Naturally, there are spoilers here.

Peyton Reed (Ant-Man) directs the tenth installment of The Mandalorian, the second episode of the second season. It picks up almost exactly where the previous episode left off, promising that we might have a more direct and linear arc for this season.

The Recap

Din Djarin is trapped by a group of outlaws who destroy his borrowed speeder. It doesn’t end well for them, but the Mandalorian has to carry everything he can back to Mos Eisley on foot, including the child and Boba Fett’s armor. 

There, he finds Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) in the Cantina with a lead on more Mandalorians for him. An alien frog woman looking to book passage to the next system has seen evidence of where to go next. The catch is that the Razor Crest can’t jump to hyperspace because that would destroy her unfertilized eggs and they are the last of her line. Forced to travel at sublight speeds, the Mandalorian ends up in the sights of a New Republic patrol. They end up chasing him to the surface of an ice planet, where they crash land, significantly damaging the Razor Crest.

Din Djarin has to find a way to defend the ship and defend against the predatory spider-creatures they find along the way.

After a rescue from the X-Wing pilots and a quick patch job, the Mandalorian, the child, and the passenger are on their way to finding more Mandalorians once again.

The Influences

Director Peyton Reed is no stranger to action and comedy, and while this episode blends a little more suspense than comedy into the action, but it’s definitely in his wheelhouse. He was the director behind Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp and brings a really exciting energy to this episode, taking us from one locale to another with a smile on our faces. 

It’s clear there’s a lot of fascinating film influences here, but Predator and Alien might seem to be the most obvious. The Mandalorian has a heat vision mode in his helmet that even has the same grainy VHS quality as that of the Predator, and the field of alien spider-eggs and their green ichor look inspired by Xenomorphs

The spiders appear to be kryknas, the spiders crawling around the rebel base on Atollon, the planet they occupied before they were able to take residence on Yavin IV. Because of their striking resemblance to the kryknas, I was half expecting the child to intercede with the Force. It turns out, though, he was more interested in eating that poor frog woman’s eggs instead.

In fact, that running joke through the whole episode, culminating in the final gag, was so well done and exactly indicative of the sort of visual comedy Peyton Reed is so good at. It reminded me very much of the crashing Thomas the Tank Engine in Ant-Man. Reed is really great at selling that small joke in the middle of something tense in a way that adds to the tapestry of the scene or sequence, rather than break the tension completely.

Guest Stars

This episode had more than a few notable guest stars. The first to mention is Misty Rosas. Rosas provided the physical performance of the Ughnaught Kuill in the first season and comes back here to perform the frog lady. She has such an interesting physicality, especially when she’s leaping away from spiders. Her voice, though, is provided by none other than Dee Bradley Baker, the voice behind all of the clones and many of the creatures on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. 

Viewers might also recognize the voice of Richard Ayoade, who reprises his role as the voice of the droid Zero.

The X-Wing pilots, Captain Carson Teva and Trapper Wolf, are played by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and series executive producer and sometimes director Dave Filoni, respectively. And the more I think about it, the more I think Trapper Wolf is a M*A*S*H reference, trading out John for Wolf, which is an animal Dave Filoni is known for smuggling into Star Wars.

What Else to Look Out For

Whether the spiders are specifically the same krykna from Rebels or not, they share their inspiration from a Ralph McQuarrie painting. Both the spiders and the eggs come straight from this vision of a massive spider on Dagobah. The art first appeared alongside the written work of Kevin J. Anderson, most notably The Illustrated Star Wars Universe. 

The Mos Eisley cantina is always a place to look out for interesting creatures and easter eggs. While Peli Motto plays sabacc with a creature who goes by the named of Dr. Mandible, there are plenty of other denizens to be seen. An EV-9D9-like droid tends bar (just like in season one) and a dusty Gigoran can be seen in the background as well. Dr. Mandible himself seems to be in the same mold as the praying mantis-like creature found in the original scene in A New Hope. The table where they play sabacc looks very close to the same table where Han shot Greedo. 

At Peli Motto’s, the hunk of Krayt dragon meat is cooked by podracer engine and a droid, just like the ronto meat you can witness being cooked in Galaxy’s Edge. The droid spinning the spit in this episode is a Treadwell, who was first seen on the Lars Homestead. With Treadwell and R5, it makes one wonder if Peli Motto just took all of the droids that survived the destruction of Lars Homestead.

Coda

While this episode lacked some of the epic scale of the fight with the Krayt dragon, it made up for it with a delicate balance of scares and laughs. The sequence with the kryknas (or whatever spider creature they may turn out to be) is genuinely thrilling and claustrophobic, and the way the sequence is edited really puts that terror into perspective. The comedy really comes in some understated moments and the timing is just great. This might have been the best use of Amy Sedaris so far, and the timed gags like the jetpack bit and the child’s egg theft obsession make this a really fun episode. And the dry wit of lines like “I don’t know where he thinks he’s goin’ in that thing” put it all over the top.

The downside is that this might be tiresome for some viewers who want to get to the overarching plot and don’t have patience for these side-adventures. For me, anything that helps explore the outer edges of the Star Wars universe is a good thing and this certainly did that. More than that, it really showed how much of a hero Din Djarin is becoming. He’s not just the cold-blooded bounty hunter we met in the series premiere. He’s grown into something with much more heart, even if he’s done so begrudgingly. Episodes like this really bring that into focus.

Will we get back to the bigger story next episode? Only time will tell.

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