*** Be warned that FULL SPOILERS ARE AHEAD, so if you haven’t watched this episode, don’t read this article. Trust me, you want to go into this one without spoilers. ***
The penultimate chapter of the second season of The Mandalorian is here, and it sets up what figures to be an absolutely epic finale next week!
But this episode also gave us a deeper look at Din Djarin in some pretty significant ways. Let’s dive in to the review for this week’s episode, Chapter 15, “The Believer.”
Needing to find Moff Gideon’s location, Din Djarin and his crew turn to an unexpected ally: Mayfeld, an ex-Imperial serving time at the Karthon Chop Fields. New Republic Marshal Cara Dune, working with Djarin, shows up and frees Mayfeld for a mysterious mission, and he is surprised to see Mando when they arrive back at the Slave I. The crew leaves the planet, and Djarin explains that he needs Mayfeld’s help locating Moff Gideon’s cruiser. Mayfeld says he can only get that information via an Imperial terminal and suggests they go to Morak, the site of a secret Imperial mining facility.
On Morak, the crew devises a plan, but it quickly becomes apparent that Cara Dune, Boba Fett, and Fennec Shand would all be recognized by the Empire. Not wanting to let Mayfeld go alone on the mission, Djarin volunteers himself, though it is pointed out that his armor would give him away instantly. He says he’ll go, but that he won’t show his face. They commandeer an Imperial transport carrying the highly volatile rhydonium, and Djarin and Mayfeld don the armor of the Imperial transport pilots. They proceed ahead toward the base, driving the vehicle, while Mayfeld questions Mando about where the lines lie: is it he can’t remove his helmet, or just can’t show his face? Did he just cross one of his lines? Mayfeld also spends time discussing the Empire and how to civilians – and Mandalorians – it doesn’t really matter who is in charge.
But that discussion is cut short by pirates attacking other transports, resulting in the rhydonium exploding. They soon target their transport too. Djarin moves to the top of the vehicle, fighting off several waves of pirates who are trying to plant thermal detonators on the explosive material. He manages to fight them off with skill, though takes more hits without his beskar armor. At the last minute, Imperial reinforcements arrive in the form of TIE Fighters and ground forces, safely escorting the transport into the base as other troopers salute them and celebrate.
Once inside, the two locate a terminal, but Mayfeld spots his former commander and doesn’t want to take the chance of being spotted. So Djarin takes the code cylinder and goes for it. The terminal only works once it scans your face, so Djarin removes his helmet and accesses the material, finding the location of Moff Gideon’s cruiser. But he is then approached by Mayfeld’s old commander, who questions him. Just when it looks like he’ll be exposed, Mayfeld approaches and explains the situation. The commander invites them for a drink, and while there he and Mayfeld exchange words about the Empire. Mayfeld’s anger slowly builds as he remembers the commander ordering civilians killed during Operation: Cinder, and culminates as Mayfeld pulls his gun and kills the commander.
This forces him and Mando into a firefight to escape, as they go through a window onto a ledge. From there, Cara Dune and Fennec Shand, who are perched with sniper rifles on a ledge, are able to pick off the troopers in pursuit, while Boba Fett fires up Slave I and picks up Djarin and Mayfeld from the top of the facility. As they leave, Mayfeld uses a rifle to shoot the rhydonium, exploding the base. But TIE Fighters quickly pursue the ship, and Fett drops a seismic charge to take care of them.
With the crew all reunited, and Mando back in his beskar armor, Cara Dune mentions that she saw what Mayfeld did in blowing up the base and says that the prisoner was killed in the explosion, letting him go free. She then turns to Mando and asks what their next move is. We see the Slave I take off, and the we cut to Moff Gideon’s cruiser. Gideon gets a holographic message from Mando, repeating the same lines that Gideon used about the Child at the end of season one. “He means more to me than you will ever know,” Mando concludes.
This episode didn’t really have any of the huge reveals that we’ve gotten in a number of episodes this season, but it most definitely was NOT filler, as it was probably the most poignant, thought-provoking episode of the season and particularly showed some remarkable development and character growth for Din Djarin.
Obviously the big thing was that for the first time all series, Djarin ditched his armor. That initially doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but the first 14 episodes of this show served to highlight just how important this armor is to Djarin’s identity. We know that he has never let someone else see him without his helmet, and the only exception to that was when IG-11 removed the helmet to save his life. The armor is part of his creed, part of his lifestyle and religion. Others want it for its value, but Mando will never part with it.
Except, it turns out, for Grogu.
