Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: there is always value in “filler” episodes. The newest installment of The Mandalorian, “The Passenger,” is all about veering off-course and straight into peril. Pushing the envelope on creature design visuals, the chapter delivers a stunning monster confrontation that topples last week’s bout with a dragon. Lucasfilm brings Ralph McQuarrie’s scariest concept art to life to terrorize Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and the Child. Before we get into this web of catastrophe, let’s revert back to what led them to get so dangerously sidetracked.
Having just received Boba Fett’s armor as repayment for taking down the Krayt dragon, Mando returns to Mos Eisley and resumes his quest to find other Mandalorians. As you might recall, members of the ancient warrior people might have information about the origins of Baby Yoda. It just so happens, landing port owner and ship mechanic Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) is playing a high-stakes game of sabaac with a giant ant-like species. The alien is a deliberate nod to the episode’s director Peyton Reed, who helmed Marvel’s Ant-Man. In fact, Reed has creepy crawlers on the brain this entire mini-adventure.
After Peli wins her hand against her opponent, the Ant gambler connects Djarin with a contact who will share the whereabouts of a Mandalorian in exchange for off-world transport. Peli vouches for the “passenger,” an unknown alien species referred to by Mando as “Frog Lady” (Misty Rosas) due to her appearance. She carries previous cargo that must survive the journey: her fertilized eggs preserved inside a portable liquid tank. Naturally, Baby Yoda’s stomach doesn’t have a conscience. When no one is peeking, it’s a baby eat baby world onboard the Razor Crest.
One condition, “Frog Lady” mandates traveling through space without utilizing the ship’s hyperdrive. The goal is to remain undetected by New Republic surveillance until reaching the adjacent sector where her husband resides. Of course, no matter how great Mando’s flying is, smooth sailing never seems to be in the cards for him. Two New Republic X-wing pilots (cameos by creator Dave Filoni and actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) detect the Crest entering the sector and soon move to pursue Djin and his ragtag crew after they can’t verify proof of hyperlane access.
The chase forces the Crest to crash-land on the very same planet from the series premiere, Maldo Kreis. The conditions remain just as inhospitable, and events accelerate from bad to worse when some indigenous locals make their introduction. While attempting to repair the ship, “Frog Lady” takes a dip in a cavernous hot spring alongside her egg tank. Curious to a near-fatal fault, Baby Yoda eats an egg sprouting from the ground, setting off a chain reaction of hatchling spiders escaping their shell to feed on their new visitors.
These arachnoids are known as Krykna, who Star Wars Rebels fans might recognize as the spider creatures ex-Jedi Kanan Jarrus was able to tame using the Force. Unfortunately, not even the cuteness of Baby Yoda can quell the hunger of the ginormous queen Krykna and her ravenous offspring. As thrilling as it is visually stunning, the cave sequence is another memorable escape for Mando and the Child. Even though we should be used to these intense encounters by now, each one manages to supersede the previous stress level. At this rate, Baby Yoda is more likely to induce a heart attack than a seven-course meal at the Olive Garden.
Which Mandalorian will Fett encounter next? My bet is on Rebels alum Sabine Wren, who wielded the Darksaber before Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) took possession of it. While this particular chapter does little in the way of plot progression, it takes torturous pleasure in emphasizing how precious Baby Yoda and Mando are to the Star Wars fandom. You know you’re attached when you’re even protective of the baby’s babysitter. Danger befalls our favorite odd-couple without reprieve, but no matter how perilous the journey, we take immense pride in following their tracks.