‘The Mandalorian’ Viewers Noticed Something Different About The Newest Episode, And They Have Mixed Feelings

A few episodes ago, I jokingly wondered about the discussions between the Disney Bobs, Iger and Chapek, and showrunner Jon Favreau over how long The Mandalorian is allowed to go without a Baby Yoda reaction shot. Give the people (and GIF-makers) what they want. I haven’t done the adorable research yet, but I can’t imagine any episode this season went more than five minutes without the camera cutting to Baby Yoda cooing, or eating an egg, or wrecking some dopey Stormtroopers using the Force.

Until “Chapter 15: The Believer.”

The show’s 15th episode, written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, is the first to not feature a single appearance from Baby Yoda. Or Grogu, whatever. You see his finger in the pilot, and every installment between then and now. The lack of Baby Yoda is a good storytelling decision — he’s still all tuckered out from using the Force and looking like a handcuffed burrito aboard Moff Gideon’s ship — but his absence was noted.

“The Believer” didn’t have any Baby Yoda, but it did have the return of Migs Mayfeld, played by Bill Burr. He and Mando break into an Imperial base, with help from Cara Dune, Fennec Shand, and Boba Fett, where Migs runs into an old commanding officer of his. Valin Hess (played by that classic That Guy actor Richard Brake, who was also the Night King on Game of Thrones) has a drink with Migs and Mando, both in disguise as Imperial soldiers, and brings up Operation Cinder. This triggers something in Migs — in that, he pushes his blaster’s trigger and kills Valin — but what is Operation Cinder?

Basically, and as anyone who played Star Wars Battlefront II already knows, Emperor Palpatine didn’t want the Galactic Empire (his fellow bad guys) to outlive him. So he came up with a diabolical contingency plan: target planets with allegiance to the Empire, and blow them up. The Emperor ordered his loyalists to commit mass genocide if/when he died, which he did (sort of) after being thrown down a reactor shaft by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. It was a test, of sorts: “If you really love me, you will rebuild, minus the weak.” One of those planets, Burnin Konn, is where Migs was stationed, hence his violent — and understandable — reaction. If only he had a Baby Yoda to cuddle.