At the end of The Mandalorian season 1, Din Djarin was given a pretty specific mission from the Armorer: find the people who are supposed to take care of “the Child” and deliver this helpless little green guy back to them. Presumably, this means Mando is going to track down some Jedi and/or other characters who look like Yoda. But, the strangest thing about this huge, overarching plot point is that there is no way the audience actually wants Mando to complete his quest. In adventure stories, orphans like Baby Yoda don’t get reunited with their parents, because if they do, things get boring.
Back in 2011, the novelist Karen Russell made a perfect observation about why we love orphan narratives in fiction. Speaking about her 2011 novel Swamplandia!, which tells the story of a group of teens working in an alligator-wrestling theme park, Russell said: “I think it’s expedient to get those authority figures out of the way. What if they had really authoritarian overprotective parents? Nothing would happen in the book. They would all apply to college!”
Swamplandia! is nothing like The Mandalorian, but the narrative fiction lesson is fairly universal. With the exception of actual kids narratives like Finding Dory, for the most part, reuniting a lost child with their parents or guardians is kind of a buzzkill when it comes to drama. This is why A Series of Unfortunate Events works: the Baudelaire orphans are not going to suddenly find their parents are alive. That would end the story and cheapen their own autonomy.
Baby Yoda isn’t exactly like the Baudelaire orphans insofar as he does need Mando’s protection, but the stakes are similar. Were we to discover where Baby Yoda comes from, the answer would have to twist the plot in another direction. Otherwise, the show would simply have to end. With a third season already in development, a conclusion to the Baby Yoda saga seems highly unlikely.
The Mandalorian is in a paradoxical position of never actually wanting to solve its greatest mysteries. If we find out that Baby Yoda’s dad was just Yoda, or Yaddle was his mother, it’s sort of cool from a dot-connecting Star Wars nerd standpoint, but it doesn’t do much for the narrative of the series.
By the same token, if some legacy character like Luke Skywalker or Ahsoka Tano appears in The Mandalorian season 2 and says, “Okay, here’s the whole story on Baby Yoda,” it again, undercuts the present-tense narrative of the show being about Mando and Baby Yoda. The ad-hoc family of two is what the series is about, so even if Mando is on a mission to replace that status quo with a different one, it seems like he’s doomed to fail because the series format just won’t allow it.
But just how long can the show pull this storyline off for without giving viewers some concrete answers and how long can the Empire keep up the chase? A Series of Unfortunate Events demonstrates that you can have Count Olaf chasing the Baudelaires over the course of 13 novels and three Netflix seasons, but even then, there has to be some kind of ending in sight.
Revealing too many secrets about Baby Yoda is clearly a fine line The Mandalorian has to walk. If, in some insane plot twist, Mando delivers Baby Yoda to safety in season 2, and walks away, then the show is just about some guy who looks like Boba Fett walking around doing bounty hunter stuff. But, even the viewer who may want that to happen, knows deep down that it can’t. From a fictional point-of-view, the character of the Mandalorian doesn’t work without Baby Yoda. The show needs Baby Yoda+Mando to keep some coaxium in the narrative hyperdrive.
So, what can happen in The Mandalorian season 2? Unlike so many other big sci-fi shows, the Star Wars live-action series is more like a sitcom than a serialized epic series. Baby Yoda cannot die or change in a big way, and Mando cannot die unless it’s the finale episode. It’s no accident, then, that the first season often leaned into a bounty-of-the-week format when not addressing its main storyline. In a standalone episode, both characters are assumed to be safe. Expect to see more of that structure in season 2, with just enough Baby Yoda teases to keep you invested in the main storyline.
Just how many seasons will The Mandalorian last beyond season 2? Well, sitcoms can go on for a long, long time. And as Yoda once said, always in motion is the future…
The Mandalorian season 2 hits Disney+ on October 30.