Warning: Spoilers for season 2, episode 7 of "The Mandalorian" below
First there was the Stone Age. Then came the Bronze Age, but everyone argued and tried to invade each other's country. After that, there was the Iron Age. And so a few years passed and now we have entered what henceforth shall be known as the Sci-Fi Age: a time where there was more science fiction on our television screens than ever before.
This glorious revelation comes as Disney announces a titanic total of nine new spinoff shows that will join the already sensational and incredibly successful "Mandalorian" series on Disney Plus. The quality of "The Mandalorian" has gone a long way to help take Disney Plus to 86.8 million subscribers in just 13 months.
And that high standard of "The Mandalorian" continues this week, with the penultimate Season 2 installment entitled, "Chapter 15: The Believer."
We open on the Karthon Chop Fields, where designated inmate 34667 Migs Mayfeld (Bill Burr) — an ex-Imperial sharpshooter — is serving 50 years for being an accessory to the death of a New Republic officer in "Chapter 6: The Prisoner" (S01, E06). There must be hundreds of giant scrapyard worlds like this in the "Star Wars" universe and who knows, maybe this will be where the Mandalorian, a.k.a. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) finds a rusty old replacement Razor Crest class vessel, who knows. We can but dream.
Marshal of Nevarro City, Cara Dune (Gina Carano) shows up and escorts Mayfeld to Slave 1, Boba Fett's (Temuera Morrison) ship where Fett and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) await. There's a nice throwaway scene here when Mayfeld says Fett reminded him of another Mandalorian and then of course, Djarin appears. (Quick side note: It's interesting here how "The Mandalorian" didn't have to rip off "The Running Man" for its convict-in-a-scrapyard set piece.) He has little choice but to comply and once he's aboard, Slave 1 lifts off. Roll opening credits.
There are some beautiful ship designs in the "Star Wars" universe, and despite being popular with fans, we've never been particularly fond of the modified Firespray-31-class patrol and attack craft used by Fett. Granted it has some cool weapons as we saw in "Attack of the Clones" — and we'll talk more about those a little later — but it looks clumsy, sports an oversized aft profile, making for a much bigger target in a dogfight and has those stubby, T-Rex arm-like wings. The vertical and horizontal orientation would also present problems in day-to-day use, but as Mayfeld talks over the reasons for his early release from incarnation with Dune, Djarin and Shand, something interesting can be spotted in the background; the interior is rotating from what is obviously a horizontal landing orientation to a vertical configuration for flight. The fact that the team behind the production of "The Mandalorian" have address this longstanding issue and made such a subtle improvement is yet another example of how much attention is being to every detail in this high-quality show.
Fett also appears to have put some time in repairing and repainting his damaged beskar armor.
They want Mayfeld, using his knowledge of the Imperial network, to find the coordinates of Moff Gideon's command cruiser. At first he flatly refuses, but after Dune tells him why — they have the Child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda a.k.a Grogu — he changes his mind. And it's the first sign of a deeper dive into Mayfeld's character and backstory that we'll see more of in this episode. Dune offers him a lighter sentence in exchange for his efforts and he says he's going to need access to an internal Imperial terminal. The nearest one is on a secret rhydonium mining facility on Morak, so off they go.
Upon landing they determine that the best method to gain entry is to hijack one of the A6 Juggernauts (based on the Turbo Tanks seen in "The Clone Wars"). There's some disagreement over who exactly should accompany Mayfeld since many of the group would are still wanted by the Empire and would thus be recognized. Djarin can see through his thermal scope that the drivers are wearing helmets, so he volunteers.
As the Juggernaut enters a tunnel, the team jumps onto the top and overpower the drivers. Out of sight from everyone, Djarin changes into the Imperial uniform but keeps his Mandalorian oath to not reveal his face by exchanging his helmet for the Imperial one. And they begin the perilous journey along the jungle road to the mining facility with Dune and Shand providing sniper cover and Fett standing by in Slave 1 for extraction. Thankfully the writers haven't fallen into the trap of actually changing Mayfeld's character per se, and he fills the journey time with annoying banter ... until they come across the burned out wrecks of other Juggernauts along the roadside.
