The Mandalorian Season 1’s Best Easter Eggs, References, and Cameos
One of the latest additions to the ever-expanding Star Wars Universe is the first live-action Star Wars tv series, the Mandalorian. The show, set in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and as you would expect comes with plenty of nods to the larger universe, past movies, and the future of the galaxy far, far away. Here is The Opinion Arcade’s list of The Mandalorian Season 1’s Best Easter Eggs, References, and Cameos.
The Cantina Scene
The Mandalorian starts with its version of one of Star Wars’ most recognisable scenes. In A New Hope, Luke and Obi-Wan meet Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Mos Eisley cantina. The scene famously introduces the Cantina Band, is the series’ first look at several alien species, shows Obi-Wan cut off someone’s arm and leads to the Han and Greedo’s infamous ‘who shot first’ scene. Similar scenes have followed in other Star Wars properties, and The Mandalorian puts it’s own spin on the iconic Star Wars set-piece, with Pedro Pascal’s Mandalorian taking down several Bounty Hunters, and taking their bounty for himself.
One of the most unexpected references in the opening minutes of the Mandalorian is a mention of ‘Life Day’, the Star Wars equivalent of Christmas and Thanksgiving, that featured in the never to be forgotten Star Wars Holiday Special. The made for tv movie, which was released only a year after the original Star Wars: A New Hope focuses on Chewbacca’s family on Kashyyyk and their celebration of Life Day. Although George Lucas has all but purged the Holiday special from Star Wars canon, in the Mandalorian Horatio Sanz’s character, Mythrol, mentions being home for Life Day as Mando captures him.
After The Mandalorian captures Mythrol, the bright blue alien quickly tries to escape while onboard The Mandalorian’s ship The Razor Crest. In his attempt, he discovers a rack of other bounties. Each one of frozen in carbonite just like Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The reference holds an extra level of meaning as it was Boba Fett, the most famous Mandalorian, who helped Darth Vader freeze Han Solo in carbonite, for Jabba the Hutt.
After the Empire
Early on in the first episode, Carl Weathers’ Greef Karga tries to pay The Mandalorian with Imperial credits, which the Mandalorian questions. It’s one of many nods that establishes that the Empire is well and truly over. Another hint at how far the Empire has fallen comes with Werner Herzog’s ‘The Client’, a former Imperial Officer and his squadron of Stormtroopers, all of whom look a little worse for wear.
On his way to collect a mysterious ‘fifty-year-old’ bounty, The Mandalorian comes across some Jawas on a sand-filled planet (that isn’t Tatooine). The small scavenger creatures are the same as those that sold C-3PO and R2-D2 to Luke’s Uncle Owen in A New Hope.
Still thieving junk dealers the Jawa’s eventually strip The Mandalorian’s ship for parts and only agree to give them back if he carries out a mission for them. The deal comes after an incredible action sequence that sees the Mandalorian unsuccessfully attack the Jawa’s iconic Sandcrawler.
Kuiil the Ugnaught
Ugnaught’s, first introduced in The Empire Strikes Back as the workers of Cloud City subsequently appeared in both Clone Wars and Rebels, and play a large part in the Mandalorian. Kuiil saves the Mandalorian in the first episode and goes on to protect ‘the Child’ later in the series.
IG-11 the Bounty Droid
As he approaches his target, the Mandalorian comes across IG-11, a bounty droid that is also a member of the Bounty Hunters Guild. IG-11 is an IG series droid who looks very similar to IG-88 the droid amongst the line up of Bounty Hunters Darth Vader hires in The Empire Strikes Back. IG-11 is voiced by Taika Waititi, who also directed the eighth episode of the series.
The big reveal of The Mandalorian’s first episode is that the ‘fifty-year-old’ bounty he is after, is, in fact, a baby of Yoda’s species. Like Yoda, the baby quickly shows himself to be Force-sensitive and the show shifts to focus on the Mandalorian trying to find a safe place for the baby to grow up. The real-world intrigue comes from the lack of knowledge on Yoda’s species, with only Yoda and the Jedi council member Yadel (who gets a nod in 2019’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order) shown in the movies.
The Gatekeeper Droid
Werner Herzog’s ‘The Client’ and his stormtroopers may be lacking in new equipment, but they do have a security droid in the form of a TT-8L/Y7 gatekeeper droid. The eye-like droids that jump out from doors have featured in numerous Star Wars properties since their debut in Return of the Jedi, and are one of the franchises most unique droids.
