This week on The Mandalorian: our friendly neighborhood bounty hunter and his motley crew are in hot pursuit of Moff Gideon and Grogu. Will they find what they need? What do they need with an imprisoned ex-Imperial sharpshooter? Read on, true believers!
Recap of The Mandalorian, S2E7: “The Believer”
A familiar face—Mayfeld, the small-time crook who tried to double-cross Din Djarin in season 1—chips away at his fifty year prison sentence in the Karthon Chop Fields. His longterm situation improves rapidly with the appearance of
Rebel shock trooper New Alliance Marshal Cara Dune, who remands Mayfeld back to Djarin, Boba Fett, and Fennec Shand.
Onboard Slave I, Djarin lays out the situation: they can’t find Moff Gideon’s ship without access to an Imperial terminal, and Mayfeld is their way in. The closest terminal is on Morak, home to a secret base where the Imps extract and refine volatile rhydonium.
The situation on Morak is fluid. The transports carrying the explosive rhydonium must be driven smoothly and slowly; hoping to avoid any funny business, Dune plans to seize a transport and drive in with Mayfeld. That plan won’t work, though, because the refinery is run by remnants of the Imperial Security Bureau.
The refinery’s security includes genetic scanning, meaning anyone working for the New Republic will show up in the ISB databanks. Dune and Fennec Shand are out, as is Boba Fett (being the genetic twin of every clone trooper who ever put on armor and all).
That leaves Djarin, who ditches his beskar armor in order to save Grogu.
Duly disguised in their new tank trooper armor, Djarin and Mayfeld carry the unstable rhydonium toward the refinery. En route they drive through a small village whose inhabitants greet this symbol of the Empire with sullen silence.
This spurs Mayfeld to ruminate on the nature of power and choice. From where he stands, nobody’s beliefs—those of the villagers, the Empire, the Alliance, even Mandalorians like Djarin—keep them alive in the face of galactic power struggles. Better to be a “realist” like him, Mayfeld posits, than to cling to rules and creeds.
Djarin disagrees but Mayfeld picks at him, saying, “We’re all the same. Everybody’s got their lines they don’t cross until things get messy.”
This philosophical argument comes to an abrupt end when their rhydonium transport is attacked by pirates. The Mandalorian fights them off with some old-fashioned fisticuffs worthy of Indiana Jones but is gradually worn down by their relentless pursuit. The transport arrives at the base in the nick of time, its detachment of TIE fighters and storm troopers repelling the pirates.
Djarin and Mayfeld exit the transport to cheers and salutes. As the only transport in the convoy to make it to the base intact, they’re heroes to the crowd of miners and stormtroopers. Making their way through the cheering crowd, they spot the terminal that brought them to Morak in the first place.
There’s a bit of a problem: t’s located in the officers’ mess, and Valin Hess, Mayfeld’s old commanding officer, is sitting at one of the tables. Facing an impasse, Djarin decides to go in himself. Standing at the terminal, the Mandalorian breaks his most sacred oath and uncovers his face to save Grogu.
With Moff Gideon’s location in hand, Djarin and Mayfeld turn to make a break for it. Mayfeld’s old CO is a bit suspicious, though, and insists they join him for a drink. Their small talk turns to the notorious Operation Cinder, the Emperor’s nihilistic plan for galactic destruction in the event of his death.
Turns out Mayfeld participated in the destruction of Burnin Konn, which resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and Imperial troops alike.
Hess, supremely confident in the Empire’s power, luxuriates in its eventual victory. “The New Republic is in complete disarray and we grow stronger. You see, with the rhydonium you’ve delivered, we can create havoc that’s gonna make Burnin Konn just pale by comparison,” he flippantly drawls. “And then they’re gonna turn to us once again. You see, boys, everybody thinks they want freedom, but what they really want is order. And when they realize that, they’re gonna welcome us back with open arms.”
Mayfeld listens to Hess’ braggadocio with growing aggravation, finally drawing his blaster and killing him. Dune and Shand provide covering fire as he and Djarin make a hard exit to the roof of the base. Boba Fett scoops them up in Slave I while Mayfeld blows the rhydonium with a well-placed shot.
Back on solid ground, Mayfeld contemplates his impending return to the scrap heaps of Karthon, but Marshal Dune lets him walk away under the fiction of being killed in the refinery’s destruction.
