Star Wars fans have been known to theorize sometimes.
Okay, that’s an understatement. We theorize A LOT. If we’re being completely honest, sometimes it gets us into trouble.
So when something like a sweet, innocent, adorably green baby is dropped in our laps, we freak out a little bit. Can you really expect us to remain calm in this situation? We need to know!
Well, things have maybe gotten a little out of hand. So I think it’s time we take a step back, collect our thoughts, and take a pragmatic look at this situation. What do we know for sure? How can that shape our conversations about what answers we might get? Let’s find out.
First of all. This child will henceforth be referred to as Baby Yoda. If that’s too much for you to handle, this might not be the blog post for you. And actually, that brings us to our first bit of fact.
What Is It?
Short answer: we don’t know.
This is only the third canonical member of this species. The only other two we have seen are Yoda (of course), and another minor character Yaddle. We all know Yoda. He first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back and has been a major part of Star Wars ever since. Yaddle is a tad different. She first appeared as a Jedi Master sitting on the Jedi Council in The Phantom Menace and was no longer on the council by Attack of The Clones. She has had minor appearances and mentions in other books and comics since (including a mention in Jedi: Fallen Order most recently).
Keep in mind, I said the third “canonical” member of this species. This is important because the species had other mentions and members in Legends lore, what was formerly known as the Expanded Universe. This is important to distinguish, because after the Disney purchase in 2012, LucasFilm decided to start fresh and rebrand everything made prior to April 25, 2014 (aside from the movies and Clone Wars television series) Legends. This means that while they can still borrow from elements of stories made prior to that date, those stories are no longer part of the official Star Wars story.
The species as a whole has never been named, even in Legends. So when you see people referring to the child as Baby Yoda or referring to the species as Yoda’s species, it’s simply because there’s no other good name to call them by yet.
Other aspects of the species also remain unknown, aside from their general physical appearance and apparent mastery of using the Force. We know they are adept at Force use since the child can already use the Force at a very young age and Yoda’s promotion to Jedi Master at age 100, which is only about 50 years older than the child. They age slowly judging by the apparent infancy of the child at its age and the by the fact that Yoda was around 900 when he died.
In short, if you have only ever watched the main Star Wars films, you aren’t that much farther behind than the rest of us in explaining what exactly this baby is.
Where Does It Come From?
One more thing you can add to the “Things We Don’t Know Yet” list is their homeworld. Not only do we not have a name for the species, but we can’t even tell you where they live! They could come from the Unknown Regions for all we know.
Honestly, though, people are far less concerned with where the species lives than they are with how the heck it’s alive – and with good reason. This is probably the most heavily theorized point in this whole discussion. So let’s cover a few possibilities.
First, the possibility exists that it could be a clone. That seemed to be a pretty popular theory after the first episode when an eagle-eyed fan spotted that Dr. Pershing wears a Kaminoan emblem on his right sleeve. Kamino, if you don’t remember, is the planet where the clone army was created in Attack of the Clones. This theory seems to be getting less likely, though, but we’ll cover that a bit later.
It could be a naturally born child. This could take one of two forms. First, the timing is right that it could be the child of one, or even both, of those two other characters: Yoda and Yaddle. It is true they were both members of the Jedi Order and were both Jedi Masters. It is also true that traditionally, Jedi did not have children. However, it is possible that given the rarity of the species that the Council would have allowed this to avoid letting the species die out. This is an idea that would be borrowed from Legends lore, but it is an idea nonetheless. Attachment was forbidden, but that would not necessarily have to include reproduction for survival.
The second natural birth possibilty is that it’s a child of two other members of the species that we haven’t seen. We know that the species is rare, but we don’t exactly know how rare. It is entirely possible that there are other Yodas (Yodans? Yodians? Yodasapiens?) out there and we just haven’t met them yet. And if The Last Jedi taught us anything (so far), it’s to not rely on bloodlines going forward.
