There's A Major Prequel Trilogy Reference In 'The Mandalorian' – Could It Be A 'Star Wars' Gamechanger?

The first episode of the Disney+ series The Mandalorian features a surprising reveal, one that ties back to the prequel trilogy and may have significant implications for the rest of the Star Wars franchise moving forward. There will be spoilers ahead as we dig into that last minute discovery.

Baby Yoda

A majority of the first episode of The Mandalorian is spent following the title character on a hunt for a target that is 50 years old. At the end of the episode, he discovers that his target is a creature of the same species as Yoda. Since the actual Yoda died after living for more than 900 years, the different aging process of this creature makes sense. (George Lucas has always been incredibly protective of all information about Yoda's origins and his species, so it's interesting that Lucasfilm is finally able to start playing in that corner of the sandbox all these years after the sale to Disney.) But how does this impact what might come next?

Connection to the Prequels

The insignia on the sleeves of the characters in the image above is seen in Attack of the Clones as an emblem worn by all of the clones on the planet Kamino. And wouldn't you know it? Someone on Twitter noticed the same emblem on the sleeve of Doctor Pershing, the guy who nearly got blasted by The Mandolorian in Werner Herzog's sketchy meeting room in the pilot episode.

Pershing made it very clear that he wanted "The Asset" (aka Baby Yoda) brought in alive, and his uniform seems to imply that he's associated with the remnants of the Empire in some way. Could it be that Baby Yoda is a clone of the little green guy we know and love? That emblem certainly points to cloning as being something this series is almost certainly going to tackle down the line, and there are a few reasons why a Yoda clone might be a gamechanger for the Star Wars universe. We'll get to those in just a second.

As the Still Watching podcast reminded me, Freddie Prinze Jr.'s rant on the beliefs of Dave Filoni and George Lucas made it clear that Star Wars is all about the concept of balance. Anakin Skywalker was born in 41 BBY (which stands for "Before the Battle of Yavin," the climactic confrontation at the end of A New Hope), and since this show is set nine years after the fall of the Empire (read: the Battle of Yavin) and Baby Yoda is actually 50 years old, that means Baby Yoda was born in the same year as Anakin.

Anakin was said to be The Chosen One, apparently born from the Force itself, but he was corrupted and went to the Dark Side, ultimately becoming one of the most fearsome people in the galaxy. Was his journey predetermined by the Force? Does the franchise's overarching idea of balance indicate that this Yoda baby was born as a positive counter to Anakin's eventual evil? Or was Anakin intended to be good all along and this creature was intended to be his negative counterbalance? Food for thought.

Could a Grown Version of That Character Appear in The Rise of Skywalker?

How exactly Baby Yoda's appearance will affect the rest of The Mandalorian remains to be seen, although I personally hope it results in at least one scene that serves as the Star Wars version of John Woo's Hard Boiled finale, in which Chow Yun-Fat's character blasts his way through baddies at a hospital with a baby in his arms.

But assuming Baby Yoda survives the events of this series, what's the endgame here? Is there a chance an older version of that character shows up in The Rise of Skywalker? I've seen some speculation that Emperor Palpatine may be behind the bounty, potentially so Palpatine could somehow leave his old body and take over this new possibly Force-sensitive new one. (It seems that a species with a long lifespan might interest the Emperor, who's obsessed with the concept of immortality.) And since Yoda was one of the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy, the Emperor could think that inhabiting a clone of him might be just what the doctor ordered.

Personally, I doubt that will happen. J.J. Abrams has talked about that movie serving as a conclusion to the entire Skywalker saga, and it would be strange to introduce this character so late in the game. Then again, Kevin Feige has said that audiences will need to watch the Disney+ Marvel shows in order to fully understand what's happening in the Marvel movies going forward, so Disney clearly isn't above implementing that cross-platform tactic. I can't fathom how that character's appearance in The Rise of Skywalker would be satisfying, but I also think including the Emperor in the new movie at all sounds like a terrible idea. Maybe Abrams and the Lucasfilm Story Group have cooked up a scenario in which all of these puzzle pieces fit perfectly, but I think they probably have enough on their plate without adding yet another character into the mix.