Disney Plus has just released the 10th chapter of The Mandalorian, titled, “The Passenger,” and it marks the first time I was deeply disappointed with an episode of this usually fine series. At the risk of offending the Disney and Star Wars gods, I didn’t like this episode at all. For the first time in this new series’ run, Jon Favreau and company have delivered a bag of maggot-filled Krayt dragon meat at our doorstep.
*****RAZOR CREST-SIZED SPOILERS!!*****
Chapter 10: “The Passenger.”
The beginning picks up where we left off in Chapter 9: “The Marshall” with Mando (Pedro Pascal) riding away on his rented speeder bike, carrying the Child, Boba Fett’s armor, and some freshly dead Krayt dragon meat as well. Mando’s riding a bit fast across the desert plains, and can’t see a trap laid for him by several scavengers, who use concealed trip wire to flip him off the bike, which is destroyed. The Child (aka ‘Baby Yoda’) is flung off of the bike as well, wearing no protective gear whatsoever, yet it lands uninjured (?). An outnumbered Mando makes quick work of the would-be scavengers with his Mandalorian warrior training and resourcefulness, easily dispatching his greedy assailants. Using his rocket pack in a diabolically clever way, Mando offs the last scavenger (an angry dwarf creature), in one of the episode’s few genuine chuckles. Mando saves as much gear from the wreckage as possible, carrying it and the Child across the hot desert plains of Tatooine back to the spaceport at Mos Eisley.
Note: I love Tatooine as much as the next Star Wars geek, but this marks the third time we’ve seen it in only the first 10 episodes. Can we explore another Star Wars planet in-depth sometime?
Arriving in Mos Eisley at dusk, Mando heads to the infamous cantina seen in “New Hope” (again) to meet with Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris). Having carried whatever he could across a hot desert, Mando is a lot more patient than I would be when he meets with Motto, who is inside the cantina playing the card game Sabacc with a giant sentient ant unimaginatively named, “Mr. Mandible.”
Note: An ant-like creature named “Mr. Mandible”? Hardy-har-har. Was the tiny blue elephant creature in Jabba’s house band named Mr. Trunky? Like other elements in this hot-glued together story, even the names sound like a failure of imagination; “Mr. Mandible,” “The Passenger,” etc.
Before she’ll help Mando, she insists he donate some funds to Mandible, because he’s “on a winning streak.” Of course, that’s a ruse, and a bluffing Motto cleans out her overgrown pismire friend, taking Mando’s money as well. Gee, thanks a lot. Guess she didn’t care that her so-called friend was clearly having a really bad day. Is this the same pit chief with a ‘heart of gold’ who would’ve done anything for Mando and Baby Yoda just an episode before? Now, she’s just a cheating card shark screwing a down-on-his-luck Mando out of his money. Nice. Oh, and she also asks Mando if she can have some of that Krayt dragon meat, too. Charmer.
Arriving at the Razor Crest, berthed in Motto’s docking bay, we meet Mando’s new “Passenger” (Misty Rosas)– a mysterious, sentient, female frog-like creature carrying a tank full of her own eggs submerged in liquid. These eggs represent the last of her family line, and she needs to get them to her husband on the moon of Trask for fertilization. But here’s the catch–the Passenger’s eggs are very sensitive to the stresses of hyperspace travel, so Mando has to take her at sub-light speeds, which is not a good idea when you’re carrying a stolen baby which is on everyone’s wanted list. Motto vouches for the Passenger with her life (another lie–she just met her), and a reluctant Mando agrees to transport the would-be mother. With the Passenger, her eggs, and Baby Yoda onboard (bumper sticker, that one), the Razor Crest is bound for Trask…
Note: I’m sure Amy Sedaris is a gifted comedian, but her character has officially worn out her welcome on this show. I sincerely hope we never run into Peli Motto again.
