Warning: This article contains a gazillion spoilers for the Disney+ show “The Mandalorian”. If you would like to watch the show without any spoilers, skip the paragraph ‘The Child’s story so far’. If you plan on watching Star Wars in general and want to avoid spoilers, just click on one of the three articles listed below this one. Enjoy!
The Child – colloquially known as Baby Yoda – became a worldwide phenomenon after the first chapter of “The Mandalorian” aired at the end of 2019. It seemed to have been a well-kept secret, since no one expected to encounter another creature from that species. Since then, Baby Yoda seems to have obtained what not even the Emperor could: world domination!
The Child’s story so far
Set after the Empire’s fall, it all begins on a remote planet on the Outer Rim called Nevarro, where the Bounty Hunter’s Guild has established itself in a cantina and with it a Mandalorian called Din Djarin. On the first episode, after finishing a job, the Mandalorian is on a new bounty and takes his ship, the Razor Crest – don’t get attached to it – to the desert planet of Arvala-7. Once there, the Mandolorian encounters a creature named Kuiil, which shows him how to get to the place where the bounty is. The episode ends in an epic fight and at the end, the Mandalorian gets to meet the fifty-year-old baby.
The next episode starts with the Mandalorian going back to his ship, only to see that in the meantime it got plundered by Jawas. Unable to even turn the ship on, Mando is forced to go back to his friend Kuiil to help him negotiate with the Jawas. The Jawas accept, if he brings them back a mudhorn’s egg. Taking the child with him, he saves the Mandalorian with the help of the force and he is able to bring back the furry egg. Once he gets the Razor Crest’s pieces back, he and Kuiil repair the ship and the Mandalorian is on his way back to Nevarro.
Once in Nevarro, he gives his bounty to the Client, an Imperial who owns a laboratory and gives Din in exchange a whole lot of beskar. Beskar is a metal that is lightsaber-proof and that belongs exclusively to Mandalorians. With his bounty in hand, he goes to see the Armorer, to get a new armor, his old one being pretty ruined after the encounter with the mudhorn. After this, he decides to go see the agent of the Bounty Hunting Guild, Greef Karga, to give him his next job. Soon afterwards, he gets remorseful of having given the Child to the Imperials. He goes to rescue it and is able to escape Nevarro with the help of other Mandalorians, who are hidden on the planet.
Deciding to go into hiding to protect the Child, he finds a distant planet called Sorgan, where he decides to settle down. Entering a local common house, he encounters Cara Dune, a former Shock trooper for the Rebellion who has already chosen this planet as her retirement spot. After learning this, the Mandalorian decides to go look for another planet, but is approached by two townspeople, who want to hire him to defend their village from some raiders. After some arguing, he accepts, but also calls Cara as a reinforcement. After successfully defending the village, they kill a bounty hunter who was after the Child and Din decides to continue his journey for a safe place for him and Baby Yoda.
After an argument, the Mandalorian arrives on Tatooine, where he lets his ship to be repaired by Peli Motto. Meanwhile he goes into the town and meets a fellow bounty hunter named Toro Calican, who tries to enter the guild by killing Fennec Shand, an assassin, and asks the Mandalorian for his help to fulfill his task. In exchange he will give Mando his pay, money he desperately needs to pay the Razor Crest’s repairs. After a skirmish in the desert, Din is able to escape Tatooine.
Next time we encounter this unlikely pair, Mando is on the way to see an old acquaintance, who wants the Mandalorian’s help to liberate a prisoner from an incarceration transport. During this, he encounters the people he will be working with, among them is his slightly neurotic ex-girlfriend Xi’an, whose brother is the one they will be liberating. Once on the prison transport though, they betray him and after a momentary set back, the Mandalorian is able to return the situation in his favor and is able to escape.
Some time later, Greef Karga contacts him and the Mandalorian is on his way back to Nevarro, where he finally meets the one who actually wants the child: Moff Gideon, an Imperial, whose intentions with the child are only later on revealed. He traps Din, Greef Karga and Cara Dune, yet they are able to escape with the Child, though Moff Gideon survived his Tie’s crash and on top of that, is in possession of the Dark Saber.
