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What do those experiments in The Mandalorian chapter 12 really mean?

Contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2, episode 4 — "Chapter 12: The Siege"

Another week, another episode of The Mandalorian, and another reason to wonder A) how the Empire took over so much of the galaxy using troops that can't hit anything, while wearing armor that seems to kill them faster, and B) how a society with the ability to travel faster than light can't make targeting computers that, like, work.

That's not all fans were left speculating about following the release of The Mandalorian chapter 12, howeverThe fourth episode of the series' second season, "Chapter 12: The Siege," also brought the return of Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) – Star Wars' answer to the question, "What if Doctor Bashir from Deep Space Nine got pulled out of the oven before he was done cooking?" Pershing, seen in the latest episode on a holo-projector looking particularly sheepish, sends word to Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) that his experiments aren't going swimmingly. For receipts, we turn to a series of bacta tanks, each occupied by a flaky, lumpy wad of what might have once been a person.

Most intriguing of all is Pershing's report that they're unlikely to find a donor with "a higher M-count" than the Child, and his talk about rejected transfusions of blood taken from the ultra-cute creature. What was going on there? Let's dive in.

What's in the tubes in The Mandalorian?

Star Wars has always been a franchise that keeps its Pazaak cards close to its smuggler's vest. But it's also a universe built on a foundation of nerd speculation, and fans are already tossing around theories as to what's going on in those damp blue tubes and what Pershing and his associates are attempting to do.

The problem here is that Star Wars has had a real infestation of mutilated, wrinkly, pale old man clones over the last few years. On the one hand, there's the Emperor, ol' Sheev Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). The Rise of Skywalker caught up with the villain otherwise known as Darth Sidious after a couple of long decades, suspended from an evil carnival wave swinger ride and cackling his usual jive. Imperial loyalists like Moff Gideon would probably get a real kick out of trying to create a new Force-sensitive body for their old regional manager, so that could be what's happening here.

On the other hand, there's also Snoke, the towering no-goodnik confirmed to have been a vat-grown puppet — one with Force powers of his very own, albeit the kind that are only good for seeing ironic, less-than-helpful interpretations of the future. It's not hard to imagine that his unfortunate Jonah Hex-adjacent facial structure came from having started out as an experiment with tons of extracurricular lumps that needed to be removed. Snoke's part in Sidious' schemes would make his creation a high priority for the kind of folks that tool around outer space screaming "the Empire will rise again!" while blasting the Imperial March air horns out of their TIE-Dodge Chargers. So, perhaps the experiments happening within The Mandalorian are connected to Snoke's creation as well.

Then again, maybe this is something new. Maybe it's all apropos of nothing related to the big bads of previous Star Wars storylines. Perhaps the franchise is moving in a whole different direction, telling a tale that nobody could see coming.

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