Right off, there’s a problem. Baby Yoda is really jonesing for the Passenger’s eggs, which it finds utterly delicious. After sucking at least one of them (possibly more) down its gullet, Mando stops the Child from devouring the rest, putting himself and the Child in their sealed bunk space (inexplicably leaving the Passenger alone in the ship’s sensitive control deck….? What if she were an informant?). Mando’s slumber is interrupted by a proximity alarm sounding off.
Note: It is clearly established that the Passenger is both sentient and intelligent, yet Baby Yoda gobbles some of her last remaining eggs for yuks and giggles. It’s simply not funny. If Baby Yoda ate a live human infant, cooing into the camera with its bloodied teeth, would that be ‘funny’, too?
The approaching ships are a pair of New Republic X-wing fighters on a routine patrol, looking for any remaining Imperial remnants in the Outer Rim. They notice that Mando’s transponder is off, and urge him to turn it back on before they leave. The pilots clumsily switch channels to talk privately, and then open their X-wings into attack mode. In an uncharacteristic display of nervousness, Mando gets flustered and decides to make a run for it…ducking into the thick cloud cover of a nearby ice planet, with the X-wings in hot pursuit.
Note: Series writer/co-producer/director Dave Filoni plays one of the two X-wing pilots, reprising his cameo role from Chapter 6. Filoni, who began his career as an animator, also produced “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” animated Star Wars as well.
Mando’s idea seems to work, at first, as he temporarily eludes pursuit to make an emergency crash landing into an icy cavern. The cavern’s ice quickly gives way below the Razor Crest, and the ship plunges into a darkened snow-filled pit below. The Razor Crest is clearly totaled, with multiple hull breaches in the cargo section and crew areas, as well as obvious structural damage. In the cockpit, Mando and the Passenger realize they are okay, so Mando goes below to check on her eggs, which thrown outside the ship. Outside the ship, Mando finds the omnivorous Child trying to eat the eggs, yet again (buy a leash, Mando). Stopping the Child just in time, Mando realizes he has his work cut out for him. Yes, he’s outrun the Republic X-wings, but the Razor Crest is in really bad shape. He gets to work welding exterior panels back together, but the hull breach in the cargo/crew section is irreparable for the time being. Back inside the ship, communication between the frustrated Passenger and Mando reaches an impasse, but the intelligent amphibian manages to rebuild a translating vocabulator on a demolished assassin droid (from last season), which Mando kept in his cargo hold. Using the droid’s voice, the desperate Passenger tries to impart her own sense of urgency to Mando, who seems uncharacteristically callous and insensitive to the anxious creature’s plight.
Note: In a matter of hours (maybe less), Mando somehow manages to make the Razor Crest marginally spaceworthy again. Even in a fantasy universe where hyperspace travel and sentient robots are everyday things, a single guy (with no help whatsoever) welding his clearly totaled spaceship whole again in a matter of hours shattered even my suspension of disbelief.
More problems arise later on, when Mando realizes the Passenger is missing. Using infrared tracking through his helmet visor, Mando follows her still-warm footsteps in the snow to a natural hot spring in the ice, where the amphibian is warming both herself and her eggs. The Child, of course, is still hungry for the eggs, even after greedily swallowing a few of them earlier (threatening the Passenger’s very future). The Child’s boundless appetite for this sentient creature’s eggs is neither cute nor funny. In fact, I would suggest Mando also consider buying a paddle as well as a leash. Mando helps the Passenger gather up her warmed eggs, carefully placing each of them back into the container, as the Child wanders off … yet again.
Note: Baby Yoda feels about as useful to this episode as breast implants on a coffee maker. All it does is irritate, eat forbidden eggs, and wander off. That’s it. Seemingly gone for now are the days when it used its latent force powers to actually help Mando.
The Child is soon found cooing over a cavern filled with oval, upright eggs–a clear and too-obvious homage to Ridley Scott’s xenomorph egg chamber in 1979’s “ALIEN.” The ever-hungry toddler opens one of the leathery, petaled eggs and gobbles the palm-sized baby spider inside. This act, of course, triggers a fear-threat response in all of the other eggs, which begin vibrating in unison within the snow. Before long, they burst open, and hordes of snowy arachnids are after Baby Yoda. Mando reaches the Child just in time, rescuing the annoying little brat just as the adult spiders, varying in size from a large dog to a house, chase after our ‘heroes.’ Thank you, Baby Yoda, for once again, screwing up everything.