They can hear over the radio other Juggernauts being attacked and destroyed and they start to wonder what it is exactly that they face up ahead. Mayfeld's annoying banter foreshadows events yet to come as he jabbers on about being a survivor and how the rules change when things become desperate. "Everybody's got their lines they don't cross until things get messy," he says.
And then they come under attack, from pirates riding repulsorlift skiffs. What follows is a thrilling set piece as Djarin frantically defends the Juggernaut from wave after wave of attack and Mayfeld does his best to prevent the highly volatile cargo of rhydonium from overheating or becoming too unstable. (This part of the story pays homage to the 1953 classic "The Wages of Fear" from French director Henri-Georges Clouzot.) At first Djarin uses his blaster, but interestingly that runs out of either charge or ammunition — which is not something we see a lot of in the "Star Wars" universe and we'd like to see more — so he tosses that and his forced to fight hand-to-hand.
Dune and Shand race to get to a position to give covering fire but can't get there quick enough and unfortunately, there's a bridge that the Juggernaut must cross and so Mayfeld is forced to slow down just as yet another wave of pirates begin their attack. At this point Djarin is spent and all hope seems lost when two TIE fighters launched form the base strafe the pirate attackers and squads of Stormtroopers and Shoretroopers rush out to eliminate any survivors.
Now inside the base, Djarin and Mayfeld are treated as heroes by the Imperial troops and the next phase of this extremely dangerous operation begins. They wander over to the mess area where Mayfeld spots an internal Imperial terminal. If we had just one minor grumble about this episode it would be about here, as the two nervously shuffle about somehow without attracting attention to themselves and especially when Mayfeld recognizes an Imperial officer called Valin Hess (Richard Brake). He practically walks into the mess, makes eye contact then does an abrupt about face and leaves, not looking suspicious at all.
Turns out that Mayfeld used to serve under this Hess character and is extremely reluctant to put himself in a position where he might be recognized. Djarin says that he'll go in and use the terminal, but apparently it operates on facial recognition, like some sort of Imperial Captcha. It's not explained why this is the case and it primarily serves for a device for the next part of the story, but it's interesting to theorize why it would actually work when he tried; perhaps it's to purely prevent droids from using it or maybe Djarin has some Imperial-related backstory we don't know about yet and is therefore on file.
Djarin attempts to use the terminal without removing his helmet, but it keeps denying him access and now he's attracting attention. Reluctantly, he removes his helmet and for only the second time in the whole series, we see the face of the Mandalorian. The scan is completed and approved just as Hess gets up from his table and wanders over to where Djarin is frantically saving the location of Gideon's command cruiser to a USB stick.
The most important thing to take away from this scene though is the Mandalorian's willingness to remove his helmet and this simple act shows us how much he cares about Grogu, especially since great lengths have been taken to ensure this doesn't happen in the past. It also represents Djarin's first steps in accepting the alternative, more modern interpretation of Mandalorian culture as we saw Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) demonstrate in "Chapter 11: The Heiress" rather than the ancient way of the Death Watch that he was raised with.
Hess confronts Djarin and demands to know his TK number — the method of identification for an Imperial trooper. The Mandalorian struggles and Mayfeld steps in and saves him, explaining that he's his commanding officer and is a little bit deaf after his vessel lost pressure in Taanab. In a desperate bid to escape this awkward and potentially dangerous situation, Mayfeld says that they have to leave in order to file "TPS reports," which a reference to the 1999 comedy "Office Space."
Hess treads the cliché tightrope and we're never sure if he suspects anything or just enjoys being an inquisitive Imperial so-and-so. But he invites the two over to have a drink to celebrate their success in returning with a shipment of rhydonium. And this is actually an incredibly interesting scene for a number of reasons.
