by Hunter Johnson
[Editor’s Note: The following contains minor spoilers for “The Mandalorian” Season 2, Episode 2]
While Jon Favreau promised that the newest season of “The Mandalorian” would focus more on a cohesive storyline, episode 2 takes this promise to an unnecessary extreme, sacrificing substance in the name of connectivity. “The Passenger” is a placeholder episode, stretching out Mando’s journey from episode 1 to 3 into an entire chapter of its own.
Din Djarin is still on the search for more Mandalorians, and when he finally meets someone with a lead on where to look next, he agrees to transport this person aboard his ship in exchange for this information.
This episode is the most inconsequential episode of “The Mandalorian” to date. It serves little to no purpose in the larger story and could’ve easily been ten minutes long. Instead, showrunner Favreau enjoys yet another detour, spending a full episode showing Djarin trying to get from one location to another.
So who is this new “Passenger” of Djarin’s? Let’s take a moment to highlight the newest addition to the “Star Wars” universe: Frog Lady. That’s right, Djarin’s passenger is an anthropomorphic, human-sized amphibian who remains nameless and doesn’t speak Basic (the “Star Wars” colloquialism for English). She just wants safe transport for herself and her eggs so she can reunite with her husband.
Played by series regular Misty Rosas (the on-set actress of Kuiil in season 1), Frog Lady is a perfect example of what does and doesn’t work in this show. “The Mandalorian” has done an amazing job of bringing the background characters of “Star Wars” to the forefront. Episodes have focused on Jawas, Tusken Raiders, Ugnaughts, and Devaronians: all characters that, in the movies, have never gotten their moment in the limelight.
The issue with this particular character is that she’s simply not that interesting to watch. If Favreau wants to shine a light on background characters, he needs to do something to make them stand out. Instead, Frog Lady remains dull from beginning to end, and the episode ends up feeling long and overblown for spending so much time with her.
The only noteworthy aspect of Frog Lady’s character is her eggs, and more specifically, the Child’s obsession with her eggs. Underscored by a brilliant new musical theme by Ludwig Goransson that conveys a sense of whimsical curiosity, the subplot follows the Child’s strange engrossment with Frog Lady’s eggs, which eventually ties into the story’s main conflict.
This main conflict is the episode’s silver lining: Favreau’s latest monster-of-the-week. The first episode had the Krayt Dragon; this one has a massive horde of icy cave spiders. “Ant-Man” director Peyton Reed helms the episode, bringing with him his experience filming creepy crawlers from the “Ant-Man” series. Unlike the friendly insects in those movies, the spine-chilling space arachnids featured here will leave viewers squirming in their seats.
The majority of this episode focuses on Djarin and Frog Lady struggling to make it to their destination, but when their circumstances take a turn for the worse, the results are terrifying. For the first time, “Star Wars” finds itself going full-on horror. “The Passenger” has its issues, but watching Djarin, the Child, and their new acquaintance fight to survive a horde of spiders is still quite entertaining as well as nerve-wracking.
While the creepy aspect of the episode shines bright as an exceptional set-piece, the rest of the episode doesn’t land quite right. The peculiar side story of the Child and the eggs mixed with the blandness of Frog Lady makes for a bizarre experience.
On top of all that, “The Passenger” connects to the larger story in all the wrong ways. Some fans were upset with the first season because there seemed to be little rhyme or reason in the ordering of the episodes. Favreau decides to address that issue by writing an entire story with the sole purpose of showing how Djarin gets from one place to another. As a result, the episode ends up feeling purposeless as viewers wait for the main plot to hit its stride.
As an episode that represents how distracted this show can get, it still ends up being a perfectly fine addition to a show filled with detours. It opens up new possibilities for more horror-centric “Star Wars” stories, and it features several delightful cameos of characters from the prior season. Hopefully, “The Passenger” will be the worst that season two gets. And hopefully, when fans look back on this episode at the end of the season, it will end up being more important to the overarching story of the show than it currently seems.
Hunter Johnson is a senior Theatre Performance Major and an A&E writer for Cedars. He spends his time gobbling up all the Star Wars that Disney pumps out, followed by daydreaming about his future dog Jojo, all while giving endless attention to his beautiful fiance.