The Mandalorian has introduced ships from the Star Wars sequels, connecting the modern movies to the original trilogy era. Taking place in a relatively unexplored area of Disney's Star Wars canon, The Mandalorian is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between the various eras of the franchise. The story takes place 5 years after Return of the Jedi and 25 years prior to the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and is therefore considered a part of the original trilogy era, set within the aftermath of the Empire's destruction but before peace and order in the galaxy had been (temporarily) restored.
In the first half of its debut season, The Mandalorian has featured a wide variety of references and nods to the Star Wars movies, and is starting to act as somewhat of a connecting thread that strings together the entire Star Wars fictional history. Flashback sequences have alluded to the prequel movies with appearances of Battle Droids and CIS gunships, but The Mandalorian has also answered queries that have been present since the 1970s and 1980s, revealing the use of the infamous ice cream maker prop and diving into the culture of Jawas. Most of the Easter eggs featured so far in The Mandalorian have harked back to the past, but now the series is beginning to show how the galaxy moves towards the sequel era.
The best example of this comes when Mando lands back at his guild HQ to drop Baby Yoda off with Werner Herzog's enigmatic "Client." After parking his ship, a number of other vehicles can be seen in the background, including a Quadjumper. Named after its four rear turbines, this cargo-hauling ship is first introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens when Finn and Rey are running from First Order TIE fighters on Jakku. The thrown-together duo desperately search for a ship they can escape in and make a bee-line for a nearby Quadjumper. Unfortunately, the First Order get there first and blow the ship up, forcing Rey and Finn towards the Millennium Falcon instead.
A background Quadjumper is not the only connection between The Mandalorian and the Star Wars sequel movies in "The Sin," as Greef Karga also makes reference to the New Republic - the system of democratic governance that replaced the Empire but was soon undermined by the appearance of the First Order.
On a basic level, these sequel trilogy inclusions serve to fill-in the gaps between the original and contemporary Star Wars movies. With 30 years between them (both in-narrative and in real life), the adventures of Rey, Poe and Finn can sometimes feel distanced from those of Luke, Leia and Han, even with the latter three all reprising their famous roles, and this is partly because so much of the sequels' world feels fresh and new. The Mandalorian helps demonstrate a more gradual progression between eras, offering details such as when Quadjumpers first started appearing and when citizens began hearing of (and being skeptical of) the New Republic.
However, these references perhaps also hint towards the ramping up of one of The Mandalorian's big early mission statements: to help chart the rise of the First Order. Prior to its Disney+ premiere, Jon Favreau (creator and showrunner) and Dave Filoni (director) explained that The Mandalorian would help explain the circumstances that led to the First Order coming to power. So far, that promise has gone unfulfilled, but the growing prominence of references to the Star Wars sequels suggests that The Mandalorian will begin looking towards the future sooner rather than later.
The Mandalorian continues November 29th on Disney+.