The Mandalorian’s penultimate Season 2 episode, called “Chapter 15: The Believer,” doesn’t really soar to the same heights as last week’s fantastic episode. Sure, there’s a lot of great action and tense moments between Mando and the Empire, but it’s somewhat tedious to get through. The gift it does give is that of Pedro Pascal’s face, which is a major bonus. As for the episode itself, it acts more as a lackluster pause than as an exciting buildup ahead of the Season 2 finale. Even Boba Fett and Fennec have little to do, stepping aside so that the focus falls on Mayfeld (Bill Burr), a returning Season 1 character who isn’t as interesting as the series would like us to believe.
In the wake of Grogu’s kidnapping, Mando calls upon Cara Dune to recruit Mayfeld, a prisoner of the New Republic. She’s a marshal now and thus has the power to break the rules and get away with it. Yay? The Star Wars franchise still has a few kinks to work out regarding its depictions of authority (re: which ones are deemed acceptable and which aren’t), but that’s a discussion for another time. The mission, which Mayfeld has no choice but to accept, is to get the coordinates of Moff Gideon’s ship. For that to happen, however, the crew needs Mayfeld, a former Imperial sharpshooter, to infiltrate the Empire’s secret mining hub on the planet Morak.
Sounds easy enough, right? While Mando does get his hands on the information required to find Gideon, his beliefs are challenged by Mayfeld when he makes the decision to remove his helmet and armor to don the uniform of a stormtrooper. Is it just about the helmet or is it that Din Djarin can never show his face? These questions would have been more interesting if Mando had the chance to speak up about it. Otherwise, it’s Mayfeld doing the talking (and making generalizations) without the Mandalorian getting a say in the conversation.
The Mandalorian ventured into shaky territory this week by having Din Djarin battling a slew of pirates, presumably natives of Morak, who were intent on destroying the Empire’s stash of rhydonium, a highly explosive fuel the fascist regime was mining for future use. On the surface, the scene was a high-octane action sequence that had impressive stunt choreography and a great chase segment. However, we’re meant to believe that Mando is in the right here by taking out these pesky pirates when they were probably doing everyone a favor by blowing up the rhydonium before it fell into the hands of the Empire. Mando, so desperate to get one step closer to finding Grogu, enters into an unnecessary battle and makes the pirates look like the bad guys.
Meanwhile, Mayfeld is all like “never thought I’d be happy to see stormtroopers.” Why are the pirates in the wrong in this situation? Isn’t it a good thing to get rid of the rhydonium? It’s just an odd comment to say considering Mayfeld’s apparent issues with the Empire. He is offered leniency and a chance at redemption because he decided to help the good guys and has had a change of heart regarding his compliance with the Empire’s orders, but the pirates and the other planet’s citizens (all of whom seem to be Asian) don’t even get to speak. It’s the Tusken Raiders all over again — they’re considered a nuisance to Cobb Vanth, when in fact he and the townspeople are technically the colonizers on Tatooine.
Star Wars has a strange relationship with its messaging. Fascism, it’s bad, but let’s give those guys (be they current or former members of the Empire) dialogue anyway while the ones whose lands have been invaded don’t get a say. Thanks to Mayfeld, the episode also insinuates that everyone is somehow the same — be it Mandalorians, the people of Morak, the Empire — because they all think they’re doing the right thing. However, it’s a muddled message that (at least in part) attempts to defend the acts of those in power (currently the New Republic and remnants of the Empire). Mayfeld pretty much states that the Mandalorians had no choice but to fight back for their freedom. How can that be at all compared to the crimes and power wielded by the Empire? It’s an argument that I can’t take with any serious consideration considering that it’s coming from Mayfeld.
(As an aside, it’s concerning that, after the latest trilogy, stormtroopers are back to being mindless soldiers anyone can shoot at. The films did very little with Finn’s stormtrooper backstory and it’s easy to forget they are kidnapped and brainwashed children trained to follow the Empire’s orders. Maybe THAT should be its own show, Lucasfilm!)
“The Believer” ends with Cara Dune and Mando letting Mayfeld go. The final shot is of Moff Gideon receiving a very non-threatening message from Din Djarin. “I love Grogu SO MUCH and that’s why you should fear me” is basically what he said. Of course, the sentiment is much appreciated. Grogu is, after all, Mando’s kid, and it’s nice to hear in no uncertain terms how much he loves him. But man, if that message was supposed to have Gideon (a guy with immense power, an entire fleet, and the Darksaber at his disposal) shaking in his boots, then I’m not sure that it had the desired effect.
Header Image Source: Lucasfilm