The Mandalorian Dons a Different Set of Armor in Chapter Fifteen, “The Believer”

We’re at the season’s penultimate episode—and after so many announcements about upcoming Star Wars media!—so take a deep breath and let’s get to chapter fifteen. Spoilers ahead.

Summary

Cara Dune uses her marshal status to retrieve Migs Mayfeld from his designated New Republic prison scrap yard. They offer Migs a shot at a nicer sentence if he helps them get Grogu back by aiding them in their search for Gideon—which they believe he can do as an ex-Imperial. Mayfeld claims that he can only get them Gideon’s location from an Imperial access terminal, but he helpfully does know where one is: Morak, home to a secret Imperial mining hub. Fett sets course in Slave I and once there, they scan the planet. The Empire mines rhydonium on Morak, a highly explosive substance.

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 15, The Believer

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

In order to get into the Imperial base, they need to commandeer a vehicle driving a rhydonium shipment into the compound. The problem is, the base is run by ex-ISB (Imperial Security Bureau) officers, and if anyone gets scanned and has a record with the Empire, they’re toast. That leaves Cara, Fennec, and Boba out for the mission, meaning Din has to accompany Migs to make sure he doesn’t try to turn them in. They knock out two juggernaut troopers and steal their uniforms so that Din has a helmet, and begin the drive toward the compound. On the way, Migs insists that the locals of Morak think the New Republic and the Empire are all the same, and that he thinks they’re all the same too—the only thing that matters in his book is whether or not a person can sleep at night given what they’ve done. As they’re driving, other delivery vehicles get attacked by local crews trying to ignite the rhydonium. The two vehicles ahead of Din and Migs are blown to pieces, while Din has to fight off the crews to prevent a similar fate. He and Migs make it into the compound to cheers and celebration from the gathered officers.

The terminal they need is in the officer’s mess, but Migs panics when he peers in because his old commanding officer, Valin Hess (Richard Brake), is sitting there. He refuses to go get the data and wants to abort, so Din volunteers to do it. Migs insists he won’t be willing because you have to get a facial scan for the terminal to allow access. Din goes to the terminal, removes his helmet, and gets the data. While he’s there, Hess stalks over and demands his operating number. Migs arrives to bail Din out, insisting that his buddy “Brown Eyes” can’t hear very well. Hess is impressed by them—they were the only officers who managed to get their shipment of rhydonium delivered—and insists they sit and have a drink with him. When Hess goes for a toast, Migs suggests that they toast Operation: Cinder; apparently Hess was responsible for some decisions during that ordeal that cost the lives of thousands and devastated the world of Burnin Konn. Hess is unrepentant, insisting that people prefer order to freedom, and that the rhydonium they’re mining here will enable them to enact horrors that will make Burnin Konn look tame by comparison. So Migs kills him.

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 15, The Believer

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Din and Migs have a shootout in the compound, escaping out a window and heading onto the roof where Fennec and Cara can aid them by snipe-shooting the officers and cannons. Boba Fett comes to pick them up in Slave I, and once they’re on the ramp, Migs turns around and shoots the rhydonium shipment on the roof, destroying the base. Two TIE fighters pursue, but Fett dispatches them quickly. Once they land, Cara decides that she will list Migs dead in their operation against the base, and they leave him on Marok. Moff Gideon then receives a message from Din: He’s coming for the baby.

 

Commentary

I’m trying to decide if I can get over the absolute ridiculousness of a computer terminal that needs to scan someone’s face for apparently no reason whatsoever because it meant that we got to see Din’s face for like… five whole minutes. Super happy about seeing his face. Ecstatic, even. But still can’t get over the idea that this super special secure terminal needs to scan faces in order to work, but not the face of the person who is meant to be using the access key, so it can’t be for security reasons, so literally why would it need to scan a face unless the Empire finally employed maybe one single droid security measure, but even that’s a thin excuse for—

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 15, The Believer

—you know what. I can let it go. We got to see Din’s beautiful face.

On the other hand, Mayfeld got to see it too, and he doesn’t deserve that, so I’m still salty about it.

Regardless, it’s a good warm up for Din in getting him used to the idea of a Mandalorian way that doesn’t require him to keep his helmet on every second in order for him to be Mandalorian. He’s gonna have to adopt it right quick, though. I have so much appreciation for how Pedro Pascal plays this: the choices he’s made to have Din seemingly unaware of how facial expressions work because he’s spent a good portion of his life under a helmet, living with other people under helmets, reading body language and vocal tone instead. He’s not even good at playing clueless to help Mayfeld out because he just doesn’t know how to people with his face. He either looks blank or he glares. It’s adorable.

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 15, The Believer

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

I also have a lot of feelings about the fact that while they’re preparing to land on Morak, Mayfeld goes for a low-hanging joke about one of the women in their group (“lol she’s highly volatile and explosive, amirite???”) and Fett gives him a glare so withering that he promptly shuts his mouth and quits the cheap one-liners for the remainder of the episode. All I’m saying is, if other men would also like to employ this tactic on lazy sexist jokes, comedy might move forward for us as a species, by leaps and bounds. Just a suggestion.

