*** SPOILERS AHEAD: If you haven’t watched the most recent episodes of The Mandalorian Season 2, look away now***
The debut episode of Season 2 was something to behold. The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) got to lean into the show’s Western influences by defending a small town from a giant dragon, alongside a great guest star in Timothy Olyphant and the huge reveal that fan favourite Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) presumably didn’t die in Return of The Jedi. It’s a gripping tease that made you wonder: what’s coming next week?
As it turns out, something a bit more sedate, both in the speed of the journey and the tone of the story. Mando is still in search of another of his kind in order to further his journey, and thanks to some information from Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) he learns of the presence of another Mandalorian on a planet a short hop away. The catch? The person who will lead him there is The Passenger, a frog-like creature who requires safe passage for her and her spawn. Because of the delicate nature of her cargo, they can’t travel at hyperdrive speed, meaning they leave themselves open to all manner of threats. Mando reluctantly takes the job, but it’s not long before trouble comes calling.
Directed by Peyton Reed (Ant-Man 1 & 2) and written by series creator Jon Favreau, it’s an episode that doesn’t stand out but spotlights the show’s strengths. It’s a small, self-contained story, where our hero gets caught in some shenanigans on the way to a greater goal.
There’s also a hefty helping of nostalgia in The Mandalorian, with many Original Trilogy nods along the way. Mos Eisley’s Cantina makes another appearance, there’s a reference to The Hutts, and Mando even reluctantly mutters “May The Force Be With You”. The ship is stopped and questioned by a couple of X-Wing pilots patrolling the area, and when his previous activity is discovered he makes a break for it, ending up trapped in an underground ice cave. We get a cameo from Zero, the droid voiced by Richard Ayoade last season, who is re-animated to translate for The Passenger.
On the big screen, it’s been hard to strike a balance with the Episodic movies. Some people want to move The Galaxy forward with new characters and stories, others want the character they remember and love. For some reason, being a TV show doesn’t carry the same weight of expectation, but this episode is a great example of Favreau’s ability for us to let us explore the world of the first three movies in a way that isn’t repetitive.
The Child/Baby Yoda is more active, becoming as mischievous as he is adorable. Turns out he’s developed a taste for The Passenger’s spawn, and another egg inside the cave that disturbs a whole nest of Krykna – giant scary space spiders to you and me. It’s an action-packed end to the episode, which ends quite neatly. Pascal continues to be a delightful lead, and channels Clint Eastwood as he drawls pithy comebacks like “sorry lady, I don’t speak frog”.
The lack of answers to bigger questions may leave some viewers a little bit frustrated, and it is fair to say that Favreau and co are taking their time on this journey. However, it is moving in the right direction, with or without hyperdrive, and any show that averages one giant monster per episode can’t really be called boring.
At this point it’s hard to say what The Mandalorian Season Two will be, but this episode serves as a confirmation of what the show is. This isn’t Game of Thrones or The Wire, with a thousand characters and interweaving plots. It’s a weekly serial that leans heavily on nostalgia and possesses a big heart underneath that steel armour. This is the way Star Wars should be, and we’re happy to take the ride.