[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for The Mandalorian, Season 2, Episode 2, “The Passenger.”]
How cute must a Disney creation be before we’re chill with it eating the unborn children of a refugee mother? These are absolutely not the questions I thought The Mandalorian Season 2 would have me asking, and yet here we are, after “The Passenger”, in which Baby Yoda — whomst I will not be calling “The Child,” despite what any Target exclusive merch would say — monches on some larvae, as a treat. The context: In his ongoing search for fellow Mandalorians, our main Mando (Pedro Pascal) is tasked with ferrying a Frog Lady and her spawn to her husband, one sector away. The catch, however, is that Mando can’t jump to hyperspace, because it would kill the Frog Lady’s spawn, thus ending her family line forever. She makes this very clear. “These eggs are the last brood of my life cycle,” she tells Mando. “My husband has risked his life to carve out an existence for us on the only planet that is hospitable for our species.”
In a slight tonal shift, there’s also a recurring gag throughout the episode that sees Baby Yoda just popping these spawn into his gullet like kettle corn. Just crunching this Frog Lady’s family tree like he’s halfway through the trailers at an AMC matinee. Baby Yoda doesn’t often have a defined “goal” throughout episodes of The Mandalorian, but here, my guy is singularly focused on devouring as many of these embryonic snackeroos as his tiny body can handle. The episode ends with Baby Yoda staring this mother in the eye, triumphant in his ungodly mission to decimate her family for generations to come, before slurping down one more egg.
An overdramatization? Maybe! We’re all having fun here at the Star Wars show. And “The Passenger” is, in fact, a heck of a good time; one part space-western, one part creature-feature, all parts a celebration of Amy Sedaris beating a bug monster named Mr. Mandible in a card game. I’m just…really weirded out by that Baby Yoda thing! He ate her children! Largely, it’s the way director Peyton Reed and writer Jon Favreau play it as a fun bit in the first place that skeeves me out. There’s been plenty of moments in past episodes that something a bit Dark Side-y is going on with Baby Yoda, from that moment he hopped out of his crib to Force-project a rhino-monster 10 feet into the air to the time he choked Gina Carano with his mind. “The Passenger” is already leaning into horror territory — what with all the giant, creepy-crawly ice spiders — so I’d understand a world where Favreau and Co. questioned Baby Yoda’s real nature by placing his adorable eating habits in a slightly more grotesque light.
This was… very clearly not that, from jaunty music cues to framing to Pedro Pascal’s “bad baby!” voice performance. On a larger level, it’s emblematic of The Mandalorian‘s problems with plot. More specifically: It does not have one. Mando’s search for more Mandos is so vague he is quite literally crash-landing his way from A to B, and even then, it is extremely unclear how they’re going to help him find the Jedi, anyway. So what the show has going for it is a new Fun Thing each week to get the audience buzzing. Last week, that meant a guest-starring Timothy Olyphant as a grizzled space cowboy so blindingly hot I’m surprised Disney+ allowed it. This was highly effective and I’m thankful for it.
But Episode 2’s Big Bit is mostly Baby Yoda feasting on Frog Lady’s offspring, and it reeks of a show overplaying its cuteness cards. By now, we all understand the potent, powerful popularity (and meme-ability) of Baby Yoda, but it’s not something you can hang an entire story on. Again, the question is: How cute would Baby Yoda have to be for me not to be super bummed he’s just guzzling down the unborn children of a woman just trying to get home to her husband? Apparently, somehow, much cuter than this! As is, it just kind’ve pulls you out of the show, and the second you get taken out of The Mandalorian you realize all these delicious, empty calories aren’t really adding up to much.
New episodes of The Mandalorian Season 2 premiere Fridays on Disney+.