‘The Mandalorian: The Passenger’ Lore and Insights

Here we are for another article where Elijah gets to talk about Star Wars. We’re back again for The Mandalorian‘s 10th chapter, “The Passenger.” This is normally where I would talk about how much lore was just thrown at us. However, there wasn’t much-established canon or legends lore included in this episode. And actually, I kind of enjoyed that. It allowed me to nerd out about new things which is something that I haven’t been able to do in Star Wars for a while. But there were things that I can dig into, so let’s get a move on.

Larger Than Life

The first thing that I noticed in this episode was the big-ass ant that was playing Sabacc with Peli in the cantina. His name is Dr. Mandible and he was a new addition to the lore but it’s his out-of-universe explanation that interests me. Some of you may have noticed in the credits that this episode was directed by Peyton Reed. Reed is best known for directing the Ant-Man MCU films. Apparently, Reed just had a leftover giant ant from the production of that film and brought it along with him. Which I totally believe was just a power play on his part.

This theme of normal animals that are simply far larger than their real-life counterparts permeates this chapter. And I love it. It’s something that I feel has been missing in alien design since the original Cantina scene in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. I mean, it’s not every day you walk into a bar and see the Devil himself chilling in a booth. Along with the big ant, the Passenger herself is just a big frog. There is another big animal I’ll get to very shortly. But these choices bring back some of the almost janky alien design that brought so much charm to the early days of the franchise. And I’m totally on board for it.

A Long History

The final piece of this giant animal motif is actually an already existing part of Star Wars lore. And it’s one that goes deeper than you might think. The Ice Spiders that Mando has to fight off while stranded in the cave come from this piece of Ralph McQuarrie concept art. From all the way back when he was drawing for Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. This drawing is interesting because it has inspired four different creations, with three of them being in current canon. The Spice Spider which appeared only in the comics, the Krykna which appeared in Star Wars: Rebels, and now the Ice Spider are all the current canon creatures.

The one I’m most interested in is the Knobby White Spider because it is the granddaddy of all these other incarnations. When the rest of the Expanded Universe continuity was decanonized into Legends, so was the Knobby White Spider. It’s a shame because it was a fascinating creature that was actually a part of a Gnarltree’s life cycle. Calcified wood made up almost the entirety of the spider’s body and it was one of the innumerable lifeforms that called Dagobah its home. It also appeared in the 2003 video game Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike. A game I happened to spend much of my childhood playing. Not to mention it made an appearance Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide by Ryder Windham. Which happened to be one of the most well-loved books in my home when I was growing up.

Final Thoughts

Some brief final thoughts from me on this episode. First of all, as I said before, I absolutely love the alien design that has been going on in this season so far. I especially love that the creators clearly grew up on the same Star Wars that many of us did. They bring creatures that we recognize from these old Star Wars properties that are no longer considered canon and breathe new life into them. They did this with the Krayt Dragon, they did it again with these new Ice Spiders in this chapter.

“The Passenger” was not as bombastic and explosive as the season opener, but that has to be expected. The creatives clearly have a vision that they’re confident in. So much so that they are able to allow each director to put their own touches in each episode we see. I love the way this season appears to be heading.

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