Note: The spiders look very much like the krykna, a race of intelligent spiders encountered on a hot desert world in Star Wars Rebels (still the best Star Wars’ series ever, in my humble opinion). Their size is about the same, as well as their speed, but it isn’t clear if this is the exact same species. It might just be an unrelated parallel evolution, the same way the Star Wars universe sees humanoids evolving on different planets.
At this point, “The Passenger” devolves into a standard issue monster story, with hundreds of arachnids chasing our characters back to the ship. Mando manages to get the Child, the Passenger and her eggs into the relative safety of the cockpit, as the spiders infest the compromised cargo hold of the Razor Crest, pouring into the vessel en masse. A house-sized spider punctures the cockpit, just as familiar-sounding laser blasts begin to repel the beasts from outside the ship. Exiting the cockpit, Mando uses his arm-mounted flame thrower to destroy/repel the remaining spiders inside the cobweb-infested interior. Exiting the Razor Crest, Mando realizes the unexpected assistance came from the two pursuant X-wing pilots. Thinking the ‘good guys’ of the New Republic might actually help him in repairing his pierced cockpit, the two d!ckhead pilots proceed to read Mando’s rap sheet, but decide to call it even, since he rescued a New Republic soldier last season at risk to his own life. Swell. Thanks a bunch, guys.
Note: Refresh my memory, but aren’t the New Republic folks supposed to be the good guys we were rooting for in the original Star Wars movies?
An exasperated Mando fixes his ruptured cockpit (alone) and tells the Passenger that he’s repaired the ship enough to limp to Trask, but they will have to hole up in the pressurized cockpit together, as the rest of the ship will be exposed to the vacuum of space. Mando wisely advises the Passenger to use the “privy” (aka bathroom, loo) now, or forever hold her pee. The Razor Crest then limps off of the icy moon (don’t even ask) and heads back on her sub-light course for Trask. Inside the sealed-off cockpit, Mando sacks out as the Passenger nervously clutches her remaining eggs from the ship’s resident oviraptor, who then turns to the camera and devours yet another egg of her eggs that it stole earlier. Oh yes, how adorable… the Child once again munches on the Passenger’s future offspring.
Well, it had to happen sometime. Series’ creator/producer/writer Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) has written the first bona fide dud to date of this otherwise sterling series. I had to watch it twice to make sure my own hatred of the episode was justified. The reaction of my Star Wars fan wife only reaffirmed my opinion– this episode is a hot mess. Yes, the production values are of the usual high caliber for this luxe Disney show, but there is little else to recommend. The flaws of this episode are numerous, and they all lay in the writing, something I would’ve never expected from Favreau, who had (up till now) a pretty healthy feel for the Star Wars universe and his own characters.
Let’s start with the Child (aka “Baby Yoda”), who, for the first time, genuinely got on my nerves in this episode. The Child’s ridiculously voracious appetite got Mando and the Passenger (aka Frog Lady) into more trouble than any sentient being deserves. Several of the eggs it scarfed down were the last of the Passenger’s line (!). That’s not even remotely funny. I mean, the little creep is merrily chowing down on the frog’s very future, and we’re supposed to chuckle…? Later, in a very unsubtle homage to Ridley Scott’s “ALIEN”, the Child’s ceaseless hunger brings hordes of angry Ice Spiders (big and small) upon the group. In the past, we’ve seen the Child use its (considerable) force powers to stop imminent threats to Mando (levitating a rampaging monster in mid-air, for example). But here? Nada. The egg-stealing brat does nothing but whimper, whine and bring misery to Mando and the Passenger. I half-expected the Child to use its force powers to perhaps assist with the Razor Crest’s repairs in some way, or at the very least force-push a few giant spiders. But no such luck. None of this is helped by the fact that repeated shots of the Child puppet ‘walking’ in the snow made it look fake as s#!t, too. The toy copies of Baby Yoda at my local Target store look more convincing. This episode was the first time the Child wasn’t so cute anymore.
