“The Mandalorian” is back for another adventurous episode, “The Prisoner,” packed with more guest stars than you can shake a Twi’lek’s lekku at.
We begin with Mando pulling into a space station run by Ran, a gangster he used to run with, and brilliantly played by Mark Boone Jr., who you may recognize from “Batman Begins.” Ran is putting together a crew to spring an associate of his who got captured by the New Republic. The group of scum and villainy is helmed by Mayfield, expertly played by comedian Bill Burr. It includes a purple Twi’lek named Xi’an, played by “Harry Potter” and “Game of Thrones” alum Natalia Tena, and a giant horned Devaronian named Burg, played by Clancy Brown of “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Shawshank Redemption,” and previous stints in the Star Wars universe as a voice actor on “Rebels” and “The Clone Wars.” Finally, the group is rounded out with Zero, a droid Mando is immediately wary of, played by comedian, actor, and director Richard Ayoade.
The episode also has an all-star crew behind the cameras. It was directed by Rick Famuyiwa, who directed episode two, “The Child.” “The Prisoner” was written by Christopher Yost, who wrote “Thor: Ragnarok” and multiple episodes of “Star Wars: Rebels” with Dave Filoni.
The Rescue Mission
Once Mando agrees to the job, Ran and Mayfield brief him on the rescue mission. The target is being held aboard a New Republic prison ship, manned by droids. Mando, Mayfield, Burg, and Xi’an will break into the ship and rescue the prisoner while Zero serves as the getaway driver on Mando’s ship, the Razor Crest. In their discussion of why they need to use the Crest, we find out why an old Clone Wars era ship is so valuable these days: It’s “off the grid” of both the old Imperial records and the New Republic. It’s essentially a ghost ship that doesn’t register on government scanners. Handy, especially for a bounty hunter on the run from the entire galaxy.
The crew boards the Crest, and we get a great discussion between Mayfield, Xi’an, and Burg about Mando. Mayfield asks if he’s really as good a warrior as Mandalorians were supposed to be. Then Burg asks, if they’re such great warriors, why are they all dead? Burr’s Mayfield delivers one of the best lines of the series when he asks if Mando is really a Gungan under that helmet. He says, “Is that why yousa don’t wanna show your face?” in his best Jar Jar Binks impression.
A scuffle between Mando and Burg occurs when Burg tries to remove his helmet, and it reveals Baby Yoda, who has been hiding this whole time in a berth on the ship. What’s really interesting is that no one on the ship has any idea what it is. Mayfield asks if Xi’an and Mando “made it,” one of the many times this episode implies they had a romantic relationship in the past. This exchange is amazing because it seems Yoda’s species isn’t just a mystery to us Star Wars watchers and readers, but also to those characters living within that universe. As we’ve seen repeatedly throughout this show, no one seems to know what Baby Yoda is. Mayfield asks if it is Mando’s pet. He replies, “Something like that.”
Horror Scene in ‘The Mandalorian’
Zero then drops the ship out of hyperspace and at their destination. They dock on the shiny new prison ship, and as they begin exploring and make their way to the control room, we see hints of characters behind the bars. At one point, they encounter a group of security droids. In a display of his skill and brutality toward machines, Mando destroys the lot of them swiftly and thoroughly as the rest of the group watches.
They break into the main control room to find a human manning the controls, a Republic soldier named Davan, played by Matt Lanter, another big guest star who, among many other roles, voiced Anakin Skywalker on “The Clone Wars.” The group has a standoff with Davan wherein the Mandalorian tries to keep everyone from killing the innocent guard, but to no avail. Xi’an kills him with the throw of a knife, but not before he pushes a button on his tracking beacon that begins a countdown before a New Republic response team is sent to destroy them. Clock ticking, the group hurries to the cell to find Qin, another purple Twi’lek and brother of Xi’an, played by Ismael Cruz Cordova, whom you may know from “Ray Donovan” or last year’s “Mary Queen of Scots.” When they bust out Qin, Burg throws Mando in the cell, and they seal him in, leaving with their friend. Of course, Mando isn’t one to rot in a jail cell while some dirtbags take off with his ship and Baby Yoda, so he uses his grapple to snag a passing droid, rip off his arm, blast off his head, and use the terminal port in his arm to spring him out of the cell.
As the crew makes its way back to the Razor Crest, Mando goes to the control room where he cuts off communication with Zero and begins separating the crew by sealing off bulkhead doors between them. Now split up, Xi’an and Burg head for the control room to kill Mando while Qin and Mayfield try to escape. Burg is the first to find Mando, and the Devaronian proves quite difficult to kill. Even the flamethrower does not deter the beast. It takes not one but two blast doors closed on him to eliminate the group’s muscle.
Mando then encounters Xi’an in a hallway, and after a short skirmish, he takes her out. Finally, he hunts down Mayfield in a scene Rick Famuyiwa directs masterfully. In a dark hallway lit only by the interment flashing of a strobe light, Mando stalks Mayfield. It’s straight out of a horror flick and expertly done. When Mayfield realizes he’s been hunted, he screams, and the camera cuts away.
