By far the most interesting and philosophically profound development in the second season of The Mandalorian is Baby Yoda's powerful appetite for the rare and raw eggs of an animal that earthlings would instantly recognize as an unusually large frog.
It happens in Episode 2, "The Passenger." Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), the Mandalorian, decides to transport the "Frog Lady" to a planet where she and the Frog Gentleman can fertilize her precious eggs.
The Frog Lady leaves her container of eggs alone in the hull of the spaceship. Baby Yoda then sees the eggs, pulls one out, and—to the horror of millions of viewers—begins eating it.
Then he eats another. And another. Whole eggs in his mouth. How this is funny? We don't know. How is this not funny? We don't know.
I just saw a post about the “Baby Yoda Egg Eating Scandal” and I have to say I would love to live on a world where that rises to the level of even something worth an eyebrow raise pic.twitter.com/fFPBAbhIZ3
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 21, 2020
Initially, the scene is a bit difficult to process. But then you begin to wonder why so many viewers, all of whom are heterotrophs, found the scene so unsettling. Should the green Baby Yoda have been fed something such as the blue milk that made its first appearance in Star Wars? Milk is pure whether it is blue or white.
But eating frog eggs? And, indeed, eating them with the exact kind of experienced pleasure with which I eat the shrimp balls made by my favorite dim sum place in Seattle, Harbor City. The space frog eggs even look something you might find on a dim sum cart. The order looks normal. So, why the fuss?
#MoffGideon actor #GiancarloEsposito has weighed in on the controversy surrounding #BabyYoda's eating habits in #TheMandalorian Season 2: "We need to keep that baby happy." Full quote: https://t.co/p87mIEHImi
— Star Wars - The Direct (@StarWars_Direct) November 25, 2020
Giancarlo Esposito, who plays a top official in the Evil Galactic Empire, Moff Gideon, had to defend Baby Yoda's taste for space frog eggs. He reminded viewers (humans) that despite being "absolutely the cutest thing you've ever seen," Baby Yoda "also has to survive."
But it is more than that. There is a big unanswered question in the Star Wars galaxy. It concerns the rules of what to eat and what not to eat. These rules must exist; that we cannot doubt. But who or what determines the rules? We have massive ants, massive spiders, massive prawns, massive frogs. They all are dissipative systems and not autotrophs. So, what are the energy inputs of a living thing that can't produce its energy like a plant? Why can't I eat the energy-rich Frog Lady or her eggs? Does she have a right not to have her legs seasoned? This must be the case, or else why is she not what's for dinner?
There must be in the galaxy an intelligence criteria for what can and cannot be spiced, diced, baked, and served on a plate. A law has to exist that protects intelligent creatures from the mouths of other intelligent creatures. You can eat the dumb things of the galaxy, such as the massive worm monster (Amy Sedaris's character, Peli Motto, wants some of its meat for a barbecue), but you can't eat the giant ant because it talks, knows it is a giant ant, and can play cards.
And so, Baby Yoda breaks a special rule. He eats the eggs of an intelligent being, the Frog Lady. She has a symbolic language (rather than one that is simply iconic or indexical) and can even rewire a robot for her linguistic needs.
How can you eat something that is not just conscious but, more importantly, is as self-conscious as the Frog Lady, or her eggs, which will produce self-conscious beings? This is the horror at the heart of Baby Yoda's conatus.
This horror also exposes a flaw in the dietary morality of ordinary humans. Who is to say an animal with seemingly weak (indexical) linguistic powers is not self-conscious?
And now for my conclusion: Does James Joyce's vivid description of "men, men, men" eating in the Burton restaurant in his novel Ulysses not echo through the entire living universe?
See the animals feed. Men, men, men. Perched on high stools by the bar, hats shoved back, at
the tables calling for more bread no charge, swilling, wolfing gobfuls of sloppy food, their eyes bulging, wiping wetted moustaches. A pallid suetfaced young man polished his tumbler knife fork and spoon with his napkin. New set of microbes. A man with an infant’s saucestained napkin tucked round him shovelled gurgling soup down his gullet. A man spitting back on his plate: halfmasticated gristle: gums: no teeth to chewchewchew it. Chump chop from the grill. Bolting to get it over. Sad booser’s eyes. Bitten off more than he can chew. Am I like that? See ourselves as others see us.