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'The Mandalorian' struggles with ice cavern-dwelling, carnivore, space spiders

Warning: Spoilers for Season 2, Episode 2 of "The Mandalorian" below.

We were not disappointed with the season 2 premiere of "The Mandalorian" last week and the second episode just keeps that quality coming. 

The episode, entitled "Chapter 10: The Passenger," is a little light on plot, but it's still a thoroughly entertaining chapter that will no doubt soon reveal its place in the larger picture. We move away slightly from the Disney Plus show's western theme, which is a good thing every now and again, and are reminded that this is sci-fi first and a western in space, second.

We pick immediately where we left off from last week, with the Mandalorian, a.k.a. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and The Child a.k.a. Baby Yoda speeding through the Tatooine desert on a Zephyr-G swoop speeder bike on their way back to Mos Eisley following his adventure with Cobb Vanth and the Krayt dragon. Unfortunately, the Tatooine desert is a dangerous place and he's ambushed by raiders, who lay a trap.

With his speeder bike destroyed and all but one of the highwaymen incapacitated, the last remaining raider grabs Baby Yoda as a hostage, but he's effortlessly dealt with in an entertaining moment with Djarin's "Rising Phoenix" jet pack. Forced to pick up the pieces and proceed on foot, Djarin plods onward to Tatooine's primary spaceport. Roll opening credits.

Watch the first 'The Mandalorian' Season 2 trailer

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. The Mandalorian must be cautious.  (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Struggling in the heat of Tatooine's twin suns, we see the shimmering image of our lone, wandering warrior finally arriving at the city limits of Mos Eisley. He makes his way to a bar, which yes, looks a lot like the cantina from "A New Hope" and even a Season 1 episode of "The Mandalorian" entitled "The Gunslinger" (S01, E05). And we've stressed this before, We prefer to believe that perhaps they're a chain of bars, like TJI Fridays or Hooters and they all have a uniform interior décor — Misérable Ruche. There's got to be more than one bar in between docking bay 35 (where the Razor Crest is) and 94 (where the Millennium Falcon was) surely?

We see Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) playing Sabacc with a giant ant. He is in fact a Killik and according to Motto, his name is Dr. Mandible. Since this episode is directed by Peyton Reed, who also directed the first two "Ant-Man" movies and will take the helm of the third. So this is more than likely one of those sneaky Easter eggs that you'll get bonus points for if you spot them.

Turns out Ant-thony Dr. Mandible (sounds like a Marvel character already) knows the whereabouts of several Mandalorians, that may or may not be survivors of the massacre on Nevarro. He says that the individual who has this information will meet them at the hanger where the Razor Crest is parked. The good news is that the contact won't charge for this information, the not-so-great news is that the contact wants passage to that system. And because of an usual situation, which we'll get to in a moment, Djarin can't use the hyperdrive, which of course means it will take considerably longer and leave them open to potential threats en route. 

 I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.   (Image credit: Disney Plus)

The contact has the charming character name of Frog Lady (portrayed in costume by Misty Rosas with a voice performance by Dee Bradley Baker). She seeks a ride with the Mandalorian in order to reach the estuary moon of Trask because she carries eggs that need to be fertilized by her husband. And we don't mean that she has eggs in her womb or anything, no, she's carrying a whole bunch of them in a camtono-like container, full of liquid. 

Unfortunately, Frog Lady doesn't speak any language that Djarin can understand, so communication is somewhat limited. But the animatronic head mask that Rosas is wearing is one of the most expressive we have ever seen in any "Star Wars" movie. (Incidentally, Rosas also played Kuiil, the Ugnaught, in Season 1.) Undoubtedly, this was intentional, and a great deal of emotion is conveyed through facial expressions only … and we'll soon find out why. 

Meanwhile, in the hold, the Child has found the container of eggs and yeah, it's eating them. This is kind of hilarious, shocking and gross all at the same time, but we bet you've had eggs for breakfast at least once this week already. 

