"The Mandalorian": Is Baby Yoda the Turn – Or the Prestige? [OPINION]
Disney +'s The Mandalorian is a runaway hit live-action series. Set in the Star Wars universe and set just a few years after the Battle of Endor, it follows the adventures of a foundling-turned-Mandalorian who hunts down bounties, lives by a code, and is quick with a blaster and with a bon mot.
The following has MAJOR SPOILERS and speculation for the future of the show.
At the end of the first episode, The Mandalorian discovers that the asset he's been chasing down is, rather than his usual quarry of bail jumper or dangerous criminal, a very young and heart-rendingly cute member of Yoda's species. Although The Child is 50 years old, our hero finds him in a repulsor-driven baby carriage acting like a human toddler, somewhere in the neighborhood of age 1 or 2.
There's good reason to believe this behavior is a ruse.
In Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, Yoda and Luke are talking when Luke returns to Dagobah:
Yoda: That face you make. Look I so old to young eyes?
Luke: No. Of course not.
Yoda: I do, yes, I do! Sick have I become. Old and weak. When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not, hmm? Soon will I rest. Yes, forever sleep. Earned it, I have.
In Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, he tells Luke that he's been training Jedi for 800 years. We know that not all of this training has been given directly to a single person as a Master of a Padawan learner – Yoda was the designated Jedi who taught classes of younglings in the Jedi Temple, as we see in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. However, we do know that he became a Master and began teaching at around 100 years old.
Not much is known about Yoda's species. Prior to this, only one other member of the species was depicted in the movies, a fellow member of the Jedi Council named Yaddle, who was around 470 years old at the time of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. A lot of speculation has been made about the maturation cycle of the species based on watching The Child in The Mandalorian that tries to extrapolate between the toddler as portrayed and Yoda's 900-year-old lifespan. Considering that many human Jedi take a Padawan between 20 and 30 years old, it seems like based on Yoda's 100 years from birth to beginning to teach that the difference between humans and Yoda's species ages is somewhere between five years to one and three years to one.
Doing the math, this means The Child is likely to be, at the youngest, the equivalent of a 10 year-old human at the youngest, and possibly more like a 16 year-old human. That being the case, the toddler-esque behavior is a put on. The Child is likely able to talk and is using its overpowering cuteness and small stature as a mask.
Why? Yoda gives us a good template in Empire. He pretends to be a witless annoyance, pestering Luke for gifts and food and getting into a tug of war with R2-D2 as a way to evaluate who Luke is. Seeing how impatiently Luke treats a being who is trying to help and feed him, he concludes that Luke is too old to train.
It seems reasonable to believe The Child may be doing something similar in an attempt to evaluate who The Mandalorian is. It's easy for the viewer to conclude that seeing a bounty turn into a helpless child was the prestige of this particular magic trick but, based on what little we know about Yoda and his life as a Jedi, we might have only been seeing the turn, and the prestige is the revelation that The Child is a capable teenager who can not only use the Force but has an agenda that we haven't yet seen.
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