In The Believer, the Disney Plus Star Wars show forces our hero and an old frenemy to infiltrate the Empire, and we get a Baby Yoda first.
Season 2 of The Mandalorian kept rolling Friday with episode 7 of the Disney Pluslive-action Star Wars show. After the Imperial Remnant recaptured Grogu, Mando (Pedro Pascal) knew he'd need help from a former Imperial to track down Moff Gideon's cruiser and rescue the little green guy.
With backup from New Republic marshal Cara Dune (Gina Carano), bounty hunter Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), they go to spring one-time Imperial sharpshooter Migs Mayfeld (Bill Burr) out of prison. He's serving a 50-year sentence after he betrayed Mando and ended up trapped on a New Republic prison ship.
Chapter 15, titled The Believer, was directed and written by Rick Famuyiwa (who directed two episodes of season 1, including the one Mayfeld appeared in).
Be warned, SPOILERS are about to break out. This show is set around five years after Return of the Jedi.
When Mando mentioned getting Mayfeld out of prison, we all assumed this whole episode would be one big breakout operation, right? I know I did. Turns out it's a whole lot simpler than that -- Cara just uses her authority as a New Republic official to take him out of there.
Maybe she had to fill out a bunch of boring paperwork too, but we don't see that. Maybe that's what the upcoming Rangers of the New Republic spinoff will be all about? Boring bureaucracy?
It turns out that Mayfeld has to get the location of Gideon's cruiser from an Imperial terminal, and suggests they use the one at the Imperial refinery on Morak (it's secret, but Mayfeld knows secrets).
To get into the refinery, Mayfeld and Mando have to swipe an armored vehicle transporting unstable rydonium, and Mando has to swap his sweet beskar armor for an icky trooper's outfit. Mayfeld points out that Mando is clearly bending his "no taking off his helmet" rule (which he'll later break completely), and they have to very carefully drive the rydonium to the facility.
This part of the episode feels like a Grand Theft Auto transport mission, with a gauge warning them to slow down if the rydonium gets too shaken up and with the pirates trying to blow them up. Mando has to defend them from the pirate goons, and cheapy Imperial armor doesn't hold like his beskar, but he's such a badass that he manages to hold off long enough.
Just as they're about to be overwhelmed, TIE fighters and stormtroopers swoop in to save the day. It's pretty weird to be relieved at the sign of Imperials, and even stranger when they applaud the disguised Mayfeld and Mando for completing their mission. Especially since our heroes are about to kill a whole bunch of them.
To access the Imperial terminal, Mando has to remove his helmet, giving us our second ever look at his handsome Pedro Pascal face. This is a huge moment for him: He previously mentioned that no living person has seen him without his helmet since he swore the creed -- now Mayfeld and a bunch of (soon to be dead) Imperials have seen him.
However, Mando is probably beginning to doubt that rule, since fellow Mandalorian Bo-Katan Kryze revealed that he's part of a group of religious Mandalorian zealots, and she and her team were fine with taking off their helmets. Pascal is pretty excellent here too, with his portrayal giving us the right mix of discomfort and hesitancy.
Mayfeld nicknames him "Brown Eyes" upon seeing his face, in a nice callback to his request that Mando take off his helmet so they could see his eyes (back in season 1).
We learn that Mayfeld was traumatized by his role in Operation Cinder, a nasty Imperial attack carried out in the aftermath of Emperor Palpatine's "death" in Return of the Jedi. He left orders that satellites orbiting various Imperial planets cause electrical storms and other wild weather events to wreck those worlds -- like immediate, catastrophic climate change.
The reasoning was that the Empire and its enemies couldn't be allowed to outlive Palpatine, the big ol' narcissist.The real objective was to sow chaos and disrupt the formation of a replacement government, in addition to radicalizing the remaining Imperials before they were reformed into the First Order (paving the way for Palpatine's return). Much of this event took place in Battlefront 2's excellent story mode and Marvel's Shattered Empire comics.
Greasy Imperial officer Valin Hess (Richard Brake, whom you might remember shooting Bruce Wayne's parents in Batman Begins) was Mayfeld's commanding officer during Operation Cinder, and was seemingly in full support of the atrocities on the planet Burnin Konn -- which left Mayfeld's squad and thousands of civilians dead.
"You see, boys, everybody thinks they want freedom, but what they really want is order," says an unbearably smug Hess. "And when they realize that, they're gonna welcome us back with open arms."
Mayfeld wasn't about that -- presumably Cinder was the reason he left the Empire -- nor did he want to see the Imperials use the rydonium to continue the chaos, so he shoots Hess dead in the middle of the mess hall. Nice work. He and Mando have the location of Gideon's cruiser at that point, so all is well once they escape to the roof (where Boba picks them up in Slave I).
Boba mostly provides backup in this episode, but looks absolutely badass in his repainted armor. It's the cleanest we've ever seen the paintwork, and it's fitting much better than it did in the last episode.
Upon rescuing Mando and Mayfeld, he uses Slave I's seismic charges to blow up some pursuing TIE fighters. These charges make one of the coolest sounds in Star Wars -- you might remember Boba's father Jango trying to blow up Obi-Wan Kenobi with them in Attack of the Clones.
Mayfeld also blows up the Imperial facility by shooting the rydonium, cementing his character development. This clearly resonates with Cara, who decides to let him skip away to freedom instead going back to New Republic incarceration.
With the coordinates for Gideon's cruiser, Mando decides to send the Imperial (Giancarlo Esposito) an epic warning message that mirrors Gideon's threat from his first appearance.
"Moff Gideon. You have something I want. You may think you have some idea 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," Mando says via holo.
None at all. This is the first episode of the show without so much as a glimpse of Grogu, who's presumably still in a cell on Gideon's ship. It's a little weird not to see the little guy, but we'll presumably see a whole lot of him in next week's season 2 finale.
Join us for more Easter eggs and observations next Friday, after the season 2 finale of The Mandalorian season 2 hits Disney Plus.