In the Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader hired several bounty hunters, like IG-88, and Boba Fett, to track down and capture the Millennium Falcon’s crew. Another of the iconic bounty hunters in the line-up is Bossk.
Like many of those briefly glimpsed bounty hunters, Bossk has since gained some infamy as one of the franchises most interesting and mysterious characters, not unlike Boba Fett himself. A Trandoshian bounty hunter, Bossk returned in Return of the Jedi, and the Clone Wars and Rebels animated shows. Although the most famous Trandoshian doesn’t reappear in The Mandalorian, a group of other Trandoshian bounty hunters attempt to steal Baby Yoda from Mando although none of them survives.
While Darth Vader gives the bounty hunters their mission in Empire, he points to Boba Fett and explicitly tells him that he wants the targets alive and that there can be “no disintegrations”. The line is one of Vader’s most recognisable and teases an intriguing backstory between Vader and Fett.
Although Fett kept to Vader’s rules in Episode V a fondness for disintegrations must be a Mandalorian trait. In the show, the titular Mando unleashes a devastating disintegration gun that completely obliterates its enemies in the show.
The Mud Horn
When the Jawa’s strip the Razor Crest for parts they agree to return them to the Mandalorian once he gets them a Mud Horn egg. The Rhino-like creature resembles the ‘Reek’ from Attack of the Clones, and the resultant confrontation mirrors lots of imagery from Episode II where another Mandalorian, Jango Fett, takes on a similar creature.
Having started the MCU with 2008’s Iron Man (which wasn’t owned by Disney at the time) and also starring in numerous MCU movies as Happy Hogan. As well as directing the remakes of Jungle Book and the Lion King, The Mandalorian’s primary writer and showrunner, Jon Favreau has handled more than his share of Disney properties.
Favreau is also a well known Star Wars fan and voiced Rio Durant in the live-action Han Solo prequel Solo, and Pre Vizsla, the leader of Death Watch, a Mandalorian extremist group in the animated Clone Wars. Favreau returns to a Star Wars role once again by voicing ‘Paz Vizsla’ a heavy Mandalorian trooper who appears in the shows third episode. His backstory is unclear, and the name ‘Paz’ only appears in the credits, but his connection to Pre Vizsla is almost guaranteed.
A Familiar Clone Wars Story
The fourth episode sees the Mandalorian trying to find a safe place for Baby Yoda, and landing on a planet that claims to need his help. The local farming village explains that they are regularly attacked by mercenaries who steal all of their produce, and so the villagers ask the Mandalorian to fight off their attackers. Instead, he and Gina Carano’s Cara Dune decide to teach the villagers to fight their enemy on their own.
The episode plays out almost the same, and pays some visual homages to, the seventeenth episode of The Clone Wars Season 2, “Bounty Hunters”. The animated show’s episode sees Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka teach a village how to fight so they can fight off Hondo Ohnaka’s pirates from stealing their crops.
One of the fourth episode’s many call-backs sees the return of Blue Milk, which was first seen in the original Star Wars movie as a bright blue drink at the Lars Homestead.
Although never actually seen on screen Womp Rats have been mentioned in almost every part of the Star Wars franchise. Introduced by Luke, who claimed to have shot them on Tattooine in his T-16. Womp Rats get another few mentions in the Mandalorian, with Mando himself calling Baby Yoda a Womp Rat in the fourth episode.
Cara, Endor, and Alderaan
Gina Carano’s ‘Carasynthia “Cara” Dune’ debuts in the fourth episode of the series as a former Rebel shock trooper. Throughout the series, it Cara is revealed to have fought alongside Han Solo, Leia Organa and Chewbacca on Endor, during the final battle against the Empire. It also mentioned that Cara was originally from Alderaan, and so could have been a crucial part of Bail Organa’s initial resistance to the Empire.
The Lothal based ‘Loth-Cat’ began as a seemingly random creature in the Star Wars Rebels animated series, but eventually went on to play a significant role by the end of the show. The cats make their live-action debut in The Mandalorian’s fourth episode.
