he’s been affectionately called by the cast during press interviews, is played by Pedro Pascal (Oberyn on Game of Thrones), but has not been named and we have not seen him without his helmet on. If we take the character at his word, he’s a Mandalorian or has chose to disguise himself as one. 

For those who need a quick crash course on Mandalore, we last caught up with it in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. That's when Sabine Wren participated in a second Mandalorian Civil War that eventually kicked out the Empire and left Mandalore in control of Lady Bo-Katan Kryze, whose sister Duchess Satine Kryze worked with Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Galactic Republic to maintain a peaceful Mandalore. Right as the First Death Star was about to fall, Mandalore regained its freedom and, as far as we know, maintained that freedom through the original trilogy. Where Mandalore stands politically at the beginning of The Mandalorian is anyone’s guess, but the main character’s mysterious nature means any sort of real Mandalorian lore could be part of a giant feint (but, still, they’re saying he’s not a Fett).

Don’t feel too bad if you have more of a Mandalorian itch that needs scratching; a new season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is coming out next year on Disney+ to bring that narrative up to the events of Revenge of the Sith. That includes a few episodes about the Scourge of Mandalore, when Republic forces led by Ahsoka Tano and Rex almost capture Darth Maul before Order 66 messes with their attack and forces all the Clone Troopers to betray the Jedi. Yes, it’s set several decades before The Mandalorian show.

Are there any familiar Star Wars faces?

There are familiar faces, but no recognizable Star Wars characters from the previous canon as of yet. Gina Carono is playing Cara Dune, a former "shock trooper" for the Rebellion that has now fallen in with the Mandalorian. Carl Weathers is playing Greef Carga, who heads up some sort of Bounty Hunters Guild and has a job for our mysterious lead. That job will make him cross paths with Giancarlo Esposito's character, named Moff Gideon, who's one of the aforementioned war lords. Werner Herzog is playing a crime boss who appears to have an Imperial background. Nick Nolte is voicing a character that uses both practical effects and CGI to bring to life. But if there’s an appearance by an Uncle Owen corpse or a four-year-old Ben Solo, we’re still in the dark.

Isn’t that IG-88?

IG-88, the famous robot bounty hunter from that one scene in Empire Strikes Back, is not the robot bounty hunter we see the Mandalorian team up with in the trailer. That's IG-11 who will be voiced by Taika Watiti ( he's also directing one of the episodes).

What’s it about?

The Mandalorian remains shrouded in secrecy, so we won’t know plot details for sure until the November 12 premiere. Still, some clips have been shown to press, and the interview junket for The Mandalorian has occurred, so what do we know? The series is being billed as a "Western" or more like “Mad Max in space.” We know that Greef Carga (Weathers) has a job for the Mandolorian, and by the end of the first episode, we’ll have a better idea of what that is.

Sound vague? Like everything in Star Wars marketing, it’s just vague enough to get you to take the ticket plunge. Or, in this case, fork over the subscription fee

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Dave Gonzales is a contributor to Thrillist.