The last half of this season of The Mandalorian has really picked up the pace compared with last season. “The Believer” not only amps up the action, but also really puts Mando through the moral and ethical wringer. This episode puts Rick Famuyiwa back in the director’s chair (he directed episodes two and six of season one) and brings back comedian Bill Burr as Mayfeld. Here are a few of my thoughts on “The Believer.”
This is the Way?
Din Djarin has always been orthodox when it comes to his Mandalorian beliefs. Never lets his face be seen, or is it never remove your helmet? Mayfeld puts the question to him when they’re en route disguised as Stormtroopers. Mando’s lack of response to the question shows the conflict he is facing. If you’ll recall, I mentioned in my review of “The Heiress” that I think Mando may be headed for a crisis of faith. Here it is.
Mando is finding himself increasingly likely to bend the rules of his code of ethics to accomplish what he sees to be the right move in the moment. He’s not the only one bending the rules either–Marshal Cara Dune admitted to bending a lot of rules to spring Mayfeld to help with this mission.
Even taking on the Republic badge hasn’t changed her mind about following her own code over the law. Was I going into this episode expecting to have a conversation about situational ethics in my review of a Star Wars TV show? Absolutely not. But when has The Mandalorian not been simultaneously the most classic Star Wars thing since classic Star Wars, while also doing its own thing?
And to answer Mayfeld’s question, I can’t find a clear answer on Wookieepedia about helmets either. Maybe Mando is more like him than he thinks–whatever helps you sleep at night.
Whatever Helps You Sleep at Night
The shift in Mayfeld’s character is interesting. In Star Wars, we tend to view characters in very black and white terms–light side and dark side. Empire = bad. Republic = good. In this episode, we get to see that perhaps not everyone who was part of the Empire is bad or in the case of Mayfeld, irredeemable.
The way we watch Mayfeld not only soften towards Mando’s plight but allow his full anger to come to the top is fascinating. The conversation about Operation: Cinder and the “Battle of Burnin Konn” really raises his hackles.
For the uninitiated, Operation: Cinder was a plan laid down by Emperor Palpatine prior to his death in Return of the Jedi, as a way of making certain that if he died, the entire Empire would go down with him. You can read more about it on Wookieepedia. Raise a toast to the Empire? I think not.
What helps Mayfeld sleep at night? Knowing that he helped to put down a secret imperial base.
Classic Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and a Few Other Items of Note
Again, hearkening back to OG Star Wars and another George Lucas project, the fight atop the transport with the pirates brings to mind the fight on Jabba’s ship in Return of the Jedi and the infamous tank chase scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
We’ve got lots of other interesting callbacks to the other Star Wars films in this episode as well. However, I think the best one is Boba Fett saying, “Let’s just say they might recognize my face.” I definitely cackled at that. Yep, he’s got a pretty recognizable face.
One thing I found interesting is the ultimatum issued by Mando to Moff Gideon. Mando seems to be the kind of guy who prefers to work in the shadows. Get in, do the job, get out.
The fact that he does not bristle when Cara says, “They’ve got his kid,” and then in his ultimatum, he says, “He means more to me than you will ever know,” tells you all you need to know about the anger and fury about to be unleashed on Moff Gideon. The last episode is coming and I fully expect to see a knock down drag out battle between Gideon and Mando–darksaber and beskar staff ablazin’.