The Mandalorian (S01E06) “The Prisoner”

Chapter 6 of The Mandalorian gave us another adventure of the week, but has me wondering what direction the show is heading. After rescuing the most adorable green baby in the parsec, it’s been ‘take your kid to work day’ since then.

That’s not to say the episodes are bad. Far from it. They are engaging from beginning to end. It’s that chapters 4, 5 and 6 feel so different to the first three. 1-3 gave us an incredible story. A choice made by one Mandalorian that changed his life – and the life of the asset  – forever. Every bounty hunter is looking for Mando, yet he is still zooming around the galaxy at light speed, picking up odd jobs to pay his way.

This week, after arriving at a space station, he became the fifth member of a crew all set to bust out someone ‘who had been picked up by a rival gang’. After reliving the good old days with an uncomfortable Mando, crew boss Ran (Mark Boone Jr) introduced him to the team. Leader Mayfeld (Bill Burr), horned alien Burg (Clancy Brown), and Twi-lek Xi’an (Natalia Tena) (giving off weird Harley Quinn vibes) who obviously had a past fling with our Mando.  He was as uncomfortable with her as he was Ran. The last team member was an ant looking droid, Zero (Richard Ayoade).

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Turns out this merry band of misfits stretched the truth somewhat. The prisoner was on a droid managed New Republic prison ship, which was not the type of heat Mando wanted. But never fear, it was Mando’s Razor Crest the gang needed.  The remarks regarding Mando’s ship brought ‘what a piece of junk’ to mind, when Luke first saw Han’s pride and joy. But that was its appeal. It was old enough not to attract attention. It also required an expert flyer, so Mando had to hand over the driver’s seat to the droid, Zero. You didn’t need to see his face to know how he felt about that. And every time they showed the ship, my thought was always, ‘where is the baby?’

Tensions high, Zero took off, while Mando faced his companions. They collectively goaded him, and then out came the fists. As Burg hit a wall, he activated the panel that hid baby Yoda. Finally, we saw our baby! Safe in his little bed compartment, until they spotted him. When Mayfeld pretended to drop the baby, Mando flinched. We all did! As they wondered what it was, Mando let them think it was a pet. Easier than the truth. At that moment, Zero dropped out of hyperspace, then made some fast maneuvers to evade discovery, slamming everyone to the ground. Mayfeld dropped the baby, and oh, that cry from the child! Mando swooped him up, and put him safely back in his compartment.

Time to get to work, while Zero stayed on Mando’s ship, running point. On board the prison ship stealth went out the window when Burg shot a mouse droid, alerting the droid guards. As the gang shot at them, Mando disappeared, prompting more disrespect from the gang. Until Mando appeared behind the 4 guards, and dispatched them single handedly. Some begrudging respect from Mayfeld, but not much else. Needing to find the prison cell, they entered the command center, and found a human operator, Davan (Matt Lanter). Not what they were expecting on a droid ship.

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As things escalated to a Mexican standoff, guns on everyone, Mando tried to save Davan’s life, but failed when Xi’an threw her knife and killed the guard. But not before Davan activated his New Republic tracker. Zero informed them they now only had 20 minutes before fighters arrived. They found the cell number, and headed off.  Furious at the team, Mando followed them to the cell. And there he found who they were rescuing. Xi’an’s brother, Qin (Ismael Cruz Cordova) who was in jail after Mando had left him behind on a previous mission. Ooops. Mando had no time to react. As soon as Qin was free, Burg shoved Mando into the empty cell, and slammed the door. This had been the plan all along.

But you can’t keep a Mandalorian locked up for long. As a droid guard walked by, Mando shot his wire rope out, then dragged the hapless droid to the bars, then disarmed him – literally. Using the computer access port on the severed droid arm, Mando unlocked the cell door. Droids are good for something, it appears.  And at this point, the fun began. Back on the ship, Zero had lost communication with the gang. But in trying to reactivate it, he called up Greef Karga’s (Carl Weathers) message. Having briefly seen the child before the baby hid, now things made more sense to Zero.

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On the Razor Crest, Zero hunted baby Yoda. And on the prison ship, Mando hunted his betrayers. Heading for the control room, Mando isolated the gang, remotely activating blast doors. With Zero now out of touch, they were on their own. And one by one, Mando came up behind them. At this point, it felt like a slasher film – minus the slashing. The camera work was amazing. As Mando hunted Mayfeld, the strobe light effect was brilliant. He caught up to Zi’an, deflected all of her thrown knives, and held her at knife point. Burg put up a struggle, and after slamming not one, but two heavy automatic doors, Mando had him. He finally caught up to the prisoner, Qin.

Back on the ship, baby Yoda was doing a great job hiding from gun toting Zero. But it’s not a very big ship, and finally Zero held the baby in his sights. And our cute baby, not as defenseless as he appears, raised his hand, closed his eyes and concentrated. Yes! Go, little one! At that point, Zero dropped his weapon. But it wasn’t the baby! Mando, back on board, had shot the droid, saving the baby. But the look in baby Yoda’s eyes was priceless. With an awed look at his hand, you could see those little cogs thinking, ‘did I do that?’ Too funny!

Mando returned to the space station, and there we discovered Qin was still alive. Mando needed to get paid, therefore needed the quarry. Handing over Qin to Ran, no one asked what happened to the rest of the gang. Because that was their policy of no questions asked. As Mando took off, Ran betrayed him a second time, ordering a gun ship to kill Mando. But at that moment, Qin realized he had the prison guards tracking device on him. That one that called up New Republic reinforcements. And with Mando safely away, three X-Wing fighters fired on the space station, destroying it.  We got cool cameos too. The X-Wing pilots were creator Dave Filoni, and episode directors Deborah Rush and Rick Famuyiwa. Very cool!

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As Mando flew away, we saw inside a prison ship cell. Burg (with broken horns), Mayfeld and Xi’an were all imprisoned. Mando had not killed them. He turned back to the baby, and said “I told you that was a bad idea.” Aaaww, so he talks over his plans with his green baby! He should have followed his gut on this job.

 

The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+ with new episodes available Fridays.

Images copyright Disney.