by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 15 of The Mandalorian
With the penultimate episode of The Mandalorian’s second season, writer and director Rick Famuyiwa delivers a fast-paced heist mission packed full of interesting character development. Chapter 15: The Believer sees Djarin recruit Migs Mayfeld, the treacherous mercenary played by Bill Burr in Chapter 6, to break into an Imperial mining hub and find the location of Moff Gideon’s cruiser.
I’ll be the first to admit that I questioned the reintroduction of Mayfeld. Although Chapter 6: The Prisoner was one of the standout episodes of last season, Mayfeld wasn’t a particularly captivating character and, at times, it felt like Bill Burr was perhaps slightly miscast in the role. All of these doubts were quelled, however, upon watching Chapter 15. Burr is fantastic in the role, delivering witty one-liners with ease, but also conveying the complexity of and trauma inflicted upon a former Imperial sharpshooter. Mayfeld continues The Mandalorian’s great tradition of focusing on a different side character each episode to accompany the titular character.
The episode’s opening sequence excellently sets the stage for what’s to come. The New Republic labor camp was reminiscent of the beginning of Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order, in which Cal Kestis was working on Bracca as a rigger. And Mayfeld’s look upon seeing Din Djarin again, after getting confused by Boba Fett’s appearance, was priceless. Speaking of Boba Fett, it’s awesome to see the badass bounty hunter return with a fresh paint job. It’s definitely a nice juxtaposition to the worn and weary armor seen in Chapter 14. Unfortunately, Boba doesn’t have much to do in the episode after stealing the show in the previous installment, but Boba really shines in the moments he takes centerstage, as we’ll discuss later.
Upon recruiting Mayfeld, Chapter 15 really kicks into gear with the heist mission. Early on, the episode begins to hint at the possibility of Djarin removing his helmet, something that comes to fruition later in the episode. Until then, though, the audience is welcomed to a spectacular action sequence akin to similar scenes in movies like Skyfall or The Wolverine. Seeing Djarin, dressed as a Range Trooper, disposing of raiding pirates one by one was great to see and, once again, showcases The Mandalorian’s brilliant hand-to-hand combat. Besides the action, this sequence allowed Mayfeld and Djarin to engage in some interesting conversations regarding the merit of wearing one’s helmet and comparing the fallen worlds of Alderaan and Mandalore.
Chapter 15’s intensity only increases when Djarin and Mayfeld finally make it behind enemy lines at the Imperial mining hub. This part of the episode really felt like a classic heist film, with the protagonists infiltrating a base and needing to do everything they can to avoid detection. Before the inevitable detection occurred, however, we were welcomed to what was perhaps the highlight of the episode as Din Djarin removed his helmet to access the network terminal. This moment was monumental for several reasons. Simply seeing Pedro Pascal’s face again as the character was dramatic, given that we’ve only seen Djarin’s face briefly in Chapter 8. Beyond the sheer shock value of seeing an unmasked Pascal though was the emotional weight behind this moment. Throughout the series, Djarin has tightly held onto the conviction that Mandalorians should never remove their helmets in front of other living beings for any reason. So, to see Djarin willingly remove his helmet in order to protect “his kid” was truly touching. This little moment conveyed just how much Grogu means to Djarin and why he is so motivated to rescue his child.
With the introduction of Richard Brake (Batman Begins, Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Officer Valin Hess, Chapter 15 briefly takes some cues from Inglorious Basterds in capturing the intensity of a simple conversion over a table. It’s interesting and unexpected that it is Mayfeld, not Djarin, that blows their cover by being unable to contain his anger toward Hess and the Empire more broadly. Similar to the weight added to Djarin’s character this episode, Mayfeld came on leaps and bounds as the audience gets to resonate with the character’s disgust and hatred for the superiors who adopt such a position of blatant disregard for their soldiers.
After blowing their cover, Chapter 15 explodes into a massive climatic action sequence. Seeing Fennec Shand and Cara Dune systematically pick off stormtroopers from afar was epic, in addition to the true redemptive moment of Mayfeld equipping a rifle himself and executing the fatal blow to the facility. Although this moment was clearly designed to convey how far Mayfeld had came, it felt a little out of place given that, just moments ago, he was dismayed at the needless deaths of innocent Imperial soldiers. This felt a little hypocritical for Mayfeld to so callously take out the Imperial mining hub and, inevitably, kill many ‘innocent’ Imperial soldiers, a behavior he just executed Hess for. Besides that, however, the final action sequence was great to behold. As hinted at previously, its standout moment involved Boba, who, until that point, had largely taken a back seat in this episode. To see Boba drop a seismic charge from Slave I as his father Jango did so many years ago was jaw dropping. The sound design of the seismic charge will forever be one of the coolest sounds in cinematic history and this brilliant callback once again exemplified that. Chapter 15’s concluding moments set the stage for the dramatic finale next week. While Djarin’s repetition of the same speech Gideon gave last season about Grogu was a bit on the nose, it still added some weight to the stakes at hand in the next episode.
Chapter 15 suffers slightly in that it follows, arguably, The Mandalorian’s two best episodes with Chapters 13 and 14. That being said, Rick Famuyiwa makes the most of a somewhat throwaway installment by meaningfully adding to both Djarin and Mayfeld’s characters and including a unique perspective on the Empire that further emphasizes how the battle between good and evil is not so binary.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+