*****REPUBLIC CRUISER-SIZED SPOILERS!!*****
Chapter 6 of The Mandalorian is now streaming on DisneyPlus. Directed by Rick Famuyima and written by Famuyima and Christopher Yost, “The Prisoner” is the closest we’ve seen to a standalone adventure in this young series to date.
Mando (Pedro Pascal) lands the Razor Crest aboard a large station, seeking a job from old acquaintance Ranzar Malk (Mark Boone Junior), who has a one for him, no questions asked. The job is to spring a prisoner from a New Republic maximum security transport. Mando initially resists, not wanting any Republic heat, but agrees to take the job.
Malk tells his old ‘friend’ Mando that he’ll be working with a crew of four; his personal point man Mayfeld (comedian Bill Burr), Mando’s Twi’lek former flame Xi’an (Natalia Tena), droid pilot Zero (Richard Ayoade), and diabolically-horned Devaronian muscleman Burg (Clancy Brown).
Malk outlays a plan to board the New Republic transport and spring their as-yet-unspecified prisoner. Mayfeld establishes himself as the eyes and ears of Malk, and tells Mando that Zero will be piloting the Razor Crest. Given Mando’s distrust of droids (Imperial droids massacred his people), as well as working with an ex, this will be one very uncomfortable trip…
En route to the transport, the four do their best to get under Mando’s armor, including snooping around his weapons cache, which Mando isn’t too keen on. When asked by Mayfeld if Mando ever takes off his helmet, Xi’an insists that ‘a lady never tells.‘
Mando also clashes with the hulking Burg, and it leads to a minor brawl, which accidentally opens a storage compartment containing…Baby Yoda (the 50 year old ‘infant’ of Yoda’s species).
Mayfeld continues his taunting of Mando, asking if the baby is “a pet.” “Something like that,” is Mando’s unyielding response. Mayfeld handles the baby, making a protective Mando very nervous. Zero takes the ship out of hyperspace roughly (lacking an organic’s ‘feel’ for flying) as they rendezvous with the cruiser. Baby Yoda is (once again) dropped, but unharmed. The plan is to dock with the transport ship through a dorsal airlock while Zero remains aboard, tracking the group on the ship’s scanner.
The five board the automated transport (which has similarly sterile, white corridors that we’ve seen in other Republic vessels, including the Tantive IV), and immediately encounter a ‘mouse droid’, which the impulsive, unthinking Burg shoots, setting off alarms and triggering security droids. This is where Mando proves himself to the untrusting group, as the crafty Mandalorian dispatches the squad of security droids by himself. Xi’an feigns being impressed, while Mayfeld’s reaction seems more genuine, though it’s clear that there is still no love lost between he and Mando.
Zero tells the group there is a lifeform aboard the ship, located in a nearby command center, possibly a guard. The group finds a lone New Republic soldier named Daven (Matt Lanter). It’s a tense standoff, as Mando doesn’t want to kill the innocent soldier, over the group’s objections. The soldier is also carrying a tracker, which he threatens to activate if he’s harmed. His tracker would call reinforcements within 20 minutes. As the group continues their tense stand-off, with weapons trained on the guard and on Mando, Xi’an quickly springs into action and pitches her knife into Daven, killing him… but not before his tracker is activated. The clock is officially ticking now.
With the tracker activated, finding and taking their prisoner becomes a rush job, though Xi’an is arrogantly nonchalant about it (“It’ll only take five”). Soon, they find and spring their prisoner, who turns out to be Q’in (Ismael Cruz Cordova), the brother of Xi’an. Q’in was left behind on a previous job he did with Mando, and it turns out his release from prison is also about getting revenge on Mando for leaving him behind. Once Q’in is free, Mando is thrown into the empty cell in his place. The door locked, the group makes for the Razor Crest, where Zero has discovered a hologram recording of Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) reiterating his bounty for Mando and Baby Yoda. Inside the cell, Mando calls the attention of a guard droid, whom he tricks into putting an arm inside his cell. Mando pulls the droid’s arm off (guess Wookiee’s aren’t the only ones who do that), and uses the severed arm’s computer interface to open his cell from within.
Freed, Mando aims to stop his former ‘partners’, cutting main power and trapping them within corridors to prevent their escape. After an exhausting battle with Burg, Mando traps the massive Devaronian between hatchways. Upon outsmarting his opponents, Mando makes it back to the Razor Crest just in time to shoot Zero, preventing him from blasting Baby Yoda, who’d been playing a deadly game of hide-and-seek with the untrustworthy droid.
