With only one more episode left of the second season for The Mandalorian, “The Believer” felt like a bit of a filler episode. It was a fun bit of filler but I found myself not enjoying it as much as I’ve enjoyed the previous episodes, particularly “The Tragedy” from last week. Having said that, it was definitely a serviceable episode with some good story beats to it.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead.
The reintroduction of Migs Mayfield, played with effortless charm by a returning Bill Burr, was an interesting choice. Mayfield’s previous outing was in the first season episode “The Prisoner” and out of the group of mercenaries that populated that episode, he was by far the least morally repugnant (which isn’t saying much, to be honest). As the ending of “The Tragedy” showed, Mayfield has been sentenced to hard labor in the Karthon Chop Fields for his part of the attempted breakout from “The Prisoner”. It’s a nice little tidbit that hasn’t been explored too much in Star Wars canon: what happens to prisoners and convicts in this universe? If your Mayfield, you’re fitted with an electronic ankle restraint and sent to work in a salvage yard for old Imperial wrecks.
I’ve been a fan of Bill Burr’s comedy routines for a long time now, mainly because he’s one of those no-nonsense comics that manages to make fun of just about everyone, including himself. In “The Believer”, we get a better chance to see Burr show off his dramatic chops and he succeeds more than he fails in that endeavor. In particular is the scene near the end where Mayfield and Din have to deal with Valin Hess, who is played with wonderful malice by Richard Brake (probably best known for playing Joe Chill in Batman Begins). Valin is an old-school type of Imperial villain: one who believes firmly in the Empire’s methods, regardless of the body count this creates.
The tension of that meeting is my favorite part of the episode. Before they stand down, the writer/director of episode, Rick Famuyiwa, had already established Mayfield’s connection to Hess. As the scene progressed, I knew Mayfield was going to kill Hess, thus blowing their cover and leading to an explosive finale to the episode. Burr’s portrayal throughout the episode was deftly handled, giving us more shades to the character of Mayfield so that when he pulls the trigger on Hess, it feels like a natural extension of what I would expect Mayfield to do.
The action sequence in the middle of the episode was handled well, moving the pace of the episode up a few notches. From a character development standpoint, though, the point of the episode is what is Din willing to do to retrieve Grogu from Moff Gideon’s clutches. I mentioned in my last review that the familial bond between Din and Grogu has been growing all season and this is where Din had to compromise his rigid Mandalorian code to accomplish his mission. Removing his armor and helmet to replace it with Stormtrooper armor was one affront to his beliefs. The other happens during the retrieval of the information on Moff Gideon where he has to remove his helmet for a facial scan (which I expected to not work but apparently anyone can just access Imperial data from one of their computers). Din is slowly accepting that to save The Child he has come to care for deeply, he has to change his belief system to accommodate that action, something Mayfield discussing with him on the transport ride into the Imperial complex.
Despite the good things in this episode, it really did feel like just a stop-gap before we get to the explosive finale that Jon Favreau has been building to all season. Since there were some strong character moments throughout the episode, I can forgive that. It was a good breather episode after the massive changes to the series “The Tragedy” showcased. The season finale should prove to be a fitting end for this second season. I’m looking forward to seeing how this part of the story ends and the next part begins.