Yoda is an iconic character in Star Wars. Baby Yoda (okay, Grogu… whatever) is the biggest Trojan Horse to draw in non-fans to experience Star Wars. Much has been made in recent years about them being the only members of their species. But has everyone forgotten that Phantom Menace introduced us to a third member? Why has everyone forgotten about Yaddle?
The other little, green Jedi Master
Okay, to be fair, there are many who’d like to just forget about Phantom Menace altogether. But by the rules of Star Wars – at least until Disney rewrites them – anything that appears in one of the feature films is true. So no matter how much we might want to write Jar-Jar out of history, we’re stuck with him. And it seems Lucasfilm is stuck with the problem of Yaddle.
Yaddle on the Jedi council
I get it if you haven’t watched Phantom Menace often, or recently, but think back to the scene where Qui-Gon Jinn presents young Anakin Skywalker to the Jedi Council. The Council has a variety of alien species who observe in silence as Yoda, Ki Adi Mundi and Mace MF Windu debate with Qui-Gon over the boy’s fate. No doubt the menagerie was dreamed up by the Lucasfilm props department to show a cool diversity of races in the Republic, and somebody thought it would be neat to show another member of Yoda’s species. And why not? Phantom Menace shows us the height of the Republic, when anything was possible and everyone lived in peace. Why shouldn’t we see more folks like Yoda?
And so Yaddle sits serenely in her Council chair, just another senior Jedi. And if Yoda was so strong in the Force, doesn’t it stand to reason that others like him would be too?
The real reason Yaddle is on the Jedi Council
Fun fact: apparently Yaddle exists because Lucasfilm had a few discarded puppets that might have been used as Yoda, and this one was considered good enough to include in the film. So it might honestly be that Yaddle exists because of a decision made by a second unit assistant set designer.
The question of canon
No problem so far. Phantom Menace didn’t give Yaddle a speaking part and nothing further is made of her presence, but I think it’s safe for us to determine that at the time, in 1999, it was assumed that Yoda’s species was nothing special – just another civilized life form in the Republic.
New minds bring new ideas…
Unfortunately, at some point along the way, the idea began to grow that Yoda was the only member of his species. A few years later, as Star Wars: The Clone Wars took shape and the galaxy was explored in more detail, the mystery around Yoda’s origins became more prominent. Eventually, Star Wars lore seemed to state that Yoda was the only member of his species ever known to the Republic, having been found mysteriously hundreds of years ago. Yoda, according to this retconned lore, is a unique figure in the galaxy.
But what about Jedi Master Yaddle? She’s conveniently absent from Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and is never mentioned in Clone Wars – which is significant, considering how much other obscure lore was explored over seven seasons. I mean, seriously, how many other members of the Jedi Council got their own episode?
The problem of Yaddle: Star Wars, canon and retcon
It’s almost like Lucasfilm is trying to pretend she never existed. But that’s not how canon works. Oh, you can retcon the crap out of it, but you have to accept what came before on the screen. (Why do you think Solo: A Star Wars Story went to such lengths to explain why the Kessel Run can somehow be measured by how little distance is used to make it? Because nobody in the 1977 A New Hope script checked whether parsecs were a unit of distance, not time.)
Or, maybe Lucasfilm is just hoping that we forget about Jedi Master Yaddle. (Clearly, they’re underestimating us.)
Yaddle, the Jedi Council – it’s true… all of it
So what do we do with this? Apparently Yoda is now the only member of his species – which is one of the big reasons why Grogu is such a big deal. One solution is to release a new edition of Phantom Menace and remove Yaddle from her scenes. But I sincerely hope that Lucasfilm, even under their new Mouse masters, recognize that Star Wars fans will burn them in effigy if they start messing with the original. (Han Shot First forever!!!!)
Any big organization should realize that a cover up never works, especially with fans like those in Star Wars. So making Yaddle disappear isn’t the answer.
But I have a better idea.
The tragedy of Baby Yoda
Canon tells us that there are three members of Yoda’s species: a man, a woman and a child.
It really doesn’t take much imagination to think up a logical reason for that.
Move over, Anakin
Go with me, here. Jedi Master Yoda was part of the Order for hundreds of years, but in his five hundreds was delighted to welcome young Yaddle into the fold. He no doubt took a special interest in her training, and I’m sure she often sought out the only familiar face in this strange new place. What was certainly a master-student relationship for centuries could easily have blossomed into something else as Yaddle grew into the fullness of womanhood.
Is it really that hard to imagine Yoda and Yaddle getting together? Him a charming, powerful, older man and her a vibrant, luscious, younger woman – the story practically tells itself. And maybe they resisted their mutual attraction for many years (even centuries) as they both adhered to the Jedi code of non-attachment. But even beings as powerful as Jedi Master Yoda and Jedi Master Yaddle are only so strong, and their feelings finally overtook them.
Yaddle chooses family over career
Learning she was pregnant, Yaddle realized that they were both at risk. No Jedi Master would be allowed to continue in the Order having committed such a breach of the code. I’d like to think that they discussed it together, and decided together that Yoda would stay for the good of the Republic and Yaddle would disappear to raise their child.
This would certainly explain Yoda’s tolerance for Anakin Skywalker’s secret marriage to Padme – don’t tell me Yoda didn’t know. Perhaps Yoda wanted nothing more than to leave it all behind to be with his family, but knew that the Republic needed him now more than ever. Perhaps his own conflicted feelings helped to cloud the Sith’s dark plan for him.
Yaddle disappeared from history, raising Grogu in secret. But then, after Order 66 and the rise of the Empire, Palpatine’s inquisitors managed to hunt down Yaddle and kill her. As a former Jedi Master I’m sure she took a few with her, sacrificing herself so that a loyal friend could spirit Grogu to safety. Yoda came for her too late – and finding her dead assumed the child was lost also, then banished himself to Dagobah.
The first rule of Star Wars: no-one lives happily ever after
This is a tragedy worthy of Star Wars: forbidden love, self-sacrifice, tragic loss, misunderstanding and hope for the future. I’m not sure I ever actually want them to make it into a movie (listening to Yoda-Yaddle love chatter would be funny for about 30 seconds, then just get painful) but it’s a compelling story that could be revealed in The Mandalorian through Grogu.
And then Baby Yoda will truly be Baby Yoda.
2022 Update: Tales of the Jedi has revealed Yaddle’s fate (at the hands of Darth Tyrannus) and I think it’s brilliantly done. But knowing how she dies doesn’t negate the possibility that the rest of my suggested story is true…