The first episode of the highly anticipated Star Wars live-action series The Mandalorian debuted on Disney's new streaming service, Disney+, late Monday night, and its surprising ending has the potential to open up a previously unexplored area of Star Wars lore.
Spoilers for the first episode of The Mandalorian follow, and we strongly encourage you to watch it before reading. Proceed at your own risk!
In the pilot, which runs at a brisk 40 minutes, the show's masked leading man, known only as The Mandalorian (Game of Thrones' Pedro Pascal), is a talented bounty hunter dispatched by the mysterious Client (Werner Herzog), a man who clearly has ties to the Galactic Empire given his Stormtrooper guard, to retrieve a secretive and potentially dangerous package -- one that isn't tracked the usual way. Instead of the typical bounty information, the Mandalorian is given just a tracker and an age range: 50 years old. What Mando finds at the end of the episode -- after a shootout involving a number of adversaries in which he is assisted by a bounty droid known as IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi) -- is a small cradle-like container, and inside what looks to be a baby Yoda.
Mando is confused at first because he was told the asset was 50 years old. But IG-11 reminds him that species age differently before trying to terminate the asset, a clue that the droid was sent by someone who likely is not the Client -- although the Client didn't really care if the child lived or died, his associate, Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi), wanted it alive, likely to study it.
And speaking of the little green creature with pointed ears: Despite appearances, this is not baby Yoda. The Mandalorian takes place approximately five years after the events of the original Star Wars trilogy, during which Yoda was said to be somewhere around 900 years old. More importantly, he died during Return of the Jediand appears as a Force ghost in the most recent trilogy of films. So it's definitely not Yoda. But that doesn't mean this isn't a major moment in Star Wars history or that the baby won't play a role in future Star Wars endeavors.
George Lucas never revealed much information about Yoda's species. We really only know that they age slowly and live a very long time. In fact, only one other member of his species appears in the Star Wars films: Yaddle, in the prequel trilogy. She died in the book the Star Wars: Jedi Quest: The Shadow Trap, so she's long gone by this point too. This new baby could potentially mean that we're finally going to dig into the species' origins for the very first time.
We should also consider that this is the last child of Yoda's entire species. It might explain why its existence has folks putting bounties on its head and/or why it was being heavily guarded. Or, given Yoda's own abilities, the child could be a strong Force user, which could explain why the Empire is so eager to get its hands on the baby. We also have to think about how this character might connect to future Star Wars films and TV shows. Will the young baby be old enough to appear in December's The Rise of Skywalker? It seems unlikely, but you never know.
Truthfully, what this creature's existence means is anyone's guess at this point, but it's clearly very important. The episode ends with the Mandalorian, who never takes his helmet off during the first episode, shooting IG-11 in order to take the baby alive. The story will likely play out across the show's first season, but we'll have to wait for Friday, when the second episode of The Mandalorian is released, to find out what happens next.
New episodes of The Mandalorian are released Fridays at 12:01 am PT on Disney+. Find out more about the streaming service or look at our picks for the best shows and movies to watch on launch day.