(warning: spoilers ahead)
This week’s episode of “The Mandalorian” was expertly written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, and just as the previous episode he directed, it had a very “video game” feel to it. Last season, Rick’s episode was about Mando scaling the Jawa Sandcrawler to get the parts of his ship back. This time around, Mando and company have to infiltrate an Imperial base in order to find the location of Grogu.
Needing additional assistance for this particular mission, New Republic Marshall Cara Dune springs one of Mando’s old enemies from last season: Migs Mayfeld, played by comedian Bill Burr. The former Imperial sharpshooter is serving a 50-year sentence, and as part of his punishment for his actions in “Chapter Six: The Prisoner,” is forced to cut apart old TIE Fighters in a scrap yard.
As a former Imperial, Mayfeld knows how to use their technology and protocols to find the location of Moff Gideon’s cruiser, and thus, Grogu. Mayfeld needs access from an internal Imperial terminal, however, and the only one he knows of is on the forest-filled planet Morak, where they refine volatile starship fuel.
In order to infiltrate the base, Mando and Mayfeld take out two drivers of a wheeled transport that looks an awful lot like a repurposed Clone Turbo Tank from the Prequels, one of the few wheeled vehicles you see in the “Star Wars” universe. The hitch? In order to get the information, our heroes will have to submit to a facial recognition scan, which rules out Cara Dune, Fennec Shand, and Boba Fett, who reminds them why it can’t be him, “Let’s just say, they might recognize my face.”
So, Mando and Mayfeld don tank trooper armor and drive their wheeled transport full of highly explosive ship fuel through the jungle to the Imperial base. Before long, however, they’re attacked by pirates who want to kick them off of their planet by blowing up the tankers. Mando has to decamp to the fuel truck’s roof to fight off the pirates while Mayfeld drives fast enough to evade them, but not so fast that he’ll upset the unstable fuel.
What follows is a fantastic action sequence full of great fight scenes, and terrific tension. As they’re nearing the refinery, a large band of pirates wielding explosives approaches the transport, and it looks like our heroes are done for until a group of TIE fighters screech in from the sky and destroy the marauders.
Into the Belly of the Beast
Upon reaching their destination, Mando and Mayfeld are greeted by dozens of Stormtroopers, Shoretroopers and Imperial officers. Their mission now switches to infiltrating the officer’s mess hall containing the terminal they need. Unfortunately, waiting for them inside is Mayfeld’s old commanding officer, raising concerns that he’ll be recognized. Instead, Mando heads into the mess, removes his helmet, and uses the facial scan to gain access to the location of Moff Gideon’s ship.
Almost in the clear, Mayfeld’s old boss decides to harass Mando, asking him what his operating number is. This dumbfounds our bounty hunter — which is a big problem. Every Stormtrooper, driver, and Imperial grunt is assigned an operating number during their training that follows them throughout their career. Mando, of course, doesn’t know this and has no idea how to respond. Mayfeld jumps in to save him, but the officer ropes the duo into drinks at his nearby table to celebrate the Empire.
Here we get some excellent insight into why Mayfeld is no longer the Imperial sharpshooter he once was. He describes a mission that was part of Operation: Cinder that went awry, cost the lives of 10,000 men, and destroyed a planet’s population. The officer cheers that mission, featured in the “Star Wars: Battlefront II” video game, and the broader work of the Imperial Remnant. This causes all the guilt and anger Mayfeld’s been holding inside of him to finally erupt. He pulls out his blaster and shoots his former officer point-blank in the middle of the mess hall. The duo now has to escape a facility crawling with enemy troopers all trying to kill them.
As Mando and Mayfeld bust out a window on the refinery and try to climb to the roof, they’re immediately swarmed by Shoretroopers and Stormtroopers giving chase. Thankfully, Shand and Dune are outside in a sniper perch providing overwatch support and easily pick-off the Imperials chasing our heroes. After making it to the roof, they’re picked up by Boba Fett in Slave I, but not before two TIE fighters pursue the ship into the atmosphere.
Then, much to our pleasure, we’re reminded just how well armed Boba Fett’s ship is. The bounty hunter releases a concussion charge that detonates and obliterates the chasing TIEs. Grabbing a rifle, we see Mayfeld’s sharpshooting skills in action as he snipes the fuel stored at the Imperial facility, blowing up the whole place, and insuring him a good night’s sleep at last.
As a reward for helping them escape, Dune and Mando report to the New Republic that Mayfeld died in the explosion so that he can go free and not have to return to his 50-year prison sentence. He’s let loose on Morak to find his own way home.
As the episode closes, Mando sends Moff Gideon a message on his cruiser using the same words that Gideon used at the close of last season: “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.”
The Importance of Family
Truly, this episode could be straight out of a “Star Wars” video game. In fact, it’s reminiscent of a level in “Jedi: Fallen Order,” only featuring a Mandalorian as the main character instead of an ex-Jedi. What’s great about this script though is how well Famuyiwa builds the tension, layer upon layer, as we move through the plot. He shows that Mando is willing to do anything, including even compromising “The Way,” in order to get Grogu back.
When we first met Mando in season one, he made a point to never, ever remove his helmet in the presence of someone else — it’s a central tenant of the creed that he has lived by since being rescued by the Mandalorians as a child.
As he’s progressed on his journey, however, Mando has learned that “The Way” is a lot more complex than he realized. It turns out that he was raised by a sect of Mandalorians who adhere to the ancient ways of their culture, and that most fellow Mandalorians do not believe in always keeping their helmet on. In order to save Grogu, he has to compromise that creed by removing his helmet in public for the first time in decades.
What Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and Rick Famuyiwa show in this episode is that family isn’t always just those people you’re born into. Family is also those loved ones whom you meet along the way, and when push comes to shove, Mando will do whatever it takes to save his family. Next week we’ll get the grand finale of this second season of “The Mandalorian,” which will no doubt feature a fantastic showdown between Mando’s crew and Moff Gideon.