Original Air Date: December 11, 2020
Writer: Rick Famuyiwa
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
“Everybody thinks they want freedom, but what they really want is order.”
“The Believer” is one final intense side-quest for Din Djarin before the conclusion to Season 2 of The Mandalorian.
At the outset we are introduced to a prisoner at the Karthon Chop Fields amidst the ruins of old TIE fighters –the prisoner is soon revealed to be Migs Mayfeld (reprised by comedian Bill Burr who last appeared in the first season episode “The Prisoner”). In “The Believer” Migs is released from prison by Cara Dune (Gina Carano) who invites him on an adventure with Mando, Boba Fett, and Fennec Shand in exchange for his temporary freedom. Why Migs Mayfield? Din Djarin needs to discover the location of Moff Gideon’s ship, and Migs was once an Imperial soldier and thus understands the ins and outs of Imperial machinery and protocols.
Migs Mayfield leads the group to a hidden Imperial rhydonium refinery on jungle planet called Morak wherein Migs and Mando don Imperial costumes and hijack a highly explosive rhydonium vehicle and fend off pesky pirates before arriving inside the facility. Once inside, Migs gets nervous when he spots his former officer, Valin Hess (Richard Brake). Mando enters the mess hall and uses facial recognition on a computer to locate Moff Gideon’s ship (to do so he must break Mandalorian code and remove his helmet). Mando secures the location of Moff Gideon. This undercover scene is incredibly tense, showcasing some of the best directing in the whole Mandalorian series, as Migs and Mando sit down in the mess hall with Valin Hess –we learn that Migs lost many fellow soldiers at Burnin Konn in Operation Cinder for which he deeply resents Valin Hess — and so Migs rather surprisingly shoots Valin Hess. The shooting follows a riveting conversation in which Hess claims the New Republic is a mess and that the Empire is on the rise, because people will soon desire the order provided by Imperial rule. This leads to an extended shoot-out while Migs and Mando flee the facility with Cara Dune and Fennec Shand sniping stormtroopers from the hilltops. After they are all airlifted, Migs turns around and shoots the reactor core, destroying the whole refinery (using Boba Fett’s rifle he acquired from the sand people on Tatooine).
In a brief epilogue, Mando and Cara Dune cleverly allow Migs Mayfield to escape claiming he died in the refinery explosion (guaranteeing we will see him again down the road). And Mando sends a holographic message to Moff Gideon with the exact same message about Grogu Moff Gideon said in episode seven of the first season. I loved the re-introduction of Bill Burr into the series and in my view this covert operation is one of the best nail-biters in the series, even if Migs Mayfield’s decision to start shooting seems a bit too erratic and borderline suicidal (or perhaps just another excuse for an explosive shootout in the show). Nevertheless this is a great episode in my view.
The Mandalorian Trivia:
- The crew used stop motion animation for the “scrapwalkers” shown in the background of the Karthon Chop Fields scene. They created miniatures of the wrecked TIE Fighters which were scanned and projected as part of the background.
- This is the first episode in the series not to feature Grogu.
- The title is a reference to Bill Burr’s character being transformed into a “believer” in something beyond the rule of mere self-interest however the title can also be interpreted as a reference to Valin Hess or even Din Djarin.
- At one point while undercover Bill Burr suggests that he and Mando should go “fill out some TPS reports” –an allusion to the comedy classic Office Space.