Friends, it’s time once again to talk about the only living being worth risking your life for in a fire (or Death Star explosion): Baby Yoda.
When we last convened, Baby Yoda was a mostly motionless blob, slurping frogs and levitating space beasts from the comfort of his space bassinet. But the past few weeks have shown more of our little green buddy’s versatility. He’s managed to survive some invasive medical testing and a shoot-out, played with a band of appropriately aged children in a remote village, and … has been carried around for a while by Amy Sedaris (look, progress is incremental). And outside the world of The Mandalorian, in what I’m dubbing the Greater Baby Yoda Universe, he’s grown from Cute Small Alien to Cute Small Alien Who’s Also a Meme.
Sometimes, he messes with dials so that Mando can experience some Phil Collins. Other times, Baby Yoda serves as the Kermit the Frog market correction, proving once and for all he’s the dominant cup-holding green puppet.
Feel it coming in the air tonight I can. pic.twitter.com/k3qwrFQ6s6— Baby Yoda (@BabyYodaBaby) December 5, 2019
But something else has changed as The Mandalorian’s adventures with Baby Yoda have progressed. Baby Yoda isn’t just a novelty anymore; he’s a real character. What began as a muppet with powers conceived to sell toys is now a muppet with powers conceived to sell toys with motivation and feelings that I care about so strongly it frightens me to my core. As we’ve previously explored, Baby Yoda’s absence from the final Skywalker trilogy, and his placement on the Star Wars timeline in between the end of the Empire and the rise of the First Order puts his future in some doubt. Baby Yoda would be about 76 years old during The Rise of Skywalker, and assuming he makes it through The Mandalorian alive and well, his place in the Star Wars universe is still unknown. And even though a crossover feels like a long shot, there’s still one movie left to go. So as we prepare for the final chapter of the Skywalker saga, here are some odds on the likelihood of whether, and how, Baby Yoda will appear in the film.
Baby Yoda was training to be a Jedi (+2000).
In The Last Jedi, Kylo and Luke piece together the story of how Ben Solo became Kylo Ren through flashbacks. Neither narrator is trustworthy, but eventually Rey learns how Ben, fearing for his life, unleashed his power and collapsed the Jedi temple in which he once trained.
Jedi training starts at a young age, and as Luke looked to rebuild the Jedi order, he likely searched far and wide for Force-sensitive youth across the galaxy. Baby Yoda has already shown his abilities with the Force. After traveling from planet to planet with Mando, maybe he joined Luke’s academy—what better place to hide from bounty hunters than in a wizard-knight monastery—and began his path to Jedi knighthood. (There’s some nice symmetry here as well, as Luke, once taught by Yoda, would have hypothetically gone on to teach Baby Yoda.) In this scenario, when Kylo tore down the temple, Baby Yoda was originally thought to be dead, but actually snuck away and went into hiding. Skilled, he is, but not ready to take on the First Order.
Baby Yoda will make a cameo (-110).
If there’s one thing Disney is good at, it’s making money. Disney+ was a smashing success right out of the gate. It landed more than 10 million subscribers on its first day, and three of the four Disney Star Wars films (sorry, Solo) made at least $500 million domestically. Kathleen Kennedy and Co. surely know what they have on their hands, and, as seen with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, aren’t afraid to use one property to prop up another.
Baby Yoda’s charm drives people to join Disney+ and watch The Mandalorian, which in turn gets them excited to see Rise of Skywalker, which makes them crave more Star Wars, which makes them watch the next Star Wars installments. Putting Baby Yoda (and Mando, I guess) in the back of a cantina as an Easter egg is easy to do, and would help business more than any of the resulting anti-fan-service think pieces would hurt it.
Baby Yoda is a Sith Lord (+4500).
There’s a theory surrounding the prequel trilogy that suggests that noted Gungan and absolutely infuriating addition to the Star Wars universe, Jar Jar Binks, was secretly a master of the Force and the true ruler of the Dark Side. The story goes that Jar Jar was nimble, always in the right place at the right time to advance the Sith’s plot to control the galaxy, and had the ability to use mind control. By this logic, some posited, there was a chance that Binks was truly the brain behind both the Sith and the First Order. With Supreme Leader Snoke’s origins cloaked in mystery, people searched for answers, and Jar Jar filled that void valiantly.
Of course, we now know the Darth Jar Jar theory couldn’t be farther from the truth. But maybe people were on to something. It’s with great pride that I present the Darth Baby Yoda Theory. After the Empire fell, the galaxy was in anarchy. As the New Republic fizzled, the First Order rose, climbing to power behind Supreme Leader Snoke, his apprentice Kylo Ren, and an army that rivaled the Empire’s. On the surface, it doesn’t seem much more complicated than that. But read between the lines, sheeple. Kylo cut down Snoke with ease. You’re telling me a master of the Force wouldn’t be able to sense that betrayal? Hogwash. Snoke was a pawn. The First Order’s defeat at the Starkiller Base was a false flag, as was the destruction of the throne room. Kylo may want to break the wheel and begin again, and marketing for Rise of Skywalker suggests Emperor Palpatine returns for the ninth installment. But the trailers are just red herrings. Baby Yoda is here, and he will ruin your life.
So here’s how this’ll play out: Kylo and Rey will have their supposed ultimate fight to determine the fate of the galaxy. As Rey is about to strike Kylo down, Palpatine’s laugh will echo from the heavens. Our heroes turn, and face the origin of the sound, only to be greeted with Baby Yoda, smiling maniacally. Forget Vader, or the Emperor, or anything you once thought you knew about Star Wars. Baby Yoda is the one true evil. (Just to be clear: I don’t believe any of this and already regret casting my child in such a negative light.)
Baby Yoda is a member of the Resistance (+800).
If we’re to assume Yoda species’ physical growth happens linearly, based on how small Baby Yoda is at age 50, it’s a safe bet he’ll still be diminutive as a septuagenarian. Still, as his famous elder once taught us, we should avoid judging him by his size. Baby Yoda has proved to be strong with the Force, and armed with the ability to do nothing else, would still be a valuable ally to the Resistance.
Our heroes were trapped in a dead-end cave before Rey used the Force to make a path for their escape. Impressive, sure, but Rey was a full-grown adult with at least minor tutelage from a Jedi master. Baby Yoda hung out in a floating crib and then decided to make a grizzly bear–sized space monster hover before speaking his first word. If the Force “awakened” when Rey first realized she had special abilities, Baby Yoda’s strength as a toddler must’ve sent shock waves through it. Footage from the new film is scarce, but early snippets show the Resistance heroes fighting Stormtroopers on a desert planet. Maybe Baby Yoda is there waiting for them, ready to join the cause.
Baby Yoda isn’t in the movie (-300).
Fix this, J.J.