[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “The Mandalorian” Season 2, Episode 2, “Chapter 10 – The Passenger.”]
The second episode of “The Mandalorian” Season 2 is… fine.
That’s probably not what fans of Disney’s mega-budget “Star Wars” series are hoping for, but for all of the show’s endless hype, teases, and the boundless possibilities allowed by the franchise’s storied history, “The Passenger” is just more of the same.
Here’s the plot: The Mandalorian is ambushed in a desert by some bad guys who want to take The Child, aka Baby Yoda (in stores now!). Then there’s a trip to the Mos Eisley Cantina, where Mando receives another mission that could help him reunite Baby Yoda with the creature’s species. Baby Yoda does some social media-friendly gesticulations, there’s a chase scene with New Republic pilots, and the Mandalorian crashes his ship on an ice planet and is forced to fend off the Villain of the Week.
While “The Mandalorian” has regurgitated plenty of story beats in prior episodes, this summary of “The Passenger” may seem especially familiar. The episode bares a striking resemblance to the second episode of the show’s first season, which began with The Mandalorian fending off bad guys in a desert who want to take Baby Yoda, followed by the Mandalorian being unable to operate his ship, followed by the Mandalorian fighting a big space monster. As with last week’s passably entertaining season premiere, the extended 37-minute runtime of “The Passenger” only serves to highlight how little actually happens in the episode, even compared to Season 1’s thinly-plotted episodic installments. Unlike the first season’s second episode, there’s no Jawa comic relief, Nick Nolte isn’t around to repeat a funny catchphrase, and the Mandalorian doesn’t do much meaningful bonding with Baby Yoda.
With little plot advancement, character development, or compelling acting to speak of, the success of “The Mandalorian” hinges on its action scenes and set pieces. “The Passenger” boasts both, and though it’s not enough to make up for the lack of the aforementioned elements, it’s hard to deny the series’ strengths. The Disney+ tentpole still boasts eye-popping production values, and Episode 2’s Villain of the Week is impressively scary. The Mandalorian, Baby Yoda, and the alien mother they ferry throughout the episode stumble into an frozen cave in the episode’s climax which turns out to be the nesting grounds for a Krykna — a very large ice spider, in laymen’s terms. A harrowing chase sequence ensues and the action is likely as close to the horror genre as the “Star Wars” franchise has ever come. Children that are just here for Baby Yoda and arachnophobes be warned: The Krykna are legitimately terrifying beasts.
“The Passenger” is one of the series’ better Villain of the Week installments, but that’s singularly due to the episode’s horror-centric approach, which has been relatively unexplored in various “Star Wars” stories. The Krykna aside, there’s not much to differentiate the episode from its predecessors, and “The Passenger” still boasts the same issues that have hampered the series since its premiere. The dialogue is either stilted exposition about the protagonists’ mission or leftover quips that wouldn’t make the cut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and there’s nothing that will challenge viewers’ preconceived notions about the “Star Wars” universe or otherwise push the franchise into a compelling new direction. It’s episodic, which isn’t inherently bad, but the week-to-week material needs to be more engaging to justify this many one-off quests. The action is undeniably strong, but it’s hard to stay invested in the fights when everything else about the series is this dispirited.
“The Mandalorian” is fine. But with this much money, star power, and a galaxy’s worth of iconic franchise elements at its disposal, it should be so much more.
“The Mandalorian” Season 2 releases new episodes Fridays on Disney+.