WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for the series premiere of Star Wars: The Mandalorian, streaming now on Disney +.
Much of The Mandalorian's premiere episode unfolds in a straightforward, but satisfying, way, introducing the titular bounty hunter and the shadowy world he inhabits, with references to Star Wars lore and homages to classic Westerns. However, the final scenes add a major twist when it's revealed the asset that has cost so many bounty hunters their lives is an infant of Yoda's mysterious species.
This marks only the third appearance of the unnamed species in canon, after Yoda and Yaddle, the member of the Jedi High Council introduced in The Phantom Menace. At this point, we know as much about that race as we do about why Werner Herzog's Client is willing to pay such a high price for the retrieval of the adorable baby (or a somewhat-lower fee for proof of its death).
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We're tipped off to the unusual nature of the target when The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is informed by Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), the head of the bounty guild, that there's no bounty puck for this assignment; he'll have to meet with the client face to face. From there, the mystery only deepens, as the Client offers down payment in beskar, or Mandalorian iron, with a "camtono" (safe) with more waiting for him upon delivery. He wants this asset alive, but he acknowledges dead may be necessary, much to the chagrin of his nervous associate, Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi).
In addition to there being no bounty puck, there's scant other information about the target beyond last reported position and age: They're 50 years old, which is, of course, a bit of a feint, but also fitting, considering the lifespan of Yoda's species is several centuries. So, naturally, an infant would be 50.
While bounty hunters that preceded The Mandalorian died while trying to extract the target from the well-armed, and well-entrenched, mercenaries that held it, they didn't have the aid of IG-11 (Taika Waititi), the scene-stealing, nihilistic droid who, it turns out, has taken on the same assignment. Partnering on the spot as a sort of intergalactic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Mandalorian and IG-11 defeat the overwhelming opposition (without the droid having to activate its self-destruct sequence), only to find their prize is ... a cooing Baby Yoda, Or at least a baby of Yoda's species.
When IG-11's immediate extinct is to "terminate" the asset, as his commission dictated, The Mandalorian shoots the droid in the head. But why? It's likely not because the Client offered a higher payment for the target's return alive. It's because, in an earlier scene in which The Mandalorian pays a visit to the Armorer, he reveals that he was a foundling; it's suggested that a portion of his bounties is donated to sponsoring other Mandalorian foundlings. He's a hired gun with a proverbial heart of gold.
The immediate consequences for The Mandalorian seem clear, even if the larger ramifications for Star Wars are not. It's doubtful that the Mandalorian will simply hand over the infant to the Client, and quietly take his payment in beskar. Instead, it's a safe bet the bounty hunter will become the hunted, as the Client and others seek this ... Baby Yoda. It may very well be the plot that plays out over the course of the first season.
We still don't know why this target is so important, but it's a good guess that it's the last member of Yoda's species. Yoda has been dead for five years by the time of The Mandalorian, although his Force ghost lives on, and Yaddle was nowhere to be seen by the time of the original trilogy. Given that the only other canonical members of that species were Force-sensitive, we might theorize that the Asset is too, which would certainly explain its value, and why the Client wants the baby alive if impossible, but dead if necessary.
Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog and Nick Nolte. The first episode is streaming now on Disney+.