Warning: This post includes spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2 episode 6.

At the end of The Mandalorian season 2 episode “The Tragedy”, Baby Yoda is in Empire custody, separated from Din Djarin, and Moff Gideon appears to revel in the suggestion that the Child has some darkness within him. Fundamentally, the episode seems to suggest that Giancarlo Esposito’s villain actively wants Baby Yoda to be evil and that adds a new level of complexity to the Empire’s plan for Grogu.

Chapter 12, “The Siege” revealed the extent of Moff Gideon’s evil plans, first establishing that Baby Yoda was key to the Empire as a donor, because his midichlorian-rich blood was being used to develop presumably Force-sensitive clones. Gideon’s dramatically presented “new era” for the Empire is the foundation for the First Order that plays such a crucial role in the Star Wars sequels, and obviously also included the first look at the Dark Troopers that would come into play in “The Tragedy” in real terms. Grogu’s treatment by the Empire (and possibly others) – and the gaps filled in his backstory by Ahsoka’s translation of his memories – fit with the portrayal of him as a “donor” or a “specimen” in the Empire’s own parlance, but Gideon’s interaction with the Child in chapter 14 changed that.


As Gideon comes to the holding cell housing Baby Yoda after the Dark Troopers kidnap him from Tython’s seeing stone, the Child is seen taking out a pair of stormtroopers. Shockingly, that includes Grogu using Force Choke and visibly displaying anger, tying back into Ahsoka’s concerns about Baby Yoda’s appropriateness for Jedi training. She refused the offer to be his teacher because of the trauma he’d been through and that he was clouded by fear and anger. Seeing Baby Yoda choose not the former but the latter of those emotions to react to his imprisonment and his separation from Din Djarin was deeply telling. And crucially, so too was Gideon’s obvious enjoyment of the moment. The Moff allowed the torture of the troopers to continue and something close to a proud smile crossed his face as Grogu’s anger flared, and then there was even something approaching affection in the way Gideon talked to him about the Darksaber. That change in perception of their dynamic matters, because the hint that Gideon wants Baby Yoda to be evil makes him more than just a donor. It makes him a potential weapon.

Baby Yoda has so far been treated only as a MacGuffin from the Empire’s side because his blood is key to them fulfilling their plan. He was, essentially, just a vessel to be “used up” with the ominous suggestion of what would follow left for the audience to fill in. But Gideon’s interactions with Baby Yoda suggest he at least thinks of the Child as something else; that he perhaps even has plans for the potentially powerful Force wielder beyond being a glorified blood bag. The key observation here is that encouraging Baby Yoda to be evil doesn’t impact the primary plan, because M-count cannot be affected by training or any outside influence, so it would be wasted energy, and Gideon does not strike as someone with a high tolerance for inefficiency. What Baby Yoda embracing his own dark side more can do for Gideon is more symbolically powerful, because it not only gives him a weapon to use if he can develop it right but it also takes away a powerful ally from an enemy.

There is very much a suggestion that Baby Yoda is already on the path to darkness. Putting aside some of his more impulsive behaviors in past episodes, Ahsoka confirming he is marked by fear and anger is a more telling concern and the slightest hint of him reaching out for the Darksaber even carries a loaded connotation about temptation. It feels increasingly like The Mandalorian will become more of an overt battle for Grogu’s soul, with Gideon tempting him to darkness even as the Empire uses him while Din Djarin’s more familial bond will pull him back. It’s a model that’s worked for Star Wars before and Gideon actively seeking Baby Yoda’s fall to evil mirrors Anakin, Luke, and Ben Solo’s trials of temptation. And on top of that, Gideon striking a blow against Din Djarin – with whom there’s enough of a personal conflict for Gideon to enjoy destroying the Razor Crest – would be the kind of masochistic pleasure you’d typically expect from a great malicious villain.

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