Spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 2
Last week we covered The Mandalorian season premiere (read the full review), where I was upfront about my disappointments:
- Too much nostalgia baiting, not enough new world-building
- Not nearly enough Baby Yoda moments
- Lackluster set design and visuals (with a HUGE exception for the krayt dragon)
- Underwhelming/predictable Boba Fett reveal at tail end of an otherwise inconsequential episode
To be fair, the show's serial adventure, monster-of-the-week style means most episodes are seemingly inconsequential by design. If Season 1 was a sign of things to come, then Season 2 will find our hero encountering and ditching new characters each week until it all culminates in the finale.
For many fans, this is actually a major highlight of The Mandalorian. Unlike recent films in the franchise, where the fate of the galaxy is constantly at stake, Mando lets us chill out and enjoy the detailed and lived-in world of Star Wars. "Chapter 10" (S2:E2) gives us exactly that: a lovely side quest.
So why do I find "The Passenger" more satisfying than last week's episode? For one thing, Mando is on his way somewhere new. In "Chapter 9," he went back to Tatooine (Star Wars fans desperately need a break from this planet and deserts in general) and spent the whole episode helping Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) get his groove back.
This week we open on Mando leaving Tatooine in one of the show's funnest sequences ever. I lamented last week that the speeder bike sequences felt cheap...
That's not the case this time around. Gorgeous wide shots grace the screen as Mando races directly towards the camera. Star Wars has delivered revolutionary sound design has delivered revolutionary sound design since 1977. Here, it's used brilliantly to convey the sheer momentum and power of Mando's bike. It also adds to the tension when we discover rival bounty hunters have set a trap in Mando's path.
Speeder POV shot
I'll try not to geek out too much about this (I'm a huge nerd for production), but I replayed the next shot several times. Whatever combination of wires, CGI, and practical effects were used here absolutely worked. Mando plows into a thin cable and we get this
Alright, time to move past the opening sequence (sorry). The plot of S2:E2 goes something like this:
- Mando is continuing his search for other Mandalorians, hoping they can help him return Baby Yoda ("The Child") to its people.
- Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) has a lead for Mando: a frog lady (not joking) that needs safe passage for herself and her eggs. Frog Lady is heading to meet her husband on the "estuary moon of Trask in the system of the gas giant Kol Iben." Frog Lady's husband claims to have seen Mandalorians there.
- Mando agrees to transport Frog Lady, but they can't travel in hyperspace because doing so would kill Frog Lady's spawn.
- Two New Republic X-wing fighters (consider them the space police) approach Mando's ship because he isn't running some beacon (he basically has a headlight out). Before long, the space police link Mando's ship to illegal activity from Season 1. Mando is like "FTP" and makes a run for it.
- Mando evades the police but crash lands on an ice planet. The surface collapses and Mando's ship, the Razor Crest, falls into an ice cave, because people and things always fall into other things in Star Wars.
- Baby Yoda has the munchies, cracks open a big, strange egg, and scarfs down a spider fetus. The other ice spiders aren't having it, so they swarm Mando and the gang.
- Right as the queen ice spider is about to skewer our heroes, the space cops show up again and blast it to death. They tell Mando that they should arrest him, but he also did some good stuff last season, so he's free to go.
- Mando and friends leave to continue their journey. The Razor Crest is in serious need of repairs.
While critics can argue that this is little more than a "spooky cave" episode, we think there is plenty to love.
New Characters & Character Development
"The Passenger," Frog Lady
If someone told me "Chapter 10" would be about Mando and a big frog running from big spiders, I would give it a hard pass. However, Frog Lady (aka "The Passenger") is a welcome addition to the crew.
First off, if closed captioning is canon, the gal speaks native Frog, which is amazing. Secondly, she begins the episode as a mild mannered backpacker but goes full bad bitch by act two.
After the Razor Crest crashes, Mando recommends rests to conserve energy. Frog Lady, in a hurry to reach her destination, rewires the remains of Q9-0 (a decommissioned droid from "Chapter 6"), accessing its "vocabulator" so she can speak through it in Galactic Basic (English) to Mando.
Frog Lady uses Q9-0 to get bossy
Frog Lady makes an emotional plea for Mando to fix the ship immediately. She explains that her eggs (more on them later) are the "last brood" of her life cycle, and their survival is more important than anything.
She then throws him the ultimate shade: "I thought honoring one's word was a part of the Mandalorian code. I guess those are just stories for children."
So Mando goes out into the snow to work on the ship. Meanwhile, in a serious power move, Frog Lady takes off for a spa day in a hot spring!
That's a new level of IDGAF.
But while Frog Lady might think she's in charge, she has no idea that Baby Yoda is a savage and has been eating the last of her bloodline all day. Which brings us neatly to our next topic:
Best Baby Yoda Moments
For anyone like myself who felt like Baby Yoda was lacking in "Chapter 9," this episode more than compensates.
As we've been claiming since "Chapter 7" when Baby Yoda force choked Cara Dune over some questionable decisions she made on twitter, Baby Yoda is a savage and doesn't care what you think. From the beginning we see Baby Yoda has some strange attraction to Frog Lady's eggs.
A new, whimsical music cue swells whenever his big dark eyes catch a sight of them. Later, aboard the ship, Baby Yoda looks to make sure nobody is watching just before using the force to draw them near.
Surely he must have some mystical connection with the spawn, right? Nope, he's just eating them.
This is a great callback to Season 1, when we learn Baby Yoda likes to eat frogs.
His fierce appetite in general is actually a callback to The Empire Strikes Back (1980), when Luke Skywalker meets OG Yoda, who proceeds to rummage through his food.
Fittingly, the episode ends on a shot of Baby Yoda chowing down on one last egg with zero regards for the implications.
Throughout the series we learn in small doses how life in the Star Wars galaxy was impacted by the fall of the Empire. In the season premiere we saw how small villages on Tatooine were immediately overrun by militant gangs looking to fill the power vacuum.
In "Chapter 10," Mando warns Frog Lady: "Traveling sublight is a bit dicey these days. Whether it's pirates or warlords, someone either ends up with a nice chunk of change or your ship"
Given Mando's age, one can presume he is implying that traveling was actually safer during the Empire's reign. This echoes the sentiment shared by Werner Herzog's character in Season 1: "Judge by any metric: safety, prosperity, trade opportunity, peace. Compare Imperial rule to what is happening now. Look outside. Is the world more peaceful since the revolution? I see nothing but death and chaos."
Learning that the Empire maybe wasn't all that bad paints the events of the original Star Wars trilogy in a new light.
Maybe Luke, Han and Leia were actually domestic terrorists, radicalized by old kooks uncle Owen warned about. Maybe Emperor Palpatine was being sincere when he claimed the formation of the Empire would bring peace.
Obviously Luke and the rebellion were more concerned with blowing things up than actually governing. The two officers of the New Republic in this episode are even proven corrupt. They know Mando is a criminal who resisted arrest, but they decide to let it slide because he killed some mutual enemies in "Chapter 6."
Many have criticized The Force Awakens (2015) for introducing The First Order (AKA the new Empire) seemingly out of nowhere. But now it appears they were doing the galaxy a service!
So that's "Chapter 10," S2:E2 of The Mandalorian: super fun episode with a lot of small details making it worth the rewatch!
Overall solid episode: 9.8/10
Oh, and there's a cameo by WALL-E at the 7:40 mark!
WALL-E in "The Mandalorian"Disney+
Do you agree with our review? Let us know about your thoughts on The Mandalorian Season 2 on Twitter, @Popdust!
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