The Mandalorian not only explores a new medium for Star Wars — a live-action TV series — but also a new corner of the galaxy far, far away. In the first episode, we’re introduced to a post-Empire realm of scum and villainy in the Outer Rim. This is the sector of space Mando calls home.
We follow the bounty hunter as he completes two jobs — one that is pretty conventional and the other that’s anything but. Along the way, we get a look at both some familiar trappings and brand new elements of this universe. Together, they make up a setting that feels alive and dangerous.
Den of Geek has put together a guide to all of the easter eggs and callbacks to other Star Wars stories as well as a who’s who to the new characters, locations, and aliens on the show.
– Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way: the Mandalorian isn’t Boba Fett. As revealed by Pedro Pascal himself, the character’s real name is Dyn Jarren. It sounds like this orphan-turned-bounty hunter is an original creation for the show. Unless Pascal lied. After all, the first episode went through a lot of effort not to reveal Mando’s name…
– Mando’s ship is called the Razor Crest, which apparently hails all the way back to the Clone Wars.
– Mando’s rifle is also a blast from the past: the tuning-fork-shaped weapon is an Amban phase-pulse blaster, which was first used by Boba Fett in The Star Wars Holiday Special.
– We don’t know much about Mando’s past except that he was orphaned at a young age after he lost his parents during a Separatist attack in the Clone Wars. At some point, he was taken in by a Mandalorian clan that is led by a new Mand’alor. We also learn that Dyn is interested in helping other “foundlings” — or orphans — with the beskar steel he was given by his Imperial client.
The first episode suggests that the Mandalorian is a rogue who thrives in the lawlessness of the Outer Rim planets, but he isn’t necessarily a villain. After all, he didn’t pull the trigger on the Baby Yoda he discovered at the end of the premiere. If nothing else, Dyn has a real soft spot for fellow orphans. He chooses to protect them over collecting a few credits.
The Mandalorian is set approximately five years after the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi but before the rise of the First Order in The Force Awakens, somewhat bridging the gap betwen the two trilogies. While this time period was heavily explored in the Legends (old canon) timeline, it remains a bit hazy in the current continuity.
The Rebel Alliance has reorganized itself into the New Republic, operating out of its new capital on the planet Chandrila, the home of Mon Mothma, Rebel leader and first Chancellor of the new galactic government. But while many systems have been freed from the Emperor’s tyranny, a remnant of the Empire still remains outside of the New Republic’s influence, even after the Battle of Jakku.
This means that the faraway planets the Mandalorian frequents are still either under Imperial control, have been left to fend for themselves, or have been plunged into lawlessness after the Battle of Endor.
Mand’alor and the Tribe
– Mando isn’t the only Mandalorian on the show, as revealed about midway through the episode. In fact, there’s a whole Mandalorian tribe operating on whatever planet the bounty hunter calls home. The Mandalorian hideaway marked by the traditional sigil of the mythosaur — a giant sea creature the ancient Mandalorians used to ride around on their home planet — is the base of operations for a number of armored warriors. The group is led by a new Mand’alor, whose identity remains a mystery. Could it Bo-Katan, who accepted the title at the end of Star Wars Rebels? If so, is that Katee Sackhoff under that awesome helmet?! We talked way more about who the Mandalorians are right here.
– The episode doesn’t shy away from referencing Boba Fett. Inside the Mandalorian hideout, you will catch a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse (at 18:31) of a bounty hunter that looks A LOT like the most famous gunslinger in the galaxy. Is this actually Boba Fett? It would be weird to drop such an iconic character into the show in such a matter-of-fact way. This is likely just Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni having fun with fans. And who says Boba Fett is the only bounty hunter with his color palette?
The Mandalorian episode 1 plays its cards close to its chest when it comes to the status of the Empire. Most of the context we have for this time period comes from other parts of the Expanded Universe, namely the books and comics. The Battle of Jakku has already happened by this point, which means that the Empire has been officially defeated, but clearly smaller Imperial cells still remain in the Outer Rim.
