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The untold truth of Baby Yoda

The Disney+ original series The Mandalorian is a massive hit — but its fans only have about a million questions about its breakout star.

The silent, green, floppy-eared Force user who was immediately christened "Baby Yoda" by the entire internet has the entire Star Wars fandom abuzz, and they would like some answers. While the tot is obviously of the same, unnamed race as the iconic Jedi Master, that's pretty much the only thing that was made obvious about it — and as The Mandalorian's first season progresses, it's becoming clear that little BY (let's see if that catches on) will be absolutely central to its plot.

As a brief refresher, the series' first episode saw the not-yet-named titular character (Pedro Pascal), a member in good standing of a guild of bounty hunters led by Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), take on an assignment to hunt down and acquire a target who has proven extremely difficult for any of his peers to get their hands on. All that was known about said target: it could be found somewhere on the desert planet of Arvala-7, and it was 50 years old.

The Mandalorian tracked the bounty to a highly secure facility, where it was being watched over by a veritable platoon of armed guards. With the help of the somewhat-suicidal bounty hunting droid IG-11 (Taika Waititi), "Mando" was able to dispatch all of the target's protectors — but was taken aback to discover that said target was a mere infant. ("Species age differently," IG-11 helpfully pointed out in response to his puzzlement.)

Rather than allow IG-11 to kill the tot, the Mandalorian dispatched the droid with a shot to its head, and took custody of BY himself. While he did initially turn the infant over to the Client (Werner Herzog), he had a change of heart, springing his former target from its captivity and escaping with the assistance of a fighting force of fellow Mandalorians.

We'll surely come to know just why Baby Yoda is so important to so many ruthless people — but at this point, the questions fans would like answered are more along the lines of, "What the heck is the deal?!" Well, we're not entirely sure what the deal with Baby Yoda is — but here's everything we know so far.

Is Baby Yoda a boy or a girl?

Yoda's species is extremely mysterious: George Lucas famously never gave it a name, wishing the wizened Jedi Master to remain an enigma in as many ways as possible. One thing we do know, however, is that members of this race are not asexual; there are male Yodites and female Yodites (let's see if that catches on), as illustrated by Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. 

That film introduced us to Yaddle, a female member of Yoda's species who was a member of the Jedi High Council and even assisted in the training of a young Qui-Gon Jinn. While The Mandalorian doesn't go out of its way to clue us in as to the gender of BY, sharp-eared viewers parsed out the mystery thanks to a seemingly throwaway line by Doctor Pershing, an employee of the Client, in the series' third episode.

Specifically, BY's handler referred to the tot as "him" during the Mandalorian's rescue, so at least one mystery has been solved: it's a boy! (We'd be shocked if there weren't one or two hardcore Mandalorian fans who had Baby Yoda gender reveal parties after that episode streamed.)

Is baby Yoda actually Yoda?

Of course, as soon as BY showed up onscreen, we had a significant faction of fans asking the obvious question: is that actually Yoda? After all, the Jedi Master was a baby once, and it would certainly explain the little guy's importance to the remnants of the Empire and the Rebellion alike. However, giving this question a few moments' thought produces an obvious answer: no way.

The Mandalorian takes place between the events of the original Star Wars trilogy and the sequel films, and you may remember that Yoda "became one with the Force" (that is, he died) during the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Unless Yoda's species practices reincarnation, the green creature we see on The Mandalorian isn't a young version of the Jedi Master — it's simply impossible given the timeline. Jon Favreau confirmed this fact to USA Today, telling the outlet in January 2020, "The series timeline takes place after Return of the Jedi. And fans of the original trilogy will remember that Yoda not only passes away but actually disappears. So Yoda exists as a Force Ghost."

So, there you have it: a new character Baby Yoda is, the child version of Master Yoda he is not.

Does Baby Yoda have a name?

If the little dude isn't Yoda, it raises the question as to what his name actually is. We can all be pretty sure that the internet would have initially named him "Baby Yoda" in any event, but it only continues to do so because we haven't been clued in to what his real name is just yet.