For one thing, as astute Reddit user JBlitzen points out, there is some incredibly subtle acting on the part of Pascal. His weird behavior is not completely down to the uncomfortable situation he finds himself in, it's because he's continuing to behave as if he was still wearing his helmet, since he's worn it his entire life and it would be second nature. He doesn't use his peripheral vision when he's looking at something important, just as he would in his helmet. Moreover, after Mayfeld's shot, he turns and looks straight at the trooper behind him, turning his entire body so he can turn his head to look straight at the trooper.
The other reason this scene is interesting is Mayfeld's reaction. To distract Hess from questioning Djarin, who is not adapting well to this predicament, Mayfeld makes the decision to go all in. He proposes a toast to Operation Cinder and thus deliberately steers the conversation down a very personal path and one where he already knows what outcome lies at the end. First mentioned "Star Wars: Shattered Empire" by Greg Rucka, Operation Cinder was a posthumous order by the Emperor to devastate several planets following the defeat at the Battle of Endor, consequently many innocent people were killed, including Imperial troopers. Mayfeld explains that he was on Burnin Konn, one of the worlds targeted.
We already know that Mayfeld was an ex-Imperial sharpshooter and we are learning now that maybe there's more to him than the irritating jerk we saw in the first season. Clearly, this subject still haunts him and he goes on to say that they lost 10,000 people that day. Hess reminisces about having "to make many unpleasant decisions" and all those killed "were all heroes of the Empire." Djarin tries to discretely shake his head in a "don't do it" motion, as Hess continues to gloat about the growing strength of the Empire until Mayfeld — who has been agonizing in his mind over whether he should see this through to the end — has had enough and blows him away. He turns to Djarin with a look that says, "I'm sorry" and they blast the remaining Imperials in the mess hall. With just a few seconds before the inevitable onslaught begins, Mayfeld hands Djarin his driver's helmet and says, "You did what you had to do," adding "I never saw your face" and so the bond between the two grows just that little bit stronger.
They break through a window to escape out onto a ledge overlooking a very large dam. Thankfully, this means they're out in the open and can now benefit from sniper covering fire. Fett also lifts off to begin his extraction run. The team dynamic in this episode is wonderful and we honestly hope it goes for a little while.
Slave 1 flies in at low level over the top of the Imperial base as Mayfeld and Djarin both leap to landing ramp while Dune and Shand take out the anti-aircraft guns and pursuing troopers. With the ramp door still open, Mayfeld takes a cycler rifle and blasts the Juggernaut still full of rhydonium, blowing up half the base. But the icing on the cake is still to come. Two TIE fighters pursue Slave 1, so Fett dispenses one of those gorgeous seismic charges we first saw in "Attack of the Clones" that are both beautiful to watch and listen to as it detonates.
They rendezvous on the ground with Dune and Shand and Mayfeld offers himself to be taken back to the Karthon Chop Fields. In an amusing scene, Dune and Djarin decide to let him go under the pretense that he was killed during the attack, so seizing the opportunity, off he scarpers. And we like him a whole lot more now than we did before this episode.
We cut to Gideon's cruiser and he receives a holographic message from the Mandalorian that is practically verbatim the same as the one Gideon delivered in Nevarro City in last season's first part of the finale. "You have something I want. You may think you have some idea of what you are in possession of, but you do not. Soon he will be back with me. He means more to me than you will ever know." And for the very first time, Gideon looks concerned.
Thus setting up what will undoubtedly be an epic season finale on Friday.
In addition to all the phenomenal news about the new "Star Wars" shows coming to Disney Plus, we can also report that Season 3 of "The Mandalorian" will premiere on Christmas Day 2021. However, all this "Star Wars" goodness comes at a price and the cost of Disney Plus will increase to $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year beginning on March 26, 2021.
"The Mandalorian" airs every Friday on Disney Plus. The first season of "The Mandalorian" is on Disney Plus, which is available for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year in the US and in the U.K., it's £6 a month, or £60 a year. It's also available in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, India, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, France and Japan.
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