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EPISODE: “Chapter 15: The Believer” – Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa

SYNOPSIS: To move against the Empire, the Mandalorian needs the help of an old enemy.

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REVIEW (WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THIS EPISODE): As the second season comes to a close next week, this week’s chapter of The Mandalorian takes a slight detour on Din Djarin’s quest to rescue Grogu from the clutches of Moff Gideon. As we saw in the closing moments of last week’s chapter, Mando asked Cara Dune for her help in breaking Migs Mayfeld (Bill Burr) out of a New Republic prison to aid in the rescue of The Child. This episode opens with Mayfeld working on the prison planet of Karthon where Dune takes him into her custody. Mayfeld then meets Mando, Boba Fett, and Fennec Shand and learns they need his Imperial access codes to learn where Gideon is. Mayfeld initially refuses but that he can only get the location codes from inside an Imperial base. He then tells the crew to head to Morak where a secret mining hub could hold the terminal they need.

Boba Fett locates a refinery on Morak and believes the Imperials may be refining rhydonium, a highly explosive mineral. Slave I lands on Morak and as they scout the refinery, Mayfeld says it is run by ex-Imperial Security Bureau and if anyone tied to the New Republic, they will be caught immediately. Everyone volunteers to go in but no one can until Mando steps up and says he will join Mayfeld. Boba Fett remains with the ship to be ready for an aerial extraction while Fennec and Cara Dune take a location at the top of a hill to prepare for cover fire. Mando and Migs highjack a Juggernaut carrying rhydonium and put on the uniforms of the drivers. As they drive, Mayfeld makes conversation with Mando and claims he is a realist. He asks what the difference is between people from Mandalore and Alderaan as neither exists anymore.

Suddenly, they are set upon by pirates who want the rhydonium. Needing to keep up their guise to get into the base, Mando gets on top of the vehicle and fights off the raiders. After multiple detonations are averted and many of the pirates are killed, Mayfeld warns Mando they are approaching a bridge but have to be careful to keep the rhydonium stable or it could explode. The pirates keep coming and at the last minute, two TIE fighters come in and clear their path. As the vehicle docks at the refinery, Mando and Mayfeld are applauded by the stormtroopers on their arrival. Inside the base, they locate a terminal in the mess hall when Mayfeld recognizes a former superior officer. Thinking the mission is doomed, Mayfeld tries to abort, but Mando says he will do it. Mayfeld says the terminal requires faceprint identification, but Mando goes anyway.

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When the security terminal fails, Mando removes his helmet and allows it to scan his face, which succeeds and indicates Din Djarin has a more complex past than we previously knew. Mayfeld’s former superior, Valin Hess, approaches Mando and demands his TK number. Mando stumbles for a moment before Mayfeld swoops in and claims that Mando is his superior officer known as “Brown Eyes” and is hard of hearing. Hess realizes they are the drivers of the juggernaut and demands a drink with them. The pair sit and Mayfeld reflects on his time during Operation Cinder and clearly regrets his role in the Empire. Hess meanwhile proclaims the might of the Remnant and that the galaxy wants order. Mayfeld struggles with this and kills Hess. He then allows Mando to put his mask back on and says he never saw his face. Mando and Mayfeld then have to blast their way through the window to escape to the roof. Dune and Shan cover them from a distance and Boba Fett swoops in to rescue the pair. As they fly away, Mayfeld uses a rifle to shoot the juggernaut, triggering the destruction of the entire refinery.

Recouping to depart, Mayfeld offers his wrists to return to prison. Appreciative of his help, Mando and Cara Dune let him go and will claim he was killed during the refinery explosion. Mayfeld is thankful and walks off to find his way off the planet. With Moff Gideon’s location in hand, Mando and the team prepare for what will come next. Aboard his cruiser, Moff Gideon is alerted to a communication. It is a message from Mando rephrasing Gideon’s own words from their showdown on Nevarro. Mando tells Gideon he is coming for Grogu. Gideon smiles ominously.

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STAR WARS UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The reference to Operation: Cinder ties the plot of The Mandalorian with the video game Battlefront II. Mayfeld references TPS reports, a shout out to Office Space. The seismic charge Boba Fett uses was the same device his father used against Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones. Shoretroopers from Rogue One appear at the base. The Imperial Security Bureau also appears in Battlefront II.

COOLEST SCENE: The final message from Mando to Moff Gideon was pretty cool but the best scene this week belongs to the tense sequence between Mando, Mayfeld, and Hess. Bill Burr does some solid acting here and it is always nice to see Mando without his helmet to prove Pedro Pascal is not just a voice actor.

FINAL VERDICT:  The penultimate episode of a season should hold some significance in setting up the finale, but “The Believer” drops the momentum from the two previous entries for what feels like a standalone story. Yes, the goal of the episode will lead into the showdown with Moff Gideon next week, but it still feels like this chapter is treading water. We learn some cool tidbits about Mayfeld and get to see Mando’s face once again, but unless something significant pops up in the finale, this was the most unnecessary chapter of the second season. (7/10)

NEXT ON THE MANDALORIAN: Chapter 16, the second season finale, premieres Friday, December 18th at 3 am EST on Disney+.

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