“Oh, wow we are still on Tatooine?”
This was my first thought in the opening of “The Passenger.” Then I realized, “Oh wow, are we going to get a continuation of a story in one place? An arc within the season if you will, which was the main storytelling device of The Clone Wars.” Well, yes and no.
The episode begins with the Mandalorian speeding his way across the Tatooine landscape after having just (almost singlehandedly) defeated a Krayt Dragon with Baby Yoda in tow when he finds himself being trip wired and thrown from his bike, surrounded by bounty hunters. First of all, Baby Yoda’s species has tough skin, literally, that he can take that much impact from being thrown from a speeder bike. Anyway, Mando makes quick work of all but one of the bounty hunters, who *gasp* has a knife to Baby Yoda’s throat. Mando offers up his jetpack for the unfortunate soul only to have it jettison while running away sending the bounty hunter falling back down to their demise.
Mando arrives back at Mos Eisley and lands another lead from Peli Motto and her Sabaac opponent, a giant ant. Yes, an ant. The lead turns out to be the title character, the Passenger, a frog species who needs to reunite with her husband who has settled on the moon of Trask before the equinox to fertilize her eggs, or else her line will end. Also, hyperspace travel will kill the eggs so that is not an option but her husband has seen Mandalorians on Trask. So, we are off on another side adventure in which Mando must protect this Frogwoman and her unfertilized from crash landings, ice spiders, and…Baby Yoda.
I can see people wanting to place the “filler” tag on this episode but there are some gems in this stepping stone to the big picture of season 2. Here are some initial thoughts:
Hindsight is 20/20 but Maybe Mandalorian Should have Skipped a Week
Let’s get the real-world bit out of the way. There is no doubt that the US Presidential election is consuming all mentions, hashtags, and trending topics currently here. It had been predicted that this would be a long race to the finish, given the historic amounts of people that voted, but the number of events, speeches, protests, and legal claims that have sputtered out of this week has sucked up all of the attention. At some point, Lucasfilm could have looked at the release calendar and considered moving this episode back a week or even moving to Monday, November 1 before Election Day. Given everything going on, this episode didn’t trend in the top 10 on Twitter in the US and was not even in the top 25 by Friday mid-morning Eastern time. I understand that this is a news cycle unique to America right now so I am glad other people across the world could just enjoy this episode without crushing anxiety. Or maybe, given some of the reaction to this chapter in the season, it was all for the best that it didn’t get too much attention.
New Republic Growing Pains
It’s always great to see X-Wings in Star Wars…except if you are watching The Mandalorian. Yes, they kind of destroyed his enemies in the first season after he was double-crossed by his crew but now they are just in the way. Two X-Wing pilots (Dave Filoni back as Trapper Wolf and Kim Convenience’s Paul Sun‑Hyung Lee as Carson Teva) interrupt Mando’s peaceful ride, surround him and proceed to have the slowest conversation to a confrontation on the show. Mando escapes them but crashes/lands in an ice cave with creepy crawlies. Yes, Wolf and Teva show back up just in time to save Mando, Baby Yoda, and the Passenger from a horrible death but they also leave him to repair his own ship, wasting precious time. Teva states that they should arrest him (because he is still technically wanted for kidnapping Baby Yoda) but these are “trying times.” Seems like the New Republic is spread thin post Empire and can’t even spare some time to help Mando repair his ship. So yeah, they’re jerks.
Season Two is Delivering on Interesting Species and Creatures
At the beginning of the episode, one of the bounty hunters that gets killed is a Nikto, a version of which was in The Phantom Menace and in The Clone Wars. I already mentioned the giant ant, his name is Dr. Mandible by the way, who is playing Sabaac with Peli. This may or may not be a creature that has been mentioned in canon before called a Killik. Then, there is the lady of the hour herself, the Passenger. The name of her species is not given but she is basically a humanoid frog that can also go full frog and leap! And then, there are the spiders. So many spiders. But these spiders we also have seen before…and by we, I mean anyone who has seen Star Wars Rebels. The Krykna, which have a long history with Star Wars dating back to Ralph McQuarrie concept art from The Empire Strikes Back, appeared in Rebels as both friends and foes. It is important to note that Mando and crew are not on the homeworld of the Krykna, Attolon, and these spiders are very susceptible to blaster bolts so it may be a different type but they look very similar. Still, it is always nice to see new, and old, species and creatures in different forms in the Star Wars Universe.
Are We Setting Up Parallel Droid Narratives?
In the first five minutes of “Chapter 1: The Mandalorian”, it was made very clear that Mando does not like droids as he forgoes transportation from a droid for a less reliable ride from an organic being. A few episodes later we see why he despises droids through flashbacks: as a child, Din Djarin’s settlement was destroyed by Separatist battle droids and his parents were killed trying to get him to safety. He was rescued by Mandalorians and so became a foundling and took up their creed. This is challenged by a reprogrammed IG-11 that Kuiil reprogrammed to be a service droid. IG-11 saves Mando’s life and then ultimately sacrifices himself so that Mando, Baby Yoda, Cara Dune, and Greef Karga can escape Moff Gideon’s Stormtroopers. The change in Mando’s attitude is noticeable mainly because he tries to prevent IG from sacrificing himself but it is not a meaningful arc because it happened so quickly. You can see it has continued to change this season as he lets Peli Motto’s pit droids work on his ship but I feel there is a better story to come.
Enter Q9-0, or Zero, the protocol droid who was a member of the mercenary crew from “Chapter 6: The Prisoner.” Zero was blasted before he could try and kill Baby Yoda and Mando, for some reason, has kept his parts. This is fortunate for Frogwoman as she uses the droid to be able to communicate with Mando and demand that he keeps his word as a Mandalorian. The fact that he still has Zero, and he was able to be used as a translation droid, opens up the possibility for another droid to be repurposed. It seems important that he kept Zero and that Zero ultimately gave him a way to communicate with Frogwoman. Maybe the real arc of Mando finally coming to appreciate droids is just beginning and Zero is a part of that story.
So is that it for Boba Fett this Season?
This is not really an insight just a genuine question I’m putting out there. I did get excited at the beginning of this episode that Mando was still on Tatooine because I thought he would run into Boba Fett. But now, Mando and Baby Yoda are off-world with no real reason to return to Tatooine, at least for this season. So, what next? There are rumors about what might come next for Fett, but they don’t involve any arc this season. I guess Temuera Morrison’s Fett might really be just a blink and you’ll miss it cameo.
Baby Yoda is kind of a brat for eating this woman’s unfertilized eggs, even after she saved his life! He also is responsible for them being attacked by the Krykna. We focus so much on Mando’s growth as a character but I hope that Baby Yoda also learned SOMETHING from the events in this episode. Though given the last scene, it does not seem likely. I also believe we are headed to the water planet that is in the trailer so another new environment to look forward to next chapter.