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These Theories About Baby Yoda Are Making Us Think

The Mandalorian is barely halfway through its inaugural season, and one thing is already abundantly clear: everybody loves Baby Yoda. The floppy-eared tot has captured the hearts of everyone to have watched even a single episode of the Disney+ series; we all want one of our very own (no, not a plush toy, an actual Baby Yoda), and it's fair to say that he, rather than the freakin' Mandalorian himself, is what guarantees that the show's audience will continue to jump on board week after week.

Little BY, as we like to call him, keeps us coming back to The Mandalorian not only because he's the cutest darn thing this side of Baby Groot, but because he is a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Where did he come from? How did all of those heavily armed soldier types, whoever they were, come into possession of him, and what do the equally scattered remnants of the Galactic Empire want with him? Do all Yodites (we're going to keep up with that until it catches on or we're corrected, whichever comes first) use the Force from the time they're babies? And, will his adorable existence become a factor at any point in the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker?

We do not, of course, have the answers to any of these questions, as evidenced by the fact that a million or so Mandalorian fans are not currently beating down the door to our offices. But as one might imagine, BY has been the subject of intense speculation, and we've run across a couple of theories that have us contemplatively stroking our chins and saying, "Hmmm... fascinating, this is. Something to it, there could be."

Is Baby Yoda a clone?

If there's one thing we can say with reasonable certainty about Yoda's species (which George Lucas famously insisted not be named), it's that they're pretty darn rare. Other than Yoda, and now Baby Yoda, we've only ever seen one: Yaddle, a female of the species who was shown to be a member of the Jedi High Council in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The fact that all three of these Yodites (seriously, it just rolls off the tongue, try saying it) are Force users is provocative in and of itself, which we'll discuss more in a moment. But many fans have quite reasonably wondered if BY could actually be Yoda's son, an idea which we find to be unlikely.

The thing about the Yoda's Secret Love Child Theory (which is a combination of words we never thought we'd type, and which should really be a band name) is that it would take a serious leap of logic to make it fit with the events of the original trilogy. Sure, BY is 50 years old, and therefore would have been around when Yoda was alive; The Mandalorian, remember, takes place five years after the events of those films. It's conceivable that Yoda could have sent his wee offspring away to protect him, as was done with the infant Luke and Leia, before the original trilogy's events — but it's a bit of a stretch to buy that the Jedi Master would never mention the tot to Luke, not even on his deathbed.

No, we find it more likely that there's a different, though just as direct, connection to Yoda: that BY is a clone of the late Jedi Master. This theory is lent credence by the fact that in The Mandalorian's third episode, the Client's employee Doctor Pershing was seen to be wearing a patch with an insignia suspiciously similar to that worn by the many, many clones of Jango Fett seen in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. It sure seems like that fact has to be setting up something — but if BY himself isn't a clone, perhaps it's setting up something else.

Is Baby Yoda the last of his species?

Other than the fact that there aren't a whole lot of them, there's something else we feel comfortable inferring about Yoda's species: they appear to be natural Force users. In The Mandalorian's second episode, Baby Yoda levitated a ferocious Mudhorn the size of a bus; sure, it took a lot out of him, but the point is that we're pretty sure he wasn't taught this ability.

The question, then, is: just how rare is this species? Hey, here's another one: if they were so rare as to be, say, on the verge of extinction, doesn't it seem likely that several parties on both sides of the Light Side/Dark Side divide would have an interest in preserving them?

One fan theory states that BY is, in fact, the last of his kind — and that he's not a clone, but rather, the Client's interest in the little guy is to clone him. This theory is bolstered by a line the Client spits at the hapless Doctor Pershing in The Mandalorian's third episode, as Mando eavesdrops on the conversation in advance of his daring rescue of BY: "I order you to extract the necessary material and be done with it."

Pershing then replies that someone, it's not crystal-clear who, "explicitly ordered us to bring it back alive," which, of course, raises a whole new set of questions — the most obvious being, who the hell is he referring to? Unless that conversation is a total red herring, though, we find this theory to be pretty credible — but there might also be something else going on here, something which could have some pretty serious implications beyond The Mandalorian.

Does Baby Yoda have a connection to Emperor Palpatine?

Stay with us here, because this theory is pretty crazy. If Baby Yoda isn't a clone, then what kind of "material" would the Client be extracting, and for what purpose? Well, we know that Yoda had an insanely high midi-chlorian count (only Anakin Skywalker's was higher, if we recall correctly), so its stands to reason that even if BY is only loosely related to the late Jedi Master, the little guy's count is probably in the same range. His "genetic material" then — perhaps even (shudder) his blood — might be of use to a Force-sensitive being whose connection to the Force has been lost or diminished, or who is very near death, or both.

Okay, you can see the picture right there, you know who we're talking about. Is it possible that the unknown party who ordered the Client to bring BY back alive is none other than Emperor Palpatine? The very same Big Bad who is going to be returning to vex our heroes in Rise of Skywalker? Could the little tyke, in fact, be the key to his big comeback?

It sure is a compelling theory, but frankly, we'll be shocked if it's true. Not because it doesn't make narrative sense; it'd be awesome for The Mandalorian to tie in to Rise of Skywalker in such crazy-ass fashion. We just don't think there's any way that the two productions could have synced up well enough to make any crossover possible, let alone one that would be so important to the movie's narrative. 

Having said that, it's not outside the realm of possibility. We know, thanks to director Colin Trevorrow (who was attached to Rise of Skywalker for some time, and will have a story credit on the film) that J.J. Abrams had the idea to bring Palpatine back into the Skywalker Saga sometime after September 2017, which is when Trevorrow departed the project. Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that The Mandalorian was in development in November of that year, and Jon Favreau was introduced as the series' writer and showrunner in March 2018.

Favreau didn't waste any time getting to work; by May of that year, he told multiple outlets that half of the scripts for the first season of The Mandalorian had been completed. This means that sometime between the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018, Favreau and Abrams would have to have gotten together and hammered out all of the shared story elements of their respective projects. Then, they would have needed to remain in contact, making sure that neither of them was stepping on the others' toes — all while keeping the whole thing a total secret.

Again, this wouldn't have been impossible, but it sure would have been difficult — and nobody would know this better than Favreau, who directed the first two Iron Man movies and has appeared as Happy Hogan in the films of the intricately connected Marvel Cinematic Universe ever since. We're going to go ahead and say that Baby Yoda is not likely to factor in to the story of Rise of Skywalker at all — but wrong we've been before, and pretty damn cool it would be.