WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the second episode of The Mandalorian, "The Child," streaming now on Disney+.
The big revelation of The Mandalorian's premiere that the 50-year-old "asset" sought by the title character, and numerous (now dead) bounty hunters before him is actually an infant of the same species as Yoda took Star Wars fans by surprise, and immediately sparked speculation about Force sensitivity and, just possibly, a cloning scheme. Now the Disney+ drama's second episode, appropriately titled "The Child," has confirmed one of those theories.
"Baby Yoda," as the child was instantly dubbed, is not only Force-sensitive, but well aware of how to use its abilities -- or at least as aware as an infant can be.
The second episode picks up shortly after the Wild Bunch-style shootout in which The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and IG-11 (Taika Waititi) located the "asset," before the bounty hunter eliminated the assassin droid, who was intent on killing the child. Crossing the unforgiving landscape with the baby in tow, in its levitating bassinet, the Mandalorian is attacked by three Trandoshan bounty hunters, obviously seeking the same prize. He wins, and saves the child again, but is injured in the fight.
And here's where creator/writer Jon Favreau and director Rick Famuyiwa (Dope, The Wood) begin to toy with viewers. As the Mandalorian tends to what appears to be a serious injury, the baby climbs out of the bassinet, and reaches toward the bounty hunter's wounded arm. Its eyes close -- a telltale sign that a Star Wars characters is invoking the Force -- but the infant is interrupted and returned to the bassinet before it makes contact. Undeterred, the child makes a second attempt, only to end up back where it started -- and this time with the cover closed, securing Baby Yoda within.
While the producers certainly could have teased this out across several episodes with feint after feint, they're not that cruel. Instead, they confirm the child's Force abilities about 15 minutes later, when it intervenes to save the life of the Mandalorian.
Returning to his ship to find it swarming with Jawas, who have begun to strip it for parts, the Mandalorian tries, but fails, to infiltrate their rolling fortress. Returning to the home of Kuiil (Nick Nolte), the Ugnaught moisture farmer who led him to the asset, the bounty hunter begrudgingly agrees to trade with the Jawas for his own property. When he refuses to give them either his armor or the infant, the skilled negotiators demand "the Egg," which, of course, is a dangerous proposition.
That's because "the Egg" is laid in a cave by a short-tempered creature resembling a prehistoric rhinoceros, which makes its home in a cave. As skilled as the Mandalorian is, he's no match for the brute force of this beast, which throws him around like a rag doll, damaging his armor, shrugging off his flamethrower and mucking up his rifle in the process. The bounty hunter makes a desperate last stand, holding out a knife as the creature charges toward him. Instead of being destroyed by the impact, however, the Mandalorian is saved by the quick-thinking child, who levitates the beast a few feet above the ground.
For comparison, let's look back to The Empire Strikes Back, where a frustrated Luke Skywalker, even with his (admittedly limited) Jedi training, couldn't raise his X-wing from the waters of Dagobah, only to be shown by Yoda how it's done. Without doing the math to calculate proportional weight, this feat would seem to demonstrate that Baby Yoda has some impressive -- and presumably purely intuitive -- abilities. This action takes its toll, leaving the infant unconscious for most of the rest of the episode. But, hey, it's a baby.
As The Mandalorian continues it riff on Lone Wolf and Cub, we're likely to see the scope of Baby Yoda's fledgling abilities, even as we try to absorb what the infant's existence means to larger Star Wars lore.
Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog and Nick Nolte.