Boy, they sure seem to enjoy killing animals on this show, huh? Like any good dad, it is Mando’s sacred responsibility this week to take care of some spiders, and it’s not like he had seven thousand glasses to put over them. But after last week’s Bantha sacrifice, not to mention that whole part where Clan Mudhorn murdered a Mudhorn…Let’s just say it’s startin’ to feel like kind of a thing.
Still, Chapter 10 is a classic episodic story. It doesn’t contain any big revelations, there are no major plot twists. It’s just a point A to point B adventure, and audiences today are often expecting more cataclysms-per-minute in their pew-pew shows. We’ll just have to wait for more Boba Fett, or maybe the rumored series? We’ll have to wait for more answers about why the Empire wants Baby Yoda, and we’ll have to wait to know if Din and The Kid wind up at Luke Skywalker’s front door one day. But, hear me out on this:
Good. Star Wars has always been molded after the serials our parents or grandparents would go see in theaters back when everything cost like a quarter. Mandalorian is old school entertainment, with immediate stakes contained within each episode. It’s Flash Gordon, or Kung-Fu – a tour through the Star Wars galaxy, one animal-eviscerating adventure at a time. Remember when X-Files would do an episode about the oil-in-your-eye conspiracy aliens? It was so exciting because it wasn’t every dang episode. The big payoffs are earned, with smaller, weirder stories.
So this story begins with a few random jerks pulling some Wile E Coyote nonsense on our heroes. Sometimes the Mandalorian is a dragon-killing superhero, sometimes he’s tripped by a clothesline. It’s assumed these dudes are trying to find Baby Yoda, but when Little Metal Face gets ahold of the kid, he’s quickly willing to trade for Mando’s jetpack, so…?
What we really get here is yet another example of Baby Yoda watching his new dad trick some dude into his own death. The Mandalorian on whole is definitely saying something about morality. But what that is, and if the creators are doing it consciously is still up in the air. When I’m feeling particularly God-Brained, I think they’re laying better groundwork for a surprising character journey than Game of Thrones was able to achieve in its final season. Other times I think the writers are just like, “ha ha look at this idiot fall down!”
Back at the Mos Eisley, Mando finds Amy Sedaris playing Sabbac with a giant ant who has the greatest character name of all time, Dr. Mandible. This is a fun nod from director Peyton Reed, who directed both of Marvel’s Ant-Man films, but he also feels right out of the original cantina scene. It used to be Star Wars had more room for designers to be like “lets stick a werewolf in there.” The good doctor has a contact who’s heard about another Mandalorian on a nearby planet, but Mando has to ferry that contact there to get the tip. He reluctantly agrees to take on Frog Lady and her eggs as passengers, and yes that is her name. She’s credited as “Frog Lady”. (Good for them, honestly.) Frog Lady needs to go to the estuary moon of Trask to meet up with her husband so they can start a family with her backpack of eggs.
Let’s talk about the eggs. Baby Yoda likes to eat the eggs. Getting the eggs is his whole arc today. It’s…not NOT upsetting. The whole point of the episode is how precious those are to Frog Lady, and she seems very nice! Distressing. We know lil’ bub snacks on amphibians, but Frog Lady is a person; it just seems complicated. Frog Lady’s eggs are unfertilized, so Baby Yoda isn’t doing anything more murderous than eating an omelette, but it’s still weird. According to Lucasfilm Art Manager Phil Stostak, it is supposed to be funny, but in an unsettling way? Mission accomplished, Phil?
Furthermore, if there are both frogs and frog people, are there also little unevolved human-animals running around? Are Kowakien monkey-lizards to Star Wars humans as regular monkeys are to real-world humans? Is no one else asking the important questions?
Anyway, two X-Wings run the plates on the Razor’s Crest and realize Mando’s who hijacked that prison ship way back in Chapter Six. One of the New Republic fighters is played by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, from Kim’s Convenience, because this is the most Dad-friendly show on the air. The other is Trapper Wolf, the now-recurring character played by Star Wars Big Brain, Dave Filoni. I kinda hope Filoni keeps showing up as the show’s de facto New Republic guy. He’s gaining on Wedge Antilles and Snap Wexley’s screentime, so I’m expecting at least a cameo in the hopefully inevitable Squadrons sequel.
Mando fumbles his way through the conversation in a scene reminiscent of Han trying to talk his way out of trouble on the Death Star before we’re treated to a spaceship chase, which I think we could all use more of in these trying times. The Razor’s Crest is pretty bulky, but Clan Mudhorn are able to evade the space police on an icy world. Although the ship is made out of I guess aluminum foil, because it gets shredded up pretty good. Mandalorian wants to wait until morning to start repairs, but Frog Lady rewires the remains of Richard AyoDroid to communicate how desperate she is to reach her husband. Guest characters keep getting Din to do things by reminding him of the once proud and heroic nature of the Mandalorians. Partly because he is reluctantly honorable, and partly because the precious eggs are like chicken nuggets to Baby Yoda, Mando agrees to skip the nap.
The final sequence of the episode is the one everyone will remember. Frog Lady finds a nice hot spring to warm up with, and Baby Yoda becomes the big dumb idiot character from any of the Alien movies. Here come the ice spiders. This particular monsters of-the-week may remind Rebels fans of the Krykna, but Szostak has confirmed they are a different creature inspired by the same piece of Ralph McQuarrie concept art for Empire Strikes Back.
Initially sketched in February 1979 for #TheEmpireStrikesBack, Ralph McQuarrie completed his “bog planet tree creature” painting in 1993 for The Illustrated #StarWars Universe, later inspiring both the krykna for #StarWarsRebels and the spiders for Chapter 10 of #TheMandalorian. pic.twitter.com/EfF3O4RnhX
— Phil Szostak (@PhilSzostak) November 9, 2020
Fun fact: based on the original idea, these spiders are actually spores from a big plant, so maybe we’re not actually pissing off the Space PETA this time. (Keep Star Wars weird!) It’s not actually confirmed these spiders are the same, but the idea was explored in some of the old Kevin J Anderson books from the 90s. Disney may have upset some fans by de-canonizing the EU, but they always bring back the cool stuff.
Anyway, Mando, Frog Lady, and Baby Yoda make it back to the ship which, again, is as sturdy as an iPhone so not very helpful. Fortunately, the New Republic pilots show up again to save the day. Apparently, they’d gone home to rewatch last the last season of The Mandalorian and decided that Din was an okay guy for almost (but not quite) saving the life of the prison ship guard last season. Mando is free to duct tape the Razor’s Crest back together and we close with the crew limping their way towards Chapter 11.
So a light plot, but with lots of character. Odds are the next episode will give us maybe a Bo Katan or Sabine Wren appearance, but this little adventure was a classic weekly serial. You love to see it.
- A nod to the old Westerns this show celebrates is how shooting and punching people have basically the same effect. In the opening fight, two guys get, like, kinda hit in the side with a rifle weighing maybe 12 pounds, and are out cold. Real Gunsmoke action.
- I said it last season, but I am a sucker for fun sci-fi planet naming, so I’m very psyched to see the “estuary moon of Trask” in the next episode.
- The music when Baby Yoda gazes on the eggs is straight out of 80’s style Spielberg. It’s all synth harp and wonder. It’s probably just to set up the joke of ‘dem eggs getting eaten, but it was still a lovely addition to the score and aesthetic of the show.
- The Mandalorian supports co-sleeping.