Speaking of repairs, the Razor Crest took a hell of a beating during its crash landing into the ice pit. You could see clear evidence of major structural damage, not to mention badly compromised hull integrity. Yet a few quick welds later, and somehow her exterior lines are symmetrical again and her panels are patched up enough to fly. Sorry, but I just don’t buy it, even for a fantasy show with hyperspace travel and other fantasy cheats. We’ve seen the Razor Crest take other such beatings, and yet Mando usually required the help of Kuill, Peli Motto and her pit crew droids to help him get the vessel back into shape. Despite the many distractions Mando faced in the ice cave (the Passenger’s disappearance, the Child’s never-ending appetite, the Ice Spiders, etc), he somehow still found time to make the Razor Crest space-worthy all by himself. Even for Star Wars, that’s pure bantha poodoo.
Amy Sedaris’ “Peli Motto” has also worn out her welcome. I liked her as the blue-collar pit crew chief ally in her earlier appearances, but, like everything in “The Passenger,” she loses her charm as she cheats and cons an already down-on-his-luck Mando–gleefully taking his money and food when she had a winning hand. Making things worse, she lies to him again–vouching with her life for the Frog Lady Passenger whom she barely knows. What if the Passenger had been an informant looking for Baby Yoda? Motto’s heart was just seemed to be missing. Maybe she was pissed over that totaled speeder bike she rented to Mando? I dunno. My observant wife mentioned that Peli Motto reminded her of a character from the ill-conceived 1978 “Star Wars Holiday Special”, and I could see from where that observation sprang. Sometimes otherwise solid comic actors such as Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, or even Amy Sedaris simply don’t gel with the Star Wars universe’s unique vibe. Either way, if we never see Peli Motto ever again, I’m totally cool with it. Stick a fork in her, she’s past medium rare.
The New Republic X-wing pilots (one of whom was series’ producer/director Dave Filoni) acted like like those sort of cops who’d give you a ticket for a broken tail light, yet refuse to help you out when your dead car battery leaves you stranded on the side of the road. Yes, Mando has a shady past, but that whole quibble over the transponder made the New Republic seem like flying office managers asking for cover sheets on Mando’s TPS reports. These are supposed to be the guys we rooted for in the original trilogy, yet they are very unsympathetic here. A few years before the New Republic reclaimed power from the Empire, its entire rebellion rested upon shady guys like Mando and Han Solo, who helped without asking questions. I get the statement being made by the writer (those in power tend to act just like those they replace), but we already got that message loud & clear last year when Mando and Greef Karga lamented abut the New Republic’s burdensome bureaucracy. Reaffirming that cynicism only makes the New Republic look unworthy of its future salvation in the new Disney Star Wars theatrical trilogy. Were Rey, Finn and Poe risking their butts for nothing more than a new breed of bureaucrats?
Here’s hoping the remaining six of the second season go back to advance the intriguing mythology of this still promising series in more meaningful ways than just outrunning monsters in ceaseless, mindless action sequences. “The Passenger” gets off on the wrong track. This is definitely not the way.
“The Mandalorian” Season 2 is available for streaming on DisneyPlus, as are most of the Star Wars movies and animated TV series. To my readers, I once again wish you and all of your loved ones good health and strength during the current coronavirus pandemic. The current number of COVID-related deaths in the United States are around 238,000 as of this writing. Meanwhile, there’s no vaccine or even effective treatment for COVID-19 as of yet. Yes, some businesses are reopening, but the overall situation is far from safe. So for the time being, please continue to practice social safe-distancing as often as you can, wear masks in public, and avoid overly crowded outings as much as possible.
Wear a mask. It is the way.