After a balls to the wall return for the Mandalorian, Chapter 10 changes down the gears with an instalment which was just a little “less’ in every way.
***Spoilers for The Mandalorian Chapter 10: The Passenger***
When kicking off Season 2 the show runners of the Mandalorian clearly had one thing in mind; go big, early. The 55 minute premiere had everything, and was exactly the episode that the months of waiting demanded. Action, story, reveals – it was bumper in all senses of the word and you can find out more in our Chapter 9 review here.
Chapter 10 was a paired back instalment, a lot shorter (only 35 minutes before credits) and generally more meandering despite a couple of great scenes.
Right where we Left off
The episode picks up with Din Djarin speeding away straight from the battle with the Krayt Dragon, before getting tripped up by a gang of mercenaries(?) seemingly targeting the child. For all of his fighting capabilities, he is effectively held up here by the same tactics the Ewoks used to target Empire speeders on Endor. I mean sure it defeated the Empire, but Mando is getting a bit of a reputation for being amazing bounty hunter one minute, complete fool the next.
Much like the first episode this one starts with a fight, though it’s over a little soon for my liking. The stand off with the Jawa-like-species is fun, and the rocket boost murder is inventive if not a little gruesome. Already Baby Yoda AKA The Child has been involved more than in the whole of Chapter 9. The trade-off is smart, and we continue to see Mando’s efforts to keep the Child safe, no matter the cost, a theme that continues across other characters in Chapter 10.
Then we get into another predominant theme. The travelling. Peytod Reed (Ant-Man 1&2) directed this episode, and whilst there are more frenetic scenes later on, the pacing throughout is all off. After the initial battle is a few minutes of Mando walking through the desert with the salvaged treasures from the wreckage of his speeder. Whilst we wait for some kind of significant payoff, all this leads to is a routine rendezvous with Amy Sedaris in a Mos Eisely canteena.
Yes, that Canteena. This isn’t really an Easter egg as much as having someone scream: “YOU KNOW, THE ONE FROM THE OLD STAR WARS,” and though a massive deal isn’t made of it, it was one of the most forced bits of fan service since it appeared last in Chapter 5. I mean do other bars exist in this universe?
I also can’t help but feel that Amy Sedaris feels a little out of place in the Mandalorian. Though fun for spells, she is hamming it up to such a degree it borders on parody. Like many supporting characters, her role is to play off the cool, un-emotive character in Din with a more vibrant personality, but by being so outright silly the vibe is more Spaceballs than Star Wars.
Of course because things need to happen, the weird ant creature she plays Sabacc with knows where some Mandalorians are. Maintaining what I said in my Chapter 9 review, the over arching plot is weak, and the convenient “rando tells Mando they have a tip” reminds me of a late 90s serial TV Show like Stargate, Xena and the like. It serves its purposes, the Mandalorian is not meant to be a massive single story, rather an episodic serial with self contained adventures. So for this we sacrifice a solid seasonal plot for strong self contained episodes. For the most part.
After engine barbecued Krayt Dragon (is that healthy?) the tip off can be summarised as: Go to this planet, but you have to take Frog Lady, who needs to fertilise her spawn. Frog Lady by the way, is her canonical name, I’m not amphibianist. A reluctant Mando, who really does seem to have little say in his destiny, agrees to take her. The catch? They can’t jump to hyperspace owing to frog spawn complications. As we are now 10 minutes in and the plot hasn’t really advanced at all, this news was all the confirmation I needed to know this one would remain a slow burner.
So more travelling then. Baby Yoda eats some of the spawn, which was pretty weird. Not sure what they were going for here, but when the humanoid mother is sitting opposite it was the second time a gag came across as morbid. After a brief nap (so glad we have time for naps) a couple of alarms go off and oh look, it’s a couple of X-wings.
This is the “New Republic” and rather enjoyably they come with their own bureaucracy and space travel laws. Goody, I was starting to miss the prequel trilogies long, monotonous politics sequences. The X-wing pilots note a change in beacon requirements for that sector. Yes it’s dull but something the show continues to do well, is the subtle visual story telling in how the New Republic’s influence is growing following the fall of the Empire. There is a lot of time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and little tidbits of information like this paint a much better picture than forced dedicated episodes.
This scene is balanced well as Mando tries to keep cool and not raise suspicion, whilst light humour is thrown in to keep it from being entirely dry. I enjoyed the use of visuals here, seeing the Razor Crest’s cockpit from dead on or either side, framing the X-wings. Inevitably some intel comes through linking the ship to the correctional transport from Chapter 6, and the X-wings switch to attack mode. Din obviously decides diplomacy has failed, because he “does a runner.”
