[Editors note: this contains minor spoilers for The Mandalorian]
Chapter 10: ‘The Passenger’, is my least favourite episode The Mandalorian has ever produced, and it’s not even close. But before you break your neck from the tonal whiplash from last week’s adoring review and this one; to be completely fair, my reaction isn’t even much to do with the actual quality of the episode at all (it’s fine) but in it’s featured subject matter which I cannot abide. My displeasure for this outing is almost entirely a *me* problem; albeit an all-consuming one.
The problem is, as many of the people who know me will tell you, is that I am one of the most ridiculously arachnophobic people alive. I cannot believe that whatever higher power conceived of Baby Yoda and then decided to spawn those satanic animals into existence is a truly loving god. So, imagine my abject horror when I discover that a whole-ass brood of the motherfuckers were the main antagonist facing Mando and company this time. But… (sigh) here we are… I said I’d do every episode this season… I don’t really know how good a review I can write when 1) I hid behind my hands for the last 15 minutes, and 2) my main emotional reaction was suffering… but I’ll try.
So, after the aftermath of the big summer blowout against a sand-dragon that formed the basis of last week’s adventure, the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda are still on the prowl for more Mandos to give them a sense of direction that they (and the series) have been slightly lacking. After a great opening ambush where some bandits attempt to seize the Child, and Mando has to give up his jetpack in exchange for his freedom (which could be a pretty neat metaphor for how he’s giving up more of what originally made him who he is, to care for this being), they return to Amy Sedaris’ lovely spaceport mechanic, Peli, to be steered in the direction of their next fun time.
This one involves a strange creature credited only as Frog Lady and a bunch of eggs that have a father to be delivered to (more parenthood themes – nice!), while the main action this time arrives when they’re chased out of the sky by some familiar aircraft in a more threatening context than what you might be used to, and the three of them are trapped in an ice cave with claustrophobic, completely different vibes to the warm freedom Tatooine brought in ‘The Marshal’.
And it’s here where Star Wars – of all franchises – steps up to fulfil the terrifying promise that the Song of Ice and Fire books set out – that ice spiders were a-coming in the fantasy series. They just didn’t specify which fantasy series. Although this season still seems unsure of what to do with Baby Yoda except have him stand there and look pretty, his over-curious habit of eating whatever shiny thing is in front of him makes the drama of this episode almost entirely his fault. He’s the one who goes over to investigate and sample these gooey eggs as Mando and Frog Lady bicker, and while it immediately makes you think of Alien’s vile facehuggers, the reality is so much worse (for me at least). Out of the woodwork (ok, icework) come crawling the very creatures I did not want to see in any media, much less the one that, since I was a child, I’ve felt very much safe falling back into. And it’s here that I shouted an expletive like a baby, and was forced to literally hide behind a pillow as my housemate turned to audio-describing the action for me (“Ok, they’re shooting them… running to the ship now! Shit, that’s a big one…”).
In all seriousness, this episode is fine. It’s a wheel-spinning filler that makes me a bit concerned at the somewhat leisurely pace of the season so far, but it moves along nicely and Peyton Reed of Ant-Man fame helms the episode with no problem. I’m sure the action at the end was suitably exciting and well-shot like everything else on the show – I’ll just never watch it with my own eyes. It’s also fun to have Pedro Pascal have the most lines of the episode for once, spending most of his time with a mute baby and an indecipherable frog – he has to take up the bulk of the dialogue in a way that’s enjoyably uncomfortable for his character.
However, this made me grow up in a way that Han and Leia breaking up, or Luke Skywalker getting jaded and cynical, never could. It made me realise that even in the fantastical, wonderful, beautiful galaxy of Star Wars, there are still spiders lurking around. I’ll never feel the same way about the franchise again. I thought I’d never say this after how annoying it became to hear from the worst people on the internet… but now, Star Wars has truly ruined my childhood.
Season two of The Mandalorian is streaming every Friday from Disney+