2 Ways Baby Yoda foreshadows Rise of Skywalker
Subtle but Distinct Ties to The Mandalorian
To start off Star Wars release week, episode seven of The Mandalorian was broadcast on Wednesday, not Friday. Fans were curious whether this was only so The Mandalorian would get the full fan buzz from diehards, instead of getting lost in the film release…or the more interesting alternative. Was it possible the show would set up a helpful concept, adding much more depth to the film for the fully informed viewer? Were Mandalorian fans set up with better background knowledge that led to fun fa service moments?
First, there’s healing. It felt quite organic to Baby Yoda for him to reach out and heal Mando’s wounds on their first adventure. Episode seven called back to this, as he healed a dying man in a crucial moment and thus turned an enemy into a friend (being vague in case viewers haven’t caught up). However, it may not have occurred to fans that we’ve actually never seen this before. In films and even, for the most part, in the Expanded Universe, Jedi haven’t been shown to have that kind of power. Still, as an extension of a natural ability, which helps others, it does seem to fit. When Rey does this, it likewise feels organic to the moment and logical for the character. However, this is the first time that moviegoers have seen this. Having Baby Yoda do so ties the two stories together by expanding a Jedi’s powers.
A second fascinating tie is seeing the Force choke or lightning from a hero. Neither of these has ever appeared before either. Both stories are experimenting with a different tack than the original trilogy and prequels, which emphasized that characters were either on the light side or the dark. Rey has a troubled arc in the film as she incorporates dark energy and deals with her impulses for evil. She is becoming a new kind of Jedi, one likely more flexible with the legacy of blended good and evil. In fact, her yellow lightsaber nods to Ahsoka and Asajj Ventress, two cartoon characters also poised between the Jedi Council and the Sith. Her choosing this suggests a similar shading, born of flexibility rather than absolutes. Here, Baby Yoda foreshadows Rey, but then Rey sets up more from Baby Yoda. Will he turn evil? Discover he too has a Palpatine legacy? It seems likely he’ll be poised between dark and light.
This brings us to a third link, shown in the Emperor’s cloning vats. Both franchises use lines about how they don’t know who they’re dealing with. This similar language used about Rey and Baby Yoda, suggests that both have Force-sensitive bloodlines far more momentous than anyone knows. Forces of darkness seek both because both are vital to rebuilding the power of the Empire. Is this because the Emperor created them both? The film certainly establishes that the Emperor has been doing something of the sort.
The show has also suggested Baby Yoda has been grown or cloned like Snoke (especially with a scientist wearing a patch of the Kamino cloners)…Did the Emperor make him? Is that why the Imperial forces want him? Like Rey, will he finally reject this destiny, or is the Empire right that he can be a force for evil. For that matter, the Expanded Universe may see Imperial and Sith fanatics seeking her DNA, thanks to its dark origins. Will the pursuit ever end?
Baby Yoda and Mando don’t appear in the film, nor are they mentioned or hinted at (they all visit Tatooine, and that’s as far as it goes). By contrast, Ahsoka and Kanan, the heroes of Clone Wars and Rebels respectively, get voice cameos, aiding Rey in the crucial moment. The shows are canon, and increasingly tied together. However, the link between The Mandalorian and Rise of Skywalker remains compellingly subtle.
Valerie Estelle Frankel is the author of A Rey of Hope: Feminism, Symbolism and Hidden Gems in Star Wars: The Force Awakens; We’re Home: Fandom, Fun, and Hidden Homages in Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Star Wars Meets the Eras of Feminism: Weighing All the Galaxy’s Women Great and Small and many other books on pop culture. https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Estelle-Frankel/e/B004KMCLQK