War is Hell, and that is as true in the Star Wars universe as it is in our own. Season 2, episode 7 of The Mandalorian gives fans a glimpse of how this long, drawn-out galactic civil war has impacted the soldiers on the front lines – creating a class of executives who have to put aside pesky things like ethics to get the job done. Some of the … moral flexibility, let’s say … rubs off even on Din Djarin, but in unexpected ways.
[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for The Mandalorian Chapter 15, “The Believer”]
This episode begins on a New Republic prison planet. Migs Mayfeld (Bill Burr, who we last saw in Season 1, Episode 6, “The Prisoner”) breaks large pieces of imperial junk into small ones. In sides Cara Dune (Gina Carano) to turn him off – not with gunshots, but with the movement of her wrist. It turns out that sometimes bureaucracy can actually work in your favor. Regardless, the lack of a full prison break makes it easy for viewers to get started with the episode after the dramatic highs of the last one.
In order to track down Moff Gideon and start a rescue mission to recover Grogu, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) must find out where his Imperial command ship is parked. Mayfeld says this type of information requires special access, and as an old Empire soldier, he knows exactly how to split it up. The trick is to approach a data terminal with the right connections.
The solution, Mayfeld says, is to slip into a nearby mine that produces rhydonium – a volatile type of spacecraft fuel. It’s protected by an Imperial garrison, and that means it’ll have the kind of terminal he’s looking for. But to get in they need disguises. This is where Din first begins to jeopardize his personal ethics.
To infiltrate the mine, the Mandalorian removes his armor. In its place, it attracts the more pedestrian traps of an armored trooper (a variant first introduced in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). What was once part of his sacred oath is suddenly put aside in a rush to save Grogu. Mayfeld can’t help but make fun of him, but along the way he throws up one of those universal truths that only emerge when two old veterans are in the same foxhole.
On the way through a village, the two children see them sitting by the road. They stare at her, clad in their dark armor, with hatred.
“Do you really believe that all of the people who died in wars waged by Mandalorians actually had a choice?” Mayfeld says his teasing suddenly turns to the philosophical. “So how are they different from the Empire? If you were born on Mandalore, believe one thing. If you were born on Alderaan, you believe otherwise. But guess what? None of them exist anymore. “
Regardless of the uniform you’re wearing – Imperial, New Republic, or even Mandalorian – it’s easy to fall into the role of the oppressor. With a helmet firmly attached to the head, it is difficult to have much peripheral vision, and that goes for soldiers who follow orders and zealots and hope to remain true to their ancient religions. There are good people on both sides of every war, Mayfeld seems to be saying, but what matters are the actions of the individual.
This is what makes Din Djarin’s next step so fascinating. Right there, in the middle of an imperial exhibition hall, he takes off his helmet. Due to a facial recognition scanner, this is the only way to access the information you need. Once again, his sacred vows fall away in his mission to save the child. His physical and emotional armor is slowly but surely being removed.
With the position of Gideon’s spaceship in hand, Din and Mayfeld are two paces from the door when an Imperial officer corner them for a celebratory toast. But it’s not just any officer. Instead, it is the man Mayfeld served under during a disastrous battle that left thousands of soldiers – and civilians – dead. The food slicer can’t help it. He draws his gun and puts a round through the officer’s chest. Chaos ensues.
Everything works out fine in the end. Cara and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) have covered the facility from a nearby hill and are raining withering fire on the pursuing soldiers. Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) shows up to lift her out of the air in Slave 1, and a single well-placed concussion mine makes her escape well – Mayfeld takes one final farewell shot with a long gun that sets the entire mining complex in flames.
In the end, Mayfeld deserves his freedom. Cara suggests that he likely died in the explosion, and both she and Din look away as he melts in the jungle. It’s important to note how everything has changed about Mayfeld since we first met him, from the clothes on his back to the tone and timbre of his voice. He is a Reformed man, not because of the New Republic penal system, but because he has returned here to face his former imperial master and confront him personally.
The parallels to Din Djarin are clear. He is a member of a Puritan sect of Mandalorians who had so much power over him that he didn’t even know he was in it. The children of the guard already brought him into conflict with an actual Mandalorian, Bo-Katan Kryze. You can assume that he will soon have to reckon with his worldview – and both the emotional and the physical barriers that surround him.
Meanwhile, it’s also worth noting that Disney revealed a slew of new live-action and animated Star Wars shows just yesterday. Nine new series will be released over the next few years, including more from The MandalorianJon Favreau and Dave Filoni. This episode, like everyone else this season, was an excellent television.
Find out more about where that came from here. His promise almost makes up for the long time after which the universe fell silent Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.