The village that the Mandalorian and Cara help turns out to be under siege by a group of thieving mercenaries who have an AT-ST. The chicken walker is assembled from various parts and has a unique new paint job. The reappearance of an Imperial walker brings with it some familiar imagery. It also gives a smart explanation as to what will have likely happened to much of the former Empire’s technology.
The Mandloarian’s fifth episode is perhaps the most easter egg and reference filled episode of the season, as it sees The Mandalorian head to Tatooine.There he returns to the infamous hive of “scum and villainy” (as Obi-Wan puts it) that is Mos Eisley. As the home to many of the Star Wars franchise’s most iconic moments (like Obi-Wan’s first Jedi Mind trick, the cantina scene, and the introduction of Han Solo) a return to Mos Eisley was almost inevitable. A later nod to Mos Eisley comes when Greef Karga describes Nevarro as getting back to its normal state of “scum and villainy”.
The aptly, albeit rather shamelessly, named DUM droids from The Phantom Menace return as the shows heads to Tatooine, still helping repair ships as we saw them do during the pod race scenes in Episode I.
The Mandalorian’s very first scene was a fresh new take on the famous cantina scene from A New Hope. Although some sort of homage to the scene was expected (with other Star Wars shows and movies doing it plenty of times before), actually visiting ‘the’ original cantina form the first Star Wars movie was a surprise. On Mos Eisley, The Mandalorian heads straight to the Cantina, which is officially called Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina. The Cantina notably has no music at all (whereas the Cantina Band graced the bar decades earlier), and is now run by droids, whereas R2-D2 and C-3PO had been unallowed access out as the original Cantina didn’t serve ‘their kind’. The scene doubles as a great reference and shows off how every corner of the galaxy far, far away has changed after the Empire’s fall.
The Star Wars card game of Sabacc has been mentioned many times over the years, and eventually featured heavily in Solo: A Star Wars Story. There it is revealed to be how Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. On the show, Amy Sedaris’ Peli Motto, who is left to both repair The Razor Crest and look after Baby Yoda, is seen playing a game of Sabacc with her DUM droids.
While on Tatooine the Hutts are mentioned, showing that despite Jabba’s death in Return of the Jedi, the Hutt’s legacy continues and the gang still seemingly holds significant power on the desert planet of Tatooine.
Unlike Jawas, who appear to have spread throughout the Outer Rim, Tusken Raiders are likely native to only Tatooine. The humanoid creatures responsible for attacking Luke Skywalker decades before The Mandalorian, and capturing and killing Shmi Skywalker decades before that, are still present on the sand filed planet.
The Mandalorian’s encounter with the Tusken Raiders is surprisingly peaceful. After seeing them, rather than fighting as we’ve seen in the past, Mando instead used a form of sign language to ask for permission to travel through the area.
“He’s No Good To Me Dead”
Boba Fett is one of the most recognisable and popular characters of the entire Star Wars series. Yet, in the original trilogy, he has a total of five lines of dialogue. One of those is his “he’s no good to me dead”. The line is echoed when The Mandalorian and Jake Cannavale’s Toro Calican are discussing how to capture Ming Na-Wen’s Fennec Shand, Mando notes that “she is no good us dead”.
The High Ground
Obi-Wan’s line to Anakin at the end of Revenge of the Sith warning him not to attack as he had the “high ground” has gone on to become one of Star Wars biggest jokes since its debut. The high ground got a reference in 2019’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and The Mandalorian follows suite. When The Mandalorian and Toro Calican are trying to hunt down Fennec Shand, Mando points out that she won’t give up the “high ground”.
The end of the fifth episode sees The Mandalorian get revenge for Calican’s betrayal, leaving Peli Motto to deal with the body (in a very Han Solo way). She instructs her DUM droids to hide the body in Beggars Canyon, which is another Tattooine landmark mentioned by Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, as he’s preparing for his Death Star run (but after he’d gloated about murdering small creatures).
Comedian Bill Bur stars in the sixth episode of The Mandalorian as Mayfield, a former Imperial sharpshooter. When he first sees The Mandalorian’s ship the Razor Crest, he says it looks like a “Canto Bight slot machine”. Canto Bight is the gambling planet that Finn and Rose visited it in The Last Jedi.
Jar Jar Binks is often cited as one of the worst parts of the prequel trilogy (or at least The Phantom Menace). And so his species, the Gungans, haven’t reappeared too many times since. They do however get an unexpected mention in from Bill Bur’s Mayfield who questions whether the Mandalorian could be a Gungan under his mask, accompanied with a very accurate impersonation.
