Burning Questions 'The Mandalorian' Needs to Answer This Season
We're officially halfway through the first season of The Mandalorian on Disney+, after "Chapter Four: The Sanctuary" found Mando attempting to hide out on the planet of Blue Krill and teaming up with Cara Dune (Gina Carano). The episode functioned almost as a one-shot mini-western in the vein of The Magnificent Seven, but more importantly it delivered the best Baby Yoda meme yet.
With only four episodes remaining, there's still a lot we don't know about the state of the galaxy in this pre-The Force Awakens time period, including a factually accurate name for Baby Yoda, who is clearly not an infant version of Yoda but a being from the same, unnamed species as the venerable Jedi master who became a Force ghost in Return of the Jedi. "Chapter Four" gave us a little more information on Mandalorian culture and our masked hero himself, but not enough to form a complete picture of "the Way." With the outline of The Mandalorian sketched in, but huge questions still unanswered, what do we hope to see over the remainder of the season?
What's the deal with Baby Yoda?
It's increasingly obvious that the legacy of The Mandalorian's first season will be that little green puppet who finds a way to be cute in every single episode. That's what happens when the first live-action Star Wars series dedicated its main storyline to a cute little puppet with big Mogwai ears.
The show hasn't referred to Baby Yoda as Baby Yoda, or even as my preferred moniker Kid Green, going only so far as referring to the little dude as a "him," a "child," and a "kid," but we still haven't gotten an actual name or even a species name. Entertainment Tonight reporter Ash Crossan asked series co-creator Dave Filoni what to call the baby and he says it's fine to call him Baby Yoda, despite The Mandalorian taking place after Yoda's death in Return of the Jedi. He also says, in reference to fans, that "they don't know it yet," which doesn't tell us a lot, but does seem to imply that we will eventually have an actual name for the scene-stealer.
There have been hints in the first half of the season about what the ultimate purpose behind Kid Green (Baby Yoda) will be. It's obvious Dr. Pershing and the Kamino symbol on his uniform is supposed to hint that they're after the little guy for his genetic material. Could this be because the kid is a clone and they're checking up on some aspect of its development? While unlikely, given that the Bounty Hunter's Guild is now operating on a shoot-to-kill mandate, it's not impossible, since Pershing could have gotten any scans he needed before Mando broke in and stole Kid Green back in episode three.
What's more likely is that they're using the scan to harvest the Force -- and it's something that Dr. Pershing could have already done. That would also build in a way out for Kid Green at the end of the series because he has already been scanned. Now if Mando can, uh, fake Baby Yoda's death or something, all he needs to do is get the Bounty Hunter's Guild off his back.
Does Kid Green have anything to do with the former Empire, or were the Imperial leanings of the Client (Werner Herzog) a coincidence? The character had stormtroopers guarding his compound and wore a pendant with the Imperial insignia on it. This could be because there's an organized effort amongst the remaining Imperial warlords to make a play for Kid Green and his Force power, or it could be something more sinister. Remember that the Client was presenting Mando's Beskar prize as something rightfully returned to the Mando culture ("don't you agree?"). Could the kid be the first generation of a species hunted to extinction? Is collecting its genetic material (even for profit)... altruistic?
If your brain is racing for a way the season can end without the death of this cute character, feel the comfort in knowing you're on a Titanic-sized boat of fans who are worrying with you.
Who runs the Outer Rim?
The Mandalorian is good at what he does, and what he does is bounty-hunting. However, when we saw the Bounty Hunter's Guild, we learned the Guild was falling on hard times in the wake of the Empire's collapse. People aren't willing to pay the Guild's prices anymore and when they are, it's not always in a recognizable form of currency. On the planets the Mandalorian has visited so far, Imperial Credits don't spend as reliably as Calamari Flan and the New Republic is "a joke" that has abandoned its standing army of Shock Troopers in favor of a more friendly policing force that protects diplomats and quells riots.
If The Mandalorian is a Western, there's been a missing trope that indicates an plot possibility: Who is "The Law?" If Mando is catching bail jumpers, someone must be holding trials for criminals, right? Is it just local groups who want justice or is there a greater warlord and/or New Republic faction we haven't seen yet? The episodes so far have been very careful to bring us some classic Western stories filtered through Star Wars, but we haven't run across the marshal in any of these scenarios.
All of this might change next week with "Chapter Five," whose one-line plot description from Disney+ is: "The Mandalorian helps a rookie bounty hunter who is in over his head." Hopefully the person who sent this rookie is some sort of authority. This authority doesn't have to be good, either, it just has to be an authority. The trope of the good-hearted cowboy overthrowing the bad sheriff is as valid as a Gunsmoke-inspired tale where "The Law" is an island of justice in a lawless land.
