The Mandalorian was quietly on the verge of becoming second fiddle to his adorable scene stealing sidekick. With a renewed focus on its title character it’s perhaps not a surprise that The Prisoner was the best episode of the series so far.
As the series continues to play out one of its strong points is its adaptability. The Mandalorian can function very effectively in the space western sandbox, a samurai drama or as a bounty hunter in the Star Wars universe. That unpredictability in terms of what we’ll get from episode to episode definitely helps keep the series from becoming too routine or stale. At this rate, the series shouldn’t have any problem going six or seven seasons before patterns start to develop.
Director/co-writer Rick Famuyiwa and co-writer Christopher L. Yost (Thor: Ragnarok) craft a pretty fun story as Mando takes a job with an old acquaintance Ranzar Malk (Mark Boone Junior, The Birth of a Nation). Ranzar wants Mando to join his crew to retrieve a prisoner on a New Republic ship…and the crew is going to use his ship.
The crew is a fun bunch with former Imperial officer Mayfeld (Bill Burr, Chappelle’s Show); the Twi’lek Xi’an (Natalia Tena, Game of Thrones), their bruiser Burg (Clancy Brown) and droid Zero (Richard Ayoade, The Watch). This had the setup of a heist film with the eclectic crew. Mando wasn’t thrilled with his new allies especially since Xi’an is still nursing some hard feelings after the way he left her and Ranzar earlier. Burg doesn’t endear himself either by opening the panel where Mando stashed away The Child.
Zero doesn’t offer them much heads up when they board the Republic ship in a very impressive sequence that definitely had me wishing Famuyiwa will eventually tackle a space dogfight episode.
Mando gets to show off his skills against a squad of prison guard droids, which shows the true lack of esteem he has for droids. In compiling a list of best Mandalorian fight scenes, Famuyiwa easily has two of the Top 5 with this and the Jawas sandcrawler battle from Chapter 2.
The prisoners are an interesting mix including an Imperial officer, someone who looks like they’re wearing Jedi robes and a character who looks like Sloth from The Goonies.
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Of course there’s no honor among thieves and they betray Mando when they get their asset, Xi’an’s brother Qin (Ismael Cruz Cordova). Mando’s escape and horror movie style stalking of Burg, Xi’an and Mayfeld is another excellent string of sequences. I loved the decision not to show Mando finishing them off as leaving it to our imagination was so much more effective, especially with the twist at the end. Zero trying to track down The Child also adds some nice tension without taking the focus off of Mando.
After directing another incredible episode of The Mandalorian, I’m increasingly more bummed out that Famuyiwa stepped away from directing The Flash film. If anyone could get me excited about that project again it would have been Famuyiwa. He gets how to make properties fun. It’s the little things like the droid Zero being so incredibly efficient that he abandons all traces of manners or Mayfeld taking offense at being considered a sharpshooting Stormtrooper due to their notorious bad aim.
The big twist is Mando didn’t actually kill the trio. He just put them in a cell in the prison. That was a such a smart move from Famuiywa and Yost as that trio was too entertaining to be one-off villains. Qin and Ranzar aren’t so lucky though as the ringleaders of Mando’s troubles he sics the Rebels on them using the tracker that led a trio of X-Wings to destroy Ranzar’s space station.
Mando killing everyone wasn’t necessary, but these dudes had it coming. It was nice seeing X-Wings piloted by someone not named Luke Skywalker or Wedge Antilles not getting shot down too. The three X-Wing pilots were a cool Easter Egg as they were all Mandalorian directors (Deborah Chow, Dave Filoni and Famuyiwa).
This was an amazing episode. Famuyiwa raised the bar for a season that continually finds new ways to keep from getting stale or boring.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: Disney+