The fathers – and father figures – of the Star Wars series have not got an excellent track record. Who can forget Darth Vader’s dramatic declaration to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back that he is, in fact, Luke’s father? Sure, Vader saved his son in the end, but the path to Vader’s redemption was bumpy to say the least. And then there’s Kylo Ren, or Ben Solo, who was vocal in his disdain for Han Solo’s parenting in Star Wars: The Force Awakens – only turning to the light when Han helps him in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Even Anakin Skywalker felt like his master Obi-Wan Kenobi had betrayed him in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and complained about him plenty throughout Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. In fact, each trilogy of the Skywalker saga is arguably defined by the turbulent relationship between a father and his son.
Now, Star Wars is ever-expanding – The Mandalorian is another addition to the galaxy far, far away, and season 1’s best-kept secret was the Child (who the internet knows and loves as Baby Yoda). It may have come as some surprise, then, that this is another Star Wars instalment that revolves around the relationship between a father and his son.
The Mandalorian – AKA Din Djarin, or simply Mando – starts out as a ruthless bounty hunter with very little regard for his prey. In Chapter 1, one of Mando’s targets talks about getting home to his family in time for Life Day – and Mando promptly shoves him into a carbon-freezing chamber. But when Mando meets Baby Yoda, things start to change. From shooting IG-11 to taking on practically the entire Bounty Hunters’ Guild, and then a whole load of Imperial troopers, Mando goes above and beyond to keep Baby Yoda safe. It’s heavily implied this is because Mando himself is a “foundling” – an orphan taken in by the Mandalorians – just like Baby Yoda, as the Armorer points out in Chapter 8, and Mando and the Child become “a clan of two.”
Mando’s parental role has never been clearer than in Chapter 10. Not only does he go to great lengths to protect the Child, but when someone holds a knife to Baby Yoda, Mando takes the threat personally. “If you put one mark on him,” he says, “there’s no place you will be able to hide from me.” When Mando inevitably gets the upper hand, Baby Yoda runs to him with his arms out, and Mando scoops him up immediately. As the internet was quick to point out, the little, green creature was running to his father.
Baby Yoda running to his dad in #TheMandalorian 🥺 pic.twitter.com/rYIML7ZeYMNovember 9, 2020
It’s not just in these dramatic ways that Mando acts as a dad, either. Baby Yoda is seen eating a bite-sized meal from a little dinner tray, and Mando’s stern “no,” accompanied by a wagging finger, when Baby Yoda goes in for yet another egg-snack is every bit the exasperated parent. Let’s not forget Baby Yoda snuggling up to sleep under Mando’s cape, either. In fact, Chapter 10 is all about parenthood: from Frog Lady’s protectiveness and desperation over her eggs, to Mando’s quiet and loud moments of love for the youngling.
The unique bond Mando shares with the Child is only making Mando all the more interesting. He’s no longer the emotionless Bounty Hunter, and is instead a character we can see as far more human and multifaceted through his capacity for caring so deeply. His determination to find other Mandalorians, and eventually the Jedi, for Baby Yoda’s sake also speaks volumes when, previously, Mando only cared about his next bounty. We’ve become just as invested in Mando’s emotional journey as we are his epic action sequences, and we’re rooting for him to be as good of a father as he is a warrior.
Baby Yoda may have Force choked Cara Dune in season 1, but with Mando beside him, it seems unlikely he’ll ever fall to the Dark side like Anakin Skywalker before him or Ben Solo after him. Mando and Baby Yoda are breaking the Skywalker saga’s most destructive pattern: it’s very difficult to imagine the gunslinger ever hurting his beloved Child in the ways Star Wars’ other fathers have hurt their sons.
While you wait for the next episode of The Mandalorian, check out our guide to the Star Wars timeline to get up to speed, and find out when the next Mando episode releases with our The Mandalorian season 2 release schedule.