According to Dave Filoni (who directed the first and fifth episodes of The Mandalorian's first season), this is by design. Speaking with Entertainment Tonight, Filoni said, "We still want to keep a lot of things a mystery, we don't want to go around answering things and making them less special." When that people were simply referring to the tot as "Baby Yoda" for lack of anything else to call him, he replied, "That's fine! All part of the mystery."

Adding to the mystique surrounding Baby Yoda's actual name is the knowledge that even more people involved with The Mandalorian know he's got a true-blue moniker... and simply aren't revealing it right now. Taika Waititi, who voices the bounty-hunting droid IG-11 on the show and directed the series' finale, is one of them. When he chatted with The New York Times' Kyle Buchanan, Waititi "insisted" that the character isn't named Baby Yoda and revealed that he knows his actual name but won't (or can't) even hint at what it is. "I'll wait for Favreau to give that away," he added.

How does Baby Yoda have powers?

One of the most dramatic moments in The Mandalorian so far came in the second episode, when "Mando" — tasked by the Jawas who stripped his ship with retrieving an egg from a furious horned beast in exchange for his parts back — is staring down death st the hooves of said beast. Wielding nothing but a knife, the Mandalorian lowers his head as the beast charges — but the charge is interrupted by Baby Yoda, who uses the Force to levitate the snarling monster, allowing the Mandalorian to finish it off.

So, how the heck is an infant (even a 50 year-old one) able to use the Force? Doesn't that require super-intensive training? Well... yes and no. Don't forget that, as revealed by The Phantom Menace (again, oddly), children can indeed by Force-sensitive, and tap into its power, with little to no training. Consider Anakin Skywalker, whose status as one of the best pod racers in the galaxy as a mere tyke was thanks to his insane midichlorian count — "even higher than Master Yoda," as we recall Obi-Wan Kenobi saying. 

Sure, Anakin wasn't levitating stuff as a child — but we find it highly likely that members of Yoda's species are naturally Force-sensitive, taking into account that the only two to be introduced prior to BY's arrival were both esteemed Jedi Masters. Until The Mandalorian gives us a better explanation for the little guy's Force abilities, anyway, that's the best one we've got.

Will baby Yoda be in Rise of Skywalker?

With the release of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker swiftly approaching, fans have obviously taken to wondering if the cute and cuddly character's introduction in The Mandalorian is setting us up for an appearance in the Skywalker Saga's conclusion. Since the series takes place some time before the events of the sequel trilogy, it could be that by the time of the events of Rise of Skywalker, Baby Yoda would be... well, we're not sure. Kid Yoda? Tween Yoda, perhaps? Old enough, at any rate, to potentially play a key part in the story.

However, we find this to be highly unlikely. There's no evidence that The Mandalorian's creator and lead writer, Jon Favreau, has coordinated in any way, shape, or form with RoS writer/director J.J. Abrams, and the kind of synergy required to feature any character from the series in the upcoming movie would have required literally years of planning.

No, we're thinking that BY will be a character specific to The Mandalorian, although we do hope that during the series' second season — which Favreau is already hard at work on — we'll get to see the tyke grow up a bit... at least to the point that we can determine whether Yoda's famous speech pattern is specific to his species. If ever we get to hear kid Yoda plaintively tell the Mandalorian, "Hungry, I am... Like a snack, I would," we're going to lose our minds.

Baby Yoda has his own plushie

If you count yourself as one of the many people who simply can't get enough Baby Yoda in their life, if seeing the little green guy's wide eyes and wider ears on your television and laptop screens just doesn't cut it, if you want more than most things in the world to call Baby Yoda yours, you're in luck. Toy company Hasbro, Inc. has partnered with Disney and Lucasfilm to create a Baby Yoda plushie — officially named "Baby Yoda Talking Plush." It retails for a moderate price of $24.99 USD; has "posable arms" and a squishy body that, when squeezed, activates "character sounds" (those adorable "ooo"s and "ahhh"s you've heard on The Mandalorian); and comes with a Sorgan frog (the same one Baby Yoda devoured on the show) and a bone broth bowl (the one that has achieved meme status since it appeared on the series).

The Baby Yoda Talking Plush will be available to purchase beginning in the spring of 2020. We know, we know — that seems like a long way away. But the joy of bringing home a Baby Yoda Talking Plush should be worth the wait.

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