Finally, the child could be a birth of “divine intervention” – somewhat like what Qui-Gon believed Anakin was. Snoke introduced this idea into the universe that as one side of the Force becomes stronger than it should be, the opposite side rises to meet it. Baby Yoda was born roughly around the same time Anakin would have been. If Anakin was fated to turn to the Dark Side, it is possible that the Force is what caused our little bundle of joy to spring into the world in order to meet that rising darkness. I think there are inherent problems with this idea. First, Baby Yoda would have been born prior to Anakin’s turn, so the only thing to balance at that point would be Sidious (and a possible apprentice). And barring the possibility that Sidious and/or Plagueis created Anakin a’la the opera scene in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin’s birth could be seen as the event meant to counter Sidious (which obviously went awry). Second, remember that Luke and Leia were born at the same time as Anakin’s turn, so it’s also conceivable that they were meant to balance Sidious and Vader. Then where would that leave Baby Yoda, or vice versa?
There also seems to be this idea floating around that Baby Yoda is, indeed, Yoda himself. I think this comes from not realizing when the story takes place. As The Mandalorian ocurrs five years after Return of the Jedi (9 ABY, if you’re keeping track at home), Yoda has been dead for five years. Also, since Baby Yoda is 50 years old they would have been alive concurrently for 45 years. So, Yoda reincarnated is basically impossible. And while Rebels did introduce the idea of time travel, that was countered with possible paradoxes. Ripping Yoda out of his timeline as a baby 800 years ago would have massive ramifications throughout the events of the saga across the board. I think we can safely rule this one out.
Why Does This Remnant of the Empire Want It?
If there’s one question that may be second to how Baby Yoda came to be, it would be why does the Empire want it so badly? Unfortunately, at this point in time, we will have to resort to more possibilites.
I mentioned earlier that it seemed increasingly unlikely that Baby Yoda is a clone of Yoda. Here is why. Dr. Pershing’s connections with Kamino, along with the Client urging him to extract the “necessary materials,” seem to imply there could be a desire for the child to be cloned. Cloning a clone seems rather odd. The only possibility is that they need more copies of said clone and the only way to do that is to take that clone back. However, you would think that there would be more Baby Yodas to be found, making it less of a commodity. Also there’s the issue of Baby Yoda’s already strong Force ability. Cloning a Force user wouldn’t necessarily be off-limits, but giving the child the same Force abilities as its source could be problematic. In the Clone Wars episode “Ambush” (which happens to be season one, episode one), Yoda speaks to the clones and tells them that the Force is present in them as it is in all things, but that they are their own unique presence. Creating a Yoda clone as a 1:1 copy runs counter to that idea.
Going back to this idea of extracting some sort of material from the child probably gets us the closest to the Empire’s desires. And the obvious answer to that would be they want the material to create one or more clones. Why? Who knows. Perhaps they do believe they can replicate a Force user to create armies of Force weilding little Yodas. But as I said before, that is problematic. If that were the case, they could have just cloned some Jedi back in the Clone Wars and been done with the whole thing.
So where does that leave us? Well, there’s another possibility worth mentioning. Through some Canon novels and comics, we have learned that the Emperor’s contingency plan involved retreating to the Unknown Regions and rebuilding the Empire into the First Order. Now that we know that Palpatine has somehow survived the Battle of Endor and that he was already older at the time, he would possibly need some other means to extend his life. It’s possible that a doctor with connections to Kamino would have the genetics knowledge to accomplish that with the right materials from a being that is naturally capable of living for centuries.
Or, and this idea is slightly less fun to theorize about, it really could be a story that is disconnected from all of these events. This could be where our theorizing gets us in trouble. Maybe the events of the story we’re being told don’t have ramifications that affect characters outside of the ones we will be seeing in this series. It’s possible that the Client wants the child for self-serving reasons, and we’re getting the story of how one remnant of the dying Empire comes to an end at the hands of a Mandalorian.
Speculation Is Fun But Remember…
Don’t take it too seriously.
Enjoy the ride.
If (and when) your theory doesn’t come true, don’t let that ruin your appreciation of the story being told. Try to remember how much you’ve enjoyed watching this unfold, and how much discussion it gave us along the way.