The first episode of season two shows the Mandalorian and the Child heading back to Tatooine. Now looking for other Mandalorians, he got the word that one of them is on the desert planet. Arriving in Mos Pelgo, he discovers that it’s in fact someone called Cobb Vanth who is wearing Boba Fett’s armor. Since technically only Mandalorians are allowed to wear beskar, Mando asks him to give back the armor. Vanth agrees, but he has to help him kill a creature called the Krayt dragon. They succeed and the Mandalorian gets Boba Fett’s armor back.
After killing the Krayt dragon, the Mandalorian returns at Peli Motto’s place, where she tells him that a Frog Lady knows where to find other Mandalorians. She is willing to tell him, but only if he is willing to bring her to the moon of Trask without going into hyperspace, since it will kill her precious cargo: eggs. The Mandalorian reluctantly accepts. Though, during the journey, he has to crash on the icy planet of Maldo Kreis and gets attacked by a bunch of spiders. After some help arrives, the Mandalorian is able to get back in space.
After quite a bumpy arrival on the moon of Trask, Frog Lady is able to reunite with her husband and Mando goes to ask for the other Mandalorians. Unfortunately, he gets trapped by some of the local people, who want to kill him for his beskar, but is rescued by the other Mandalorians, who turn out to be Bo-Katan Kryze and two other Mandalorians. Looking for someone who can train the Child, Bo-Katan tells him that she would know someone, but first he has to help her steal an Imperial transport. Once done, Bo-Katan tells him to seek out Ashoka Tano in Calodan on the planet Corvus.
Though he payed for some repairs on Trask, they don’t last and Mando has to go back to Nevarro. There he gets his ship properly repaired, while he helps Greef and Cara break into an Imperial facility to destroy it. Once there though, they discover some disturbing hints as to what Moff Gideon wants to do with the Child and at the end of the episode, he has a tracking device installed on the Razor Crest.
Once he arrives on Corvus, the Mandalorian is recruited by the Magistrate to kill the Jedi who wants some information from her and promises him a spear out of pure beskar. He accepts, but never intends to actually do it. He meets up with Ashoka, who after some communication with the Child, reveals his name, Grogu, as well as some of his backstory, mainly that he grew up in the Jedi Temple on Corusant. Afterwards they team up to take down the Magistrate and after defeating her, Ashoka presumably has the information she needed and the Mandalorian ends up anyway with the beskar spear. Even though Ashoka had told Mando she would train Grogu if he helped her defeat the Magistrate, she tells him that she can’t train him, having her own reasons, but that he should bring him to the planet Tython and place him on the seeing stone of an old Jedi temple.
Once on Tython, everything goes wrong. First, the Mandalorian gets company from Boba Fett and Fennec Shand, who was left dead by Toro Calican, but saved by Boba Fett. While they’re arguing the fact that Boba Fett wants his armor back, the Imperials use the tracking device and locate the Razor Crest. After an intense battle, Boba Fett gets his armor back, the Razor Crest gets blown into a thousand pieces and worse of all – they get Grogu! And while Moff Gideon is taunting Grogu in his cell, the Mandalorian is back on Nevarro, seeking Cara Dune and an old, unlikely ally.
A fashion icon is born
Outside of being a cute and irresistible character for a good show, the Child is also a commercial hit. Nowadays, you can find everything declined in its Baby Yoda form. You can find several plushes, one of them even animated and making several sounds. There is also an infinity of mugs and tumblers amongst other things that belong into your kitchen cabinet. The kitchen is not the only room in a house you are now able to adorn with your Baby Yoda merch. You can find towels and bath robes for children, as well as notebooks, crayons, rulers or pens for your office. Other than that, you can also find a ton of apparel. Hoodies, shirts, crop tops, actual crocs, dog pajamas – you name it! On top of that, you’ll find the perfect Baby Yoda accessories to complement your outfit with a tote bag, a watch, a nice shiny pin or a fancy-looking bracelet.
Other than the fashion industry, the make-up world also got infected by it, by posting Baby Yoda-related memes about beauty or going nuts on Halloween. Fast make-up company ColourPop even released a collaboration with The Mandalorian. It is nothing new for them to release Disney-themed collections, they have done that before, like for Disney Princesses and Villains, but this time it was Star Wars. The Child palette was a limited edition, featuring nine shades. Overall in a green monochromatic tone, as well as some transition and complementary shades.
