Grab your Grogu, because the Season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian will be making its Disney+ landing on March 1. Star Wars fans have been through quite a lot since Din Djarin bid farewell to the Child at the end of the Mandalorian's last season. We returned to Tatooine for a passage from The Book of Boba Fett, traveled backwards in time to the exile of Obi-Wan Kenobi, witnessed the dawning of the Rebel Alliance in Andor, and followed the Bad Batch into the first year of the Imperial Regime. Temporally, getting back to where we started the Disney+ era of Star Wars storytelling can be disorienting to say the least.
But that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. The fact that Star Wars began with its 'fourth episode' in 1977 should tell you a lot about the nature of Star Wars. One of the of the franchise’s most powerful signatures is the nonlinearity of its installments, and how each new story could potentially take place on an unexplored section of an always developing timeline extending thousands of years from before the twin suns of Tatooine ever set on Luke Skywalker, to long after his name has passed into legend. Each story informing the others, backwards and forwards in time, through new light exposing added context.
So, let’s help you get your ship legs back. Everything which has occurred thus far in The Mandalorian has taken place in what we refer to out of fiction as '9 ABY' – nine years After the Battle of Yavin, an allusion to the climactic events of the original Star Wars film. The original Star Wars film trilogy takes place over 4 years, so our 'home base' for The Mandalorian and all associated projects is set five years after Return of the Jedi. Looking forward, that’s 25 years before the events of The Force Awakens.
What you may have missed after The Mandalorian Season 2...
If you’re concerned you may be missing some context going straight from Season 2 to Season 3 of the show, well… the good news is that everything you need is on Disney+. No need to check out any novels or comics or audio dramas set during this time period. There have been junior novelizations, a graphic novel, and even a manga based on the show, but all of these are adaptive material. You won’t find much in the way of new Mandalorian story there even as the most dedicated completionist.
We will warn you that if you go straight from Season 2 into Season 3, you’ll probably be asking yourself a lot of questions. Questions like, 'Didn’t the last season end with Mando giving Grogu up to Luke? How are they back together again?' And, 'What did he do to tick off his clan so bad that he’s going on this redemption pilgrimage back to Mandalore?'
In this case, we have an easy prescription for what ails you: The Book of Boba Fett. Although it bears a separate title, this show essentially serves as Season 2.5 of The Mandalorian, dedicating much of the back half of its run to checking in on Din Djarin’s post-Grogu routine, the consequences of his journey to reunite the Child with the Jedi, and whatever happened to that neat Darksaber after he took it from Moff Gideon.
If you’re solely concerned with Mando, and couldn’t care less about a crusty old clone who got knocked into a Sarlaac pit by a blind Han Solo, skip right to Chapter 5 of 7, 'Return of The Mandalorian,' to get all the essential beats. See? They even titled it for you so you can’t miss it.
Additional context on the Mandalorian season 3
A pretty big update has just dropped with Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau announcing on a podcast that, while Grogu training with Luke Skywalker might have felt like a very short part of the Boba Fett story, Grogu actually trained with Skywalker for two years. This stretches out the timeline between Mandalorian season 2 and 3 quite a bit and stretches out the timelines that the series covers to several years.
That’s all you need to know, but with each passing season Mandalorian culture, history, and tradition become more integral to understanding the motivations of Djarin and his people. Star Wars has a long, rich history of Mandalorian lore which has practically become a sub-fandom of itself over the years. But most of the important details you need to understand the backstory of what Mandalorian tradition represents and what has befallen their people takes place in two animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.
To cut right to the relevant stuff, Disney+ has a handy collection in its Star Wars section of “Mandalorian Culture” episodes which will fill you in on the divisive factions of Mandalore, the origin and significance of the Darksaber, and the lineage of Bo-Katan Kryze, introduced from animation to live action in Season 2 as played by Katee Sackhoff. But if 11 seasons of animated Star Wars is too much for you to handle, we do have another, even more radical proposal. Try not to be scared. I promise it’ll be okay.
Embrace the ambiguity of the Mandalorian season 3
If we can share one piece of advice above all others, though, the one thing Star Wars has in common with diverse mega-franchises like Marvel and DC Comics, which have been ongoing through a multitude of media and creators for generations is this: you don’t NEED to know everything. The joy of Star Wars is the curiosity it invokes, and the holes it invites you to fill in.
It all goes back to that first cantina scene in Star Wars, where Luke looks around to see a collection of scum and villainy each with a story that for all he knows may be as unique and intriguing as his own. This is a franchise which threw us into Episode 4, in the middle of a space battle, with veiled allusions to clones and Darths and "a more civilized age" that had no problem letting us puzzle it out for ourselves with our collectible Kenner action figures. Having the questions is part of the fun! Many times, some other Star Wars story will have the answer – but, just as often, it doesn’t. There is no correct order to experience Star Wars. This is not The Way. As it’s been taking The Mandalorian himself three seasons, and half a season of an entirely different show to learn, in the Star Wars Galaxy the only way forward is to make your own path.
Dive deeper into the time periods of a galaxy far, far away with our Star Wars timeline guide.