Who was excited for space terror, hm? Anyone? (Not this guy, sadly.) Well, The Mandalorian was keen to get right to it this week…
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Din Djarin gets jumped by a gang of thieves on his way back to the spaceport, but he dispatches the group and walks back into Mos Eisley. At Chalmun’s Cantina, Peli Motto is playing cards with a fellow named Dr. Mandible, who claims he can get him in touch with someone who can find him more Mandalorians, since Cobb was a dead end. The contact turns out to be an alien woman in need of passage with her eggs to the estuary moon of Trask, one sector over. If she doesn’t get her eggs fertilized by the equinox, her whole line will die—and Din has to travel at sublight because hyperspace will also kill the eggs. The Frog Lady’s partner has seen Mandalorians there, so Din agrees to help her. On the way to the moon, they’re bugged by a New Republic recon team, Captain Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and Trapper Wolf (Dave Filoni, back again). Because the Razor Crest has no identification, New Republic or Empire, they ask for his ship’s log. Upon receiving it, they lock their S-foils, so Din dives toward the planet below.
He evades their fire, but ends up crashing to a lower level of the freezing world, breaking the ship substantially. The Frog Lady speaks a language he cannot understand, so she finds the remains of Zero and hijacks his vocabulator to communicate with Din, issuing a plea to get her and her eggs out safely. Djarin starts repairs on the ship, only to have Baby Yoda alert him to Frog Lady’s disappearance. She has wandered off further into the caves, finding a hot spring where she can keep the eggs warm. As Din is telling her to gather up the eggs and get back to the ship, Baby Yoda eats the nearby egg of a different species—a krykna, which is a sort of six-legged spider. The whole brood begins to hatch and more of them show up and chase the group back to the ship. They make it on board, and Din seals them into the cockpit, but a giant krykna shows up directly over the cockpit.
Just before they’re all about to die, the New Republic recon team shows up to clear away the krykna. They tell Din that they went through his record, and though there’s a warrant out for him, the fact that he apprehended three folx from the wanted register and put his life on the line to protect Lieutenant Davan (during the job with Ran’s gang) shows him in a favorable light. They elect to let Din go. He seals up the cockpit to the ship, as the rest is compromised, and they head out toward Trask again.
This episode… leaves a lot to be desired. And that’s not just me being sad that they left Tatooine, so we didn’t get to see more of Boba Fett. *sniff*
Now sure, some of that is a personal preference; I’m never going to be a fan of the story that turns entirely on the Mandalorian having to fight a bunch of krykna because they’re essentially giant six-legged space spiders and I’m extremely arachnophobic. That kind of ruins my whole day right there. I’ll admit to the bias and get that right out of the way, since SFF is extremely fond of giant spider-like beings as a horror trope.
But even setting that aside, there is nothing going on in this episode The most high-stakes concern in the whole thing is Baby Yoda eating all of Frog Lady’s eggs. Which is fun for a comical aside, but also pretty callous to use as a point of comedy in the first place (on account of him making her line’s extinction more and more likely with every swipe). Frog Lady doesn’t even get a real name. She’s just there to pluck at Din’s heart a little since he cares about babies now. It’s too bad because the idea of a mom-and-dad team up episode could have been a beautiful thing. They should have taken her character more seriously and moved from there—two parents who will do anything to keep their kids safe. That’s a plot we don’t see enough in fiction in general, and certainly not in SFF as often as we should.
Instead, the episode takes an abrupt swerve into SF horror tropes á la The Thing and its ilk, and runs for the finish line with all due grossness and blaster fire and explosions. Never mind the fact that the ship is so seriously overrun by the horde of krykna that they should be dead a dozen times over. It’s all pretty rushed and sloppy at that point because there’s no real story to be had here. This episode brought the running time back down again, and that combined with the lukewarm premise make it all a bit disappointing. What’s stranger on top of it is that we’ve seen the series do better than this with mothers fighting to defend their children. The show didn’t make these mistake with Omera in last season’s episode “Sanctuary“. It’s almost as though they decided to go a humorous route with her because the concept of a “Frog Lady” was too funny to them. Which… this is Star Wars. Aliens are everywhere. Come on.
Also, there are a lot of plain poorly-conceived holes in this episode. Like, that crew in the desert that tries to knock over Din and take the kid, but then he defeats them and… walks back to Mos Eisley? Because they apparently didn’t have transport of their own that he could pilfer once they all died? Or Baby Yoda miraculously surviving a high-speed speeder wipeout, which was why the floaty basinet was so useful last season? Or the fact that Frog Lady doesn’t seem to notice eggs are going missing? (It probably doesn’t matter in general terms for species that lay a bunch of eggs, but this batch is pretty important to her.) Or the question of why the krykna back down once the big one is dead? Pretty sure they’re not a hive mind deal, so I can’t think why the smaller ones would up and vanish, even with that New Republic duo going in all guns blazing—in terms of sheer number, they easily had them all beat.
There’s another interesting aside within this episode about the fledging New Republic and how it’s expanding and handling the assertion of its power. Captain Teva lets Din go, even with the warrant on him due to his past deeds, and that’s nice, but we’re not getting a sense of how that fits into the New Republic framework of government. It’s just that vague sense of “out here on the fringes, the law is woolier, and your worth is determined by your actions” in that vague Western-esque way that seems like it’s trying to be deep without saying much of anything at all.
Things and Asides:
- Peli Motto is playing sabacc with Dr. Mandible, essentially the Star Wars version of poker, and the card game that Han Solo famously uses to win the Millennium Falcon off of Lando Calrissian. Motto beats Mandible with one of the rarest hands in the game, an Idiot’s Array—the unbeatable play consists of The Idiot card, a two card of any suit and a three card of any suit. (Lando beat Chopper in a game of sabacc on Star Wars: Rebels using this hand, but that’s a whole other story…)
- Din tries to communicate with Frog Lady using Huttese, an understandable attempt since Huttese is the most common language used on Tatooine outside of Galactic Basic (do we still call it that?) and the Tusken Raider language.
- Getting to see Djarin bunk in that little alcove with the kid in his sleep sling is just a cutest thing.
- The krykna were first seen on Star Wars: Rebels, and honestly, they were handled far better on that show. (They were also easier to stomach because they were animated, which took some of the edge off.) On that series, the krykna turn out to be native to Atollon, the planet the Alliance uses to set up Chopper Base. The rebels have to use sensor markers to keep the krykna at bay, and at one point, Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger have to retrieve a Sith holocron from a cave full of them, using the Force to keep them calm.
- The droid Zero is from season one’s episode “The Prisoner”, as are the references to Lieutenant Davan, the New Republic Correctional transport, and Dave Filoni’s pilot character, who appeared at the end of that episode.
See you next week!
Emmet Asher-Perrin always planned to learn sabacc one day, but the time and the will and the proper deck of space cards have yet to materialize. (Yes, this was a childhood goal; yes, they’re predictable.) You can bug them on Twitter, and read more of their work here and elsewhere.