Leave Baby Yoda Alone!
Before I get started here, I must share with you all a funny and heartwarming anecdote.
My family has been faithfully watching The Mandalorian, perhaps unsurprisingly given that my husband and I are of the Star Wars generation, those fortunate 70’s kiddos who were able to grow up right alongside the movies.
The first season of The Mandalorian we binged after all the episodes had come out, but the second season we’ve been watching as episodes are released, one per Friday.
As we sat down to watch the latest episode yesterday, I overheard my twelve year old explaining to his little brother and sister, “The REASON why they’re doing it that way is so you can wait for it all week and get excited about it!” To which my daughter replied, “That is the best idea ever!” My younger son chimed in, “That’s genius! Why don’t they do all shows like that?”
Now that your heart is suitably warmed, I’ll get to the meat of the matter.
Or more specifically, the eggs of the matter.
As those of you who watch The Mandalorian regularly already know, our hero Mando was charged with transporting a character called “Frog Lady” (just in case you need me to connect the dots for you, she is a frog, and a lady) to a planet where her husband eagerly awaits. You see, Frog Lady has in her possession a vat full of eggs that she needs her husband to fertilize. Mr. Frog Lady had traveled ahead to this foreign world to make a home for their family in a place they’d be safe from the machinations of both Empire and Rebellion, so she hops a ride (literally) on board The Mandalorian’s ship.
There’s just one problem with this plan. Baby Yoda has a taste for the Frog Lady’s eggs and eats several of them along the way.
Now, as a real Star Wars fan, not to mention a lifelong lover of sci-fi, I thought this was both hilarious and delightful. In my opinion, it was great and necessary character development for Baby Yoda, reminding us that just because he’s cute as f*ck, it doesn’t mean he’s an angel. (Angels make for boring TV, IMVVHO.) Furthermore, it was fully in keeping with the universe in which our space opera is set – a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
But of course this being 2020, a place in which everything is awful and utterly stupid people have far too much sway over cultural discourse, Baby Yoda eating a few unfertilized eggs is being called genocide.
I will not screenshot these noxious tweets. I can’t bear their ridiculousness polluting my computer even long enough to insert them into this article. If you must prove my assertion for yourself, here’s a compilation of the worst of them: Mandalorian fans slam Baby Yoda for ‘genocide’ in egg-eating scene
Even director Kevin Smith! I hereby demand you turn in your geek card, Mr. Smith. Oh, and by the way, Kevin Smith named his daughter after Harley Quinn, a character that killed innocent children by giving them exploding video games, but I guess eating an egg is a bridge too far for this dude
Something I love, truly love, about Star Wars, the element that to my mind puts Star Wars above even my beloved Star Trek in the pantheon of pop culture science fiction excellence, is that it shows us a galactic mega culture within which a whole lot of weird and wonderful microcultures are living together in full acceptance of each other’s nature. Real acceptance, of the good and the “bad” alike (using air quotes because I do not believe that being an omnivore or a carnivore is bad). Not some sort of faux, externally applied quasi-religious morality of an external authority like Starfleet or the Jedi. The Republic, and later on the Empire, may have tried to impose their personal visions of order on the chaos of the galaxy, but if The Mandalorian shows us one thing, it’s that neither of those entities had the reach or the influence that they claimed to.
That spirit of intergalactic tolerance is one of the reasons why what Anakin Skywalker did first to the Sand People in Attack of the Clones and then the Jedi in Revenge of the Sith was so disturbing. It’s why the killing of the Jawas, Uncle Owen and Aunt Veru by the Stormtroopers in Star Wars was so shocking, and the destruction of Alderaan by the Empire was unprecedented. To paraphrase Din Djarin, that is NOT the way, not the Star Wars way at all. The Empire, under the influence of Darth Vader, clearly operated under a different set of rules than the rest of the galaxy. That’s why they were THE BAD GUYS.
The Star Wars Way is that cold blooded killers like Sarlaccs and Wampas are tolerated rather than hunted down. Dianogas inhabit trash compactors on Imperial battle cruisers and no one cares – I mean, where else is the guy gonna live, amirite? Han may have shot first, but he didn’t go to the swamps of Rodia and annihilate Greedo’s entire family. The fundamental rule of navigating the Star Wars universe seems to be “yeah, this galaxy is a dangerous place, and everyone’s out to get you, but they’re all just doing the best they can just like me and you. It’s nothing personal.”