So we all know there’s a mission here, but I gotta say… Din murders a lot of people who just want to stop the Empire from using rhydonium as far as we know, and that’s screwed up. We’ve seen a lot of that on this show, and while the narrative is often constructed to prevent us from paying too much attention to casualties, this section makes it pretty obvious. And it’s ironic because the overall narrative arc of the episode ends in a net-positive for the people who were attacking them; the base gets blown up and the Empire no longer has that rhydonium. The point is not that these choices are inherently wrong; Din Djarin is a bounty hunter who operates in what most people would term a morally gray area. But there’s a problem when it feels like the choices are ultimately being made for the sake of “the look”—he kills those men because we get a sharp action sequence out of it, and that’s clearly the only reason. I don’t know if I actually buy that he wouldn’t care about the lives he just took, but the story needs me to think that he doesn’t right now. It’s an example of how aesthetic can skew believability.

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 15, The Believer

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

At the end of the day, giving a guy like Mayfeld a redemption-ish arc doesn’t sit great with me because he’s a jerk. (Less annoying without his goofy back-blaster set up, I suppose.) But I do have a lot of appreciation for the fact that the episode starts off with him insisting that the New Republic and the Empire are no different—an issue I was complaining about a couple episodes back—only to have him run headlong into a fierce and formidable reminder that he’s wrong. In fact, he’s so wrong that the only way to make amends is to blow up an Imperial base, mere minutes after being essentially welcomed back with cheers and praise. He is so wrong that he visibly undoes every word he has said, because he’s confronted again with the staggering loss of life that the Empire brings in its wake.

Mayfeld was present for Operation: Cinder, a step in Palpatine’s bullet-pointed list of instructions on “What You Do If I Happen to Be Dead”. No joke, this was a real thing, addressed in Star Wars: Aftermath and a few other media tie-ins as well. Emperor Palpatine had a plan called the Contingency, to be put into effect on the event of his apparent demise, with the basic premise of “If I go down, you’re all coming with me.” He didn’t want his enemies or even the Empire itself to outlive him if he wasn’t in charge. Operation: Cinder was a part of that plan, instructions to place satellites around certain planets to create a climate disruption array that would devastate the world below. Burnin Konn was one of the worlds targeted, which means that Mayfeld was likely on the ground to witness said climate disaster in action.

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 15, The Believer

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Hess’s insistence that people don’t want freedom but order certainly makes it sound like we’re looking at the turnover into the First Order. This would make sense because the parts of the Empire that continued after the Contingency were meant to go in that direction, leading to the eventual Palpatine resurrection that we’ll see in the sequel trilogy. But moreover, this is a reminder of what the Empire actually stands for and what the First Order’s rise will unleash—death. Even Migs Mayfeld isn’t okay with that route for the galaxy.

And then the episode ends with Din trying his very hardest to do a Taken impression, and you know, good on him for trying. Not really sure how the message got to Gideon, but I’ll take my grumpy dad declarations where I can get them. At least Gideon looks a little nervous for once…

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 15, The Believer

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Things and Asides:

  • This is technically the first episode in the entire series to not feature Grogu in some way. Feels weird.
  • This episode was also written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, which is a nice throughline because he also directed the first episode that Mayfeld appeared in last season, “The Prisoner”.
Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 15, The Believer

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • I have waited nearly my whole life to watch the interior of the Slave I swivel like that. Not kidding, I have wondered about the internal makeup of that ship forever, and when I watched the seating area rotate as the ship took off, I full out screamed. Also Boba repainted his armor, presumably while Din was collecting Cara on Nevarro, and now he looks all fancy again, and I love this iteration of his costume a lot because it looks comfy.
  • Boba’s comment that he can’t get scanned by ISB because he’ll definitely come up on their database is a reference to the fact that, well, you know, they cloned his dad to make an entire army for the Republic. It does seem to put the kibosh on the question of whether any clone troopers became stormtroopers after Order 66 and the dismantling of the Republic. Which I’m in favor of, honestly, because once those brain chips had been used, I can’t see how any of the clones left would want to join the Empire… and I’m not sure the Empire would have wanted them either.
Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 15, The Believer

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • Random Office Space reference, of all things: Mayfeld tries to get them away from Hess by telling Din they should go fill out “those TPS reports”, which was an abbreviation in the 1999 film for “test procedure specification” reports, sort of a shorthand for mindless paperwork. (They are a thing in real life, too, though.) Looks like the Empire has that too.
  • More lady sharp-shooter time, please; all I want is more of Fennec and Cara being competent and perfect right next to each other.
Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 15, The Believer

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • Fett uses a seismic charge on those TIE fighters, just like the ones his dad used to flush Obi-Wan Kenobi out of an asteroid belt in Attack of the Clones.

Y’all, we have one more episode, and then we have to wait a whole year for season three. I’m not ready. But then, I never am.

Emmet Asher-Perrin is just gonna watch the swivel over and over and, no, now is not a good time to learn how to make high-qualify GIFs, but they really want to do it. You can bug them on Twitter, and read more of their work here and elsewhere.

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