With Gideon’s co-ordinates in hand, Djarin deploys a little psychological warfare and sends a warning directly to the Moff: he’s coming for Grogu, and he’s bringing the pain.
Recap of The Mandalorian, S2E7: “The Believer”
“We all need to sleep at night.” Having just triggered an explosive chain reaction at the Morak refinery, Mayfeld mutters this as he turns away from the destruction. “The Believer” is all about, well, belief—in a code, a creed, a government, something that brings order to chaos and lets us rest. Where’s the line between theoretical faith and practical application? What does it take to separate words from action? And how are Din Djarin’s beliefs changing in relation to Grogu?
Mayfeld’s a big believer in moral relativism. To him, the various factions squabbling over sectors of the galaxy are all the same, and equally self-serving. He quizzes Djarin about the Mandalorian wars, asking, “How are they any different than the Empire? If you’re born on Mandalore you believe one thing, if you’re born on Alderaan, you believe something else.”
Bill Burr plays a great devil’s advocate in this episode, sounding like that slightly belligerent cousin who starts huge fights at Thanksgiving by playing the “I’m just saying” card.
He even tweaks Djarin’s refusal to uncover his face, saying, “Seems to me like your rules start to change when you get desperate. I mean, look at you. You said you couldn’t take your helmet off, and now you got a stormtrooper one on, so what’s the rule?”
Din Djarin’s iron commitment to his interpretation of the Mandalorian Creed (which comes across as almost prim in this episode, thanks to Burr’s onslaught) and Mayfeld’s performative apathy are both extremes we’ve seen before in Star Wars. Han Solo’s world-weary reluctance to commit to something bigger than smuggling almost cost him his chance at love, family, and legitimacy. The Jedi Order’s rigid system of beliefs led to its downfall and the rise of the Sith.
What does this have to “The Believer” and Grogu? Mayfeld’s studied nonchalance falls apart when he’s confronted with the true evil of the Empire. Valin Hess (played with skin-crawling pleasure by Richard Brake) describes the inevitable triumph of the Empire, of “order” over freedom, with such naked satisfaction that Mayfeld shoots him point-blank.
In that moment, Mayfeld’s relativism is burned away by the bald and obscene face of evil. It wasn’t part of the plan, but belief is like that sometimes. Like he said, we all need to sleep at night. It’s a satisfying resolution for a character colored in shades of gray.
Seeing Pedro Pascal’s face in “The Believer” is proof of how much Din Djarin’s beliefs have changed in this season of The Mandalorian. Grogu has injected color into the bounty hunter’s monochrome existence. It’s easy to follow an ascetic creed when you have no attachments and no family, but Grogu changes the equation for Djarin.
We’ve joked about Djarin’s Big Dad Energy this season, and these fundamental changes are directly connected to the growing relationship between him and Grogu. (The man chuckled out loud—chuckled!—at the beginning of the last episode over Grogu’s cute little baby antics.) Faced with the risk of losing Grogu forever, Djarin is willing to break his creed in favor of a more important belief: family.
Some juicy nugs from “The Believer”:
- After several truly radical episodes, “The Believer” feels like a step back, and that’s OK. After Ahsoka, Thrawn, the dark troopers, the Jedi Temple of Tython, Grogu’s kidnapping, the reappearance of the Darksaber, ad infinitum, the show needs a chance to catch its breath before the finale next week.
- Speaking of, given how much Djarin obviously loves Grogu, I have a feeling next week’s episode is not going to end well for Moff Gideon.
- Boba Fett has been after his armor with a sander and some paint—good to him running a tight ship after all these years.
- Seeing the gyroscopic (and spacious) insides of Slave I was a neat moment. If only my LEGO Slave I had that feature…
- Best line in the episode goes to Boba Fett for his laconic explanation of his family’s history with the Empire: “Let’s just say they might recognize my face.”
- Rogue One callback: shoretroopers!
- I’d love to see a webseries about Ol’ Brown Eyes and his TPS reports.
- The biggest fanboy moment for me came when Boba Fett deployed Slave I’s seismic charge against the TIEs. His old man using them against Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones was one of the coolest moments in the movie, and it’s just as gnarly here. The sound design for those charges is pristine.