Warning: This post contains big spoilers for the premiere episode of The Mandalorian.
Star Wars creator George Lucas famously found inspiration for his far, far away galaxy in Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 classic, The Hidden Fortress.
So it’s only appropriate that Jon Favreau would model his new Star Wars series, The Mandalorian, after another famous entry in the Japanese samurai genre. In the closing moments of the series premiere, which just debuted on Walt Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, the titular gunslinger (played by Pedro Pascal) and robotic bounty hunter IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi) discover the identity of the target they’ve been sent to find and terminate… and it’s not who they — or we — expect.
Inside a circular metal canister, they find a a green-skinned baby alien sporting two very familiar ears. You’ve heard of the classic Japanese manga series Lone Wolf and Cub? Well, get ready for Lone Wolf and Yoda Cub.
To be fair, we don’t know yet if the baby Pascal’s Mandalorian recovers is a reincarnated Yoda, who died five years ago in the show’s post-Return of the Jedi timeline. But this kid is definitely of the same species — a species that, for the record, has yet to be given a name.
Besides the obvious fascial resemblance, the baby also has the same slow ageing pattern as Yoda: When the Mandalorian is initially dispatched on his mission by his mysterious Client (Werner Herzog), he’s told that his bounty is “50 years old.”
While most humanoids and/or aliens would be showing their age after five decades, this child is barely out of diapers. And good thing, too, because youth is what saves the kid from a brutal death. As IG-11 moves to terminate the target as per the mission, the Mandalorian shuts him down permanently with a laser blast. The premiere ends with the bounty hunter — who has his own tragic childhood, as we learn via flashbacks from earlier in the episode — staring at the baby, uncertain what to do next.
If we use Lone Wolf and Cub, we can guess some of what’s in store for our anti-hero: In the manga — which has been adapted multiple times for film and TV — the lone samurai takes his orphaned son with him on the road. Similarly, it appears that the Mandalorian intends to find a way to protect this new life, which also means he’ll have to stay one step ahead of the Client and his partner, Dr. Pershing, not to mention the other members of the bounty hunting guild he belongs to, led by Greef Carga (Carl Weathers). Presumably, the yet-to-be introduced mercenary Cara Dune (Gina Carano) will be one of the hunters in hot pursuit before potentially joining his mission.
On Twitter, Star Wars fans are thrilled to be welcoming another... well, whatever species Yoda is to the galaxy. You might say the child represents a new hope that the franchise’s post-Skywalker Saga era will be a fruitful one.
BABY YODA! ?— Flipphoneswerebetter (@Flipphoneswere1) November 12, 2019
There is a baby Yoda in the Mandalorian and he’s the cutest thing I’ve seen since baby Groot ❤️— toni (@ToniLyn_) November 12, 2019
“Baby Yoda” isn’t the only big surprise in the first episode of The Mandalorian. Here are some of the other Easter eggs we spotted.
Money makes the world go ‘round
George Lucas was roundly ridiculed when he opened The Phantom Menace with a long text crawl about the taxation of trade routes. But we’d advise against poking fun at the gun-savvy Mandalorian for being concerned with galactic economics. In his first encounter with Greef, he pushes back against his guild boss for trying to pay him in “Imperial Credits” considering that the Emperor has been dethroned via elevator shaft. “It’s all I’ve got,” Carga says, before admitting he can pay half of the agreed-upon amount in “Calamari Flan,” the currency probably preferred by Admiral Ackbar’s people.
Times are apparently tough all over the galaxy: Greef says that potential clients are trying to find ways around paying Guild rates, and the Mandalorian goes on to complain that he barely has the money to fill his Razor Crest, which is why he agrees to meet Herzog’s Client — who, by the way, is being protected by Stormtroopers that no longer have an Emperor to serve in exchange for currency — in the first place. If you want a reason for why the First Resistance grew out of the ashes of the Empire, economic inequality is a good place to start.