I need to see your pilots license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance please...  (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Djarin ventures down into the hold to grab some rest where he catches the Child red-handed with its hand in the embryo jar. Fortunately, it's only scoffed a couple, so — for the moment — there's still plenty left. Next thing we know and unsure of exactly how much time has passed, alarms are sounding, so everyone hotfoots it up to the cockpit. 

The Razor Crest is being flanked by two T-65B X-wing fighters, piloted by Trapper Wolf (who's played by "Mandalorian" producer Dave Filoni) and Carson Teva (played by comedy actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee). It's the intergalactic universe equivalent of a couple of good-natured traffic cops who spot a ship with a broken taillight. They pull up alongside, have a little chat and just want to run the plates to be sure. But in doing so, they find out it was involved in a prison break — the New Republic Correctional Transport, Bothan-Five, from last season's episode "The Prisoner" (S01, E06).

The two pilots switch to a private channel and out of the side of cockpit window of the Razor Crest we can see them locking their S-foils in attack position. Djarin slams the throttle forward and streaks towards a nearby planet. What follows is an absolutely gorgeous aerial sequence, beginning with a snap zoom on both the pre-Empire ship and the pursuing X-wings followed by the perspective from inside the cockpits.

A scene from "The Mandalorian" season 2 episode 2 from Disney Plus.

That's a big gamble with a 30 million Imperial credit starfighter, lieutenant.   (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Even the sound effects are gorgeous. There's no background music, just the minimal amount of pilot chatter, the background noise of a tracking computer and the unmistakable sound that a T-65B makes. The key takeaway here is that it's simple and therefore effective. However, if you play the music to "Top Gun" over the top, it does add a whole new layer. Even the edits are almost perfectly in time. 

It lasts well over a minute as we begin in the clouds and then a spectacular dive takes us to just a few hundred feet off the ground as we weave at high-speed in-between icy canyons in a sequence that's "Firefox" meets "Independence Day."

In fact, when you think about it, the Incom T-65B X-wing starfighter has a lot in common with a Grumman F-14 Tomcat: the long nose, the fact that the wings and S-foils lock into different positions for combat at high-speed, they're both air superiority fighter/interceptors and the astromech droid that sits behind the X-wing pilot is basically a RIO (Radar Intercept Officer). And of course, they're both absolutely gorgeous. So, that's our new pitch to Disney, a new "Star Wars" expanded universe animated series, about the creation of an Alliance Fighter Weapons School, where the best pilots could train to become the best of the best. In the past, they've often been defecting pilots from the Imperial Academy, just like Biggs Darklighter and Wedge Antilles. (And if you like that idea, you'll love this.)

Baby Yoda, it seems, has developed an expensive taste for roe caviar.  (Image credit: Disney Plus)

The two New Republic pilots aren't really trying to kill the Mandalorian, they're just trying to force it down and find out what's going on. In his attempt to evade them, Djarin performs a controlled crash of sorts and the Razor Crest ends up half-hidden under an overhanging ledge as the X-wings fly past without noticing him. Phew. Everything seems alright…until the ice underneath the ship gives way and the Razor Crest and everyone onboard plummets down into the cave below. 

The ship is in a bad way, with gaping holes in the hull. It takes a few minutes for everyone to come around and quite understandably Frog Lady is concerned about her eggs. Djarin rummages through the hull to find the Child happily eating more of them. There won't be many left at this rate. He suggests everyone get some rest and Frog Lady uses the time as Djarin sleeps to rewire the droid called Q9-0, or just Zero (voiced by British comedy actor Richard Ayoade, from "The IT Crowd") that's slumped idly in a corner.

Using the incapacitated droid to translate for her, Frog Lady explains how crucial it is that she reaches the estuary moon of Trask as soon as possible as these eggs represent the only chance for her to have offspring, otherwise her family line dies. Reluctantly, Djarin resumes repairing the ship. 

