Most people think of November and December as being a time for the holiday and family. But for nerds of a particular stripe, this time of year has become a time for Star Wars. Ever since Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived in 2015, it's become an end-of-the-year tradition. Now, with the release of Lucasfilm's first live-action Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian ahead of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, fans will get a double dose from the franchise. The first episode of the Disney+ series laid out the mission at hand. But what is The Mandalorian's bounty? Fans were gobsmacked when they found out. Warning: Spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 1 follow.
Mandalorians have a unique history in the galaxy. These warriors, originally from the planet Mandalore, were enemies of the Jedi, but not where the Force was concerned. Most Star Wars fans, when they thing "enemy of the Jedi," instantly think "Sith," but there's an entire galaxy of different classes of warriors out there, and not all of them get along.
The Mandalorians were unlucky. A cataclysmic event on their home planet was only the beginning of the fall of these people. Civil War followed, the Clone Wars came and went, and the Mandalorians found themselves manipulated by the Sith to fight against a common enemy, and take the brunt of casualties. When the Empire rose, Mandalore became an Imperial colony, living under occupation.
This history is essential because it gives context to the first episode. There are very few fully-trained Mandalorian warriors left. (Both Jango and Boba Fett were seen as imposters.) The Mandalorian's specifically designed armor and his track record give him automatic credibility that most would have to fight for.
It also helps the viewer understand why the Empire would ask for someone like him to do a job like this. It's not just because of the delicate nature of the mission. It's not because it's a bounty every hunter in the parsec is chasing. But because of who the 50-year-old creature is.
It's one of Yoda's people, a baby Yoda. (Listen, some creatures age differently in than humanoids!) And while viewers don't know a lot about Yoda's species, the little green dude himself is one of the most feared Jedi warriors in the galaxy. If the remnants of the Empire are chasing after an infant, it must be because they fear its Jedi abilities.
Fans were stunned to see the bounty, as much as The Mandalorian himself was when he opened the bassinet. But it makes a lot of sense that this would be his quarry. The reputation Mandalorians have makes him is one of the few bounty hunters the Empire could trust not only to be able to get in and out with the baby alive.
Moreover, the history of hating the Jedi, and the generations of bad blood mean that even though it is the cutest little green baby in the whole entire galaxy with the biggest black eyes, The Mandalorian will not be moved by the child's plight.