Editor’s Note: Welcome to Mandalorian Monday, when Vanyaland film editor Nick Johnston recaps last week’s episode of ‘The Mandalorian‘. It runs — you guessed it — every Monday during the show’s second season, so you have the chance to watch it over the weekend and he can write about it without having to put a big SPOILERS warning atop the page.
Hey, guess what? To add to all of the good news emanating out of the world on this lovely Monday — a new president, a possible COVID vaccine, the fact that most of us have Wednesday off — I found a free video rip of “The Passenger” on YouTube, and I’d like to share it with you all. It may not be the best quality, but I think it sums up the experience of watching The Mandalorian this past weekend. Take a look:
Yeah, those scared of spiders probably should have sat out “The Passenger,” a fun little episode directed by Ant-Man‘s Peyton Reed that would only be deemed unsatisfactory by nerds if it came after the reveal of the return of one of the biggest characters in the Star Wars franchise. And, sure enough, it did. Also, Baby Yoda eats a bunch of frog eggs. It’s a weird week, folks.
“The Passenger” begins immediately where “The Marshal” left off, with Mando and Baby Yoda returning from Mos Pelgo with Boba Fett’s armor and a huge chunk of Krayt dragon meat, but all’s not totally right: A group of bandits, after The Child, have set a tripwire trap for the bounty hunter, and Mando falls for it. The speeder’s destroyed in the collision, he and the baby go flying, and the bandits attack. It’s always funny to me whenever baddies try to charge in and fight an armor-clad dude with their fists like they’re Javon Wims, and Mando takes care of them in short order, though one little dude gets his grubby mitts on Baby Yoda and holds a knife to the kid’s throat. Mando offers a trade — his jetpack for the Child’s safety — and the bandit takes it. After making sure that the young one is alright, he presses a few buttons on his bracer, and the jetpack takes off, dropping the small bandit from a great height before setting down gracefully. Cut to the title!
His swoop wrecked, Mando has to carry back his cargo like he’s hopping trains in the ’30s, but he eventually makes it back safely to Mos Eisley with the Child and his cargo. He finds his old pal Peli Motto in the cantina, playing Corellian Sabacc with a giant ant who she introduces as “Dr. Mandible” (please God let someone write bizarre-ass fanfic or spin-off novels about the adventures of this absolutely amusing dude and his career as, like, a foot surgeon), and Peli tells Mando that her gambling buddy might know some info about where another group of Bucketheads might be hiding out. Our man covers Mandible’s bet in exchange for the info, and he finds out that they’re holed up on a planet called Trask (one wonders if this is a tribute to the Capone director who was going to do a Boba Fett spin-off for Disney before he got fired), and Mando makes plans to depart. We jump to Peli’s landing pad, where she and her droids are roasting the massive chunk of Krayt dragon meat that Mando brought back with him, and our dude’s making his final preparations to leave on the Razor’s Crest.
Peli then asks Mando a favor: She wants him to bring along a passenger on his voyage to Trask, and that she’ll vouch personally for the passenger’s character. That traveler turns out to be The Frog Lady (credited as such, too!), a cloaked amphibian-like creature who needs to transport her unfertilized eggs — the last of her bloodline — to the planet so that they can be… uh, fertilized by her husband. They can’t travel at lightspeed, because the eggs will be harmed by the process, so they’ll have to go sub-warp the whole way there. Mando complains a bit about this, given that going at such a slow speed will make them vulnerable to the kind of losers he just murdered in the desert all the way there, but ultimately agrees to do the right thing and takes her with him. But her giant fish-tank-cum-backpack full of eggs immersed in blue liquid has Baby Yoda looking like a cartoon wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon or Martin Scorsese when he smells his mother’s meatballs: He wants those bad boys and he wants them now.
Once onboard, our boy Baby Yoda decides to eat himself some frog eggs (which, according to this blog, you totally can at home as well), and Mando, understandably, gets pretty fucking upset when he tries to. Also, loads of internet nerds got frustrated as well, which makes sense: Presumably, each one of those eggs would grow up to be a frog person, and it’s a little weird to think about that, though creatures in the Star Wars universe often seem to operate on the Goofy/Pluto spectrum: Either they’re sentient beings or they’re totally expendable animals like cattle on our own planet. But you know what? If Baby Yoda, a fictional character, wants to eat the unfertilized eggs of a frog woman, goddamn it, he can do so! He already demonstrated his love for frogs last season, and it’s really not that weird, even if it’s a bit impolite. The frog woman at least needs to offer up the eggs, and Baby Yoda needs to not be a glutton. That’s politeness, the kind that you can get taught at a Jedi cotillion or whatever later on down the line. But, anyway, after Mando scolds the child, he decides to take a nap and puts Baby Yoda in his hammock hanging above him in his quarters.
