Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Mandalorian Season 2, Episode 7: The Believer

This week on The Mandalorian we get the penultimate episode of the season! Overall it's a decent enough entry, but it suffers from a few... peculiarities.

After a half season of filler episode, side trips and wheel spinning, I was happy to see the series finally settle on a direction with the "Baby Yoda's Captured By Moff Gideon" storyline begin.

Based on the events of last week, I assumed this episode would feature a thrilling prison break storyline, as Manny assembled a team of misfits to help him rescue the Child.

Instead we got... another filler episode! What the hell?

It's not that The Believer is a bad episode, but it's riddled with plot holes and technological curiosities. The entire plot revolves around Manny & Co. downloading the coordinates of Gideon's ship. Instead of simply hacking into the Imperial network to get his location, they have to physically travel to a specific planet to access a computer! Wait, what?

Even stranger, this seems to be a character-building episode for Migs Mayfeld, who up to now has been a very minor side character. Is he becoming a regular? Because if not, why the hell did I just watch an entire episode about him and his motivations?

Overall it's not a terrible episode, as it has some enjoyable moments. But it suffers from the same problem as the Star Wars SequelsIt's fun, exciting and engaging while you're watching it, but after it's over you start thinking about the events you just saw and say, "Wait a minute..."


The Plot:
At the Karthon Chop Fields Correctional Facility, Migs Mayfeld— aka Inmate #34667— is standing on a pile of rubble, dismantling a TIE Fighter. A security droid approaches and announces he's been given a new assignment. Just then Cara Dune, Marshal Of The New Republic, walks up and orders Mayfeld to come with her.

A confused Mayfeld follows Dune to the Slave 1. He's startled when he first sees Boba Fett by the ship, as he thinks he's Manny
— the bounty hunter responsible for his imprisonment. Just then Manny appears and walks down the ramp, and Mayfeld asks if he's come to kill him. 

Dune tells Mayfeld she bent a lot of rules to bring him along, and says they're here because he's an ex-Imperial soldier. Manny asks him if he still knows Imperial codes and clearances. Mayfeld confirms he does, and the crew escorts him into the ship. 

As they take off, Manny says they need the coordinates for Moff Gideon's ship. Mayfeld balks, saying it's too dangerous and asks to return to the prison. Dune explains that Gideon has the kid, and Mayfeld asks if she'll release him if he helps out. Dune tells him not to push his luck.

Mayfeld says the only way to get the coordinates is to access an Imperial terminal (???), and says they can find one on the planet Morak. Manny says the planet's empty, but Mayfeld claims it houses a secret Imperial mining facility. Manny tells Fett to head for Morak. 

Sometime later the Slave 1 arrives at Morak. Fett scans the planet and finds the facility, saying the Imperials are refining rhydonium— a highly unstable and explosive substance. He and Fennec see the place is guarded by hundreds of Stormtroopers. Manny says they'll need to sneak in quietly.

The ship lands in a dense jungle, and the crew watches as an Imperial juggernaut (which is transporting rhydonium) trundles by. Manny formulates a plan in which Dune and Mayfeld will hijack a juggernaut, disguise themselves as the drivers and infiltrate the base. Once Mayfeld gets the coordinates they'll make their way to the roof, where the Slave 1 will extract them.

Mayfeld points out a flaw in their plan— Dune's now a New Republic Marshal, and she'll be flagged if they're scanned. He suggests he go in alone. Dune accuses him of still being loyal to the Empire and refuses to let him go by himself. Fennec says she's wanted by the Imperials, and Fett claims they'd recognize him as well. 

Finally Manny pipes up and offers to go with Mayfeld. He points out that Manny can't very well wear his Mandalorian helmet into an Imperial facility. Manny tells him not to worry about it.

Cut to a juggernaut rolling down the road. It enters a tunnel, where Manny, Dune and Mayfeld land on top of it. Dune opens the top hatch and knocks out (or possibly kills?) the two drivers, stopping the vehicle. Mayfeld changes into one of the Transport Trooper's armor, but ditches the full helmet. After a beat, Manny comes around the corner, and we see he's also changed into identical trooper armor— but with the helmet firmly in place. He hands his beskar armor to Dune and tells her to take care of it. 

