Would be Baby Yoda be able to make it on its own?
There’s no doubt that Baby Yoda is the breakout star of The Mandalorian – he’s endlessly adorable, funny, and brings out the best in the Mando… but can he survive as a character in his own right?
Baby Yoda: The dangers of cute
First and foremost, Baby Yoda is cute – from the moment his big ears appeared onscreen to his playing with the children of Sorgan, his adorability knows no end.
But, as much as we want to see this on-screen forever, the storytellers must face the fact that he cannot stay ‘just cute’ forever. There are only so many cute, meme-able actions Baby Yoda can do before the formula becomes old and no longer an asset to the story. Change is needed, and it’s better this change occurs sooner than later.
This is, of course, is potentially risky as the character is so popular as he is and changing this might alienate viewers, but Star Wars storytelling has always been about taking risks (just look at the prequels!), and, what’s more, a change of character will draw in viewers more than keeping him as a static novelty will.
If we see a change in character or maybe uncover a new secret about him, this would be a fantastic way of keeping the character fresh and retaining audience interest in the long-run. Luckily, we saw the beginnings of this when he embraced the dark side and force-choked Cara Dune, so let’s hope the minds behind the show can follow through on this.
Baby Yoda: The difficulty of characterization
There’s no doubt about it: it is hard to flesh out an infant, nameless alien character who does not speak, such as Baby Yoda. Indeed, in season one of The Mandalorian he serves as a means to develop the character of Din Djarin rather than an autonomous character in his own right.
The creative team behind the show faces the decision of whether to continue his story and develop him as an independent character, or let him remain as a means of developing Din’s character. Personally, I’m rooting for the former option, as to have such a unique character as Baby Yoda roaming the galaxy would be a fascinating thing to see.
And it’s not impossible to achieve. Even if Baby Yoda stays mute, his puppet is just so well-engineered and fantastically merged with CGI that there is so much personality and life in him and thus room for characterization.
We’ve seen him interact with the world around him, seen him express concern for the Mando, and seen him distressed when on Dr. Pershing’s operating table. This in itself is basis enough for developing him as an independent character.
But the point remains: this will be difficult. Characterizing a child, and an alien puppet one at that will take some real storytelling ingenuity to ensure he does not fall into the trap of remaining a cute novelty forever. But having seen the skill of the team behind The Mandalorian, I am sure they can achieve this.
The fate of Baby Yoda
So, what is Baby Yoda’s fate? What’s the most likely route his story will be taken?
Considering the popularity of the character, I am sure that Baby Yoda will not leave the Razorcrest anytime soon. Combine this with the innovative spirit of Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and the rest of the team, I have hope that we will see him emerge as an independent character in season two and onwards.
Perhaps we’ll see his struggles as a Force-user, or his relationship with his people if they are found. Or, perhaps more likely, we’ll see him go down an unforeseeable, wholly new route.
Whatever happens, I hope we see Baby Yoda emerge as a character in his own right because he has real potential to become one of the most interesting and engaging characters in the Star Wars universe, as well as being the cutest.
All episodes of The Mandalorian are now streaming on Disney+.