Mando is then rudely awakened, hours later, by the arrival of two New Republic X-Wings, who have become the Space Cops of the sector. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, etc. All seems to be going well, and our hero nearly manages to talk his way out of the interaction — he basically just had to have his space registration renewed — but he’s forced to turn on his transponder and the pilots discover that, hey, maybe this guy broke into one of our prison transports! You can tell shit’s about to get real when their S-foils go into attack position, and Mando decides to make a run for it, piloting his old bucket of bolts like it’s the Millennium Falcon. In a particular fun chase sequence that I’d like to see set to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms” like in Baby Driver, he flies down to an ice planet, loses the fighters, and tries to hide on the surface in one of the canyons, but the Razor’s Crest breaks through the ice sheet it’s resting on and lands square in the middle of a cave, knocking Mando out for the count.
Hours later, Mando stirs and realizes that his ship has been fucked by that little crash. There’s a giant hole in the hull, ice is everywhere, and the eggs are going to freeze solid if Baby Yoda doesn’t eat them before all that goes down. The Frog Lady pleads with him to do something, though Mando still can’t understand her language, and she decides she’s had enough with all that: She hacks into the still-somewhat-working head of Q9-O, the bounty droid voiced by the inimitable Richard Ayoade who was killed in the prison break last season that is currently causing all of Mando’s headaches at the moment, and tells him what he needs to hear: she is a frog, her eggs might die, and they need to do something or else they’re fucked. Mando listens and sets off to do whatever repairs he can, but he notices, after some time, that the Frog Lady and her eggs are gone. Turns out, a little deeper in the cave, there’s a hot spring that’s just the right temperature for amphibians (thank god the hot spring isn’t too hot), and the Frog Lady decided to skinny dip with her unfertilized children while they wait for their driver to finish the repairs. Mando tells her it’s not safe and tries to gather up the eggs, but Baby Yoda’s wandered off. And whenever Baby Yoda’s wanders off, you know something either cute or bad will happen, and unfortunately for our heroes, it’s the latter.
In a scene that seems a bit like a miniaturized version of Alien, The Child cracks open a strange egg in the middle of a whole field of rock-like eggs and decide he wants to have himself some tasty yolk. But like an evil aunt who decides to spread her love of arachnids to her nephews’ Cadbury Creme Eggs, the other eggs are actually full of spiders, and the whole spider-family descends from the cave in order to ruin Mando’s day. Frog Lady grabs her clothes with her tongue and Mando starts shooting some of the baby spiders, but the die is cast: there are just too many spiders for this to be a fight that they’ll win. Mando grabs Baby Yoda, and the group runs back to the Razor Crest, though they’re stalked by a swarm of ice-spiders of all different shapes and sizes.
Here’s a fun fact: these critters are known as Krykna, and were designed by Ralph McQuarrie for scenes on Dagobah during The Empire Strikes Back. Pretty fun! Some are small as chihuahuas, others are as big as the Razor Crest itself, though initially, it looks like the biggest spider of them all might be taken care of pretty quickly by one of Mando’s timed thermal detonators. They manage to make it back to the ship and into the cockpit, but all of the small spiders are gathered at the door, preventing it from sealing, and a few sneak in. One decides to mess with Baby Yoda, and the Frog Lady brandishes the Star Wars equivalent of a Derringer and blasts it. Mando blasts the remaining spiders with his flamethrower, seals the cockpit, and tries to take off. Hopefully, those damn spiders won’t survive the vaccuum of space, huh? They’d be boned if this were like the Lost in Space movie that Joey from Friends was in.
