Mandalorian’s Baby Yoda Twist Brings Forgotten Star Wars Story To Canon

The Mandalorian has revealed Moff Gideon’s plan for Baby Yoda – and it look very similar to a plot from Star Wars Legends.

WARNING: Spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2, episode 4 “Chapter 12: The Siege”.

The Empire’s possible plan to use Baby Yoda’s blood to make an army of Force-powered soldiers in The Mandalorian signals that one of Star Wars Legends’ coolest stories could be adapted for official canon. The Mandalorian season 2, episode 4 “Chapter 12: The Siege” revealed the blood taken from The Child in season 1 has been used (unsuccessfully) to imbue host bodies with Force powers, and the final scene showed Moff Gideon had a raft of black, Darth Vader-esque trooper armor.

These twists sparked a lot of speculation, perhaps most immediately the possibility of connections to either the creation of Snoke or Palpatine’s in-the-flesh return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. This certainly satisfies wider lore, although would go against the old-school and more standalone stylings The Mandalorian has built up. Indeed, taking the evidence at face value, the story is less about the sequel trilogy and more returning to an age-old sci-fi trope previously seen in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

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Related: Mandalorian Reveals Why The Empire Wants Baby Yoda

From the very beginning, The Mandalorian has delighted in making forgotten aspects of what is now known as Star Wars Legends into official Disney canon, from the fundamentals of Mandalorian culture (which challenge the canon version from The Clone Wars) to obscure Holiday Special details. But the latest twist goes further, and suggests what could be the show’s entire overarching plot was first seen in Star Wars video games released almost two decades ago.

Dark Jedi Reborn & Shadowtroopers Explained

Reborn and Shadowtroopers from Star Wars Jedi Knight 2 Jedi Outcast

Released between 1995 and 2003, the Dark Force/Jedi Knight games told the story of Kyle Katarn, a smuggler-turned-Jedi who scuppered the Empire/Imperial Remnant in the background of the original trilogy and into the New Republic. Kyle was the archetypal Expanded Universe character, a Luke-Han meld with unexpectedly major lore connections that have made him nigh-on impossible to work into the new canon; he stole the Death Star plans and went on to train at Luke’s Jedi Temple on Yavin IV, two plot points totally changed by Rogue One and Star Wars: The Last Jedi respectively.

A recurring threat to Kyle through the games was Imperial super soldier programs. In Dark Forces, the primary plot was concerned with the robotic Dark Troopers (a stormtrooper precursor to the prequel trilogy’s Battle Droids and later used as a playable character in the Battlefront series). In its sequel, subtitled Jedi Knight, he had to stop Dark Jedi Jerric from gaining control of the Valley of the Jedi, the site of the Sith’s seeming destruction 1000 years before A New Hope. All this came together in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, which saw another Dark Jedi, Desaan, give Force powers to his followers using the Valley, creating first the cloaked Reborn and then, with an armor upgrade of lightsaber-resistant cortosis, Shadowtroopers.

The story idea is fundamentally designed around being in a video game. Reborn present a rank-and-file foe with lightsabers and Force powers, and Shadowtroopers serve as their higher-health, leveled-up evolution. This is clearly seen in how their existence runs almost tangential to Kyle’s personal mission against Desaan (although final entry Jedi Academy would get into the Reborn morality in more detail). Nevertheless, the whole idea presented an interesting lens into how the Imperial Remnant grappled with its loss of military might and went back to the Dark Force well.

Related: Why Mandalorian’s May The Force Be With You Isn’t A Canon-Breaking Plot Hole

Although certain aspects of this story have been made canon, mainly the design of the Shadowtroopers in new-era Battlefront‘s Shadow Troopers and Rogue One‘s Deathtroopers, the concept of a Force army has been decidedly absent.

Baby Yoda’s Blood And Moff Gideon’s Own Shadowtrooper Project

Moff Gideon and new armor in The Mandalorian

Moving back to new Star Wars canon, there’s a lot of parallels between Jedi Outcast‘s Reborn and Moff Gideon’s plan in The Mandalorian. The host subjects in the Navarro lab have been injected with small amounts of Baby Yoda’s blood, with the inferred purpose of giving them some of his ability: although only alluded to by the phrase “M-count“, it seems The Child has a high midi-chlorian count, indicating a greater Force power. Paired with Gideon’s racks of Dark Troopers which, despite the name, appear to be armor, the suggestion is strong that he’s making a Force user army. It does, at least in a broad strokes, feel like the canonizing of a Jedi Knight story.

Of course, there are distinctions that speak to both the show’s style and bigger picture. For one, the method is different; instead of a mystical ceremony of Force energy in a former battlefield, this is more scientifically-driven experimentation. But that really is to The Mandalorian‘s benefit. Although the Force is baked into the premise by Baby Yoda, the Disney+ series is grounded, western/samurai riff, at least compared to the grander and mystical mainline Skywalker saga, so keeping the magic side realistic (and directly on The Child) is a strong advantage.

There’s also the question of armor, something that’s been a repeated topic of conversation through The Mandalorian. Whereas stormtrooper armor is flimsy and barely effective (a wry joke at the expense of the original trilogy), Din Djarin and his creed have blaster-proof Beskar. It would be likely any Dark Trooper armor would be similarly powered. Cortosis is less essential given the lowered presence of lightsabers in The Mandalorian (pending Ahsoka Tano’s debut in the coming episodes), but a manmade Beskar certainly has its advantages.

Related: Star Wars: The Darksaber Powers, History & Future Explained

All of these distinctions would set up a dark symbiosis of The Mandalorian‘s key conflicts in an adaptation of the Reborn idea. Din’s adoptive ancestors fought cloaked sorcerers in the Jedi, and were subsequently all-but wiped out by Gideon and the Empire in the Purge. Now, he will fight against Imperial soldiers who use Jedi powers and potentially have Mando-level armor.

Whether Jon Favreau and The Mandalorian team are actively pulling from the Jedi Knight games or have landed upon the story independently is unclear. The idea of an articially-created Force army is surprisingly untapped across both Star Wars Legends and Disney’s newer canon, despite the concept’s prevalence in other media (most recently in The Boys, where Giancarlo Esposito oversaw another insemination plot). It appearing now could be simply a result of creative inevitability (similar to how both Legends and canon have Han Solo’s child turn to the dark side), but it regardless pays tribute to a classic piece of Star Wars media. It’s just a shame that Kyle Katarn, once again, can’t come along for the ride.

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Updated: November 23, 2020 — 3:40 am

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