Manny & Mayfeld enter the Juggernaut, figure out how to get it going and take off. As they drive down the road, Mayfeld jabbers away in an attempt to engage Manny in conversation. Manny ignores him & looks out the window. Elsewhere, Fennec watches from a nearby hilltop and tells Fett they've completed Phase 1 of their plan.

Mayfeld begins spouting his personal philosophy, saying that whether the Empire or the Republic are in charge, the citizenry stille end up being ruled by someone. He tells Manny that everyone in the galaxy's the same, as they all have lines they don't cross till things get messy. He says if you can make it through the day and sleep at night, then you're fine.

Suddenly they hear an explosion, and a few seconds later pass the burning remains of another juggernaut. Just then they're attacked from behind by a band of pirates on a repulsor craft. Manny leans out the window and fires at the pirates, killing several. Mayfeld yells at him for firing so close to a cargo of rhydonium, but Manny says they have no choice.

Another pirate leaps onto the Juggernaut and tries to plant a thermal detonator on its surface. Manny climbs on top as well and shoots the pirate. He falls backward onto the repulsor craft as the detonator blows it up. 

Another repulsor appears and Manny fires at it. Unfortunately his blaster picks that particular time to run out of ammo (????). He then takes on the pirates in hand to hand combat. There's a big action setpiece battle that I'm not gonna describe in minute detail. Manny tells Mayfeld to speed up, but he says all the jostling's causing the rhydonium to reach unstable levels. He slows down to in order to calm it down, which allows the pirates to catch up. Manny's quickly overwhelmed by the outlaws.

Just when it looks like all is lost, two TIE Fighters roar overhead and pick off the pirates. The Juggernaut crosses a bridge to safety and enters the refinery. Inside the building, various Imperial troopers give Manny & Mayfeld a hero's welcome. Mayfeld looks around and says there's likely a computer terminal in the Officer's Mess Hall.

Mayfeld enters the Mess, freezes in his tracks and says they need to leave. Manny asks why, and Mayfeld says his former commanding officer Valin Hess is inside, and is afraid he'll recognize him. He says the mission's off. 

Manny refuses to leave, as he desperately wants Baby Yoda back. He tells Mayfeld to give him the flash drive, er, I mean data cylinder, and says he'll get the info himself. Mayfeld warns him the console works by facial scan, meaning he'll need to remove his helmet. Faced with no other options, Manny enters the Mess.

Manny walks over to the terminal and inserts the cylinder. The computer scans his helmet and flashes an error sign. He reluctantly removes it, exposing his face before others for the first time since he became a Mandalorian. For some insane reason, the computer scans his face and grants him access to the Imperial database (???).

He downloads Gideon's info, but before he can hightail it out of the Mess, Hess walks up and demands to know his name and TK number. Shaken by the fact that his face is uncovered, Manny hesitates and is unsure how to respond. Fortunately Mayfeld swoops in and provides Hess with made up TK numbers, claiming Manny suffered hearing damage in a campaign on Taanab. They try to leave, but Hess says they haven't been dismissed. He congratulates them for safely bringing in the rhydonium, and insists they join him for a drink. They reluctantly sit with him.

Elsewhere, Dune and Fennec take position above the refinery. Fennec tells Dune to target the troopers, while she takes out the cannons on the roof. The two wonder what's taking the guys so long.

Back in the Mess Hall, Hess asks what they should drink to. Mayfeld suggests toasting Operation: Cinder. Hess compliments him on his historical knowledge (even though it only happened four years ago). Mayfeld says he lived through it on Burnin Konn, where an entire city and his whole division were wiped out by orbital bombardment. 

Hess says he had to make many "unpleasant decisions" that day, and labels the dead as heroes, claiming their sacrifice was for the good of the Empire. Mayfeld, becoming more agitated, asks if it was good for the civilians who perished as well. Hess says the New Republic is in disarray, while the remnants of the Empire continue to grow stronger. He declares that the rhydonium Mayfeld delivered will create destruction that'll make Burnin Konn pale in comparison. 