The Mandalorian’s disagreements with his new team come to a boiling point over the killing of the prison ship’s New Republic guard. The guard is played by Matt Lanter, who voices Anakin Skywalker in the Clone Wars animated series.
Clancy Brown plays Burg, a large devil-like Devaronian, but like Matt Lanter also played a significant role in the Clone Wars and Rebels series. Brown voiced Savage Opress, the brother of Darth Maul in the Clone Wars, and Ryder Azadi in Rebels.
Rogue Ones’ Vader Scene
The closing scenes of The Mandalorian’s sixth episode sees Mando systematically taking out the team that betrayed him. The way he confronts Mayfield shows him slowly approaching as the lights alternate between a dark red and t black, all while he slowly approaches his target. The homage to Vader’s scene at the end of Rogue One is clear, even if it isn’t anywhere near as brutal.
The X-Wing Director Cameos
After dealing with the team behind his betrayal, The Mandalorian goes for Mark Boone Junior’s Ranzar “Ran” Malk, who was behind the plan. He does so by using a New Republic homing beacon that brings three X-Wings to the outlaw’s hideout. The X-Wings are piloted by three of the show’s directors, Dave Filoni as Trapper Wolf, Rick Famuyiwa as Jib Dodger, and Deborah Chow as Sash Ketter.
One of The Mandalorian’s biggest twists is that it ultimately turned out to be a show where the seemingly ruthless bounty hunter just wants to protect a baby. That shocking reveal goes a step even further when Baby Yoda reveals his force powers.
Early in the story, Baby Yoda tried to help an injured Mando, but it didn’t seem like anything other than a cute moment. In the shows penultimate episode Baby Yoda uses the Force to heal one of Greef Karga’s injuries. Baby Yoda’s force heal marks the live-action debut of the power, interestingly something which plays a crucial part in The Rise of Skywalker, a film released only a few days after the Mandalorian’s seventh episode.
The Night of One Thousand Tears
The final episode of the season brings with it plenty of reveals, from The Mandolorian’s real name to more details on why the warrior race is in hiding. Throughout the show “the Mandalorian Purge” is referenced many times. Although the Mandalorian history that the show presents perhaps doesn’t line up with what we know already, it e the Mandalorian’s first season.
The Night of One Thousand Tears appears to be the event in which the Empire massacred the Mandalorians, and why they have been in hiding ever since. Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon was assigned to Mandalore at the time, which shows how he knows so much about the race.
The Mandalorian Explained
Along with revealing that his real name is Din Djarin, a flashback to his youth, shown towards the end of the season, reveals that his village was attacked by Clone Wars era Separatist Super Battle Droids. A group of Mandalorians then saves him. Unless this was Deathwatch, which based on the colours it could be, (the only known faction of Mandalorian fighters during the Clone Wars), this again appears to counter what we know about Mandalore’s role in the era but is likely to be explained more as the show continues.
Since swearing allegiance to the Mandalorian creed, each warrior is to never take off their helmet in front of any other living being, even other Mandalorians. This leads to what looks like a very lonely life for the hunters, but Din Djarin manages to utilise a loophole when IG-88 saves him, with the droid claiming that he isn’t living, so it doesn’t matter if the droid sees his face.
One of the things that make Boba Fett so iconic is his jetpack, which gets a few nods in the show. The first is when The Mandalorian notes he doesn’t have is own, but others do. The final episode sees him finally acquire one, where he uses it to devastating effect against Moff Gideon’s Tie Fighter.
The History of Mandalore and the Jedi
In the final episode, The Armorer explains to The Mandalorian that his new mission is to protect and raise Baby Yoda until he can reunite him with his people. She explains that Force-sensitive beings were once at war with The Mandalorians, referring to the long history of conflict between Mandalore and the Jedi.
The final reveal of the season is that Moff Gideon survived his Tie Fighter crash, and wields the Darksaber. According to an explanation from Star Wars Rebels the Darksaber was created over a thousand years earlier by Tarre Vizla (presumably an ancestor or Pre and Paz), who was the first Mandalorian to become a Jedi. The saber went on to become a symbol for Mandalore, and will likely be a sore point for any surviving Mandalorians who find out a former Imperial has it.