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A Baby in ‘The Mandalorian,’ There Is

Showrunner Jon Favreau promised an event that would have ‘Star Wars’ universe–spanning implications. He was not lying.

Disney/Ringer illustration
Spoiler warning

The Mandalorian premiere is here—assuming you aren’t having technical difficulties with the Disney+ interface—and with it the curtain has finally lifted on the first, über-mysterious live-action Star Wars series. All we really knew prior to Tuesday was that Pedro Pascal’s title character was a Mandalorian, like the franchise’s bounty hunter icon Boba Fett, and that the first episode would contain a “dramatic spoiler” for the larger universe. (Also, that the show’s casting director was apparently trapped in the 1980s, since the supporting cast includes Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, and Nick Nolte.)

Well, now that the first episode’s out of the way, we can confirm: That Mandalorian kicks serious ass, and that “dramatic spoiler” was, indeed, dramatic and completely out of left field. This is your last chance to avoid this “dramatic” reveal—if you keep reading and then complain to me about spoilers on Twitter, I’m going to freeze you in carbonite.

When our Mandalorian is hired by a mysterious client known only as “The Client” (played by Herzog), a man who clearly had ties to the now-fallen Galactic Empire, he’s told to capture a 50-year-old asset—and he’ll receive a higher payday if it’s returned alive. The mysterious asset is in a compound on a desert planet surrounded by dozens of guards, and the Mandalorian’s hopes of a sneak attack are disrupted by the arrival of an unsubtle bounty droid, IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi), who instigates a giant shootout. Ultimately, the two bounty hunters take out all the guards at the compound, after which the Mandalorian uses his tracking fob to discover the asset is in a space cradle (?).

And that’s because this assignment was to hunt down a baby Yoda—and yes, no surprise, it’s really fucking adorable:

Screenshot via Disney+

IG-11 was about to kill this baby Yoda; thankfully, the Mandalorian felt differently, and terminated the droid instead of the little green guy. Earlier in the premiere, we see through flashbacks that the Mandalorian was, himself, a foundling—the result of some kind of harrowing attack on his home world. We can infer that seeing a lonely little Yoda infant has coaxed some humanity out of this bounty hunter, complicating matters and definitely putting the two of them in serious danger with the same folks who hired him. Double-cross Space Werner Herzog at your own peril!

Now, this does track from the early rumors about The Mandalorian, which posited that the show was going to focus on the relationship between a bounty hunter and a baby. It seemed almost too weird to be true, but then again, this is Star Wars—and the franchise’s first live-action TV series just casually tossed a baby Yoda grenade. When showrunner Jon Favreau promised he was going to dive into the “darker, freakier” side of the Star Wars universe, this isn’t quite what I had in mind.

Granted, this isn’t actually Yoda—it’s just that we don’t even know the name of Yoda’s species, so baby Yoda’s a helpful shorthand. And because we know Yoda lived for hundreds of years, it makes sense that a baby of the species could be 50 years old—comparatively, that’s not a long time when one can live for 800-plus years. How, exactly, baby Yoda came to be is its own mysterious proposition. We don’t know how many members of Yoda’s species exist—the only other confirmed member in the Star Wars canon was Yaddle, a female member of the Jedi Council—or how they even procreate. Did Yoda use Space Tinder when he was exiled on Dagobah and father a tiny green child? Is Yoda actually reincarnating himself like a viridescent Dalai Lama? Don’t make me go full Pepe Silvia over a tiny green baby!

More answers to the baby Yoda mystery will probably come in time—related: The second episode of The Mandalorian drops on Friday—but it makes sense that this is a child of import. If the rest of Yoda’s strange, possibly near-extinct species bear similar abilities to the Jedi master himself, this baby is probably extremely Force-sensitive. Putting baby Yoda in the wrong hands—like the remnants of the Empire, or the nascent First Order, depending on where this series takes us—could have serious consequences for the entire galaxy. The Galactic Brain take is that this character will somehow tie into future Star Wars movies—be it The Rise of Skywalker in December, or whatever Rian Johnson’s got brewing for his stand-alone trilogy—because it’s hard to imagine a baby Yoda not being super important to Jedi kind once he’s past that angsty teen “I just want to make dank TikTok memes” phase at, just spitballing, age 150.

In the meantime, though, baby Yoda’s hitched a ride with our Mandalorian, and I can’t wait to see how this odd couple bonds. Is the Mandalorian’s toughest assignment going to be his first diaper change? Good preschools are so competitive these days. Is he going to get baby Yoda on a short list in the Outer Rim? Is he going to create a baby Yoda Instagram for some serious space clout? If this season doesn’t end with the Mandalorian hearing baby Yoda’s first words—“Baby food, I must have!”—I’ll call for a Disney+ boycott.

The Mandalorian had our curiosity, but with baby Yoda, Space Herzog, Space Weathers, Space Nolte, and a host of new creatures and locales, it’s officially got our attention.