The adorable Star Wars character has turned The Mandalorian into "The Baby Yoda Show, featuring The Mandalorian," says Zach Vasquez. Even people who've never watched Star Wars have fallen for Baby Yoda. "Like his older namesake, Baby Yoda is an animatronic creation operated by a team of puppeteers," says Vasquez. "It’s the tactile – and at times uncanny – nature of the thing that is responsible for people’s visceral reaction to it, and it doesn’t seem too early to place it in the same pantheon of beloved practical creature creations as ET, Mogwai or the original Yoda. Even the most cynical observer has to admit: the puppet is objectively beautiful. If it can move as stoic and fatalistic a figure as Werner Herzog to tears, what chance did the rest of us ever stand?" Vasquez adds: "Fan reaction for The Mandalorian has been almost unanimously positive, which comes as something of a surprising considering how controversial most new Star Wars entries end up. The same can be said of the overwhelmingly welcoming reception to Baby Yoda even from diehard fans, who tend to reject the franchise when it dips into cuteness and/or broad comedy (see: Ewoks, young Anakin, Jar Jar Binks, Porgs). Here though, it seems their hard nerd hearts are just as susceptible to Baby Yoda’s charms as everyone else’s. Before the introduction of Baby Yoda (whose existence was kept impressively under wraps prior to the series premiere), anticipation for The Mandalorian was somewhat muted, owing possibly to confusion over the premise, with many casual fans assuming it was a Boba Fett origin story. Even without the character’s inclusion, the show would probably have proven popular with Star Wars devotees, but there’s nothing to suggest that it would have been more than a blip on the radar of the larger culture. For as much as people like to compare the show to classic westerns and samurai films, it’s most reminiscent of syndicated adventure series from the 90s, such as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, albeit with a much larger budget and far superior production design. Combined with its literally faceless cipher of a hero, the show required an additional element for a mass audience to latch on to. Enter Baby Yoda, whose popularity in both the long and short run will end up seeing a return on Disney’s mega-expensive investment."