Warning - This article contains spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 2.
It seems like The Mandalorian Season 2 is hammering us with major developments each week. The return of Boba Fett concluded the first episode of the season, setting up a future appearance and spinoff prequel series for the infamous bounty hunter. Mandalorian leader Bo-Katan Kryze recently joined the live-action world as well, on the hunt for the treacherous Moff Gideon and the Darksaber.
Speaking of the Moff, what's going on with him? Until Bo-Katan's arrival, word on Gideon had been non-existent following his defeat at the hands of Mando in Season 1. The villain's obsession with obtaining the Child has driven the plot of the series, but there were few indicators as to what his ultimate goal was... until now.
In The Mandalorian "Chapter 12 - The Siege," Mando and his allies come across an Imperial lab on Nevarro. What they find within appears to be an attempted clone of Snoke:
Accompanying the visual was an audio reference to the Supreme Leader's theme in "Chapter 12's" score. Ludwig Goransson's rendition of the theme can be heard at the beginning of the track titled "Experiment":
For reference, John Williams' version, titled "Snoke," can be heard below:
Included in "Experiment" is an interpretation of Ben Solo's theme as well:
WHAT THIS MEANS
"Chapter 12" has left fans with just one question: what the hell is going on?
From the looks of things, we're seeing hints of the origins of the First Order. Before the series premiered last fall, executive producer Jon Favreau had said The Mandalorian would address some of this, and it appears the time has come.
After several years' worth of theories and behind the scenes reversals, Supreme Leader Snoke was revealed to be a clone in the opening moments of The Rise of Skywalker. The Emperor himself had somehow survived the events of Return of the Jedi and was living within a clone body himself, revealing to Kylo Ren that Snoke was little more than his creation.
While slightly different in shape and placement, the scar along the top of the cloned being's head certainly appears to resemble that of Snoke's. In his recording, Dr. Pershing makes mention of the individuals in the tanks being volunteers, but the current explanation of Snoke's background indicates that he was a strandcast creation.
If the visuals leave any doubt, the music that plays simultaneously serves as strong evidence that the being is indeed Snoke. Musical cues in Star Wars are always referenced deliberately, and Snoke's theme is too distinctive to go unrecognized.
What makes the situation even more interesting is the emergence of Ben Solo's theme. Ben's theme is a heroic version of Kylo Ren's, with both beginning in the same way but Solo's ending on a lighter note. The events of The Mandalorian take place decades before Han and Leia's son falls to the dark side, so the music referenced by Goransson seems to be a nod to what the future has in store as it pertains to Snoke.
It's now clear that Moff Gideon is looking to use the Child's midichlorians in order to give some kind of entity the Force. Early theories suggested the villain was seeking to give such power to himself, but "Chapter 12" suggests that something even more sinister is going on.
Which begs the question: how much of Palpatine's plan does Gideon know? Canon stories were previously setting up the total demise of the Empire at Palpatine's orders, until J.J. Abrams elected to bring the villain back to life for The Rise of Skywalker. Is Gideon a member of the Sith Eternal, completely aware of the Emperor's plans? At the very least, he appears to be in on the cloning work and the early efforts to create Snoke.
How much The Mandalorian attempts to explain the origins of the First Order remains to be seen. It's a convoluted plot, and in the case of Sidious and Snoke a lot of it doesn't make much sense. Moff Gideon is a much more important character to the canon storyline than we once thought, and in time the true nature of his machinations will become known. As The Mandalorian Season 2 continues, the villain's true motives will be made clear - and so will the threat to our heroes.