Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has implications for The Mandalorian’s universally-loved Baby Yoda that are far from pleasant. While the latest big screen Star Wars offering is currently receiving a very mixed reaction, The Mandalorian is continuing to impress, and one of its most popular features is the introduction of Baby Yoda. The troublesome youngster appears in The Mandalorian’s premiere episode as the target of an especially tricky bounty hunting mission.

Fortunately, Mando’s conscience gets the better of him and instead of condemning Baby Yoda to an unknown fate in the hands of the Empire, the duo go on the run together, triggering a cat-and-mouse chase between Mando and his allies and the collective might of the Imperial remnants. It’s yet to be revealed exactly why Moff Gideon is looking for Baby Yoda, but all signs suggest it isn’t to adopt him into a loving family home.

Over in the cinematic realm, The Rise of Skywalker brings the franchise’s overarching villain, Emperor Palpatine, back into the fray. Palpatine supposedly died at the end of Return of the Jedi when a redeemed Anakin Skywalker lurched him down the shaft of the half-built second Death Star, but the character’s resurrection was revealed as early as The Rise of Skywalker’s very first trailer. While the return of Darth Sidious is certainly bad news for the galaxy, it’s also bad news for lovers of Baby Yoda. Here are the grim implications for the little green bogwing contained within the new Star Wars movie.

What The Mandalorian Reveals About The Empire Wanting Baby Yoda

With one episode left of The Mandalorian’s debut season, the exact reason behind the Empire’s desperate hunt for Baby Yoda has yet to be made clear, although the recent appearance of Moff Gideon could rectify that in the finale episode. Fortunately, The Mandalorian has left some breadcrumbs that hint towards the Empire’s intentions.

Firstly, while the Client is happy to accept Baby Yoda dead or alive, Dr. Pershing insists Mando should return with the package still breathing. Significantly, Pershing’s garments are adorned with the same emblem as the Kamino cloning facility from Attack of the Clones, which suggests he’s charged with some sort of cloning experiment involving Baby Yoda, although it’s not clear whether the child himself is a clone, or if the Empire are looking to create clones from the creature.

A further clue is provided when Werner Herzog’s character tells his resident scientist to “extract the necessary material and be done with it.” The material in question is likely either Baby Yoda’s pure DNA, in order to create clones, or the fabled Midi-chlorians that dictate a person’s affinity with the Force. Perhaps Pershing’s intention was even to grab a sample of both. Unfortunately for Baby Yoda, the “be done with it” line suggests that, once the genetic necessities have been taken, the Empire has no use for the “asset” itself.

Palpatine’s Sith Experiments In The Rise Of Skywalker

Somewhat controversially, The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t definitively explain how Palpatine makes his grand return or survives the events of Return of the Jedi. It does, however, provide several hints and allusions to how the villain might’ve cheated death. Palpatine’s mirroring of the prequel trilogy’s Darth Plagueis speech to Kylo Ren implies that his survival was thanks to an arcane Force ability, however, being constantly connected to a giant machine suggests that technology is being used to maintain Palpatine’s mortal form. When the Resistance learn of Palpatine’s return, Dominic Monaghan’s character tellingly suggests the Sith’s cloning experiments might be responsible. This could indicate that Palpatine’s spirit survived courtesy of the Force and was then inserted into a new, man-made vessel.

Far less ambiguous is the background of Supreme Leader Snoke, the former leader of the First Order. Palpatine confirms that he was the voice behind Snoke from the very beginning, and that the physical form was a genetic construct made on Exegol. Inert Snoke pieces are seen floating in a giant chamber of fluid, revealing that these clones were merely avatars used by Palpatine to pave the way for his own return. It’s interesting that Snoke bore so many scars considering he was a man-made creation. Maybe the clones have a limited shelf-life, which might also explain why Palpatine’s body is rotting away.

Was Baby Yoda Used In Palpatine’s Plan?

