Last week’s episode of Star Wars: The Mandalorian concluded with Grogu in the clutches of Moff Gideon. It also featured the destruction of Din Djarin’s beloved (and newly repaired) Razor Crest.
Thankfully, Djarin made two new allies in his quest to rescue Grogu from the Imperials: Fennec Shand and Boba Fett, who’s got a pretty sweet ride of his own. He’s also enlisted Cara Dune to help him bust Migs Mayfeld out of prison which seems like an exceptionally bad idea.
Also, he’s likely still a bit pissed about the Mandalorian leaving him to rot in a jail cell during Season 1.
Smooth Pick Up
The episode opens with Mayfeld and other prison inmates scrapping junked Imperial ships in the Karthon Chop Fields. As he’s carving up a TIE fighter, a security droid instructs him to stop working and go with Cara Dune, who’s remanded him into her custody. Mayfeld is understandably wary about a random Republic marshal showing up and ordering him to follow her onto a ship, but he complies after the security droid threatens to shock him.
Upon reaching the Slave-1, the former Imperial sharpshooter is greeted by Fennec Shand and Boba Fett (who has cleaned up his armor and is looking all types of fresh). The tension ratchets up significantly when Din Djarin appears and tells him that they’ll be utilizing his prior knowledge of Imperial codes for a mission.
Mayfeld briefly considers heading back into the scrap yard, but decides to follow Djarin & Co. aboard Fett’s ship.
Once they’re in the air, Djarin explains that they’re attempting to find Moff Gideon. Mayfeld initially refuses to help, but relents a bit when Dune informs him that Gideon has Baby Yoda. He then asks if helping them will earn his freedom, but Dune curtly shoots that down, instead offering him the chance to finish his 50-year sentence in more pleasant surroundings.
With all that posturing out of the way, Mayfeld explains that he’ll need an internal Imperial terminal to use his codes and find Gideon’s coordinates. The closest one he knows of is located within a secret Imperial mining facility on the planet Morak.
*Side Note: Like a lot of people, I honestly expected a large part of this episode to be about breaking Mayfeld out of prison. I certainly didn’t expect it to go this quickly or smoothly–nor did I foresee Cara Dune wielding her newfound bureaucratic power to accomplish it instead of her fists.
As they approach the planet’s surface, Fett does a scan that reveals the facility is mining/refining rhydonium, which is extremely volatile. It’s also guarded by a large military force. After landing on Morak and scouting the facility, they see that the rhydonium is being transported by A6 Juggernauts (which you might recognize from the Clone Wars as Turbo Tanks).
The groups’ first thought is to have Mayfeld and Dune take/switch out with the drivers from one of the tanks and infiltrate the base, but Mayfeld shoots down that quickly. Since Imperial remnant bases are run by Imperial Security Bureau, they would have Dune in their database as a member of the New Republic. Any scan that detected her genetic signature would expose them.
*Side Note: Really?
That also eliminates Shand (who’s a wanted by the ISB) and Fett, who points out that they might recognize his face (HA!). With Dune unwilling to trust a former Imperial not to turn on them (and that former Imperial not crazy about going in alone), the mission looks like it’s about to be aborted when Din Djarin volunteers for the covert op. Mayfeld points out that a dude in Mandalorian armor who refuses to remove his helmet might stick out a bit, but Djarin assures him that he has a plan.
The group waits for one of the Juggernauts to enter a tunnel and ambushes it. After Dune beats the hell out of both drivers, Mayfeld and Djarin change into their armor. Before they leave, Djarin asks Dune to make sure that she and the others take out the refinery’s rooftop guards and to watch over his armor.
As the pair drive away in their commandeered Juggernaut, Mayfeld takes off his helmet and babbles away while Djarin stoically keeps his on. Along the way, they notice the wreckage of other Juggernauts that appear to have exploded from the inside out. Their suspicions are confirmed when they hear a communication reminding the drivers to keep their speed slow and steady so that the rhydonium they’re transporting doesn’t react.
Later, they drive through a village of forlorn looking people. Mayfeld uses the opportunity to point out that whether it’s the Empire or the Republic, someone is always under the proverbial boot. When that fails to elicit a reaction, he ponders aloud whether all the Mandalorians who fought in their wars were really doing so of their own volition.
*Side Note: Mayfeld also says something about how both Mandalore and Alderaan “don’t exist anymore.” In Mandalore’s case, however, I’m fairly certain he means the culture/people and not the actual planet.
When Mayfeld tries to imply that both of them are cut from the same survivor cloth, however, that’s enough to get Djarin to retort that they’re nothing alike. Mayfeld counters by pointing out that they both have rules they follow until things get dicey–like Djarin removing his helmet to wear an Imperial one. As far as he’s concerned, everyone’s got their breaking points. What matters is if you can live your life in a way that allows you to go to sleep at night.
