Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Mandalorian Breaks Some Eggs to Make a Frog Mom Hero

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I hope you like eggs, because The Mandalorian features a lot of them this week. After his run-in with the Krayt Dragon that ended with him acquiring Boba Fett’s old armor, Mando heads back to his ship and finds a new lead on some other Mandalorians. The catch being that he must transport a frog woman and her eggs to said planet to reunite with her husband. Surely this will all go smoothly, right?

Nah, then we would not have a show.

The remainder of the episode focuses heavily on this woman and the theme of survival. After a New Republic patrol comes across Mando’s ship and identifies it from season 1’s prison break episode, Mando and his guest end up trapped on an ice planet with a ticking clock to escape in order to save the eggs from both the cold and Baby Yoda’s insistence on eating them. Yes, he munches a few of them and I’m not sure if I was supposed to laugh or be horrified. I know I was horrified, regardless of how the episode wanted me to feel.

Despite not speaking a word that Mando or the audience can understand for much of the episode, the frog woman is a fascinating character. She immediately endeared herself to me. When she finds a way to communicate (using the remains of the killer droid Mando killed last season), we learn that she is a refugee whose eggs represent the last of her line, and she has fought hard to preserve her family. She may not be as capable as Mando, but she is a strong, defiant character.

the mandalorian mando and frog

This theme of fierce protectiveness of one’s young applies throughout “The Passenger.” Mando starts off the episode by protecting Baby Yoda from some opportunistic bounty hunters, while showing a parental concern for his young ward. Obviously, the frog woman spends the entire episode focusing on her eggs. When they crash on the ice planet, they come across a cave of spider eggs. Baby Yoda decides to munch on these babies, too, resulting in the rest waking up, alongside the gigantic mama spider, to protect them from the invaders.

The spiders are predictably excellent and make for a terrifying but cool monster-of-the-week, of course. They also gave the episode a solidly executed horror feel that reminded me a lot of Alien. Tell me those spiders did not remind you of facehuggers. The Mandalorian has often done a good job shifting genres from episode to episode, and did so again.

Clearly, the frog woman (I wish I had a name or species to call her) is the most engaging part of the episode. Refugees trying to make better lives for their children is a timelessly relevant subject, and her bravery in the face of danger is inspiring. So many refugees in real life face unfathomable suffering in their attempts to find better lives. The Mandalorian makes a good decision of including a relevant subplot without making ham-fisted references to modern events.

It was also an interesting decision to base yet another episode heavily around non-verbal communication. While nowhere near as cool as the Tusken sign language from last week’s episode, it was still cool to see Mando and the frog woman depend on gestures, tone, and context to get their points across. It also ties back to the struggles of refugees, as the frog woman could clearly understand Mando but could not be understood back.

There are so many stories representing the underprivileged and oppressed that the Star Wars universe can tell, and this was a nice example of such stories. The Tusken Raiders were another good example, and one ignored for far too long.

Unlike last week, The Mandalorian did not do much to advance the overall plot. “The Passenger” very much falls under the label of a distraction episode. That being said, I appreciate how it both makes Mando face consequences for past actions while also making you think about the future. Mando may have escaped imprisonment for the prison break, but it was made clear that he may not be so lucky next time.

Meanwhile, you can’t help but wonder what it means to the galaxy for this frog woman and her children to survive, and Mando’s role in making it happen. I am also left with so many questions about Baby Yoda and his love for eating someone’s children. I guess you could also wonder whether Mando’s violent, death-filled lifestyle is having a negative effect on Baby Yoda, and what that will mean if/when Mando eventually succeeds in bringing him to the Jedi.

Still, what did this one particularly matter to the plot? Not much. I wonder what other troubles may come from the New Republic, since these two fighter pilots made very clear that Mando should avoid such patrols in the future. Still, I like that The Mandalorian keeps me interested even in episodes that do not move things forward much.

Images Courtesy of Disney

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