Happy Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus! Not only do we have a wonderful solemnity to celebrate, but we also get to celebrate the Supreme Court upholding human life today. Praise the Lord!
Ok so, I think we can all agree that Baby Yoda, aka Grogu, is one of the best things to happen to Pop culture in a long time, let alone Star Wars. The Mandalorian was highly praised by dedicated and casual fans of the franchise alike, and it also exposed a much wider audience than normal simply because of Baby Yoda’s popularity. In fact, the ‘Baby Yoda formula’ worked so well that every Star Wars show except Book of Boba Fett has basically used the same concept: A child-like or innocent character is taken on an intergalactic adventure while being protected by a grizzled veteran.
Mando is a stoic gun-for-hire who suddenly has the responsibilities of fatherhood thrust upon him.
No for real, Mandalorian, Bad Batch and Obi-Wan Kenobi have all had a similar structure:
Mandalorian: Young (ish) child character saved and protected by fearless warrior.
The Bad Batch: Young child character saved and protected by fearless warrior[s].
Kenobi: Young child character[s] saved and protected by fearless warrior.
In the Bad Batch (An animated series taking place immediately after Revenge of the Sith) Omega is a ten year old female clone on Kamino who gets caught up in Clone Force 99’s insubordination. Then she follows them throughout the galaxy as the younger Sister of the group. Her naivete and innocence contrast well with her older brothers in the show. It is a more niche show when compared with the Mandalorian, but it is a fun experience seeing how more grizzled veterans deal with the task of parenting when it is thrown at them. (They are slightly more permissive than Mando is when it comes to letting Omega use dangerous weapons).
In Kenobi, our favorite Jedi Master is forced to go after Princess Leia after she is kidnapped. I’ll save a fuller review for later, but the final episode dropped this Wednesday, and it is very good. Obi-Wan is finally able to get out of his non-spiritual and spiritual desolations (I’m on an Ignatian retreat in Omaha with Father Gallagher so pardon the comparison), and we see the Old Kenobi return with some of his characteristic one-liners and also some epic fight scenes. I mentioned in my review of the first two episodes that Kenobi was deep in despair, and that Leia would hopefully give him a reason to fight again. She certainly did, and we also saw a certain other child being protected by Obi-Wan as well…
I find it interesting how the most beloved Star Wars shows have all used this same basic formula, because it seems to tie into a love for the protection of the innocent. All the characters doing the protecting in the show (Mando, Clone Force 99 and Kenobi) have been struggling to find something worth fighting for. For Mando, he was going from job to job, trying to help his people but feeling like the work was mundane policing. Clone Force 99 realized that the war they had been created to fight was a sham. Obi-Wan had to deal with despair on Tatooine, seeing his order destroyed, his apprentice turn to the dark side, and not being able to contact his old Master Qui-Gon Jinn. Then suddenly, the job of being a protector of a young, innocent child is thrust upon all of them, and they have to come to the realization that all their training in combat, the force or strategy could never have prepared them for parenting.
And yet, they try, and we love them for it. I liked Mary Frances’ last post about the weight of compassion for animals, and it seems like with the popularity of these shows, there is a cultural recognition that there should be a weight of compassion for the innocent and helpless. And yet, we see something even more redeeming here, because these are (except for Grogu) human children, not just animals, and they bring a light to their protectors that helps lift their burdens rather than crush them. Mando can’t stay away when he realizes that Grogu is in danger, and the weight of compassion in his heart draws him to rescue the child. Clone Force 99 knows nothing but war, so having to explain things that they’ve always taken for granted (Like dirt) to Omega helps bring some lightness to their own lives. Kenobi is forced out of dreary isolation on Tatooine to rescue a young Princess Leia, and her smile brings him out of the darkness that Revenge of the Sith put him in. He still has to fight his demons, but in the finale his memories of the adventures with Leia keep him going. The weight of compassion for children in these initially stoic characters, rather than crushing them, opens their hearts. It is good to know that we are not so hard of heart that we don’t take notice of this.
It is good to see innocence upheld as something to be protected and cherished even as the Supreme Court (Whether directly or indirectly) does the same thing.
So… go watch Kenobi and Mandalorian. And then go pray that our individual States will take this opportunity to protect life.