Before things can get any more awkward, the radio is filled with a flurry of distress calls from two other Juggernauts being attacked by pirates. Their frantic pleas for help are followed by two nearby (and very large) explosions.
After one of the Imperial comms officers tells Mayfeld and Djarin’s Juggernaut to maintain their course and “use caution,” a group of pirates on a repulsorlift craft moves beside them and begins boarding it. Djarin leans out the window and starts shooting, which Mayfeld (justifiably) rebukes him for doing near a large quantity of explosive minerals.
Undeterred, the Mandalorian reenters the vehicle, pops up through the roof hatch, and shoots one of the pirates before he can stick a detonator on the rhydonium. The detonator flies out of the dead pirate’s hand behind him, destroying the repulsorlift craft and his fellow marauders.
*Side Note: I’m not sure blowing up everything without taking any plunder can be considered good pirating. I guess these guys could be freedom fighters attempting to take down the Empire, but that would make the people Djarin is killing (and is about to kill a lot more of) the good guys…so yeah, let’s just go with them being really bad pirates.
Just when it appears that the threat has been neutralized, even more pirate ships pull up behind the tank. As if that weren’t bad enough, the detonator explosion from before caused the rhydonium to get froggy, forcing Mayfeld to slow down.
Djarin climbs out on top of the Juggernaut and begins shooting the new wave of pirates. He manages to take one down before his blaster stops working (of course), forcing him into some glorious melee combat coupled with shots of Mayfeld running over their flailing adversaries.
As more pirate crafts close in, Djarin implores Mayfeld to drive faster. He does for a little bit, but this quickly causes the rhydonium to overheat. After the tank is forced to slow down, another wave of
cannon fodder pirates jump on board. One of them does manages to get the detonator planted this time, but Djarin fights everyone else off like a boss before picking it up and throwing it back, causing the other ships to explode.
The Mandalorian barely has time to recover when another huge wave of pirate crafts fall in behind them. The situation is made even worse when Mayfeld is forced to slow down to cross a bridge into the facility, leaving them wide open to an attack.
As Djarin gears up to make a last stand, laser fire rains down from two TIE fighters soaring overhead. The few remaining pirates who were not incinerated are quickly taken down by a host of stormtroopers and shoretroopers. Djarin warily climbs back into the tank, which rolls into the facility surrounded by cheering Imperial soldiers.
*Side Note: How weird is it to feel excitement/relief at the sight of Imperial forces?
Two Gentlemen, One Officer
After uncomfortably basking in the glow of Imperial adulation, Mayfeld and Djarin begin their search for a terminal. Mayfeld correctly deduces that the one in this facility is located in the officer’s mess hall. Unfortunately, one of the officers dining there at that moment happens to be Valin Hess, who he used to serve under during his time in the Imperial military.
After Mayfeld continually refuses to go in, Djarin takes the datastick from him and decides to get the information himself. Unfortunately, this requires a facial scan, which can be a bit of a problem for someone who refuses to take off their helmet. Despite Mayfeld directly warning him about this, Djarin STILL tries to take the scan with his helmet on, causing the machine to emit a loud error warning and drawing the attention of everyone in the room–particularly Hess.
Thankfully, Djarin decides to stop being an idiot and takes off his helmet, allowing the machine to scan his face and giving him access.
Side Note: What’s the point of a facial scanner if it allows people who are not in its database to access whatever information it’s supposed to be protecting?
He manages to get Gideon’s information downloaded onto the datastick, but is immediately summoned by Hess to explain himself. Just when it appears that the officer has him stumped/cornered, Mayfeld walks in and bails Djarin out, explaining that his “superior officer” is hard of hearing due to a mission where his vessel lost air pressure.
When Hess asks for Djarin’s name, Mayfeld says that they simply call him “Brown Eyes” (HA!) before explaining that they need to leave and fill out their TPS reports (HAHAHAHA!). Before they can do so, the officer insists that they stay and celebrate their successful delivery of the rhydonium with a drink.
After sitting down, Hess asks the pair what they should toast to. Mayfeld suggests Operation Cinder, a military operation designed by Emperor Palpatine to wipe out any remaining Imperial planets if he died (which most people in the Star Wars universe and the real world assumed he did in Return of the Jedi). In Palpatine’s mind, an empire that could not protect him did not deserve to continue, and thus needed to be eliminated/cleansed. It was also a means to punish those who’d failed him while culling all but the strongest of the Empire’s remaining forces, which would then be used to begin building The First Order we saw during the Sequel Trilogy.
