Spoilers for Episode 1 of The Mandalorian follow below.
There was much anticipation around the release of the first-ever live-action Star Wars TV show The Mandalorian, which hit Disney+ on Tuesday morning—the same time the streaming service launched. The anticipation was heightened because no one had seen the first episode of the series—it was held back from press in advance, so everyone watched together. But once we saw the episode, it was clear there was one story element that the team behind the show (which takes place 5 years after Return of the Jedi) was very keen on keeping secret: Baby Yoda.
It’s revealed at the end of the first episode of The Mandalorian that the target Pedro Pascal’s character has been tasked with murdering for Werner Herzog’s Empire-loving The Client was actually a baby Yoda-like creature. I say baby because he looks like a baby, but in actuality he’s 50 years old—as Taika Waititi’s droid IG-11 explains, species age differently.
This was a Big Deal because little has been known about Yoda’s species in official Star Wars canon. George Lucas didn’t quite feel like explaining it and was happy to let the mystery be, and indeed even Yoda’s race hasn’t been officially revealed just yet. But here we have a new character looking like he comes from where Yoda comes from, popping up in The Mandalorian, which would suggest that the show is interested in answering some questions about this piece of mythology.
At the world premiere of the first three episode of the show on Wednesday night, creator/writer Jon Favreau explained his thinking behind that reveal a little bit in a now-deleted video interview (for spoiler reasons, presumably) with Variety. As it turns out, he’ll factor heavily into the overall story of the series:
“I wanted to surprise people, and I wanted to—well there are bigger arcs that go through the whole season and the whole throw of the show. So as fun as it is to reveal new characters and surprise them, it also fits into a larger narrative about what’s going on in the galaxy after the revolution, and this is an important character.”
Favreau went on to say he was happy they were able to actually keep the reveal under wraps, and it sounds like they went to great lengths to ensure this character’s appearance was a surprise:
“What I’m most proud of is that we surprised people. You know how hard that is to do that nowadays? And what type of commitment it took from everybody who was on set and from the studio to hide all the clues that people, especially Star Wars fans, normally tap into? Looking into toy catalogues, looking into marketing materials, looking into style guides, photography, and the fact that that secret was kept is incredible. It is exciting. It’s fun, because people are so happy when they’re surprised. They’re not used to being surprised now—not in a good way (laughs).”
While it is rare for a property of this size to keep major reveals under wraps (even Game of Thrones had the major plot beats of its final episodes leak), I’ll admit as someone not too well-verse in Star Wars lore that Baby Yoda reveal didn’t strike me as too big of a plot point. But I suppose if you are immersed in Star Wars and understand that his species and race have never really been explored, that’s an exciting moment.
The second episode of The Mandalorian hits on Friday, but you can read our review and theories for the first episode right now, as well as one big theory regarding The Mandalorian’s true identity…