While individual entities may have a beef with each other, no one launches a jihad over it; everyone in the universe understands that sometimes when you walk into a bar in Mos Eisely, someone may end up losing an arm. Ya screw over the Hutts, they’ll put a bounty on your head – it’s just business. If you hide your Millennium Falcon in an asteroid field there may be a space slug lying in wait, so watch your back.
And while you’re at it, better watch your front, too. There’s every possibility that even your friends like Lando Calrissian or Woody Harrelson or Apollo Creed will double cross you, sell you out, exploit you for their own benefit, but come on, that’s just because they’re looking out for Number One. You can’t even really hold it against them because the Force knows you’d do the same if it came down to that. When things get out of hand, it’s kill or be killed, may the best man or Wookie or Rancor win, but no one is EEEVVULLL for just trying to survive in a very very hard environment.
Because creature wants to survive. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to survive, nothing inherently immoral about fighting to sustain your own life. Even when a leopard kills a furry little baby gazelle it’s because the leopard has a right to live too. A predator is meant to eat its prey, like Baby Yoda was made to eat eggs when he was hungry even though they happened to be the last of Frog Lady’s genetic line. Anyone who says that there’s something immoral about looking out for Number One is probably saying that because they are looking out for Number One, and are trying to exploit your better instincts just long enough so they can double cross you and eat you themselves.
The Star Wars universe at its best reminds me of the complexity of the real world, in which all of us must live side by side with our fellow human beings – those of myriad religions, philosophies, cultures, moralities, and agendas, not to mention inhuman amoral beasties like lions and rattlesnakes and bacteria. The reality of being born into this world involves accepting the fact that maybe this time so-and-so is gonna kill us unless we kill them first. It may come down to that.
The reality of existence, be it on Earth or Tatooine, is that at times we must kill in order to survive.
Baby Yoda eats eggs. This is because it is in his nature to eat eggs, and if the Frog Lady didn’t like that, she probably should have kept a closer eye on her eggs. Because this is Star Wars, and everything is out to get everything else. Even cute things can be deadly. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a matter of survival. The Mandalorian knows all that, which is why he just did a little light scolding instead of locking up Baby Yoda like a very adorable Hannibal Lecter.
As it turns out, Frog Lady was pretty reasonable about Yoda’s taste for amphibian omelets. It didn’t seem to bother her too much that Yoda munched a few of them along the way. In the follow up episode, she gets to where she was going, meets her husband, and lo and behold they have plenty of eggs left to start her family. At least to start with, the Frogs only spawned one child – I’m not sure if the other eggs weren’t fertilized yet or if they hadn’t finished hatching. My husband pointed out that for all we know, it may be the Froggies’ way to only fertilize one or two or three of the eggs because there is such a thing as too many children (remember, we have five children, so we know whereof we speak). It very well may have been that most of those eggs were destined for the trash compactor anyway, so Frog Lady was ok with losing a few.
She may have even expected it. After all, the way most species of frogs reproduce is by laying a bunch of eggs and jumping ship (so to speak). While humans have a small number of children, we watch very closely to ensure they all survive, frogs do things very differently. They lay massive numbers of eggs and make a lot of offspring because they know that a large percentage of both eggs and offspring will be eaten along the way. If Frog Lady and Mr. Frog Lady had fertilized all those eggs and left as frogs often do, some of them – perhaps even ALL of them – would have been eaten anyway. That’s WHY frogs make all those eggs to begin with. The expectation is that most of them will be eaten. It’s not a leap (I’ll stop now) to acknowledge that frogs reproduce differently than human beings and thus a froglike alien life form would, too.
It’s sci-fi, people!
Personally, I found it marvelous that The Mandalorian brought us Frog Lady, her eggs, and a darling little predator who helped himself to a couple, and I suspect that I am not alone in that belief. Baby Yoda unapologetically eating Frog Lady’s eggs is entirely in keeping with the genre, the characters, and the mechanics of the Star Wars universe itself. Kudos to Jon Favreau and everyone else involved in the Frog Lady plot arc. Stick to your blasters, dudes, you’re StarWarsing right.
People who swooned in horror and proclaimed Baby Yoda to be worse than Hitler simply cannot be real Star Wars fans. To be honest I’m unsure people who are THAT ridiculously hypersensitive should be entrusted with anything fictional. If ya can’t understand storytelling isn’t meant to be sanitized for the protection of the most delicate viewers, believing instead that every work of art ever produced must cater to the whims of a tiny sliver of people who get off imposing their stunted sense of morality on everyone, then maybe the rollicking multiverses of fiction are not for you. Perhaps a nice religious tract is more your speed.
Imposing a monoculture on a diverse ecosystem? That’s the way the Empire thinks.