Fleeing the transport, Mando lands the Razor Crest back aboard Malk’s station and delivers Q’in to Malk, per their original agreement. When Malk asks about the others, Mando reminds him that he doesn’t ask questions. Malk pays Mando the full undivided share, since the others apparently didn’t make it. Mando takes it and leaves aboard his ship…just like the old days, no questions asked. After his departure, Malk prepares to kill him with a gunship. And Q’in realizes that Mando placed the Republic tracker on him (!), and that a squad of X-wing fighters is rapidly closing in on the station. Mando has successfully double-crossed the double-crossers, but not before getting his money.
Back aboard the Razor Crest, Mando jumps into hyperspace, slipping right past the incoming squadron of X-wing fighters, who are more focused on the source of the tracking beacon…Malk’s launching gunship, rising from the station’s hangar bay. Mando flies away with his money (and Baby Yoda), while the squad of X-wings blast the station to hell.
Turning to face Baby Yoda, Mando teasingly scolds the infant for letting him take the job. The final coda sees Mando’s presumed dead colleagues, all trapped in a single cell aboard the prison transport ship; outwitted, outmatched and defeated…with Burg nursing one hell of a headache after Mando apparently er, trimmed his horns a bit.
I realize that Mando (brilliantly played by Pascal) doesn’t know much about parenting, but his bad habit of leaving Baby Yoda unattended in the last few episodes (only to be easily discovered by bad guys) is becoming a bit of a cliche. No, Mando isn’t on any “Parent of the Year” nominee lists, but one has to wonder if Mando even remembers to regularly feed ‘The Child’ (Baby Yoda’s formal title). Or make sure he gets changed. In Chapter 6, Mando kept the Child in a storage unit aboard the Razor Crest, and I kept anxiously wondering to myself; how long was the baby in there? Did the little guy have food, air, water, or even a training potty seat? Granted, the Child is supposed to be 50 years old, but given his species long life span (Yoda lived to be 900), he’s stlll an infant, no matter his chronological age, or aptitude with the force. Do better, Mando…
Another exceptionally well cast chapter teams up actors from “Sons of Anarchy” (Mark Boone Junior), “Game of Thrones” (Pedro Pascal), “Breaking Bad” (Bill Burr) “Ray Donovan” (Ismael Cruz Cordova) and other creme de la creme television shows. With longtime character actor Clancy Brown (“The Shawshank Redemption”, “Starship Troopers”, “Star Wars: Rebels”) playing the Devaronian muscle of the operation. Comedian Bill Burr (also of “Breaking Bad”) is exceptionally well-cast as the short-tempered, trigger-fingered Mayfeld, an ex-Imperial sharpshooter (“I wasn’t a stormtrooper, wise ass!”) who seems tailor made to Burr’s comedic stylings as an insensitive, politically-incorrect hothead. Burr has a strong screen presence that makes his toe-to-toe scenes with Mando quite believable. This is his first sci-fi role (a genre he admits he doesn’t like in his comedy shows), and he’s a natural. With his shaved head and severe persona, I could very easily imagine him taking point in a future ALIEN sequel someday.
There was also some nice bits of stunt-casting in “The Prisoner” as well. Former “Clone Wars” actor Matt Lanter, who voiced Anakin Skywalker, played the hapless (but not stupid) rebel prison guard Daven, who is killed, but also unwittingly allows Mando a means to avenge his death with the tracker.
The final scenes of the X-wings taking on Malk’s gunship featured a trio of quick cameos. The ‘squad leader’ was played by “The Mandalorian” co-creator and occasional director Dave Filoni, who also oversaw “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.” “Rebels” was, in my humble opinion, the gold standard of animated Star Wars and should not be missed. If you watch The Mandalorian on DisneyPlus? Do yourself a favor and check out “Rebels” as well. It’s a little slow in getting started, but seasons 2 through 4 are incredible stuff.
Mandalorian director Deborah Chow (who directed “The Sin”, my personal favorite chapter to date) also manned an X-wing cockpit as pilot “Sash Ketter”, the only pilot to have a name (that I’m aware of). Chow’s also directed episodes of “Better Call Saul” (my favorite drama series right now), as well as “Fear the Walking Dead” and “American Gods,” among others.
And finally, cowriter and director of “The Prisoner”, Rick Famuyiwa, plays the third X-wing pilot (no name given yet). Writer-director of “Family Wedding” (2010) and “The Wood” (1999), he is currently in preproduction on a remake of Disney’s “The Black Hole.” Famuyiwa cut his teeth on comedies, but having a Star Wars writing/directing credit makes a nice audition for a big-budget space opera remake. “The Prisoner” certainly shows aptitude to tackle a redo of 1979’s “The Black Hole”, which could really use a bit of updating, to be honest.
At 43 minutes, “The Prisoner” is one of the lengthier segments, and makes for a solid standalone adventure. With only two more chapters to go in this freshman season, I’m hoping for the return of Mayfeld’s motley crew someday (in season two, perhaps…?). They’re too interesting a collection of characters (and actors) for this to be their solo adventure (no pun intended).