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The second episode of Disney+’s Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, is now upon us, and with it comes not only more questions, but answers as well. “Chapter 2: The Child,” directed by Rick Famuyiwa, focuses on the Mandalorian’s (Pedro Pascal) efforts to get off world with his newly collected bounty after Jawas strip his ship for parts. That bounty, of course, is the 50-year-old asset known as “The Child,” revealed at the end of the pilot episode, and desired by a man known only as The Client (Werner Herzog) and a doctor who insists the target be brought back alive. But the intrigue is not simply due to the fact that the target is a child, in relative terms, but that it is a child bearing a remarkable similarity to Yoda.
One of the biggest mysteries that has been maintained in Star Wars, both in its canon that exists since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm and in the Star Wars Expanded Universe that has since been placed out of canon under the umbrella Star Wars Legends, is the mystery of Yoda. His species and home planet have remained a mystery. In the Legends continuity, Yoda was trained by Jedi Master N’Kata Del Gormo, but his age at this time and his life before becoming a Jedi remained a secret. And within these Legends, only a handful of beings sharing an appearance similar to Yoda existed, including Minch, Oteg, Vandar Tokare and Yaddle. But in terms of current Star Wars canon, there is only Yoda, Yaddle and “The Child.” And as revealed in the second episode of The Mandalorian, “The Child” is also Force-sensitive, meaning that, as far as we know, every member of this species can harness the Force.
Star Wars creator George Lucas has long maintained that Yoda’s species, homeworld, origin, even specific age remain a mystery. Even Yaddle, whom Lucas introduced in The Phantom Menace (1999), was absent from the following prequels, perhaps suggesting that her mere presence stripped Yoda of some of the mystery Lucas hoped to maintain. In canon, she has only ever appeared again as an illusion in Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith No. 25 (2018). What’s interesting about the choice to keep Yoda’s origin and species a mystery is that it is one of the few mysteries within the franchise without an answer. Star Wars has rarely shied away from answers, those that have both fascinated and frustrated fans. From midi-chlorians, Anakin Skywalker’s fall, the creation of the Death Star, the building of C-3PO, the construction of lightsabers and even Han Solo’s name, Star Wars has never been shy about answering questions, even if no one asked them.
With The Rise of Skywalker completing the saga in December, Lucasfilm has even more reason to expand the mythology of Star Wars and delve into previously unexplored corners. The origins of the Jedi and Sith, something yet to be fully explored in canon, were rumored to be explored in David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ Star Wars films before they left the project. Even without the Game of Thrones duo on board, those origins will undoubtedly be something Lucasfilm looks into in the future. It only stands to reason that Yoda’s species, even if it isn’t named, will be stripped of some of its mystery in the future, likely within upcoming episodes of The Mandalorian. Star Wars needs more mysteries and answers to continue, and there are few ways that grab attention quite like revelations that have laid in wait for decades. But do we lose something necessary to Star Wars in the process?
Although only two episodes in, The Mandalorian has been noted for its remarkable similarities to Lucas’ original trilogy, in terms of the tone, the use of practical effects and the Western and samurai film influences. Executive producer Jon Favreau has discussed his respect for the world Lucas created, and part of that, at least in terms of the original trilogy, hinges on the sense of mystery and magic. But not even Lucas could hold back from answering the questions he set up. Exploring Yoda’s species may not be in accordance to those first three films, but it does feel like something Lucas would do, even though he didn’t do it. Star Wars, which has a kind of religious significance to many fans, does rely on a certain amount of mystery. But is Yoda’s species, one seemingly connected to the Force, really all that important to what Star Wars is? Or has it only taken on a kind of importance because we’ve been denied an answer so long in a universe that rarely denies us anything? There’s not necessarily an answer to these questions, and no doubt the reactions to how The Mandalorian handles these things, if it really does handle them, depends on what the answers are and what new mysteries result from it. But for now, the potential for answers with “The Child” in relation to Yoda and one of Star Wars’ oldest mysteries, is far more interesting than the unknown.
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