(Spoilers ahead for the “Chapter 13” episode of the Disney+ “Star Wars” series, “The Mandalorian”)
I’m gonna be totally honest here. I never really wondered what Baby Yoda’s real name was. It’s almost as though “Baby Yoda” was his real name. It was cute enough that it seemed fitting, and unless his name was gonna be Yoda Jr it didn’t seem like it would be a big deal. And it wasn’t! We learned his name this week, and that name is totally incidental. Except for the fact that the name is disgusting to both hear and say and doesn’t fit the mood at all. Grogu. Ugh.
The “Star Wars” nerds seem to have liked this episode overall, given Rosario Dawson’s first appearance as Ahsoka Tano and all the other references — and implied references — to the “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” shows. But I have a hard time even thinking about all that stuff right now as I try to wrestle with Baby Yoda’s name actually, truly, for real being “Grogu.”
This revelation might have completely destroyed the appeal of Baby Yoda for me. This season had already been unkind to Baby Yoda. He’s barely been present in most of the episodes — Mando literally dropped him off at school for an entire episode since he’s almost never actually helpful in any way, and when he has been around, he just does stuff like eat that frog lady’s eggs.
And now we have to deal with the fact that he has a decidedly uncute name that’s just so unpleasant to say. Grogu. Disgusting.
It’s going to be pretty hard to look at Baby Yoda the same after this, especially if all the characters are just going to constantly refer to him as Grogu now. Every time Ahsoka or Mando called him that this week, I couldn’t help but shutter and say the name in exasperation. Grogu. Ugh.
Giving Baby Yoda that name is as severe a crime against “Star Wars” as anything that happened in “The Rise of Skywalker,” which has been reviled by fans and received the worst critical reception of the entire movie franchise. It’s the kind of thing that retroactively makes the whole show worse. If I were to watch “The Mandalorian” from the beginning, I think I’d enjoy Baby Yoda less just knowing that Grogu is a thing.
It’s just astonishing, honestly. That name isn’t cute. It doesn’t sound good when anyone says it. It’s often felt to me like actors on “The Mandalorian” struggle to convincingly to say some of the goofier “Star Wars” terms — and now they’re being saddled with a word that no one could sell.
Maybe Grogu wouldn’t be so upsetting if we’d known about it from the start. If they’d introduced that word at the beginning, before Baby Yoda became such a thing — remember, he didn’t show up until the very end of the first episode — I would feel differently. If Mando had been told he had to find an alien named Grogu at the start of his mission, it would have been funny to learn that such a gross name belonged to such a precious little fella.
But that’s not how it went. And now we’re stuck with a name that I think will change my entire perception of Baby Yoda. Every time somebody calls him Grogu I’m gonna cringe. It’s just that bad.
We’ve been through so much in 2020 with the pandemic and a remarkably intense presidential election cycle. And now we have to deal with Grogu too.