Warning: There are mild spoilers ahead for The Mandalorian.
In the grand scheme of Star Wars, the timeline of The Mandalorian is so much more than “a long time ago.” The Disney+ series is laying its scene in a time period that is relatively new to fans of the films. While you can sort of tell that The Mandalorian is taking place near the events of the original trilogy due to the run-down aesthetic, don’t get cocky. There are some specifics to anchor Jon Favreau’s new series in Star Wars time.
Simply put, The Mandalorian takes place between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. This era is called the “New Republic” era in Star Wars lore. So, timeline-wise, that means after Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader have been defeated by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the gang, but before the rise of Supreme Leader Snoke (Anthony Serkis) and the First Order.
The galaxy is still figuring out how to carry on after the fall of the Galactic Empire, especially in the seedy world of criminals and mercenaries in which the titular Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) operates. While democracy and the Senate has been restored, it doesn’t seem like all of the laws and ordinances have rolled out to every corner of the Outer Rim yet. The titular Mandalorian, for example, refuses to be paid in Imperial Credits now that the Empire is gone, but others seem perfectly eager to spend that coin. The Emperor’s Stormtroopers are also not really prowling the streets anymore… and yet the Mandalorian’s client (Werner Herzog) has a posse of Stormtroopers acting as his personal guards. Have the former Imperial soldiers taken up work in private security? The hustle is on in The Mandalorian.
Think of it like the Reconstruction era after the Civil War in American history. That fits The Mandalorian’s Western themes, as well. Cowboys and lone gunslingers ruled the Wide West in a similar period of political unrest and uncertainty as the divided country put itself back together. There’s also a bit of a Cold War vibe, especially when it comes to Dr. Pershing (Omid Abahti), who seems to be more enthusiastic about science than who he works for — like the “apolitical” former Nazis who were hired by the US Government to help win the Space Race.
There are two other bits of information dropped in the first two episodes of The Mandalorian that provide information about the timeline. First, the Armorer (Emily Swallow) who fits the Mandalorian with a new shoulder piece notes that the beskar metal stamped with the Galactic Empire’s insignia was seized during “The Great Purge.” If you remember Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), then soon-to-become Darth Vader, systematically wiped out the Jedi order, purging the light side from the galaxy. It's possible that's what “The Great Purge” is referring to on The Mandalorian. That was approximately 30 years ago, in the timeline of the series.
The other clue is the age of the Asset or, as the title of episode 2 refers to him, “The Child.” While the tiny Yoda-like creature toddles and coos like a baby, the Mandalorian is told that he is 50 years old. Bounty droid IG-11 (Taika Waititi) comments that maybe they just have long life expectancies — which was certainly true for the OG Yoda, who died at 900 years old about five years prior to the events of the series. Interestingly enough, Anakin Skywalker was born on Tatooine 50 years prior to The Mandalorian. If that’s not
bantha theory fodder, what is?
Somewhere else in the galaxy, Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) have just given birth to their son Ben, who will become Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and Luke is starting a new Jedi academy. It’s nice to know that they’re all out there, but they probably won’t show up on The Mandalorian, or even be mentioned by the characters in this series.
Remember, even though The Force Awakens takes place less than two decades later, Rey (Daisy Ridley) grew up thinking that Luke Skywalker was a myth. News doesn’t travel fast in the Star Wars universe, and the uneasy time period in which The Mandalorian takes place is really using that to its advantage.
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