SYNOPSIS: The Mandalorian joins a crew of mercenaries on a dangerous mission.
REVIEW (WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THIS EPISODE): This is by far the most distinct episode thus far of The Mandalorian and one that truly shows how much range this series can have. Another tangental/standalone adventure that doesn’t really advance the season-long narrative much, this is a really fun prison break story that sheds some more light on Mando’s background and showcases some fun call backs to the STAR WARS universe without hitting us over the head with easter eggs like last week’s visit to Tatooine. With an impressive guest cast, “The Prisoner” is another win for Jon Favreau‘s series.
Warning The Child that it is a bad idea, The Mandalorian arrives to meet his former colleague Ran (Sons of Anarchy’s Mark Boone Jr) who has a job for him: break into a New Republic prison ship and break someone out. Ran insists they need to use the Razor Crest because it pre-dates Imperial and New Republic security. The Mandalorian reluctantly accepts and meets the crew: former Imperial sharpshooter Mayfield (comedian Bill Burr), Devaronian Burg (Clancy Brown), droid pilot Zero (The IT Crowd’s Richard Aoyade), and Twi-lek Xi’an (Game of Thrones’ Natalie Tena). The Mandalorian and Xi’an have a history together, which eventually comes to light once they reach the ship. This crew coming together have a fast and loose quality to their interaction which reminded me of the mercenaries from ALIENS as well as the OCEAN’S ELEVEN team meeting up. Credit to writers Christopher Yost and Rick Famiyuwa who inject a lot of fun into these characters.
When they reach the prison ship, it quickly becomes apparent that there is an ulterior motive in enlisting The Mandalorian. At first, I thought when they discovered The Child that they were going for the bounty, but we soon learn it is because the prisoner in question is Xi’an’s brother Qin (Ismael Cruz Cordova) whose capture was the fault of The Mandalorian. After a stand-off between the crew and the sole non-droid guard on the ship, we get a quick battle with some security droids that shows off The Mandalorian’s fighting skills but once Qin is free, the crew toss The Mandalorian in the cell and leave him captive, the crew make for their escape but they quickly learn you never double cross a Mandalorian. Taking them down one by one, we see the cutthroat nature of The Mandalorian as he “kills” each of his colleagues.
Through the episode, we have pilot droid Zero trying to view the message from Greef Carga about The Child and it appears that he eventually learns who the kid is, but before he can take him captive, The Mandalorian destroys the Droid. It is a cute scene where The Child appears to try and use The Force on Zero and when he gets shot, The Child looks at his hand in stunned disbelief. Returning with Qin to Ran’s ship, he tells him that the crew were all killed during the prison break and leaves with his payment. As the Razor Crest departs, Ran signals to kill The Mandalorian but before the gunner ship can take off, Qin finds the New Republic tracker that Mando hid on him. A crew of X-Wings arrive and blow Ran’s ship to pieces.
Aboard the Razor Crest, The Mandalorian tells The Child he knew it was a bad idea to take the job before handing him the knob he played with a few episodes back. It is nice to see the relationship developing between Mando and The Child. The episode then ends with us seeing that Mayfield, Burg, and Xi’an are all alive and still on the New Republic ship, trapped in a cell. Through each episode, The Mandalorian has been explicit in not killing any people (even though he seems fine to destory Droids, Bounty Hunters, and Stormtroopers without a second though) and he keeps his word. This also makes me wonder whether we could see these double-crossed criminals again before this season is done or in the future.
STAR WARS UNIVERSE REFERENCES: We get a joke about an Imperial Sharpshooter being different than a Stormtrooper (who notoriously cannot aim). Someone jokes that maybe The Mandalorian is a Gungan under the helmet. The black Mouse droid makes an appearance. Matt Lanter plays the New Republic guard on the prison ship and is best known for voicing Anakin Skywalker in the CLONE WARS animated series. Deborah Chow, who helmed the third and seventh episodes of The Mandalorian, plays one of the X-Wing pilots who appear at the end of the episode.
COOLEST SCENE: The escape from the prison ship is a tense and well executed sequence, but I am partial to the planning of the prison break where the cast of characters all introduce themselves to one another. The Child also thinking that the Force took down that droid was a cute moment as well.
FINAL VERDICT: This episode was another fun adventure that made great use of the STAR WARS mythology and dense variety of alien species but did not feel as forced as last week’s chapter. The great supporting cast this week all had fun with the story that felt to me to have the tone that I was anticipating from ROGUE ONE. The heist/prison break story is something we have not seen handled in this way in a STAR WARS film yet and it was a blast to see. Rick Famuyiwa made excellent use of the prison ship and the music this week was the most unique I have heard in any STAR WARS property. Natalie Tena was excellent as Xi’an and I want to see of her in the future. Bill Burr and Clancy Brown, two very recognizable actors, were also a fun addition to the cast. In short, this episode shows what The Mandalorian can do and the range of potential stories that could be explored in future live action STAR WARS series. (8/10)
NEXT ON THE MANDALORIAN: “Chapter 7” premieres December 18th on Disney+: An old rival extends an invitation for The Mandalorian to make peace.