You guessed it correctly: Baby Yoda is Disney’s new cash cow. You have the notebook, now go fetch the corresponding crayon, pen, ruler, eraser and stapler! It is not exactly known how much Disney is making off the Child. It is known though that, at the end of 2019, when the series launched, they did not put out Baby Yoda merch until February, sitting on potentially 2.7 million US dollars. If in three months (November, December and January) they would have made this amount of money, who knows how much they are making over a year. We also have to consider though that during these three months there are several festivities, like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Holidays and the 2.7 million number is by counting in the Holiday period.
Baby Yoda is not only giving Disney a lot of extra bucks, but also a major publicity boost. The Mandalorian as a show explores many locations, some more known than others, like Tatooine, but also quite a few new ones. From a storytelling point of view, it expands the overall mythology of its universe. A novel has already been announced to support the show. It also fleshes out the time between the Original and the dreaded Sequel trilogy, telling what happened with the Empire after the Galactic Civil War. A time that, for now, has not really been explored, at least canonically.
More so, throughout the show, a bunch of familiar characters have popped up. Less in season one, but more in season two, from name-dropping to getting animated characters into live-action, as well as book characters. Cobb Vanth is a minor character from the Aftermath trilogy book series. Bo-Katan Kryze is also one of these characters, premiering first in the animated show The Clone Wars. She is another Mandalorian, who is after the Dark Saber and helps Mando one time he is in serious trouble.
The whole Star Wars fandom was hyped up, when there were rumors that Ashoka Tano was going to appear. This is another character who was first seen in The Clone Wars and who was Anakin Skywalker’s padawan, before he fell to the Dark Side. She actually did appear and the whole fandom was on fire, not only because of her appearance, but because of what dropped at the end of the episode. It is to this day still rumored that this episode was actually a backdoor pilot for a new series.
What do all these things have in common, except being fan-service, yet adding to the overall story of the show? It is simple. Featuring people like Bo-Katan, Ashoka and Boba Fett gives the show a big boost in publicity. Even though the people knew there would be Ashoka, many articles, videos, tweets and memes – of course – were circulating around. They made ink literally rain. Everyone in the fandom was talking about it and it made new people come and join the show or even start reading books related to these characters. This week, the week the episode with Boba Fett came out, there were still new Ashoka-related articles coming out, which meant that people were still talking and probably arguing about it and what she meant for the future of the show or a possible spin-off. The character had an immense impact, maybe even overshadowing Boba Fett, who has been the fanbase’s darling for decades.
In conclusion, aside from these characters, the show on itself had already a showstopper: the Child. Baby Yoda stole the hearts of millions, and it is the main reason why new people got into the show, me included.
Disney was smart. Launching such a loveable character like Baby Yoda. I mean, come on, he is the cutest! Not only this, the show seems to be like a world apart from the movies, yet still being inside the Star Wars universe and continuing the timeline set up by the movies. With the Child and crossovers from characters known by fans of past TV shows, The Mandalorian surely knows how to attract new audiences. Not only by writing a good story, but also by putting in characters the fans will talk about and so make it known to other people, who maybe aren’t that familiar with Star Wars. On top of flooding the market with Baby Yoda’s adorable face of course!
I dare say that its distinctive vibe is what make the show so unique and appealing. The distance from very famous characters like Darth Vader or R2D2, as well as the distance from the more known timeline covered by the movies, makes people who aren’t necessarily familiar with them curious. You don’t have to know that Vader is Luke and Leia’s father or that Rey is Palpatine’s grandchild to be invested. For some people, it is probably also the jump-off point for diving deeper into the fandom, to maybe explore more of Ashoka’s past or who Boba Fett is. The moment you watch the show though, you don’t necessarily need to know that and you can enjoy the moment and the great acting, as well as the relationship between the Mandalorian and the Child. Fact is that the Mandalorian is not like a regular dad, he is a cool dad and, to date, probably Star Wars’s healthiest father-son relationship!
Meanwhile, I am patiently waiting for the release of Chapter 15 and hoping that one day, Ariana Grande will appear in it. That R.E.M commercial was epic!
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- The Mandalorian on Disney+