Sorry, That’s Not Baby Yoda
Considering the Baby of The Mandalorian
One photo from the newly released The Mandalorian has been speeding around Facebook faster than… well… Yoda’s lightsabering in Episode II: Attack of the Clones (Remember that? Many called it the only good moment in two hours of entitled man-child Anakin’s drippy love dialogue and Padme’s spectacular outfits overshadowing her complete lack of character. As I said at the time, millions on special effects and not a penny on script. But I digress…)
Anyway, really sorry to break it to everyone, but that’s NOT Baby Yoda. Yoda died about five years previous, in Return of the Jedi, remember? (Um, belated spoilers, but c’mon.) The baby is ironically older than Luke but still mostly unformed. This concept of a baby Yoda-creature is of course provoking additional commentary and questions:
1. Okay it’s not Yoda. But what if he resurrected himself? Well, that’s a nice thought but not exactly seen in canon. In a universe in which the Emperor and Vader extend their lives through the Dark Side, and Yoda lived peacefully with nature and finally accepted the death awaiting him, it’s HIGHLY unlikely he would decide returning for a second round was the ethical choice. Several fantasy series tackling this question have the sage realize he would need to displace a baby’s soul, which is an evil and selfish act. Yoda’s wisdom extends to understanding life should end. More practically, of course, Yoda is still dead. His Force ghost shows up to criticize Luke playfully in Last Jedi. So there we have it.
2. Most likely is that he is another member of Yoda’s species. Their name is unknown, despite a very thorough world with decades of novels and three cartoon series with extensive world-building and nonfiction (heck, an official Star Wars encyclopedia actually filed it under “Yoda’s species.”). One other member has been seen—a wordless female on the Jedi Council in Phantom Menace, vanished by Episode II. Of course, the Expanded Universe of books offers a little more. Yaddle’s Tale: The One Below from the comic Star Wars Tales #5 has young Yaddle accompanying her master to liberate a planet. Upon his death, she is sealed in a pit for over 100 years, becoming a local legend called “the one below.” However, she finally escapes and defends the local people from tyranny. In the young readers novel Jedi Quest: The Shadow Trap by Jude Watson (2003), she teams up with Anakin and Obi-Wan. She’s a wise, balanced master who particularly loves mentoring children. She also fights with Yoda’s lightsaber skill. She speaks and gestures like Yoda too, with a similar personality, since none was apparent in the film for writers to build on. She heroically sacrifices herself in the novel, supporting her absence from the other films.
In that case…
3. Will Yoda junior grow up like the senior version? Yaddle’s personality suggests he will speak like the great sage, and likely lightsaber-battle like him (though Jedi training is pretty much gone from the galaxy at this point, forcing young force-gifted kids to find alternate paths). But are these talents built into the species? What about the speech patterns? Are they characteristic of all the little green people or only those brought up in a particular region or culture? We don’t know. Are they especially likely to be Force-sensitives (usually a rarity in each species and we the audience have only seen Jedi Masters)? By episode two of The Mandalorian, Baby Y was using the Force, in an impressive display that immediately tuckered him out. 3/3 people is hardly a representative sample, but it’s quite possible his people are especially connected with the universe. Further, this offers a motivation for why there’s a high bounty on the kid.
4. Who wants the baby and why? If our hero were bringing him to loving parents or concerned Jedi, killing the baby wouldn’t be an option. It’s more likely it’s for someone on the Dark Side who views him as a rival, or a politician who doesn’t want Jedi around.
Only one thing is assured: With the arrival of a third little green guy in canon, hope has indeed returned to the galaxy.