EPISODE: “Chapter 10: The Passenger” – Written by Jon Favreau and Directed by Peyton Reed (ANT-MAN AND THE WASP)
SYNOPSIS: The Mandalorian must ferry a passenger with precious cargo on a risky journey..
REVIEW (WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THIS EPISODE): Picking up immediately after the end of “The Marshal”, we find The Mandalorian heading back to Mos Eisley with The Child en tow. On the way, they are set upon by bandits who destroy their speeder. One of them, who looks oddly like Teebo from THE FORCE AWAKENS, holds The Child at knifepoint and demands Mando’s jetpack. Turning it over, The Mandalorian waits for the alien to get some distance before remotely triggering the jetpack to fly straight up and drop the bandit to his death. Gathering Boba Fett’s armor, Mando and The Child walk back to the Cantina. They track down Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) who gives them a lead on their next destination.
Their sidequest ends up being a transport mission of a lizard-like alien who needs to get her eggs to another planet so her husband can help fertilize them. In exchange for leading Mando to a potential covert of Mandalorians, he must travel with his passenger at sublight, meaning no hyperdrive. Mando is cautious but takes the job. Of course, her eggs are transported in an easy to open container which means we get to see The Child repeatedly sneak in and slurp down one of her potential children. This offers some comic relief in an episode that is other focused on action sequences.
While there is a language barrier between the frog alien and The Mandalorian, they settle in for a long ride when a pair of X-Wing pilots recognize the Razor Crest’s callsign. Demanding he turn on his transponder, they ask if his ship was in the vicinity of the breakout of Prisoner X6-911, calling back to the events of the season one episode “The Prisoner”. Mando makes a run for it, heading down to an icy planet. What follows is a great chase sequence that blends the backdrop of the opening scenes on Hoth from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK with the cave scenes in THE FORCE AWAKENS. It continues to impress me how the FX have improved since last season. While avoiding the X-Wings, Mando crashes the Razor Crest which rips a hole in the hull. As the cold seeps in, the frog alien uses the head of droid Zero (Richard Ayoade) to communicate with Mando about the time-sensitive nature of her eggs. Mando ignores her pleas.
When The Child informs Mando that the frog lady is gone, the two track her to a cave where she sits in a hot spring with her eggs. The Child waddles over to some strange rocks that turn out to be egg sacs. After eating the contents of one, they all sprout open. As hundreds of ice spiders hatch, Mando sees their mother, a gigantic spider, lunge at them. Running from the glut of alien arachnids, the trio weave through the cave system and Mando uses everything from his blaster to flamethrower and detonators to block their pursuers. Eventually making the way back to the Razor Crest. the spiders pour in. While the frog lady uses a blaster to buy them a few seconds to close the cockpit door, Mando tries to take off to at least get to the surface.
But before they can get more than a few feet off the ground, the mother spider descends upon the Razor Crest and begins driving her sharp legs through the ship. Covered in spiders with all hope seemingly lost, blaster fire rains down, killing the mother and most of the baby spiders. When Mando exits the ship, he finds the two X-Wings that pursued him. They reveal that while Mando is wanted for allowing a prisoner to escape, his capture of the three others and defense of Lt. Lavan on the prison ship serve as extenuating circumstances. Rather than help repair his ship, the pilots let Mando off with a warning and leave. Mando then makes the repairs he can before sealing himself, The Child, and the frog in the cockpit as they limp their way to their final destination, leaving the episode with a cliffhanger.
STAR WARS UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The X-Wing pilots, one of whom is CLONE WARS creator Dave Filoni, reference the New Republic and we see some familiar aliens at Mos Eisley but overall not too many overt references to the feature films. We see Peli playing Sabacc. Mando also refers to Jabba’s language of Huttese. Mando does reply to “May the Force be with you”.. The ice spiders previously appeared on Star Wars Rebels.
COOLEST SCENE: The escape from the ice spiders was cool, but I am very impressed by the quality of the chase sequence between the Razor Crest and the X-Wings. It looked as cinematic as anything else in STAR WARS.
FINAL VERDICT: The Mandalorian seems to be following the formula of the first season with this second entry in the new run. Titled “The Passenger”, this is an episode that doesn’t do anything to further the overall narrative of the show and can feel a bit like a filler story but still manages to pack in some impressive sequences that showcase improved special effects. Peyton Reed brings the skills he has honed with big special effects movies at Marvel Studios here and shows that even a filler episode of a STAR WARS show can still be fun. However, despite the callbacks to a filler episode from season one, this chapter seems like an opportunity to show The Child posing for new GIFs rather than doing anything substantial with character development.
The season premiere was not quite as impressive as I had hoped but was a solid STAR WARS story with some good special effects. “The Passenger” still doesn’t add much to the overall story but once again looks damn impressive. (7/10)
NEXT ON THE MANDALORIAN: Chapter 11 premieres Friday, November 13th at 3am EST on Disney+.