This period of Star Wars history in the Outer Rim is one of lawlessness, but we also haven't seen Giancarlo Espisito's character Moff Gideon, who shares a scene with some Death Trooper escorts in one of the trailers. A Moff could be the leader of this particular sector, grasping at power, and he could be a good or bad sheriff. "In a way, you might call him an underworld character," Esposito told /Film before the series debuted. "You may also look at him as a savior, as someone who might bring back some order to the world after it's all collapsed."
Who are the Mandalorians?
In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series and later in Star Wars: Rebels, we got a different picture of Mandalorian culture than what we've seen on The Mandalorian so far. What was previously a culture that expanded beyond being mercenaries into an intense pride for racial history and a Mandalorian's own house or clan has now expanded into…"the way."
"It is the way" is the phrase that ends conversations where we're learning more about the new Mandalorian culture. These Mandalorians cannot take their mask off in front of other people, becoming a symbol of a culture more than an individual. Yet, we learn from the main character in Chapter Four that he's not a Mandalorian by birth; Mandalorians rescued him after his family was massacred by battle droids.
We've learned "the way" also keeps Mandalorians on the move because once they have selected the location for an Enclave, no more than one Mandalorian can be outside at a time. (This rule can be broken to save the one Mandalorian that's outside, but then they need to abandon the base, maybe even the planet.) This strategy seems to make it impossible to guess how many Mandalorians are in each Enclave. Either there's a Mandalorian around or there isn't, so most people would be unaware of their numbers. Plus, their numbers would fluctuate if they keep picking up other "foundlings" along the way and welcoming them into Mandalorian culture.
This all seems like a culture that's hunted, which could overlap with any truths we learn about Kid Green (Baby Yoda) going forward. Though there are still lingering questions as to when the fairly stable Mandalorian culture Sabine Wren left in the final season of Star Wars: Rebels became this fractured group of shadow mercenaries on the run.
Who is the Mandalorian? (And is that even important?)
Pedro Pascal apparently leaked the "real" name of the Mandalorian a couple weeks back, which does suggest we'll have more forge-flashbacks or maybe even a full sequence where we see Mando as a child rescued by the Mandalorians. So far, we've seen people in red robes being blasted by battle droids, then Mando gets hidden in some sort of box, before a battle droid finds his hiding spot. Presumably we'll return to see the conclusion of that scene where the Mandalorians show up to take in young Mando as their own. The Mandalorians don't seem to be big into names, even amongst themselves, so it probably never came up.
The "real" name mentioned is not one from deep Star Wars lore, it's just a person. Not only is it just a person, but it's a person the whole Enclave of Mandalorians risked their necks for last week as if he was one of their own.
Before "Chapter Four" delineated clear consequences for Mandalorians removing their helmets (basically, they're shunned by the Enclave), it seemed more possible that they were using our Mando as a weapon because he was especially good at battle -- a Mandalorian at heart, if you will. But the helmet rules make this seem like an honor. We haven't seen the foundlings yet (that we know of), but maybe not all of them are forced to wear masks? Maybe he's an honored warrior that protects a culture.
The unveiling of our Mando's signet would be a fitting way of establishing identity given it seems very likely we will not see his face by the end of the first season (there will be a second season of The Mandalorian and the rules seem very clear about taking off the helmet), but it's a toss up as to how important the real identity of our Mando is.
At first it seemed like this show was going to side-step the Force entirely, but then the kid used it in episode two. Is it possible that the attack Mando's parents died in was somehow related to the Purge? There are B2 battle droids acting as the aggressors, which means this happened before the Empire seized control of the Republic. It seems unlikely given what we know about Star Wars canon that Mando was a Jedi on the run, but it wouldn't be out of character for him to have once been a Force-sensitive child.
According to the Clone Wars animated series, all babies have the potential to access the Force, which is why Jedi training begins so young. It also meant that all Force-sensitive children were hunted down by Darth Vader and the Empire after the fall of the Republic, so it would actually be beneficial if one could "age out" of being a Force user.
If we had a "man with no name" Western trope for season one, how long can we ride that character development? The first season is going to get a gimmie thanks to the absolute success that is Kid Green (Baby Yoda), but can they keep us waiting between seasons without us knowing who the Mandalorian really is? Seems like a big ask... unless we have to sacrifice knowing that info to keep Kid Green alive. If the final episode of The Mandalorian ends with the baby dying, we -- and I cannot stress this enough -- will riot.