The Mandalorian finale: Why we might See Baby Yoda go dark

Grogu in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Grogu in Lucasfilm's THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

“This next episode is gonna make you wish you hadn’t asked for more. It might just hurt too much.” That remark came from Brendan Wayne, who performs stunt and stand-in duties for Din Djarin.



If something was going to hurt, this guy would know. (Also, his Instagram account is pretty darn excellent if you need more Mando in your life.)

Fans are pairing that comment with a series of rhetorical questions from a March interview with Pedro Pascal, who gives Mando his voice and sometimes his body. Pascal had this to say about everyone’s favorite wolf and cub in space: “Who’s teaching who? Who’s protecting who? Who’s saving who? There will be more of that (in Season 3.)”

But Wait, There’s More Frustrating Vagueness

Then there’s the comment from the Grand Top Tier Canon-Maker himself, showrunner Dave Filoni: “(Fans) will have a lot to take in, and I think with any good ending there’s the moment you’re in it when you’re cheering and you feel satisfied, but then there’s a little bit after that where you think back at all the things that happened.”

Thus starteth the 2023 Mandalorian death rumor mill. Somebody’s gonna die! Who’s gonna die? Bo-Katan? The Armorer? That Twi’lek in the atmosphere-providing medieval band that was forever forever showing up in the background of Nevarro?

I don’t believe we’ll see a protagonist’s demise, at least not anymore this season. Paz Vizla’s excellent death in Episode 7 was, I think, the sacrifice for reminding fans that yeah, people in this galaxy occasionally die.

Grogu the Gray

With all the speculation on who “The Spies” of Episode 7 were, nobody’s thinking about the baby stuffed into the giant murder-robot. We know that Disney’s not going to deep-six the green baby who’s currently bankrolling all of Lucasfilm, every single Avenger, and probably also a new theme park on the International Space Station.

Grogu was in danger nearly every moment of the past two seasons. Now it seems there’s little for him to do now but wale on his “Yes” button and vibe with Lizzo. But maybe there’s still time for him to have a Big Story this season.

What if we see Grogu channel some dark side energy to save his beloved Din? He’s cognizant enough to understand that his father is in terrible trouble, and whimpered at the sight of him on the floor, bound and disarmed. A panicked and overwrought little Jedi might take the “quicker, easier, more seductive” path to secure Mando’s safety.

The Mandalorian and the Jedi No One Will See Coming

This twist puts Grogu in the driver’s seat for the finale, neatly setting up Season 4. And story-wise, there is precedence for this. Grogu showed flashes of Sith in each of the two previous seasons.

And it always had to do with Din Djarin.

Early in Season 1, Grogu thought Auntie Cara was harming his foster father during an arm-wrestling match, so you know what, lady? Force choke. Get away from my dad.

In the next appearance, at the end of Season 2, the little clan truly was in danger. Gorgu was was furious that he was snatched away from Din and vented his anger on two hapless stormtroopers. (Plo Koon would not approve.) Baby tossed both of them around the room like they were mannequins from Dollar Tree.

The Child

Just like Anakin before him, Grogu’s feelings rolled out of control because of his inability to manage a healthy familial relationship. In Anakin’s case, his anger was driven by fears about safety of his secret wife and the of the loss of his mother, who he left far too late for proper Jedi acclimation. His insistence on total control over every aspect of his life led him straight to a painful existence of Darth Vader.

But Grogu, although he experienced a gap in his training, was probably identified early under the New Republic, and the Jedi were the only family he knew until Din Djarin lifted the lid of his pram in a dusty room on Arvlala-7.

Since then, Ahsoka Tano refused to take him on as a student because of his fear and marked attachment to Mando. Later, he abandoned his Jedi training with Luke Skywalker to return to Din. So: He has a lot of collateral emotional damage, and not an enormous amount of training with which to govern it.

This child did not know how to let go of Din Djarin, and he suffered through an enormous amount of distress since Order 66–which left significant trauma of its own.

Anger! Hate!

Grogu slaying with some dark side flair also follows through with the Sith hints dropped earlier in the series. His early default to Anakin’s Sith weapon of choice (the Force choke) is curious and could answer further questions about where he was before Mando took up his tracking fob.

Theory Bingo

A flip in the Force would fulfill what Filoni said about “cheer” (for he would doubtless free his father in the process) and “making the audience think.” (Wait– Darth Grogu?)

It also fits with Brendan’s hint that “what comes next might hurt.” Nobody  wants to see sweet little Baby Yoda shoot Force lightning out of his little claws. (Well, they might, but the tremendous vault from grabbing Skittles out of a bowl to generating a kill shot with electricity is a bit… large.)

This ending opens several doors:

-It offers an opportunity to address the weird timeline and uneven pacing that’s been aggravating fans since The Book of Boba Fett. Clan Mudhorn was separated for apparently the space of a long weekend before Grogu jumped back into his father’s arms, and most of the natural tension the situation would have produced was squandered.

What if, for example, Din visited Grogu at Jedi training in secret, and the pupil manifested his attachment issues under Luke’s tutelage? To what task should Din Djarin turn to as an outlet for his tremendous skills and chivalrous heart? What if he tried to gather is fellow Mandalorians at their land in Nevarro?

-Ahsoka could cross over from her upcoming show to bring Din up to speed about the dark side– what it is and the dangers it presents to his little boy.

-Season 3 suffered for the lack of a unifying storyline. The struggle would no longer center on Grogu uncovering his powers, but the struggles he and his father faced in desperately trying to avoid the abuse of them.

-This would allow Grogu his own storyline and Din his (as Mandal’or– come onnnnnnnnnn, you want to see this guy in charge for at least a week or two.)

The problem The Mandalorian is enduring this is season is that there is no problem-– at least for everyone who has never seen or heard of The Clone Wars, Rebels, and the very existence of Mandalore.  And that, my good Star Wars friends, is a great many people.

At the the moment, Baby Yoda is but the sidekick to the sidekick. Nobody should put a fully armed and operational Din Djarin and his old green baby in a corner. This is what you reap from your folly. You get Lizzo, and incomprehensible decisions about droids, and a metric crapton of pirates.

Maybe, as he enters what is apparently his threenager phase, Grogu strays into trouble beyond terrorizing a fruit stand. Such turn flows naturally from the lore of the franchise; it’s a challenge Din won’t know how to solve immediately. Best of all, it’s a long-term, emotionally resonant trial of culture, hearts, and familial bonding that father and son can work through together.

And what is Star Wars if not that?