Just when you thought Disney didn’t have anything left to reveal… If you’re still processing the news that we’re getting six new Star Wars shows – including standalone’s for Ahsoka, Obi Wan Kenobi, Lando Calrissian, Cassian Andor and just about everyone else (along with a Rogue Squadron film, a Taika Waititi movie, a new Indiana Jones, a Willow series, an Alien TV spin-off…), just wait until Mando takes his helmet off. There’s nothing more surprising than an unexpected moustache.
Slightly eclipsed by the rolling announcements from the Disney Investor call, it’s almost easy to forget that Baby Yoda has been kidnapped. Last time we saw him, he was locked up on a Star Destroyer waiting for Moff Gideon to start doing evil experiments on him – and Mando was busy getting the gang back together for a prison break.
Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) are all on board, but the missing piece of the puzzle is former-Empire sniper Mayfield (Bill Burr), who Mando locked up back in Chapter 6. Now serving his time on a beautifully rusted scrapper planet, Mayfield is the only one who knows how to access the Imperial clearance codes needed to locate Baby Yoda (or, to put it a different way, he’s another way of stalling the main story long enough to stretch this series out to eight chapters…).
Heading to an Imperial rhydonium mine on Morak so they can access the only laptop in the galaxy, the gang hikack a big rig truck, fight off a fleet of pirates and break into a refinery – all whilst dressed as welders.
Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa (who previously took on Chapters 2 and 6), The Believer mixes up a classic Western train-top chase, a few nods to William Friedkin’s 1977 adventure Sorcerer, all the best sniper missions from any Call Of Duty game and a weird amount of Ice Road Truckers to make one of the most unapologetically fun episodes of The Mandalorian yet.
Burr’s quippy Mayfield lightens the tone even as all the trucker action gives the show some serious old-school heft, and we even get a nice glimpse inside the Empire lunchroom during a great undercover drink scene with slimy Imperial officer Valin Hess (Richard Brake).
Above all though, we finally get to see Pedro Pascal. After 15 episodes of teasing (remember that time he almost took his helmet off to drink some soup?!), Pascal swaps his Beskar armour for mining gear at the start of the episode but… he gets changed behind a pillar. Flirting with fans to the last, he leaves it until the last minute to remove his head gear; finally undone by a facial recognition camera.
After all this time it’s slightly anti-climactic to remember that there’s a regular human inside all that armour, but as this seems to be the day for Disney reveals it’s hard not to get excited about seeing the veil lift on yet another Star Wars secret. Pascal has done such a fantastic job as Mando over the last two seasons – doing so much with so little – so it’s also nice for him to get a few seconds of screen time and remind us all who the real star of the show is, especially now that it’s getting so crowded with side-characters.
Getting the codes, covering his little moustache back up, escaping the mine and tracking down Baby Yoda, Mando cues up next week’s season finale with a threatening hologram message for Moff Gideon. “He means more to me than you will ever know,” he growls into the camera, winning his father of the year award. There’s now no chance next week’s episode will wrap up all the loose threads that this season has been busy teasing out, but the stage is now set for an unmissable showdown. No one messes with Baby Yoda and gets away with it…
- Boba Fett drops a seismic charge from Slave I when he fends off the TIE-fighters, giving us a chance to hear the same awesome sound-sucking effect that Jango Fett debuted back in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones.
- Valin Hess actor Richard Brake is better known as The Night King from Game Of Thrones.
- Mayfield’s joke about calling Mando “Brown Eyes” is a likely nod to “Angel Eyes” from Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy – still one of the biggest influences on The Mandalorian.
- Gamers will recognise Mayfield’s reference to “Operation Cinder” from a major map in Star Wars: Battlefront II.