Spoilers for Chapter 15 of The Mandalorian follow!
The Season Two penultimate chapter of The Mandalorian, subtitled The Believer, is here. Following Moff Gideon’s kidnapping of Grogu in last week’s episode, it was no surprise that Mando would begin his vengeful quest to get ‘his kid’, as Grogu is lovingly referred to, back. With the reintroduction of Migs Mayfeld, played by Bill Burr, it only made sense for director Rick Famuyiwa to return as well following his two well-received entries in Season One. Let it be clear that this is in no way filler, but a chapter that continues to delve deeper into world building while simultaneously giving new perspectives on characters and regimes we are already well-acquainted with.
In addition to directing, Famuyiwa also wrote Chapter 15, displaying his undeniable knowledge of the extended universe. This episode feels highly inspired by war dramas and touches on many themes synonymous with our own personal knowledge of war, from our history that ranges from from colonization to survivor’s guilt. This truly feels like one of the most cohesive and expansive episodes of The Mandalorian that we have gotten so far. Famuyiwa masterfully balances action and real human sentiment, making for a visual and emotional spectacle.
Opening with a look into Star Wars’ variation of a refined prison system, Marshall Cara Dune recruits Mayfeld from a scrapyard penitentiary to join Mando, Fennec Shand, and Boba Fett, in his freshly buffed armor, to retrieve Grogu from the hands of the Empire. The ex-Imperial sharpshooter last appeared in Chapter 6, where we saw him commit the crimes that resulted in his imprisonment. Mayfeld brings such a different atmosphere to the story, his cheekiness at times provides some much needed comic relief.
Following a few spotty bits of CGI in last week’s episode, it was so thrilling to see such immense and well-executed effects used along practical methods of shooting. The luscious jungle planet that a rhydonium refinery is situated on is a beautiful back drop for the action that comes, with pirates attempting to blow up the resource but also serving a deeper purpose. As Mayfield and Mando make their way to the refinery in disguise as tank troopers, they encounter a rural village that is a reminder of the Empire’s continuing colonization and that these two characters, that once seemed very unalike, are both victims of tyranny.
The Believer brings intriguing character development for Mando as he struggles with his moral compass. Mayfeld evokes the seemingly taboo question of whether the ideology Mando religiously follows is to not take off his armor or to not show his face. We know from Bo-Katan in Chapter 11 that the group of Mandalorians that took in and raised Din can be considered extremists and instilled their strict practices on him from a young age. This entire season has played on the idea of characters deterring from their previous ways. By firstly changing armor and secondly showing his face, it is made very clear that Mando will go to any length and even sacrifice his practices for Grogu’s return, which solidifies the extent of their bond. Sat down at a table in disguise with a high Imperial officer, we begin to see how harshly Mayfeld’s time in the Empire has emotionally impacted him. There is an overwhelming sense of survivor’s guilt as he kills the officer in a fit of rage once he mentions that Mig’s fallen comrades sacrificed themselves to become heroes of the greater cause.
This is the first episode of The Mandalorian that we have not seen a single glimpse of Grogu. Despite his lack of presence on screen, he remains a driving force for the narrative as Mando makes decisions and sacrifices his age-old practices based on how they will bring him closer to Moff Gideon, and consequently Grogu.
The standout performance in this episode is without a doubt Bill Burr as Mayfeld. He brings so much humanity to the role and with him technically becoming a free man by the end, it would be a treat to see him appear again and dive even deeper into the mindset of this sharpshooter. Chapter 15 of The Mandalorian is such a fun and extravagant entry that gears us up for the conclusion of the season next week… as the final moments of Gideon watching a holo message from Mando asserting that he will not rest until Grogu is back in his custody settle in.