But like Randy Orton slithering around like a snake, the giant spider hits the Razor Crest with an RKO from the cave’s roof, and causes it to crash back down to the ground. The Shelob imitator smashes a pair of the ship’s windows and starts putting its lamprey-like suckers all over the remaining ones, but blaster fire takes it out. Mando heads down into the ship’s rear, taking care of the few small spiders that remain (one lovely little detail is that the spider’s webs, when broken, sound like ice crackling), and discovers the X-Wing pilots from earlier blasting away at the brood. Turns out, the New Republic had made a few notes about Mando’s conduct during said prison break, given that he turned in three of the criminals and tried to save the life of the prison guard — an unusual behavior for a hardened thug in a situation like that, of course — and decide to let him off easy. Not so easy that they’ll help him repair the Razor Crest, but easy enough that they won’t kill him or take him to jail.
So, Mando does whatever final repairs he can, seals up the cockpit, and, for the first time in the Star Wars franchise, acknowledges that the human characters have to go to the bathroom? I can’t be the only person who thought that it was a bit interesting that he made mention of the “privy,” given that outside of the Del Ray ship cross-sections, we’ve never seen a bathroom in a Star Wars ship, but whatever. Anyway, the three take off in the significantly damaged craft, and, as soon as everyone goes to sleep, Baby Yoda pulls an egg out of his sleeve and eats it, offending three-quarters of the internet. Cut to credits.
I’ve seen some rumblings around the Internet that people were disappointed by this episode, thanks to the big ol’ Boba Fett tease at the end of “The Marshal,” but I had a lot of fun with this one. Sure, it’s not as epic in scope or important, but then again, it’s the second episode of the season. Frankly, I’m more surprised by the fact that this episode still had a ton of meaningful action in it (a similar episode of Game of Thrones would have been all walk-and-talk intrigue by this point), and it pairs nicely with “The Child” from last season, at least in the context of little critters loving their eggs. The spiders are pretty fucking creepy, and if you’re going to make an episode about lots of insects charging at our protagonists (or making an absolutely delightful riff on Doris Day and Rock Hudson films), well, there’s no better choice than Reed, who brings his A-game here. It might not be as flashy as the first episode, but “The Passenger” is solid enough.
Let’s add an “s” to “award” and give this week’s honors to Misty Rosas and Dee Bradley Baker, who helped to bring the Frog Lady to life, with Rosas doing the in-suit work on set, and Baker crafting her weird vocalizations in the booth afterward. One of the big reasons The Mandalorian works so well is its reliance on traditional-looking practical effects when they truly matter and the Frog Lady is just another fantastic example of that. All we need now is for someone to make a Star Wars variation on that Lisa Simpson meme for the scene in which our amphibian friend uses the head of Q9-O as a translator, or maybe a cut of that same sequence set to one of the karaoke numbers from Only God Forgives.
Star Wars Fan Film of The Week:
Look, I know we did Stormtroopers last week, but holy shit, as soon as I saw this fantastic fan film from the folks at Sekani Motion Design, I knew I had to write about it. It’s short and sweet, being barely over a minute long, but it’s got some of the coolest visuals you’ll see in a fan film. The CGI is just fantastic, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if you don’t see these guys pumping out game trailers or whatnot later on down the line. But now, you’ll just have to enjoy the dope visual of watching a blaster rifle fire from inside the chamber in The Last Stand.
This Week’s Weirdest Piece of Baby Yoda Merch:
Ever want to drain an entire bottle of Evan Williams while watching your favorite episodes of The Mandalorian and cry deeply into a blanket about how the relationship between Mando and Baby Yoda is just like the relationship between you and your cat Buster and god you would love him even if he ate your eggs, wouldn’t you? Well, the good folks at Integrity Bottles have created these impeccably-crafted rocks glasses adorned with the likeness of everyone’s favorite caviar lover. The image is sand-carved into the glass by hand, so it won’t come off in the dishwasher or from when you reflexively just start to peel stuff around the house when you get anxious, and it’s made in the US, just like your cat was (well, unless you’re in another country or you imported whatever bizarre hybrid tiger-housecat you have, but that’s neither-here-nor-there). Grab your own for $19.96 at Amazon, but remember: Obi-Wan would frown upon you getting that fucked up, especially by yourself. But, hey, once your drinking habit pushes you into dealing death sticks, you might find yourself immortalized in plastic, just like Elan Sleazebaggo did.
Well, “The Passenger” might have ended, but I have a weird feeling that this isn’t going to be the last time we’ll see the actual passenger, given that she’s still around at the end of the episode. Join us back next week for “Baby Yoda is a fiend for Frog Eggs” part two. And remember: Stay safe, stay healthy. This is the way.