Compared to the bitter arguments that surrounded the December 2019 release of Star Wars: Episode IX—The Rise Of Skywalker, The Mandalorian felt like a port in a storm. Lucasfilm’s first foray into live-action television was popular with both critics and fans, who praised it as a return to the franchise’s roots. In practical terms, that meant embracing the samurai films, Westerns, and adventure serials that inspired George Lucas when he was creating Star Wars. It also meant a return to the (approximate—The Mandalorian picks up five years after the events of Return Of The Jedi) time period of the original trilogy, a setting that allowed the series to incorporate both official canon and winking references to fan lore.
Lucas wasn’t involved with creating the series, although he did drop by to bless the set. Instead, that task fell to Jon Favreau, who assembled a team of writers and directors that included Star Wars: The Clone Wars director Dave Filoni and Marvel’s Christopher Yost as well as Rick Famuyiwa, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Deborah Chow. Making a Star Wars series that everyone likes is a practically impossible achievement in itself, but The Mandalorian also works on multiple levels: You can watch it with a basic knowledge of the major players and get swept up into the adventure, or you can watch it with magnifying glass in hand to catch every Easter egg.
You’ll have to turn to The A.V. Club’s weekly recaps for the latter. But for the former, we’ve rounded up the series’ major characters, a handful of potential returning players, and two fan favorites from the Star Wars universe whose paths will cross with Mando and The Child in season two. This is the way.