The Mandalorian: 2.02 Chapter 10: The Passenger
After the action packed cinematic spectacle of its season opener, The Mandalorian scales everything back this time out and delivers a highly entertaining but arguably superfluous episode. Carrying on literally from the conclusion of its predecessor, The Passenger starts with Mando and his ward hightailing it back to Mos Eisley on their swoop bike. Ambushed along the way, the resulting fight scenes serve to illustrate that even though they triumphed against Moff Gideon and the Imperial Remnant last season, they are still constantly being hunted by mercenaries and bounty hunters.
After dispatching their ambushers, including utilising his jetpack in a novel and highly amusing manner, Mando and Baby Yoda meet up with Peli at the ubiquitous cantina. The episode begins proper as they accept a job ferrying a frog lady to a nearby planet, where she says her husband has seen evidence of Mandalorians.
In a recent interview, showrunner Jon Favreau made some remarks about this new season of The Mandalorian telling a more cohesive story than the first season. This was music to my ears, at least half its episodes from season one could be classed as filler. You can actually just watch episodes one, three, seven and eight and still get pretty much the whole story. That's not to say the remaining episodes were bad; my favourite episode still remains the second one with the runaway jawas, and we do get characters introduced that recur later. Peli the ship mechanic , played with much charm by Amy Sedaris, is one such supporting role that has now appeared in three episodes and has helped flesh out the universe Mando inhabits.
After the first two instalments of this new season, I've yet to be convinced that we're not just going to get numerous "monster of the week" type episodes again, with sprinklings of actual story driven ones here and there. I gave the season opener the benefit of the doubt, because it was just so full of action and obviously a story needs to start somewhere.
When The Passenger opened right where the last episode left off, I immediately assumed we were about to get a direct continuation of the story, probably involving Boba Fett, who had just been shockingly revealed to have survived his stint inside the sarlacc. It soon became apparent however that this was not the case and instead a side mission type adventure was the order of the day. This was not exactly what I was hoping for; luckily the episode is an entertaining one even if, as I've already mentioned, it's not exactly full of plot development.
Much of the fun to be had in The Passenger comes down to the exploits of everyone's favourite little green trainee Jedi/Mandalorian. After being sidelined for much of the season opener, The Child certainly gets his fair share of screen time in this episode and helps make this probably the funniest installment since we got to see the Jawas and their quest for the mudhorn's egg. Much of the humour is derived from The Child's non-stop appetite and how that pertains to the eggs Frog Lady (yes, that is her current name) is transporting to her husband so they can be fertilised and continue her family bloodline. Every opportunity he gets The Child cannot resist chowing down on the unguarded offspring that they are meant to be safely transporting. Now whilst this running gag is hilarious it also becomes incredibly cruel as a mothers eggs are whittled away and essentially Baby Yoda is becoming responsible for potentially wiping out her entire lineage.
Depending on your own sense of humour you just might start to look at Baby Yoda a little differently by the end of this episode. Personally I found it all quite brilliant, but my humour does tend to run a bit dark. Even Mando himself cracks a few jokes in this episode, allowing Pedro Pascal to give us more glimpses of the man behind the helmet. It shouldn't come as any surprise how funny The Passenger is when you consider it is directed by Peyton Reed, the man responsible for Bring It On, the greatest cheerleading comedy of all time. He also made some films about Ant-Man that you may have heard of.
Not content with being consistently funny, The Passenger also gives us one of the most intense sequences ever seen in Star Wars involving a homage to Alien and is guaranteed to make any arachnophobes run away screaming. It appears that Frog Lady's eggs are very sensitive and travelling through hyperspace would destroy them. The only alternative is to journey at sublight speeds which Mando explains is very dangerous with the amount of warlords and pirates that have filled the void left by the demise of the Empire. It turns out that he should have been more concerned about the New Republic who soon take an interest in the Razorcrest and the part it may have played in a prison break in last season episode The Prisoner.
I can't lie, it is always a massive thrill to see the more old school Star Wars depicted again and the X-wings that intercept our heroes are no exception. I've accused The Mandalorian of leaning heavily on nostalgia and fan service before, but when it's done this well then damn it they get me every time! The chase through the clouds and ice canyons that follows is classic Star Wars and again Disney and Lucasfilm have spared no expense in bringing cinema quality effects and action to the small screen.
After evading their pursuers, but unfortunately crashing in the process, Mando, Baby Yoda and Frog Lady are now stranded in an ice cavern until repairs can be made to the Razorcrest. After yet more frog eating shenanigans from the little green one, he definitely picks the wrong snack to chomp when he discovers some strange eggs belonging to the ice planets inhabitants. Understandably annoyed that someone is eating their babies a host of nightmare inducing giant spider-like creatures erupt from the ice determined to settle the score. The resulting chase and battle with the repulsive ice spiders is intense and certainly takes a cue from the likes of Ridley Scott and James Cameron's sci-fi horror masterpieces. It's also great to see that Jon Favreau and his team are still using discarded ideas from the Lucasfilm vaults; the spider creatures being taken from an unused Ralph McQuarrie design he painted as a potential inhabitant of Dagobah back in The Empire Strikes Back. When you've got as much artwork and unused designs as Lucasfilm, have it makes perfect sense to raid the archives.
So The Passenger is another perfectly entertaining look at the Star Wars universe even if it doesn't propel the story along in any meaningful fashion. There's always the possibility that Frog Lady becomes an integral part of The Mandalorian lore and that this episode serves as a vital introduction. Personally, I'd be happy with that as I think she is a great design and I'd love to see her fleshed out as another character for Mando to interact with regularly. Hopefully next week the show will get back to its main storyline and show us more of Moff Gideon's exploits, or even the seemingly indestructible Boba Fett who presumably wants his armour back. I suspect, instead, we'll get to see an exciting egg delivery mission be concluded, or possibly Baby Yoda will get to continue his decimation of Frog Lady's family. As long as it's fun, I'll be happy either way.