‘The Mandalorian’: Why that final scene is a huge twist

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This article contains significant spoilers about the first episode of “The Mandalorian.” If you wish to preserve the surprises from the premiere of the new Disney+ series, then scram.

“The Mandalorian” seemed like a story about the indiscriminate murder and capture of perceived criminals. That’s the work of a bounty hunter, after all.

But in the final moment of the first episode, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) doesn’t kill his mark. That twist has the potential to shift the entire course of the Star Wars franchise.

In the show, the Mandalorian’s target is a shocking reveal: a baby of Yoda’s species. The Mandalorian preserves the child’s life by killing another bounty hunter (a bounty-hunting droid, to be particular). The reveal that there is a baby Yoda could be massively important to the Star Wars franchise. Let’s dive into why the entrance of this kid is so huge.

George Lucas has long been cagey about the details about Yoda’s species — so cagey that we don’t even know what that group of aliens is called. That’s why Star Wars fans are calling this a “Yoda baby” even though it’s unclear if it is, indeed, Yoda’s baby. It could be. We only know of two beings of Yoda’s race: Yoda and his wife Yaddle (who gets just 17 seconds of screen time in the movies). Perhaps they reproduce sexually, and we’re looking at their child. (The gender-reveal party, it seems we missed.) Perhaps they reproduce asexually. Perhaps this is a reincarnation of Yoda, like a Phoenix that rises from the ashes of a past life.

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We now know that there are more Yoda-like beings in the universe beyond Yoda and Yaddle, even if it’s just this one baby, which is actually 50-years-old. And we know that that species didn’t become extinct when Yoda passed away in “Return of the Jedi.” A fun question that looms: Is this Yoda baby force powerful? How soon until we see it with a light saber?

He has no name — he’s just “The Mandalorian.” He has no face — Mandalorians don’t seem to take off their helmets. He may have no living family — at least, that’s what the episode’s lone flashback teased. There’s not much we know about him, except that he’s the best bounty hunter in the parsec. He reminds me of Tom Hardy’s “Mad Max” with a quiet and survivalist competence and, perhaps, a soft side.

The Mandalorian’s personality begins to emerge through the episode, despite his particularly steely disposition while dealing with a talkative Mythrol, who looks like a member of the Blue Man Group with gills. But the Mandalorian’s humanity — or his Madalorianity (?) — shows in the brief moments after he meets the baby. He blasts the bounty-hunting droid in the head to save the life of the child. And then the Mandalorian reaches out to touch the baby’s finger.

The episode ends with their fingers suspended (but not touching), much like “The Creation of Adam” in the Sistine Chapel. Does that mean this baby Yoda should draw a holy comparison? And does that also mean the Mandalorian is reborn? That question gets us to our next point.

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No one valued bounty hunters quite like The Empire. Because Emperor Palpatine’s deep pockets are empty, the work for bounty hunters has disappeared. Even the most talented people in the profession are apparently having income issues. The Mandalorian reminds Greef, apparently a bounty-hunting assignment coordinator, that a target’s reward isn’t even worth the cost of gas. As its a dying profession, perhaps the Mandalorian is ready for a new gig as the protector of the Yoda Jr.

The Mandalorian could grow attached to young Yoda. Rumors teased the show would be about The Mandalorian’s relationship with a baby (which makes way more sense now than it did then). This may be a story of a former bounty hunter — and not an episodic look at bounty hunting.

That said, the Mandalorian is desperate for cash. He may have saved the baby’s life, not because of morality, but because The Client (an unnamed character played by Werner Herzog) said he’d pay more for the Yoda baby, if it was alive. But it seems likely that, at some point, the Mandalorian will assume a role as the baby’s protector.

The Yoda baby may make an appearance in “The Rise of the Skywalker.” One fan suggested a theory that Emperor Palpatine, who seems to be making some kind of comeback in the upcoming movie (as shown in a trailer), could be interested in researching how and why Yoda’s species can live to roughly 900 years old and why they age on a different timeline. The Emperor is presumed dead in “Return of the Jedi,” but his cackling laughter  in “The Rise of the Skywalker” teaser hints that he is somehow alive, whether in the flesh or as a force being. Perhaps there’s a connection between The Emperor and The Client, who was working with a doctor in Imperial garb and a handful of Storm Troopers. And perhaps Yoda Jr. is the answer to how The Emperor has lived so long.

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There’s also a chance that the Yoda baby, perhaps aged into being a teenager, could appear in the final installment of the Star Wars saga. And if it does not, there is another trilogy in the works, directed by Rian Johnson. Because the child of Yoda’s species has the potential to live as long as Yoda, it could have a few roles to play in the upcoming pieces of Star Wars cannon.

Whatever happens, baby Yoda seems to have far reaching implications beyond just “The Mandalorian” show, and into the broader Star Wars universe.

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