Remember last episode when we saw a mysterious figure played by Temuera Morrison — maybe playing a character intimately familiar with the armor Mando and the Child had won by slaying the krayt dragon, a character we might have met in the original films — watching as our heroes made their escape back to Mos Eisley? Well, forget all that, at least for now. No doubt we’ll be circling back to Tatooine and that still-unnamed character. But for now, Mando and the Child have other worries, most immediately a bunch of scavengers pulling the old clothesline-the-speeder-bike trick.
This ultimately doesn’t work out so well for the would-be bandits, a motley crew that includes a diminutive figure who outlasts his (or her) companions, snatching the Child and holding a knife to his throat. At this point, we’re about three minutes into “Chapter 10: The Passenger,” and the episode has already put the Child in jeopardy, a sure signal this is going to be a pretty intense outing. And it will be. But for now, Mando makes short work of the Child’s captor, offering his jet pack in exchange for the hostage and then making sure he gets his jet pack back, sans bandit, who meets an unpleasant fate. Mando and the Child exchange a knowing look. Watch with the closed captioning on and it features a subtitle that reads “[snorts]” to describe the noise the Child makes. These two get each other.
From there it’s back to Mos Eisley, on foot, and a reunion with Peli Motto, who’s in the middle of a high-stakes game with an insect-like alien appropriately named Dr. Mandible. (What is he a doctor of? That we don’t know.) After Pelli tricks Mando into covering the good doctor’s bet, they return to her garage and enjoy some spit-roasted dragon meat cooked to her specifications. (No maggots. Medium rare. “I’m not some Rodian, for crying out loud.”) What’s more, Peli has a hot tip about where the Mando can find some other Mandalorians and it won’t even cost him anything — beyond taking a passenger to a nearby planet at sub-light speed, a dangerous mission Mando would rather not undertake.
Said passenger is identified only as Frog Lady, which may not be the most imaginative name for a character but it’s certainly apt: She looks like a frog (and, we’ll see later, hops and uses her tongue like one). She’s also a lady. Or, more accurately, she’s a female who needs to get her eggs to her husband so he can fertilize them and ensure the continuation of her Frog Lady line. Getting her there won’t be easy, however, not the least because Mando doesn’t speak Frog. There are other complications as well. The Frog Lady’s precious cargo — a temperature-controlled vial filled with her eggs — looks like dinner to the Child, who can’t resist snacking on them.
It’s another reminder of how little we know about the Child. He’s cute, sure, but he’s also dangerous and has a still-developing sense of morality, kind of like, well, a child. He delights in some of the violence committed by his adoptive father, he drools at roasting krayt dragon meat, and if he has any sense that he shouldn’t be eating their passenger’s unfertilized spawn, he doesn’t care.
Whether the Child’s nascent sense of self will be a liability down the road remains to be seen. For now, Mando has bigger worries in the form of two patrolling X-wings who want to check his permits and make sure he’s up to code. (They’re played by Mandalorian writer and producer Dave Filoni and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, star of Kim’s Convenience.) Mando does his best to deflect their inquiries, but while he’s a skilled fighter and pilot, he’s not a particularly good liar. That leads to a chase that leaves the Razor Crest downed and damaged in an ice cave on a Hoth-like planet. Mando loses the X-wings, but he might have doomed them to an even worse fate than arrest.
The Frog Lady is not happy but has no way to convey this until she discovers the remains of Q9-0, the ill-tempered droid pilot from “Chapter 6: The Prisoner.” Speaking in Zero’s voice (provided once again by Richard Ayoade), she essentially tells him he needs to get his act together and live up to their agreement. “I thought honoring one’s word was a part of the Mandalorian code,” she says. “I guess those are just stories for children.” Ouch.
She’s smart enough to push his buttons, but not smart enough to not wander off to take a bath with her eggs in a pool next to a bunch of tiny pods that look a lot like miniature versions of the egg sacs from Alien. That, it turns out, isn’t entirely coincidental. They’re smaller than that film’s xenomorph egg, but no less dangerous. When the Child decides to eat the contents of one of the pods, he sets off a chain reaction that forces the party to flee from the spider-like creatures whose nest he’s disturbed. This leads to a wave of space-spiders of increasing size, culminating in the appearance of a huge space-spider mother determined to protect her offspring.
It’s hard to miss the parallelism here. The Mando lives to protect the Child. The Frog Lady lives to protect her eggs. And this new enemy lives to protect her many terrifying offspring. She’s not going to let the intruders off the hook easily, either, which leads to an impressive set piece in which the Mando and the Frog Lady have to fend off an overwhelming enemy horde that repeatedly seems on the verge of doing them in. It’s a genuinely frightening sequence filled with disturbing moments, as when a tiny space-spider lands on the Child’s head, much to the Child’s distress. It also builds to a desperate moment when it feels like there’s no hope in sight.
Then the X-wing pilots return and blow up the space-spiders. It’s an easy — too easy — way to end the episode. Call it X-wing ex machina. But it’s hard to be too annoyed by an outing that ends with the Child cuddling with the Mandalorian then mischievously snacking on one last Frog Lady egg he’s stashed away. And though they’ve been rescued, there’s still a lot of uncertainty hanging over their fates. The Razor Crest is in bad shape. They’ve played their one get-out-of-New-Republic-jail-free card thanks to the X-wing pilots learning how they helped bring in some bad guys back in “The Prisoner,” and they’re following a tip provided by a desperate Frog Lady who might have said anything to get her eggs to safety. The Child should probably enjoy this relaxing moment while he can. It won’t last.
• “The Passenger” contains some great sequences and terrific moments with the Child but it also feels a bit inconsequential, seeming to exist mostly for the sake of its set pieces (though the theme of parenthood echoed throughout the episode). It’s nicely directed by Peyton Reed (Bring It On, the Ant-Man films), but also a step down from last week’s premiere.
• So who, or what, is that little scavenger that almost gets the better of the Mandalorian? Is that a Jawa in different clothing? Its speech sounds a bit like the language spoken by Princess Leia in Boushh disguise in Return of the Jedi, but the mask looks different.
• “May the Force be with you,” Mando says to the X-wing pilots, still trying to pass as an ordinary citizen making his way through space. And yet Jedi remain semi-mythical in the world of The Mandalorian. Is this an inconsistency? Discuss.
• “If you need to use the privy, do it now. It’s gonna be a long ride.” Is this the first reference to bathroom functions in Star Wars (not counting Phantom Menace–style fart jokes)?
• “One small skank in the scud pie.” Peli continues to be a font of new Star Wars expressions, doesn’t she?
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