After just laying their streaming competition to waste yesterday, Disney+ also decided to do one final strafe run with another killer episode of The Mandalorian. The Believer did so many things well and it’s so weird watching a series that flat out refuses to have a bad episode.
The consistency of this series might be its greatest strength. Well, that and laying out the groundwork for a massive expansion with so many fun options.
The Believer was written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, who directed one of last season’s stronger episodes in The Prisoner. That made for fortuitous timing as one of the characters Famuyiwa introduced that episode, Mayfeld (Bill Burr), was heavily featured.
Mando needed Mayfeld’s Imperial codes to track Moff Gideon and Grogu. The tension with Mayfeld and Cara Dune was great. An ex-Rebel shock trooper and an ex-Stormtrooper probably wouldn’t get along that great despite Mayfeld’s chatty nature.
To get into the Imperial base, they’ve got to go undercover, but facial scanning limits the available options. Cara and Fennec are both on the flagged list and Boba gets the line of the night with “Let’s just say they’ll recognize my face.”
That left Mando and Mayfeld to seize an Imperial transport full of a highly volatile substance. With a little assist from Cara — it’s always cool seeing her in action as Gina Carano always makes the more physical scenes look completely credible.
Mayfeld tries to get Mando to open up about his Mandalorian creed since he refuses to take off the Imperial helmet for the sake of upholding his honor even while undercover.
Watching the sequence where the pirates try and destroy Mando and Mayfeld’s transport gave me Fast and Furious vibes. BTW, what streaming platform will I need to catch F9? And yeah, Famuyiwa would have killed it if given a chance to play in that franchise.
Another interesting wrinkle Famuyiwa threw in was giving the Empire a big heroic moment in saving Mando and Mayfeld from the 50th round of pirate reinforcements. When have Stormtroopers ever gotten a chance to play the Calvary?
Speaking of, it was cool seeing Feennec and Cara get to play target practice with Stormtroopers. I fully appreciate The Mandalorian for making some of the cooler Stormtrooper variants from Rogue One into regular use.
This was a first for Star Wars in showing a human side to the Empire behind being a group of stuffy sycophants aiding and abetting their planet destroying leaders.
Mando actually had to ditch the helmet to access the codes and also putting to rest those goofy rumors that Pedro Pascal quit the series midway through Season 2.
Richard Brake (The Dare) had a great cameo as the sleazy Imperial officer Valin Hess. This was pitch perfect casting as Brake can channel that subtle jerk who annoys everyone. He really would have been perfect as Captain Boomerang in a Suicide Squad movie. Hess sums up the Empire’s followers in a nutshell by saying everyone thinks they want freedom but what they really want is law and order.
Mayfeld realizes he’s totally over the Imperial mentality and kills Hess promoting a shootout with a few nods to the detention cell breakout in Star Wars (A New Hope). Not fully finished making his face turn, Mayfeld detonates the transport to take out the rest of the compound.
And just in case you weren’t already in awesome overload, Boba Fett picks them up and triggers one of those epic seismic detonators from Slave-1 with the full Attack of the Clones sound effect.
Mando and Cara decide to let Mayfeld walk. Giving the way the series has played out we’ll see him again, but I wouldn’t have minded if he stuck around with Mando and crew.
That would have been more than enough for a great installment, but we also get Mando sending Moff Gideon a message using his exact same words against him warning he’s coming for Grogu. Maaan, this show gets it! How to build a compelling narrative, great characters, formidable villains and new avenues a Star Wars story has never attempted on the big and small screen.
I say all that and still don’t quite want next Friday to roll around as the party — for this season at least — will be wrapped up.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Disney+