Bounty hunters and cantinas go together like lightsabers and Jedi. The Mandalorian visits not just one, but two backwater watering holes filled with scum and villainy. Look closely, and you’ll spot a Bossk-like Trandoshan in the background of one of the cantinas.
Other familiar living and robotic species that you might notice both in and outside of the various cantinas include scavenging Jawas, boxy GNK Droids and, most tragically, a whimpering Kowakian monkey-lizard watching another of his kind being roasted over a spit. Too bad he couldn’t find a Hutt willing to adopt him like Salacious B. Crumb did.
Quick thoughts on The Mandalorian (w/ spoilers?):— Nick Pino (@PowerstancePino) November 12, 2019
1. Needs about 200% more alien languages.
2. Why did that cantina not have music playing?
3. Glad to see more Kawakians on-screen.
4. Music is decidedly non-Star Wars-y
5. @juliee_heredia called the ending and, honestly, wtf.
Most shocking part of the mandalorian was the kowakian trapped in a cage watching his friends being barbequed— SCDevil15 (@SCDevil15) November 12, 2019
In the Mandalorian they were eating Kowakian monkey lizards and I was sad. I miss Salacious B Crumb— formerly Brettpatss (@Brett_Patss) November 12, 2019
Where does he get such wonderful toys?
A bounty hunter is only as good as his equipment, and the Mandalorian embarks on every mission with a well-stocked armoury. Besides his trusty Amban phase-pulse blaster for in-field use, his Razor Crest is equipped with an onboard carbon freezer for keeping his bounty safe and quiet during space flight.
That gunship also comes with an accessory we haven’t seen in any live-action Star Wars film before: a toilet or “vacc tube” for those mid-flight emergencies.
Small mandalorian spoiler:— Matt Dallas (@MDallas27) November 12, 2019
We now have bathrooms canon in the SW universe. This is big!!
During the course of the episode, the Mandalorian acquires two other tools that come in handy for his assigned mission. The first is a small slab of Beskar iron, which the Client gifts him with as a down payment. Beskar is a key ingredient of Mandalorian armour and he promptly puts this down payment to use, having his armorer melt it down to mould a new shoulder piece.
Pascal also learns how to ride a “blurgg,” courtesy of the moisture farmer, Kuiil (voiced by Nick Nolte). While less swift than a space horse, these creatures are the perfect — and really the only available — ride to get to the fort where “Baby Yoda” awaits.
These creatures made their first appearance in the ‘80s TV movie, The Battle for Endor, but were assumed written out of canon with the rest of the Extended Universe until they popped up in The Clone Wars animated series. And speaking of things we all assumed had been written out of canon...
Gather around the Tree of Life!
Celebrate a day of peace, a day of harmony... celebrate Life Day! That’s the special holiday introduced in the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special that aired for the first and only time on 17 November, 1978. Lucas famously hated the finished product so much that he banned it, and any mention of Life Day, from the live-action galactic records. At the same time, he couldn’t bring himself to get rid of Boba Fett, the original Mandalorian bounty hunter who made his first appearance in an animated segment that aired during the Holiday Special.
And now, The Mandalorian has brought Life Day back into canon. While in the process of transporting one prisoner — a wisecracking Fledgling Mythrol in need of a vacc tube and a means of escape — the alien remarked that he’d hoped he’d be free by Life Day. “Get home to the family,” he adds, handily summarising the plot of the Holiday Special so you’ll never have to watch it. Although, you totally should.
WAIT THEY REFERENCED LIFE DAY ON THE MANDALORIAN, DOES THAT MEANS THE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL IS CANON AGAIN— beautifulcity (@beautifulcity) November 12, 2019
Because they mentioned Life Day on The Mandalorian, this is now canon. I don’t make the rules. pic.twitter.com/rLbg8mnCq9— Writtin Directino (@PAXAckmericana) November 12, 2019
The Mandalorian is currently streaming on Disney+.