Bonnie & Clyde, Dempsey & Makepeace, now Mando & Baby Yoda.  (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Meanwhile, Frog Lady has quietly tiptoed off to have a sneak spa in a hot spring that she's found. The Child spies hundreds of eggs on the snow-covered ground and naturally breaks one open to gorge itself on the gooey insides. And then, just as we start to imagine a worst-case scenario, almost in perfect synchronization with our new nightmare, all the eggs start to hatch and thousands, upon thousands of ice cavern-dwelling, carnivore, space spiders start to flock towards the Child, Djarin and the currently naked Frog Lady. 

The ice cavern-dwelling, carnivore, space spiders are actually called Krykna and were first invented by famed sci-fi artist Ralph McQuarrie in his concept work called the "knobby white spider" for "The Empire Strikes Back." It was originally conceived that they'd appear on Dagobah, the planet where Luke finds Yoda, but as we know, that didn't happen. They later appeared in Kevin J. Anderson's 1995 Star Wars Legends novel "Darksaber" and "The Illustrated Star Wars Universe" and Dave Filoni succeeded in bringing the Krykna into official canon in his animated series "Star Wars Rebels," in "The Mystery of Chopper Base" (S02, E20) when the crew of the Ghost encountered them on the planet Atollon. 

The situation becomes dire very quickly as Krykna of all sizes — including one that's as big as the Razor Crest itself — are swarming all over the ship. Our brave trio just about makes it back; poor Djarin is blasting Krykna left and right and using his flamethrower attachment for added effect. With the hull compromised, all they can do is retreat to the cockpit and attempt to take off. But one giant Krykna is just moments away from penetrating the cockpit canopy…when it's hit from blaster fire from outside the Razor Crest. 

Left: the concept art by Ralph McQuarrie and right, Sabine fighting off krykna in "Rebels."  (Image credit: Disney Plus)

 

Venturing outside, we see New Republic pilots Wolf and Teva have landed their X-wings and are giving the giant, drooling space spider both barrels. Cautiously Djarin lowers his own blaster. 

"We ran the tabs on the Razor Crest," Teva says. "You have an arrest warrant for the abduction of prisoner X-Six-Nine-Eleven. However, onboard security records show that you apprehended three priority culprits from the Wanted Register. Security records also show that you put your own life in harm's way to try to protect that of Lieutenant Davan from the New Republic Correctional Corps."

Needless to say they let him go, with a stern warning and tell him to get his transponder fixed. (Although they really could've helped him repair his ship.) "These are trying times," Teva says as he climbs back into his T-65B. And so the Razor Crest limps into orbit and continues its sub-light journey. 

This might be considered a little bit of a filler episode and it's certainly a tad lighter on plot than others we have seen, but frankly who cares? This is 40 minutes or so of epic "Star Wars" escapism, with some gruesome alien-creature-horror thrown in. Plus it's nice to pause on the Boba Fett story for a moment and let the tension and excitement build on that plot rather than binging on it all at once. It’s also nice to see the New Republic "police" portrayed as the good guys in all of this.

In other "Star Wars" news, Deadline reports that a new live-action spin-off show might be in the works and could even start filming as soon as next week. Apparently, there are tentative rumors about a “Boba Fett miniseries” getting ready to shoot imminently. Temuera Morrison’s bounty hunter — it is believed — was glimpsed at the end of the Season 2 premiere last week, with Fett — having survived the Sarlac — now wandering through Tatooine desert. There is also speculation that we saw him at the end of "The Gunslinger" (S01, E05) standing over the body of Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen).

Disney has more live-action "Star Wars" spin-off TV shows still to come. One will be based on Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) from "Rogue One" and another is centered around Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The first season of "The Mandalorian" is on Disney Plus, which is available for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year in the US and in the U.K., it's £6 a month, or £60 a year. It's also available in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, India, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, France and Japan.

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