The greatest mystery of The Mandalorian is just why the Empire is so interested in Baby Yoda; could it be to extract his Midichlorians? The galaxy believes the Empire has been defeated after the Battle of Jakku, but in truth they've simply retreated into the shadows in order to regroup.
The Empire are attempting to stay under the radar, and as a result they don't want want to draw attention. They've been going to great effort to acquire a mysterious infant, a baby from Yoda's race, but they couldn't send in Stormtroopers without risking tipping their hand. Instead, they spent a king's ransom hiring bounty hunters to capture the 50-year-old baby. Unfortunately for the Empire - and fortunately for Baby Yoda - the bounty hunter who succeeded in this mission was the Mandalorian, a man with a conscience.
Attention is mostly focused on the mystery of Yoda's species, a secret that's been kept by George Lucas since Master Yoda was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back. But another important question is just why the Empire are interested in the infant. They clearly know all about them - the Imperial scientist Dr. Pershing is able to scan the baby and determine that it's healthy - which means they're sure to have a very specific objective.
What Makes Yoda's Species Unique?
Not much is known about Yoda's species, not even their name. Only three have been seen in the canon to date, while another three have appeared in the old Expanded Universe, overseen by George Lucas himself. With the exception of Baby Yoda, all five characters have been powerful and prominent Jedi Masters, committed to the light side of the Force. And Baby Yoda is strong in the Force as well. That strongly suggests every member of this race is Force-sensitive.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace introduced viewers to the idea of midichlorians, one of Lucas' most controversial additions to the Star Wars lore. He intended them to provide a biological basis for Force sensitivity, with Qui-Gon Jinn defining them as "a microscopic lifeform that reside within all living cells and communicate with the Force." The Jedi Master explained that all living beings are symbionts with the midichlorians, living in a mutually beneficial relationship with them. "Without the midichlorians," he explained, "life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to you, telling you the will of the Force."
A person's Force sensitivity is determined by the number of midichlorians within their body. While the pseudoscience behind the midichlorians has barely been touched on in canon, Lucas' original notes from 1977 suggest that he wanted some entire races to have higher midichlorian counts, and thus a naturally close relationship with the Force. "It is said that certain creatures are born with a higher awareness of the Force than humans," C-3P0 explained in one (non-canon) in-universe account. "Their brains are different; they have more midichlorians in their cells." Master Yoda's own midichlorian count was second only to Anakin Skywalker's among the Jedi, but it may not have even been unusual among members of his own race. That may well explain the Empire's interest in Baby Yoda.
Supporting this theory, The Mandalorian episode 3 saw the titular hero eavesdrop on a conversation between Dr. Pershing and his mysterious boss, who's played by Werner Herzog. "I order you to extract the necessary material and be done with it," Herzog's character commanded. The comment suggests the Empire are indeed attempting to remove some sort of biological substance from Baby Yoda's body. More importantly, the dialogue is actually pretty forced, with the script deliberately avoiding naming what this substance is. That suggests viewers would have a reaction if it were named - and, as a result, midichlorians shoot to the top of the list.
The Empire Could Be Seeking To Create Force Users
If true, this raises the obvious question: why is the Empire experimenting with midichlorians? The most likely answer is that the Empire intends to harvest the midichlorians from Baby Yoda in order to inject them into new hosts. Imagine a scenario in which the Empire hand-picked which individuals should wield the Force. No doubt they'd choose their most committed and well-trained stormtroopers, their best pilots, their most ruthless commanders, and their most dangerous tyrants. Worse still, tie-in novels have already confirmed that the New Republic disbanded its military after the Battle of Jakku, meaning nobody is ready for a resurgent Empire that's strong in the Force.
And the Empire's candidates may not even require much training. Chuck Wendig's novel Aftermath: Empire's End revealed that Palpatine kept Sith cultists close at hand, people who were intimately knowledgeable in the ways of the dark side even if they didn't possess any aptitude for the Force. That means there could well be key Imperial assets out there who already know how the dark side works, and are just waiting for a midichlorian injection.
Have The Empire Already Extracted Midichlorians from Baby Yoda?
Unfortunately, while the Mandalorian has rescued Baby Yoda, the infant was in Dr. Pershing's care for several hours. That means the Imperial scientist probably had the time to begin the extraction process, and that he's removed some of the child's midichlorians. There may well even be enough to enhance one of the Empire's agents, who could then use their new Force abilities to help track down the Mandalorian and recapture Baby Yoda. The Empire could be far more dangerous than the Mandalorian has realized, all because he made the mistake of handing his package over for a time.
The interesting question is whether or not Baby Yoda would be affected by this process. Qui-Gon Jinn suggested that there is a harmonious relationship between every living creature and the midichlorians that dwell within their bodies; removing some midichlorians would disrupt that relationship. It may mean Baby Yoda is unable to access the Force, or else has a weaker link with the Force while its body recovers; alternatively, it could even be that this process leaves it ill and even dying, forcing the Mandalorian to seek out help.
The Mandalorian Would Be The Fulfillment of George Lucas' Vision
It's true that this is all just a theory, but it's one that fits well with the established facts. And if it's correct, then there's an odd sense in which The Mandalorian is completing George Lucas' vision of Star Wars. While viewers were unimpressed by the concept of midichlorians, feeling they attempted to add an unnecessary scientific dimension to the mystical concept of the Force, George Lucas himself was always fascinated by them. As noted, midichlorians were established in Lucas' notes all the way back in 1977; what's more, he intended to make midichlorians the center of his Sequel Trilogy. JJ Abrams, writer-director of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, recently noted that Lucas had been chatting to him about the microorganisms. "He loves his midichlorians," Abrams observed.
There have been rumors that Lucas has been involved with The Mandalorian, even submitting story treatments for at least one of the episodes. While these were initially treated with skepticism, they were accompanied by reports of Yoda-race puppets for the series, and hence look a lot more believable right now. If midichlorians are involved in this as well, then The Mandalorian is treading ground that George Lucas never got the opportunity to explore, but desperately wanted to. As such, it's more the embodiment of Lucas' vision of Star Wars than anything viewers have seen on the big screen to date.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019