Mandalorian Season 2 finally tells a new story using this classic trope
The series takes another note from Hollywood in its second episode.
The Mandalorian is breaking new ground by being normal. While other streaming shows are slowly morphing into ten-hour movies only broken up with credits, the Disney+ series delivers a fully-formed adventure every week. It's a reminder that episodic shows are for more than Quantum Leap and X-Files, they can work in the present day too.
Usually, this means episodes would get formulaic (how many different western-style story types are there really?), but Mandalorian has found a way to adapt genres for the Star Wars universe and subvert them. Chapter 10, "The Passenger," is no different.
While the Season 2 premiere was a good old fashioned western complete with a ghost town and a marshal, it still felt like many of the same stories we've seen before—Mando needs something, someone else needs something in return, so he helps out. It's a common tactic for any episodic adventure show, but eventually, things turn into a routine.
In "The Passenger," the plan is new. This time, Din Djarin has to provide something that can't be achieved with a wrist rocket and jetpack — transport. The small amphibian creature, credited as Frog Lady, has an endgame similar to Mando's. All she wants is to reunite her eggs with more of their kind, namely, her husband who has gone to seek a better life. After all, there's not much for Frog people on a desert planet.
When Frog Lady steps into the Razor Crest, Mando tells her to buckle up and not to touch anything. Suddenly, what seems to be a normal Mandalorian quest takes a sudden right turn. Now, it's a taxi driver movie.
Taxi driver movies are exactly what they sound like. An unassuming taxi driver picks up a passenger and gets embroiled in whatever trouble they got themselves in. The archetypal model of this trope is the 2004 movie Collateral, which saw Tom Cruise play an assassin and Jamie Foxx his unwitting getaway driver. However, the trope has been explored in all sorts of genres, including science-fiction —The Fifth Element and Race to Witch Mountain are both prime examples.
However, while those films use the passenger to start up some trouble, The Mandalorian uses both passenger and driver. First, the Razor Crest gets pulled over by space cops in X-Wing fighters because of Mando's criminal past, causing a high-speed chase and eventual crash landing, but then Frog Lady takes charge.
She uses a vocabulator in Zero the droid (Richard Ayoade) to get her point across that no matter the circumstances, she needs to get to where she's going. The fate of her entire bloodline is at stake. Both of these characters have their own issues, and they both get caught up in each other's journey. When they accidentally awaken a hive of giant spiders, there's no choice but to work together.
Frog Lady even takes matters into her own hands and shoots the spiders crawling all over Baby Yoda, despite his proclivity for egg-munching. While they had their differences throughout the story, Frog Lady and Mando are just two single parents trying to give their kids the life they deserve.
The episode ended before Frog Lady's journey was done, so there's no telling where this taxi driver story will end. One thing's for sure, though. It won't be like anything we've seen before.
The Mandalorian Season 2 is now streaming on Disney+.