Yes, it’s as horrifically narcissistic as it sounds.
But I digress…Mayfeld reveals that he was actually part of Operation Cinder during a particularly bloody battle in which thousands of his fellow soldiers were killed along with countless civilians and families. Djarin tries to subtly indicate that Mayfeld should shut up, but he keeps going, lamenting all the people on both sides who essentially died for nothing.
Hess counters by saying that people’s desire to be ruled will soon have them running back into the arms of the newly restored Empire. He also adds that the rhydonium they delivered is going to help them create weapons that will do even more damage than what they accomplished during Operation Cinder.
When Hess attempts to make a toast to the Empire, a surprisingly emotional Mayfeld responds by shooting his former commanding officer in the chest (!).
Both Djarin and the troopers around are stunned by what they’ve just witnessed. Mayfeld uses the opportunity to prove why he was a sharpshooter and guns a bunch of them down. He then hands the Mandalorian a helmet and assures him that as far as anyone will ever know, he never saw his face.
After more troopers and officers begin pouring into the mess hall, the pair take out the first wave before kicking out a vented window and climbing onto a ledge overlooking the facility’s dam. The soldiers attempt to pursue them, but are taken out by some badass sniper work courtesy of Shand and Dune. Mayfeld and Djarin then begin climbing to the facility’s roof while Shand takes out the anti-aircraft gunners, allowing Boba Fett to drop the Slave-1 in and pick them up.
As they’re flying away, Mayfeld asks Djarin to hand him one of the ship’s cycler rifles, which he uses to shoot a parked Juggernaut filled with rhydonium. As the base goes up in flames, he explains that this was what he needed to do so he could sleep at night.
Two TIE fighters attempt a counter attack against the Slave-1, but Fett easily takes them out with one of the coolest weapons in the entire Star Wars franchise.
After everyone has regrouped, Dune compliments Mayfeld on his shooting, both the aim and the intent. She then sarcastically laments his death during the explosion at the mining facility before letting him go free.
Later, the Mandalorian uploads a message to Moff Gideon that mirrors the same speech he gave back in Chapter 7. This time, however, it’s not coming from an evil man demanding to take possession of a child he wants to conduct experiments on.
It’s a father coming to get his son.
You gotta love seeing Moff Gideon looked scared for once. It’s one of many fantastic moments from an episode that somehow managed to punch way out of its weight class.
From a narrative standpoint, there was a lot of minor and not-so-minor issues you could pick apart:
- Mayfeld being the Imperial they chose/needed for this mission in the first place.
- An Imperial base that has the tech to scan for genetic codes, but not recognize when there’s an imposter.
- A face scanner that lets random people access highly sensitive information.
- Pirates that don’t actually plunder anything.
- Din Djarin’s blaster conveniently malfunctioning.
- Mayfeld’s former commanding officer conveniently being at the mining facility.
But damn if it still wasn’t a lot of fun. Much of the credit for that goes to director Rick Famuyiwa, who orchestrated some incredible action sequences.
The other major factor…and I can’t believe I’m about to say this…was Bill Burr’s performance as Mayfeld. The guy isn’t going to win an Emmy any time soon, but he brought a surprising amount of weight and depth to a character that I never expected to like so much. He also made Mayfeld’s redemptive arc feel organic and believable.
Gina Carano was also very good. I know a lot of us aren’t happy about some of her political and anti-mask statements, but there’s no denying that she’s noticeably improved as an actress since the first time we saw her.
Also, those scenes with her and Fennec Shand sniping Imperial troopers was all types of great. As ridiculous as it was for Shand to survive getting shot in the gut, I’m so glad we’re getting to see Ming-Na Wen get such an expanded and badass role.
Another member of the cast who deserves a lot of credit is Richard Brake as Officer Vallen Hess. Much like Titus Welliver’s work in Chapter 11, Hess managed to make his character 10X more terrifying in a fraction of the time the Sequel Trilogy gave General Hux to look like an impotent moron.
We also got a good few minutes of the Mandalorian without his helmet on to remind us what a great actor Pedro Pascal is. Add in more Temuera Morrison goodness as Boba Fett (along with his spiffed up armor) and this crew put on one heck of an enjoyable performance.
It’s also worth noting that for all my nitpicks about the plot, the overall story was still very good. What could have been a routine heist movie with ridiculous character leaps ended up being a viscerally thrilling adventure with a surprising amount of heart. You didn’t didn’t need to be a huge fan of Star Wars lore to leap out of your seat and yell a few times.
Speaking of Star Wars mythology, there’s no big history lesson this week since we already covered Operation Cinder in the recap. Use the extra study time to rest and get ready for what promises to be a crazy season finale on December 18.
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