Early in The Mandalorian Din Djarin reluctantly takes up the mantel of foster parent with “the child” (aka Baby Yoda).
While we’ve seen the Mando’s fatherly abilities tested throughout the show, episode 2:2, titled “The Passenger,” gave us an exploration of maternal instincts in the Star Wars universe.
While one might find this episode to be a mere “monster filler” story, there’s a commentary that runs deeper. Din meets a character who, like him, is tasked with precious cargo on a mission. But this character is a mother, and the cargo is her own unfertilized eggs.
But when the story begins we see Din manfully defeat some bandits and return to his ship. He talks with Peli Motto, who by the way, is a tough female mechanic who in season 1 scolded him for not properly looking out for the 50-year-old baby.
Din agrees to ferry “Frog Lady” to her husband. She carries with her a tank of her potential children. Baby Yoda finds them delicious, and Din, still learning how to juggle bounty hunting and parenting, continually fails to keep him from eating them. On board his ship now are a sort-of father and a sort-of mother, one with an orphan and the other anticipating motherhood. But to fulfill his mission, he must keep his own cargo from devouring the other cargo. His admonishments aren’t very urgent, and if he’s not diligent, the cargo could be gone. His parenting skills require more attention, and even a maternal touch he naturally lacks.
Next thing we know there’s a space chase, the frog wanders off, they fight off a bunch of ice spiders, and make their escape. Monster-of-the-week-isode, right? I found it to be a further exploration of maternity in the Star Wars universe.
As far is nature is concerned, having kids is about continuing your line. A simple biological drive. To that end, every living creature has a right to make life, feed it, and protect it. Animals instinctually follow that morality without it being right or wrong. The ice spider is not wrong to try and eat other creatures, it’s just a threat to Din and his companions. Just like Baby Yoda doesn’t know any better than to eat a sentient being’s planned eggs—he just knows he’s hungry.
It’s no accident of writing that Yoda progresses from eating Frog Lady’s eggs to eating the ice spider eggs. We know the stakes are higher now. An inhospitable environment means a bigger, fiercer mother. But notice that while the monster is about to pop out, we don’t know if it would have been a monster had the child not eaten its eggs. I mean, most likely. That’s a big bug with lots of kids to feed. But subconsciously, you almost sympathize for the mama spider. Almost.
And that’s why the episode is about the reach of empathy. A mother’s love for her children is great. Din has struggled to fully embrace caring for the child by doing more than just protecting it. He’s not keen on toting this poor woman and her last chance at babies. The Republic has little empathy for Din until they see him in peril. And the momma spider has no empathy…ever.
Frog Lady just wants to continue her line. So does the ice spider. Din is the last of his family, and his new line is the Mandalorian culture. They’ve charged him with delivering the Child to the Jedi, whose own line seems extinct. Everyone is trying to feed and protect. But because we are sentient creatures, and moral creatures, we must take the side of sentient, moral creatures like Frog Lady and Din and cheer them for taking up the protective mantle. We want The Force to be with them.
Everyone has a chance to act maternally in the episode, and we get a chance to see that maternal instincts can be both gentle and fierce. Frog Lady bathes her eggs and also pulls a pistol on some spiders. The mechanic knows when to assist a mother and goad a bounty hunter into doing the same. The New Republic is harsh on crime, but gentle on the reformed. Din can fire a gun, but he’s learning to handle eggs with care and keep a better watch on his precious cargo.
It makes you wonder if the Mando will ever get married, settle down, continue his family line.
There’s a lot of inhospitable space out there. The universe needs good moms.