It’s a little puzzling why this is happening if you can’t remember Chapter 6, where Mando attempts to break a prisoner out from the New Republic. At a basic level our brains are telling us Mando and the New Republic are on the same team. If you can’t remember that the correctional transport was owned by New Republic (from that episode over a year ago,) you may be scratching your head, like I was.
Luckily this occurs right next to a planet to give the slower, older ship a chance against two X-wings. In fairness to the New Republic they aren’t nearly as trigger happy as the Empire and that comes across as they try to push a surrender. Mando is potentially a better, craftier pilot and owing to great production values the chase is entertaining, reminiscent of Rey and the Tie fighters in The Force Awakens. It’s convenient that all planets in space movies are covered in massive canyons. Can you imagine if they tried that over Holland? Would be a very short chase.
After some nifty manoeuvring the Razer Crest makes a less than graceful landing on the planet’s icy surface, only to fall through that ice into a subterranean cavern. With massive damage and nobody to assist, its now that Chapter 10 takes a turn into a very different genre.
In Space, Nobody can Hear you Meme
It starts with a slightly bizarre scene where Frog Lady accesses an assassin droid from Season 1’s voice box (Richard Ayoade) just to ask Mando pretty please to complete the mission, which surprise surprise, he goes for. The dialogue was frankly yawn and Frog Lady’s droid rewiring skill came out of nowhere. This period is just another point in Chapter 10 which drags on.
Baby Yoda eats more spawn (hah?) Mando gets some repairs done and err, Frog Lady goes for a bath in a nearby hot spring. This episode has a definite formula, with a few minutes of high octane drama followed by 10 minutes of nothing filler. When Mando catches up with Frog Lady, Baby Yoda goes off to inspect some little white rock type things in the cavern.
If you couldn’t see where this is going, you’ve clearly never watched Aliens. The little rock type things are eggs, and of course they have brothers, sisters and a big ass mummy. Baby Yoda eats one to set the chain of events off (hah?) and after Frog Lady dresses in record time, it’s a sprint back to the ship. The many spider like aliens created a scene oddly reminiscent to a similar sequence in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s not certain, but the spider creatures look a lot like Krykna from the Star Wars Rebels, though they inhabit a different planet. Still, potential nice little reference there.
It’s the highlight of the episode as a set piece, and the contrast between giant crushing mother and the tiny skittering children create a real claustrophobia and panic that sets in. The Mandalorian bears a PG rating, so we were never likely to get full on horror, but as paths are closed off and the tiny spiders enclose around the crew, it is genuinely frightening. This is enhanced more so by the great musical score that has been building ever since the Child awakened the eggs. Even when Mando seemingly takes out the mother with some great detonator play, the thousands of on rushing children only further the sense of hopelessness.
The crew fight their way back into the ship, with the creatures penetrating the hull. Mando tries to seal off the cockpit as the smaller spiders get through. Frog Lady takes up a pistol to defend the Child, giving her a rare moment of character development, and Din tries to get the shift off the ground to safety. In the theme of Aliens however, the gigantic mother ain’t dead, and comes crashing down on the ship.
As all hope seems lost, guess who shows up but the New Republic X-wings from earlier on in the episode. Deus X-wing machina am I right? It was a little obvious them being the only sentient beings we knew about on this planet, but there seemed to be little else to get the crew out of this spot.
A short blaster barrage later and the spiders are defeated. The New Republic pilots give a little speech about how Mando may have done some bad stuff, but he also did some good stuff once so they guess he’s alright. They then fly off without helping him repair (to teach him a lesson maybe?). Mando gets the cockpit sealed so they can finish their journey, and off they go to the mystery planet harbouring a Mandalorian, and presumably a Frog Man with blue balls.
And your Point is?
Chapter 10 was disappointing in a lot of ways, primarily as it lacked any real purpose. The fight at the beginning was perhaps to remind us that there are those still after the Child, but we still aren’t clear as to who. The X-wing chase and spider run were ultimately completely avoidable and added nothing to the overall plot. This isn’t to say that an episode cannot be a self contained solid story, but it would be beneficial to see something new. Whether it be character growth, developing the world or introducing a new player or important article.
At the beginning of the episode, Mando and the Child were on the way back to their ship to find a Mandalorian lead. At the end they have a lead, that they obtained in the first 10 minutes. The following 25 minutes were, as far as the wider show goes, completely pointless.
The only theme explored here of interest, is that of parenthood. Whether it be Mando and The Child, Frog Lady and her spawn of the Spider Mother, there is a recurring theme of parenthood and protection throughout the episode. It was perhaps a little wasted, as without the connection to Mando’s own past and Mandalorian upbringing, there is still no development for our central characters. Unlike Cobb Vanth in Chapter 9, I doubt Frog Lady is hanging around for long. Unless of course she gets a proper name in Chapter 11. I think she looks like a Jane.