What you need to know about Star Wars before watching The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian, which debuts on Disney+ on November 12, 2019, is a new frontier for Star Wars. Not only is it the first live-action Star Wars series, but it’s set in the 30 year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, a time frame that Disney’s spin-offs have barely explored.

Thanks to the destruction of the second Death Star, the death of Emperor Palpatine (assuming he’s really dead, that is), and the triumph of the Rebel Alliance, the galaxy is a very different place during The Mandalorian than what you’ve seen on-screen before. Here’s everything you need to know about the state of the Star Wars Universe before diving into The Mandalorian.

Where and when does The Mandalorian take place?

The Mandalorian is set five years after Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi, which marked the beginning of the end for the Galactic Empire.

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While plenty of familiar characters are alive and kicking during this time period, don’t expect to see most of them pop up on the show. According to the Disney+ series’ official summary, The Mandalorian is set “in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.” That means new worlds to explore, and plenty of new faces to get to know.

What happened to the Empire and the Rebel Alliance?

The Empire didn’t crumble as soon as the second Death Star exploded, although Palpatine’s demise ended up being a fatal blow. A few months after the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance transformed into the New Republic, a new democratic government devoted to bringing peace back to the galaxy. Mon Mothma was elected chancellor of the new Senate, which was headquartered on Chandrila, Mothma’s home world.

The Empire’s remaining forces didn’t give up without a fight, however, and the fledgling republic was forced to split its time between hunting down Imperial holdouts and recruiting new worlds to its cause. Tensions between the Empire and the New Republic came to a head about a year after the Battle of Endor, when the two forces clashed on the planet Jakku. There, the New Republic foiled a plot to destroy Jakku and dealt the Empire a decisive defeat.

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Imperial and New Republic politicians signed a peace treaty called the Galactic Concordance, while a group of Imperial military leaders fled to the Unknown Regions in order to rebuild the Empire. With the Galactic Civil War over and done, Mon Mothma and the senate passed the Military Disarmament Act, cutting the New Republic’s military down to a small peacekeeping force in hopes that diplomacy, not war, would govern the galaxy going forward.

Building a new government takes time, however, and in The Mandalorian the New Republic’s work is just getting started. Worlds on the edge of the galaxy, where The Mandalorian takes place, have yet to join the New Republic. Former Imperials do everything they can to hold on to the last vestiges of their power. It’s a time of transition, and amid the chaos and uncertainty there’s plenty of room for smugglers, bounty hunters, and other criminals to thrive.

What are my favorite characters up to during The Mandalorian?

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Han Solo and Leia Organa have been married for five years. Their son, Ben, is four years old. Leia spends most of her time on Chandrila, where she serves in the senate. C-3PO serves as one of her many aides. Leia’s family history — mainly, that Darth Vader is her father — is not public knowledge.

Han Solo has resigned his military commission and runs his own shipping company, although he still finds time to go on (mostly legal) adventures with his friend, Lando Calrissian, and take part in starship races around the galaxy.

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Luke Skywalker is roaming the galaxy in order to learn more about the Force. With help from R2-D2 and Lor San Tekka, a member of the Church of the Force, Luke hunts down lost pieces of Jedi lore, searches for members of the Jedi who might’ve survived Order 66, and begins dreaming of his own, ill-fated Jedi academy.

Poe Dameron is about eight years old, and lives with his father, former Rebel soldier Kes Dameron, on Yavin IV. Around this time, Poe’s mother, pilot Shara Bey, dies unexpectedly, although her legacy lives on through Poe, who’s already proving himself to be a great pilot.

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Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s former Padawan, has teamed up with Mandalorian Sabine Wren to find Ezra Bridger, who disappeared alongside Grand Admiral Thrawn shortly before the Battle of Yavin. Their current whereabouts are unknown.

Jar Jar Binks has been banished by his people for his role in helping the Empire take power, and makes ends meet as a street performer in Naboo’s capital city, Theed. Children enjoy his antics, but most adults consider him a traitor and refuse to speak to him.

Rey, FN-2187 (also known as “Finn”), and Rose Tico haven’t been born yet.

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