In this series, “Meaning in Mando”, we will look at each episode of season two (and hopefully beyond) in order to explore the symbolism and meaning in each episode, with a dose of speculation with regards to their implications for the future.
SPOILER WARNING FOR THE MANDALORIAN SEASON 2, CHAPTER 10: THE PASSENGER
Star Wars has monsters. Always has, always will. They may not be the first thing you think of when you think of Star Wars, but they always mean something more than one would think. The wampa’s arm being cut off, for instance, foreshadows Luke’s later fate. The Mandalorian has continued that tradition in kind. First it was the mudhorn, a symbol of the unity between Din Djarin and The Child. Then it was the krayt dragon foreshadowing the identity crisis Djarin is sure to have in this season. And now….
Spiders in every project involving Dave Filoni is becoming the new Ahsoka being in every project involving Dave Filoni. As is also a trend in his storytelling, Filoni pulls these knobby-kneed monstrosities straight from the pages of one Ralph McQuarrie.
Spiders are an interesting choice, mythologically speaking, because they are neither portrayed as fully good nor fully evil. Where the dragon is respected in Eastern myth and feared in Western, spiders are more of a middle ground. They are tricksters at times, weavers of destiny at others. They are more Bendu than Jedi or Sith.
As it regards this episode of The Mandalorian, the Greek mythological story about the origins of spiders is important here, as the spider is portrayed as both the trickster and the weaver of destiny simultaneously. In this myth, the goddess Athena is challenged to a weaving competition by the princess Archane (which literally means “spiders” and is the root for their current arachnid designation). Archane wins the contest, but Athena is so infuriated by the content of Archane’s weaving that Athena destroys it. Grief-stricken, Archane kills herself to be brought back to life by the one she opposed, Athena.
Through the lens of The Mandalorian, Din Dijarin (and likely all Mandos) should be considered weavers, as they weave together the many varied eras of Mandalorian history. The Force would be Athena. Through the context of this myth, Din will challenge the Force by seeing The Child as special and loved in a way the Jedi of the prequel era were incapable of doing. Whatever happens with The Child will intertwine with Din’s own death and rebirth, as happens to Archane, be it metaphorical or literal. This all swings, once more, around to the idea of what a Mandalorian really is, a question that is at the forefront of this season.
Eggs, Ice, and a Womb
One has to wonder if, behind the scenes, the creators of The Mandalorian are having a contest of their own, challenging themselves to include an egg with every monster. The mudhorn egg saw the birth of the clan Din Djarin and The Child would become. The krayt dragon had more a pearl inside of it than an egg, but symbolically it was found inside the dragon and thus can be considered egg-like. Now, we have all the eggs. Everywhere.
Eggs are a symbol of rebirth, which is likely to be a theme as the Mandalorian learns more about what it means to be a Mandalorian, for himself and The Child. Death and rebirth is, of course, a key stage in the Hero’s Journey. Din helps The Passenger as she tries to return her eggs to their father, uniting their family (read:clan) in order to save the last of their line. The actual survival of their culture and family is on the line here. Sound familiar? After losing all of his covert (save for the “mother” Armorer) Djarin’s line is… on the line. Pairing Boba Fett’s return with the role of Death Watch in Din’s life and you have an identity crisis that cannot help but rebirth a new Mandalorian.
Viewers who have paid (really) close attention will know that birth is woven into the fabric of this show thanks to the Razorcrest, a ship shaped like a uterus and thus a symbol of the feminine. In Chapter 2, Mando has to rebuild that feminine in order to take The Child, or take care of the child (caretaking being considered a feminine aspect of our humanity). In Chapter 10, poetically the second episode of this season, that womb falls towards an ice planet to its own form of death. Ice, winter, and cold have long represented death and darkness, but through this the Razorcrest is able to hold somewhat together. Death, rebirth, metaphor.
It is also important to consider the second womb, that of The Passenger. While external, the womb of The Passenger holds her eggs, the hope for the continuation of her family line. The Child breaks into the backpack/life-tank and eats the eggs throughout the episode, thus risking the continuation of the line. While Baby Yoda shines brighter than twin suns for the fandom, the show has shown that The Child has a dark side. Just ask Cara Dune. Now, does this mean that The Child is going to be a roadblock in Papa Mando’s rebirth? “Clouded, the boy’s future is.”
The following are smaller moments, but may hold bigger meaning.
We know they can only mean one thing. Invasion. (Author’s note: Where are the “Sio Bibble is actually a Sith because only Sith speak in absolutes” theories at? Have we created that dark corner of the internet?) Throughout this episode, communication is an issue. It starts with Peli Motto’s less than crystal clear approach to the truth, “paraphrasing” about the sabacc bet and later taking liberties with how long she has known The Passenger. It is covered with humor, but is an allusion to the communication problems that Din will have with The Passenger, and even with The Child, who, like a rebellious fifty-year-old will, continually forgoes Din’s instructions. More than likely this is foreshadowing to later communication issues that The Mandalorian and other Mandalorians will have as we answer what seems to be the major question of this season: What is a Mandalorian?
In contrast to the regular communication problems Din and The Passenger have lies a moment where The Passenger repurposes a broken droid to translate her language to Basic. She does so in order to give him a swift kick in the beskar, calling him out for not living up to the Mandalorian code. In the speech she gives is an extremely meta moment when she challenges Din by asking if the stories of Mandalorian honor are just “stories for children.” Star Wars is, of course, made “for twelve year olds.” I think that was a little wink and nod to remind us to enjoy the ride of this season, just as we did when we were twelve years old sitting down to watch Episode I in the theater. That or they’re calling out people who spend too much time overanalyzing all this stuff.