WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the first episode of The Mandalorian, now streaming on Disney+.
The Mandalorian's premiere on Disney + was chock-full of Easter eggs, small homages and surprises for Star Wars fans of every era. The series presents a fascinating look at the decade after the Battle of Endor, as it takes place 8 years after the Rebels destroyed the second Death Star.
One of the sneakiest ones was the blink-and-you-miss-it emblem on Doctor Pershing's sleeve. This sign, which can be better seen in the official pictures, is, according to The Attack of the Clones visual dictionary, a Kaminoan emblem worn by all clones, as noticed by Twitter user MarvelSW.
In The Mandalorian, Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) works with the Client (Werner Herzog), an older man who dresses, acts and sounds like a remnant of the fallen Empire. The Client hires Dyn Jarren, the titular Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) to find "a 50-years old asset," and offers to pay him with Beskar, a legendary alloy that can deflect almost any hit from any weapon, and seems to be an essential part of the Mandalorian culture.
However, the Client also makes it clear that, if the mission gets complicated, he would still pay the Dyn Jarren half of the agreed Beskar for proof of termination of the asset. This is where the Client and Doctor Pershing differ: Pershing seems disgusted at the idea of terminating the asset, and his behavior wanes dramatically from his enthusiastic entrance.
Viewers who have watched the first episode know that "the asset," despite being 50 years old, is a baby from the same unknown species as the Jedi Masters Yoda and Yaddle. After he finds the relatively young alien, Jarren seems taken with it, for lack of a better word, going so far as to shoot IG-11 (Taika Waititi), a fellow member of the Bounty Hunter's Guild who had received the unequivocal order to terminate the alien. The last shot of the first episode shows Jarren reaching out his hand to the baby while their crib floats mid-air, possibly indicating a levitating connection with the Force.
That short sequence of events is packed with meaning that sets up an arc that could extend through the first season and even the entire series. Although Dr. Pershing doesn't look like Boba Fett, the "doctor" shares his complexion and origin, as well as sinister-looking spectacles, so there's a chance that he might be the nerdier iteration of the same genetic stock or a descendant of one of the Fett clones who remained in Kamino. In any case, the fact that a scientist linked to a cloning facility is interested in acquiring a potentially Force-wielding infant points to the idea that some remnants of the Empire would still like to experiment on Force-sensitives.
As a curiosity, in The Force Unleashed tie-in comic books, Boba Fett found out long after the Clone Wars that the Empire had been doing terrible experiments with his "brothers," so there is a chance that The Mandalorian's showrunners might be scavenging some threads from that plotline.
However, whether the Client or Dr. Pershing or the seed of the First Order wants to clone enough Yodas to spam the entire halaxy with strange grammar is not as important as how the end of the first episode sets up the Mandalorian's internal conflict.
On the one hand, Jarren feels strongly about protecting Mandalorian children, particularly foundlingsg. The first thing that he does after getting paid is to visit the Armorer, a Mandalorian priestess-smith who forges a Beskar pauldron for his armor and rejoices in the idea that the leftover riches will "sponsor many foundlings."
"Good. I was once a foundling," Jarren answers, as he flashes back to the hovel where he was locked up in the middle of a battlefield, hands reaching up for his parents. However, the payment in Beskar for delivering baby Yoda would be enough not just to forge an entire armor, but an entire ship and to set up his Tribe for life.
After the Client hints that Beskar is a powerful incentive, the Armorer expresses a similar sentiment; she is surprised that an Imperial sympathizer would be returning Beskar stolen during the Great Purge. This payment would mean a lot for the Mandalorians in exile, particularly because money is hard to come by and the Mandalorians have been unrooted for such a long time. To forgo the prize could be considered tantamount to failing his Tribe and all those Mandalorian foundlings.
There's a chance that Jarren could have shot IG-11 because he wanted the whole payment and not a quarter of it, but from what we have seen in the first episode, that doesn't seem to be in character. So this means that if the Mandalorian chooses to protect the baby, he will be risking his professional reputation as well.
Even if The Mandalorian is sold on the action-filled promise of its bounty-hunting star, the first episode's most powerful image involves its heavily armored lead simply reaching out to the crib that's filled with the hope that (relatively) new life always presents.
Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog and Nick Nolte. New episodes arrive each Friday on Disney+.