The Razor Crest Escape
Now Mando heads back to the docking port where he finds Qin, who convinces him not to kill him and instead to return him unharmed to Ran so he can get paid. As they board the Razor Crest, we find Zero facing off with Baby Yoda, who has been stalking the droid throughout the ship. Zero finally corners him in his berth and is about to shoot him, as Baby Yoda raises his hand, presumably to deflect the blaster bolt with The Force, but is saved by Mando blowing the droid’s head off.
Our titular hero and his bounty now return to Ran’s space station. Ran asks Mando where the rest of the crew is, and he reminds him “no questions.” We see that in fact he didn’t kill any of them, but they’re instead all locked together in a cell on the ship, surely to be sent to a New Republic prison. It seems Burg is missing his horns, severed by a blast door to the head.
Mando takes his payment for the job and blasts off. Just as he’s leaving, Ran orders his gunship to kill him. Before it can leave the hangar, however, three X-wings drop out of hyperspace, and we see that Mando left Ran and Qin a present, the New Republic homing beacon. The X-wings — piloted by our last group of guest stars, “Mandalorian” directors Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow, and Rick Famuyiwa — make quick work of the station, destroying it, the gunship, Qin, and Ran as the Razor Crest escapes into next week’s adventure.
This episode was part prison-break movie, part horror flick, and one of the best yet in the young series. Famuyiwa exquisitely directed it from Yost’s fantastic script. As we head toward the conclusion of the show’s first season, next week’s episode will debut on Wednesday instead of Friday, as that’s the day the final movie of the Skywalker saga hits theaters. The show is supposedly going to have a special preview for the upcoming movie and may somehow tie into J.J. Abrams’ finale of the nine-movie series.
‘The Mandalorian’ Episode Six Easter Eggs
This episode is bursting at the seams with great references for devoted Star Wars fans.
1. When Ran first introduces Mando to Mayfield, he says he was an “Imperial sharpshooter,” and Mando says, “That’s not saying much,” in reference to Imperial soldiers’ terrible reputation for their accuracy. Mayfield responds, “I wasn’t a stormtrooper, wiseass.” This is a great inside joke about the fact that most stormtroopers couldn’t hit the broadside of a Dewback if their lives depended on it.
2. Burg is a Devaronian, a character first seen in the famous cantina scene in the original Star Wars movie of 1977. These creatures have since appeared in “The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Rebels.” The males of the species have horns and are bald, while the females have hair, and no horns.
3. Xi’an and her brother are Twi’leks, one of the more common races in Star Wars stories. They were all over the original trilogy and the prequels. A Twi’lek was also a main character in “Star Wars: Rebels.”
4. Zero, the droid member of the crew, is likely an homage to another murderous droid with a similar name, 0-0-0 (Triple Zero), the maniacal droid sidekick to Dr. Aphra in the Star Wars comic series. More like a possessed C-3PO, the murderous Triple Zero is a hilarious addition to one of the best comic series in Star Wars publishing. Here’s hoping Dr. Aphra gets her own Disney+ series soon.
5. When Mayfield gets a look at Mando’s ship, he says he “can’t believe it can still fly. It looks like a Canto Bight slot machine.” That’s a reference to the casino planet Finn and Rose visit in the controversial “The Last Jedi” movie from Rian Johnson.
6. On the Razor Crest, the crew gets into a discussion trying to understand Mando, and they make the aforementioned crack that if Mandalorians are such great warriors, why are they all dead. This is a great callback to some of the episodes Yost wrote in “Star Wars: Rebels,” which showed a battle between the Empire and Mandalore, wherein stormtroopers used a weapon made to target Beskar, the metal that makes up Mandalorian armor, to wipe out hundreds of the otherwise blaster-proof warriors at a time. The Empire slaughtered many Mandalorians before some Rebel allies were able to destroy the weapons, then rally their people to kick the Empire off their planet. Now it seems those Mandalorians who are left have gone into hiding, leaving many in the Star Wars galaxy to believe they’re all dead.
7. As the crew explore the prison ship, they come across many Star Wars aliens locked away for transport. One of those prisoners is an Ardennian, the same species as Rio Durant, the pilot of Tobias Beckett’s crew in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau played Rio in “Solo.”
8. Also reminiscent of “Solo” is the way Zero flies Mando’s Razor Crest. In “Solo,” L3-37 is Lando’s co-pilot and navigator on the Falcon before dying and being merged with the ship’s computer during the climactic battle.
9. In another reference to “Solo,” when Xi’an is talking about her early days with Mando, she says, “I know who you really are.” Qi’ra says the same line to a young Han Solo in “Solo.”
10. The droids that mostly man the prison ship resemble the LOKI mechs from the Mass Effect game series. First introduced in Mass Effect 2, mechs were used for security after the first attack on the Citadel caused mass fatalities. These droids, along with the ubiquitous “mouse droid,” roam the prison ship, keeping the tenets in order on their journey. The entire episode is actually similar to several missions throughout the Mass Effect games, wherein you must clear a similar ship and rescue someone.
11. Davan, the New Republic guard, is wearing a helmet similar to the Rebel trooper helmets first seen in the opening shots of the original Star Wars in 1977. The Mandalorian’s crew refers to the soldier as an egg head — because the helmet looks an awful lot like a giant egg on his head.