Although Baby Yoda fans might not want to entertain the thought, there could be a connection between the Empire’s mission in The Mandalorian and Palpatine’s grand plan in The Rise of Skywalker. One curious remaining mystery regarding Snoke is that, for a clone, he was incredibly strong in the Force. How did Palpatine manage to imbue his creation with such powerful abilities? While it’s possible that Palpatine himself was channeling his own power into Snoke, another explanation is that the Empire secretly spent years extracting Midi-chlorians from Force-sensitive beings that could then be implanted into their own genetic experiments.

Jon Favreau stated earlier this year that The Mandalorian would explore the origins of the First Order, but there hasn’t been much evidence of this so far. Given The Mandalorian’s place in the Star Wars timeline, it’s plausible that Baby Yoda’s abundance of Midi-chlorians is stolen by the Empire, secretly moved to Exegol, and then implanted into the artificial bodies of Supreme Leader Snoke, allowing him to masquerade as a master of the Force. After all, The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t reveal the original DNA source of the Snoke clones. Tragically, this means that Baby Yoda must eventually be caught by the Empire in The Mandalorian.

Alternatively, perhaps Baby Yoda’s “extracted material” wasn’t intended for the Snokes, but for Palpatine himself. While question marks still remain over the Emperor’s survival, it’s evident that a certain amount of upkeep is required to keep the villain clinging onto life on Exegol, and it would make sense if the fuel responsible for that was taken from Force-sensitives across the galaxy. It remains to be seen whether Baby Yoda was just one of many targets, or the Empire’s sole source of Midi-chlorian rich material, but it would be in Mando’s interest if the Empire had other creatures on its radar.

Is Baby Yoda One Of Palpatine’s Experiments?

While the Client’s specific mention of extracting material suggests Baby Yoda was valued by the Empire purely as a source of raw ingredients, certain elements of both The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker lean more towards the youngster himself being a genetic experiment from Exegol. Firstly, The Mandalorian has yet to address how the Empire knew Baby Yoda’s exact whereabouts, or who the people protecting him were. Yoda’s race are a complete unknown in the Star Wars universe, so it’s strange that the Client knows exactly where to send the bounty hunters.

This mystery would be solved if Baby Yoda came directly from Exegol as one of Palpatine’s creations, and would also explain why the Empire are so desperate to claim the being as their own - because having the child wandering around the galaxy would threaten to expose Palpatine’s entire grand plan. Furthermore, if someone rescued Baby Yoda from the Empire’s clutches, it’d be they who were responsible for the guards Mando and IG-11 take out. In the latest episode of The Mandalorian, Kuill does claim that Baby Yoda can’t be a clone because he’s “too ugly,” but then again Snoke is hardly a Calvin Klein model.

The Rise of Skywalker proves that the Sith are creating Force-sensitive clones between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and the image of Snoke in a futuristic canopic jar is a haunting one. But there’s no suggestion that Snoke is the only clone Palpatine crafted during that period. Even before The Rise of Skywalker, fans were theorizing that Baby Yoda could somehow be a clone of the actual Yoda, and confirmation of Palpatine’s experiments on Exegol make this exponentially more likely. If Palpatine was able to get his hands on some of Yoda’s DNA (not too hard, his hut is still on Dagobah), it’s only natural that he might want to create a Sith version of the powerful Jedi leader to pass his spirit into. Certainly, this would explain Baby Yoda’s recent Force choking antics. While the prospect of Palpatine possessing Baby Yoda is a grim one, perhaps the failure of this plan is the very reason the Emperor turns his attentions to blood relatives, specifically his own granddaughter.

Whatever the truth behind Baby Yoda, The Rise of Skywalker makes a connection between Moff Gideon and the in-hiding Palpatine distinctly plausible, and this could account for why the character was only introduced in episode 7, allowing the potentially spoiler-filled season finale to air after the long-awaited movie.

More: The Mandalorian: Every Star Wars Easter Egg In Episode 7

The Mandalorian concludes December 27th on Disney+.