Late 2019 was a wild time for Star Wars fans. Not only was the world – well, the US at least – getting goo-goo eyes for ‘Baby Yoda’ (since he didn’t have an official name at that point) as The Mandalorian debuted on Disney+, but when Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise Of Skywalker hit the big screen, the only thing audiences could agree on unanimously was that Babu Frik ruled. The tiny droid-tinkerer – who babbled in his own unique rhythms and riddles, made no bones about poking around in C-3PO’s head, and often erupted into audience-tickling shouts of “HEHEYYYY!” – became an instant fan-favourite in the Skywalker Saga’s ultimately divisive final chapter. Even Steven Spielberg loved him. In that brief window of time, two deliriously delightful Star Wars oddballs were born. Imagine if they could ever, somehow, share screentime?
For the Grogu gang and the Frik freaks, the wait it over – that time has officially come. As teased in the trailers, the Season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian sees our heroes come into contact with members of the Anzellan species – not just one, but a whole gaggle of them, jabbering away in a tiny garage on the streets of Nevarro. And not only do they get to interact with the ever-inquisitive (and relentlessly mischievous) Grogu, but one even ends up in an impromptu wrestling match with him. The phrase, “No squeezies!” has officially entered the Star Wars lexicon.
But here’s the crucial question: could any of these Anzellans actually be Babu Frik himself? Visors down, everyone – it’s time to investigate.
What do we know about Babu Frik?
OK, it’s time for Frik 101. Who is Babu Frik you say? Well, as we meet him in The Rise Of Skywalker, he’s just a tiny old guy, hiding out on the First Order-occupied planet of Kijimi where he aids Zorii Bliss’ spice-runner operation, and plies his trade fixing all kinds of droids. His species is Anzellan, his syntactical contortions would have even Yoda scratching his head (“Droid… remember go… blank-blank!”), and he was voiced (and partly puppeteered) by none other than Shirley Henderson, known to generations as Harry Potter’s Moaning Myrtle. In short, he’s largely a mystery – but his prowess with droid tech and underground operation makes him precisely the sort of off-the-grid assistance often required by Star Wars’ rebellious heroes.
Who are the Anzellans we meet in ‘Chapter 17’ of The Mandalorian?
Unlike Babu Frik in Rise Of Skywalker (where his species isn’t actually mentioned in dialogue), it’s the opposite case in The Mandalorian – the trio of Anzellans here go individually unnamed, and are simply referred to collectively as ‘The Anzellans’ in the credits. They are all, also, voiced by a returning Shirley Henderson. Like our boy Babu, this lot are handy with a soldering iron and know their way around some wiring – Greef Karga labels them “the best droidsmiths of the Outer Rim”, as he sends Mando and Grogu their way to try and fix up their long-melted pal IG-11.
But the main Anzellan, the one who gets the real spotlight? He does bear a striking resemblance specifically to Babu Frik. Note that his two co-workers have different configurations of wiry facial hair – one has an almost Colonel Sanders-alike pointy white beard, the other an even more unruly, heavy-metal sprouting of chin-scrubbage. But the central Anzellan in the scene doesn’t have a beard at all – just a long, handlebar-style moustache, exactly like Babu Frik. This particular Anzellan also gets the most dialogue in that scene, and while we only have Babu Frik himself to go on as a benchmark of how the species sounds, the particular cadence and fluctuation between alien language and mixed-up English is notably Frikian. “The boken! It boke!” he belligerently tells Mando. “Buy new droid… this one poodoo!” The other two Anzellans here largely speak in their own language, and sound notably gruffer too.
All of which is to say: yes, there’s reason to believe that that is the Babu Frik.
What are the complicating factors?
There are a few big ones to consider – the main being that, we don’t know how long Anzellans live for. The Rise Of Skywalker takes place at the far end of the current Star Wars timeline – just over 30 years after the end of the original trilogy. The Mandalorian is just over five years after Return Of The Jedi, so there’s a roughly 25 year gap between it and Rise. It’s not wildly illogical to imagine that Babu Frik could live across that time period – and the Babu of Rise Of Skywalker is visibly older and more grizzled than the Anzellan we meet in this scene. In short, unless this species is especially short-lived, the timeline checks out.
While this Anzellan, to our eye, looks particularly Frik-like, he does have a different visor to the one seen in Rise. There, Babu Frik had a distinctive orange hood and a chunkier metal headset with one long single glass panel – different to the look this Anzellan is sporting. But, given there’s a 25-year gap between Mando and Rise, it’s easy to consider that Babu Frik might simply have upgraded his gear in the intervening years. Are any of us still wearing the same clothes 25 years later? (If so, it might be time for a wardrobe refresh.)
We must also stress that there may simply be many Anzellans with a very similar look to Babu Frik, and any offense caused for not being able to differentiate between them is deeply regrettable on our part.
In short, we cannot be fully sure – but there’s sufficient evidence to suggest that this could, indeed, be the legendary Babu Frik himself. Given that every bit of Star Wars minutiae is explained eventually, expect answers not too far down the line.
The real takeaway is, not only did it give us the Grogu-Anzellan squeeze-off that we’ve always wanted (well, for just over three years anyway), but the Anzellans will likely be back later in the season too, since IG-11 is still on their operating table. Bring on a fresh batch of miniature mayhem. This is the ‘Heheyyyy!’
The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+