As far as the premiere goes, we get a brief glimpse at one Imperial enclave, the mysterious client’s headquarters, which is guarded by grimy and dusty stormtroopers. Werner Herzog wears the Empire’s sigil but it’s unclear if he is in fact an Imperial officer or just a crook with Imperial sensibilities. We’ll likely find out who’s the Imperial in charge of these planets in the coming weeks.
Who Is Kuiil?
One of the show’s more peculiar castings is Nick Nolte as the voice of Kuiil, an Ugnaught who helps the Mandalorian reach his target in the second half of the episode. It was originally rumored that Nolte’s character was from Mandalore, but that turned out to be Bantha poodoo. Kuiil is instead a wise vapor farmer with some good advice for the Mandalorian during his mission.
If this alien looks familiar, it’s because Ugnaughts were originally introduced in The Empire Strikes Back. They’re the grumpy aliens who disassemble C-3PO on Cloud City. Kuiil is pretty grumpy, too.
I have spoken.
IG-11 is a quirky assassin droid prone to self-destruction voiced by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok). If this droid looks familiar, that’s because its from the same series as another assassin droid, IG-88, one of the bounty hunters who appeared in The Empire Strikes Back.
The big cliffhanger of the first episode is a major reveal that introduces what will likely be one of the show’s central mysteries: who is the 50-year-old Baby Yoda, where did it come from, and what does Werner Herzog want with the infant? We broke down this mystery and talked way more about it here.
There are three planets in the premiere episode, which does a good job of checking off the boxes of the usual Star Wars locations seen in the movies. The first one is an ice planet with a cantina, while the second one is a desert planet…with a cantina. And some Imperials and a Mandalorian enclave. This seems to be the main setting of the show. Neither planet is named, but they might as well be called Hoth and Tatooine.
The third planet is called Arvala-7, which is where the Mandalorian finds his target, the aforementioned Baby Yoda. This is also Kuiil’s home.
All of these planets are beyond New Republic control at the moment. The Outer Rim of the galaxy remains lawless or under the control of what’s left of the Empire. It’s in this dangerous environment that the Mandalorian seems to thrive.
– The aliens who pick a fight with the Mandalorian at the cantina on the ice planet include a Quarren, a species first introduced in Return of the Jedi.
– The Mandalorian’s first target is a blue-gilled alien called a Mythrol. This is this species’ first appearance.
– The flute dude who hails a landspeeder for Mando is a Kubaz. This species first appeared in A New Hope. The informant who gives away Luke and the droids’ location on Mos Eisley is a Kubaz.
– Fans of Return of the Jedi‘s Salacious B. Crumb might have a hard time getting through the first episode’s most gruesome scene, which shows how Kowakian monkey-lizards are treated outside of Jabba’s court. The obnoxious creature the Hutt saw as the perfect jester is actually food in other parts of the galaxy. You can see one of these monkey-lizards roasting on a spit, while another awaits his fate in a cage.
– You can see plenty of other recognizable aliens at the criminal outpost on the desert planet, including Rodians, Kyozo, Jawas, Trandoshans, and Twi’leks. There are probably more, too. Shout them out if you spot them!
– Familiar droids at the outpost include a GNK power droid, an astromech, and a gatekeeper droid (like the one from Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi).
– Two creatures appear prominently in the first episode: a Ravinak, the giant monster that attacks the Razor Crest on the ice planet, and a Blurrg, the mount Mando learns to ride on Arvala-7. Blurrgs were first introduced in the movie Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
– Even the Mandalorian has to call an Uber sometimes. He hitches a ride on a landspeeder to get to his ship. It’s driven by Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory).
– The Mythrol makes a reference to Life Day, a holiday celebrated on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. It seems that Wookiees aren’t the only ones who observe this special day.
– The Mandalorian has an easy way to keep uncooperative captives in line: he freezes them in carbonite, which seems to be standard operating procedure for Mandalorian bounty hunters, including Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back.
– Greef Carga (Carl Weathers) is the leader of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild, an institution that’s been around since before The Phantom Menace. Recognizable bounty hunters such as Bossk and Boba Fett were a part of this organization.
– There are several references to beskar steel, an alloy often used to make Mandalorian armor. This metal is so strong that it can deflect a strike from a lightsaber.