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There are certain problems that come with any fictional shared universe, not least of which is the continual issue of making sure that every story stays in line with every other story being told; it’s one thing to dismantle S.H.I.E.L.D. at the end of one particular chapter, for example, but if there’s an ongoing spinoff that relies upon S.H.I.E.L.D. being a thing that exists, then you might run into trouble. With the second episode of Disney+’s The Mandalorian, it’s beginning to look as if Star Wars might be about to wade into these troublesome waters.
“The Child,” the second installment of Jon Favreau’s Star Wars series, follows up on the first cliffhanger of the series by revealing that, yes, the baby certainly does have Force abilities, displaying an impressive amount of control for such a young creature when it saves the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) from being crushed by an alien beast. This revelation doesn’t just answer the question of why the baby is important to others, it also builds the larger mythology of Star Wars by confirming that, yes, there really does seem to be something about this particular species of alien that makes them particularly adept at tapping into the Force. (Perhaps it’s a naturally raised level of Midi-chlorians.)
However, it also creates a strange narrative problem for The Mandalorian going forward that, if not addressed, threatens to become a problem for Star Wars as a whole: The very existence of the child, and the fact that others know about it, is a thread that has to be tied off before the end of the series or else things get weird with the larger Star Wars story.
Take Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for example; that movie, set decades after the events of The Mandalorian, takes place in a galaxy that believes that the Force is a myth, as are the Jedi — which would be odd if there was a cute little alien running around using the Force. Similarly, the first two installments of the current trilogy would suggest that, if there was such a strong Force user out there in the galaxy, Snoke or Kylo Ren would be aware of them, if not spending more time and effort trying to deal with them instead of Rey. And yet … that’s not the case.
(At least, until the almost inevitable comic book or movie that attempts to tie The Mandalorian and the Skywalker Saga together. That is how these things work, after all.)
The reason for that is, of course, that so-called Baby Yoda didn’t exist when those movies were made. But such practical logic takes a backseat to the demands of the shared universe, which means … that The Mandalorian may have to kill a child in order to not screw up the larger Star Wars timeline? That can’t be right. Perhaps it simply just needs to put the child into hiding from the rest of the galaxy — shades of the fates of baby Luke and Leia — as the rest of the saga unfolds. But if that’s the case, then shouldn’t we have some mention of the baby in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as everything draws to a close?
How likely is that to actually happen, though, especially given that most of the world doesn’t even have access to Disney+ at this point, making the movie a narrative payoff for a television series that most people haven’t had the chance to watch?
There is, surely, another solution out there for The Mandalorian to uncover, in the same way that it’s zagged away from expectations for its first two episodes to date. But the very existence of the Force Child is a reminder that, for all that the series is purposefully pushing back against what people think Star Wars can be, in a way that’s new for the franchise as a whole and in particular, the Disney era of the franchise, it still has to exist inside the franchise … and that can be more of a problem than it might as first seem.
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