This moment didn’t come out of nowhere, however. It has been set up all season, as Djarin has been coming to learn that being a Mandalorian is about much more than armor. He met Cobb Vanth in Chapter 9, a non-Mandalorian wearing Mandalorian armor whom Djarin nonetheless came to respect. In Chapter 10, he was challenged by frog lady about how Mandalorians honor their word – again, it’s about more than armor. In Chapter 11, he met other Mandalorians who actually removed their helmets, revealing that Djarin was a part of a strict sect. In Chapter 14, he met Boba Fett, whose father was a foundling like Djarin. This whole season, Djarin has been confronted with the fact that there’s more to being a Mandalorian than the armor, no matter how important that is.
And so here, he ditches the armor, but still refuses to show his face. Mayfeld pokes at this a bit, asking where Mando’s line is. Previously, it had been that Mando would never remove his helmet, but now it’s just that he can’t show his face? Mayfeld points out that Mando is just like him, willing to cross lines when he’s desperate. And you know what? He’s actually right! But the audience knows what Mayfeld doesn’t, and we’ve seen Djarin come face-to-face (pun intended) with these things in previous episodes. I choose to believe that this is not just a sign of Mando’s desperation (though it certainly is that, too) but also how he’s learning and growing into a better person and a better Mandalorian. But then, once inside the facility, we see what is really driving all of this: Mando’s desire to get the kid back. He’s willing even to remove his helmet in front of other people to access the information that he needs. Again, this is a testament to how well the show has done at building it up, because the moment where Djarin simply takes off his helmet is a huge, emotional moment showing his growth and his care for Grogu. It’s beautiful, and it’s a testament to great storytelling and setup. I wonder if we’ll see this theme come up again next week. Pedro Pascal was awesome all throughout the episode; this might be his best performance on the show so far.
Switching gears a bit to Mayfeld, however, I thought Bill Burr was fantastic in this one too. I really didn’t like the character when we saw him in Chapter 6 last season, but I thought he was great here. Again, it’s great setup paying off here, and Burr’s performance really helped sell it, but it was really Mayfeld that added to so much of the tension in this episode. As the audience, we’re kinda expecting him to double-cross Mando again, and Burr plays it to where we’re never quite comfortable that he won’t. But he also is such a great foil for the stoic Djarin, and his dialogue scenes in the transport and at the table with the Imperial commander are superb. And through all of this, we come to see a different side of Mayfeld: we see a person who is scarred from his experiences in war, having seen civilians murdered all for the Imperial cause, and who hates the Empire for it. It really sheds a lot of light on who he is as a character. The conversation with the Imperial commander was packed with tension, and you could literally see Mayfeld’s anger rising without him even saying a thing. We got an Operation: Cinder name-drop too, which was cool!
But it was the conversation that Mayfeld had with Mando (ok, really with himself) in the transport that is most memorable, for it’s the most poignant. As they drive by civilians, Mayfeld remarks that it doesn’t matter to them whether it’s the Empire or the New Republic, and that’s true for many worlds – including Mandalore. He points out that people see things differently just depending on where they’re born, mentioning both Alderaan and Mandalore. Coincidentally, those are the worlds that hold significance to Cara Dune and Din Djarin, but it’s also notable that Mayfeld speaks of both of them in the past tense, another indication of the devastation that has befallen Mandalore. But Mayfeld talks about how they’re all the same, both willing to cross lines when pushed. He talks about how for most people in the galaxy, they don’t want freedom but rather order. He mentions that most people don’t see any difference if it’s the Empire or the New Republic in leadership. These comments are not just supposed to be thought-provoking for Din Djarin, but for us as the audience as well. Because in so many ways, Mayfeld is actually right.
Much of the episode was about Djarin and Mayfeld, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the whole team, because as the two tried to escape the facility, the whole team sprung into action, and it was great! Best of all, though, was getting to hear that seismic charge sound again, which I think is one of the very best sounds in all of Star Wars. I was thrilled when that happened!
And then the ending was so perfect and set up so well what figures to be an EPIC finale next week, as Djarin sends Moff Gideon a message repeating his lines back to him. When Gideon said it, we didn’t have any clue what the Child meant to him. But when Djarin says it here, we KNOW what the kid means to him. Grogu means enough that Djarin is willing to ditch his armor – and even show his face – to rescue him. It’s packed with so much weight and emotion here. This was the only episode of the series so far to not have Grogu in it at all, but his impact is still profoundly felt throughout.
So yeah, I absolutely cannot wait for next week!
My grade: 9.5/10