Reaching his boiling point, Mayfeld lifts his blaster and shoots Hess in the chest, killing him instantly. 

Mayfeld then shoots several other troopers in the Mess, as a shocked Manny looks on. He tells Manny he did what he had to do. Mayfeld then tosses him his helmet, says he never saw his face and tells him they gotta go. They shoot several more troopers and officers, then jump out the window which overlooks a dam far below.

The two edge their way along a ledge toward the roof. Fortunately Fennec uses her sniper skills to pick off any troopers who try to stop them. Dune fires at the anti-aircraft guns on the roof, taking them out. Fennec contacts Boba Fett and tells him to pick up the boys.

The Slave 1 swoops in and hovers over the roof. Manny and Mayfeld leap aboard while Fennec and Dune provide cover. As the ship takes off, Mayfeld fires at one of the parked Juggernauts. The vehicle, still full of rhydonium, explodes in a massive fireball. Seconds later the entire Imperial installation blows up as well. He tells the others that now he can sleep at night.

Two TIE Fighters manage to survive the explosion and pursue the Slave 1, but Fett releases a seismic charge that decimates them.

Sometime later, the ship lands and the crew discuss their victory. Mayfeld tells Manny he hopes he gets the "kid" back, and tells Dune he's ready to return to prison. She gives Manny a look, and then says it's too bad that Migs Mayfeld died during their mission on Morak. Mayfeld looks at her in disbelief, and scampers off. Dune asks Manny if he was able to get Gideon's coordinates.

Cut to Gideon's ship. He's called to the bridge, where he receives a holo-message from Manny, who turns Gideon's own words against him, saying, "Moff Gideon. You have something I want. You may think you have some idea of what you are in possession of, but you do not. Soon, he will be back with me. He means more to me than you will ever know." 

Gideon watches the message with a grim expression.

• This is the first episode of the series (so far) that doesn't feature Baby Yoda. That alone will no doubt send it to the bottom of every fan favorite list.

• I've been meaning to mention this for weeks, so this is as good a time as any. At the beginning of each episode, we're treated to a brief montage of helmets and droid heads lit by red & blue lights.

The heads go by pretty fast, so I've slowed them down here so we can get a better look at them. In order we see Darth Vader, BB-8, C-3PO, Kylo Ren, R2-D2, an X-Wing Pilot, A Scout Trooper Who Quickly Morphs Into A First Order Stormtrooper and finally the Mandalorian.

• At the end of last week's episode, Manny visited his pal Cara Dune and asked her to help him spring Migs Mayfeld from the slammer. Naturally I assumed that this week we'd get a daring prison break storyline, as Manny and his crew infiltrated the facility and liberated Mayfeld.

Instead we get Cara Dune arriving at the prison and politely requesting that Mayfeld be remanded into her custody. A Republic Security Droid then happily hands him over to her. That's it! That's all there is to the big The Great Escape storyline! Um... thrilling, I guess?

• Back in The Heiress we saw what appeared to be an AT-AT that'd been repurposed into a mobile industrial crane. Or maybe it was an ambulatory derrick that used AT-AT technology, I dunno.

This episode opens on the Karthon Chop Fields Correctional Facility, where we see another AT-AT Crane hoisting scrap in the middle of the prison's junkyard.

• Not A Nitpick, Just An Observation: When we first see Mayfeld, he's dismantling a derelict TIE Fighter. But wait a minute— this is a New Republic prison facility. I guess the Republic scavenges Imperial tech destroyed in battle and dumps it here to be recycled?

• The New Republic Security Droid we see here...

Seems to be the same model we saw on the prison ship back in Season 1's The Prisoner (the episode in which Mayfeld first appeared).

• Fun Moment: Mayfeld's startled when he sees Boba Fett, as he mistakenly thinks he's Manny— the Mandalorian who whupped and imprisoned him. He's then doubly shaken and fearful for his life when the real Manny saunters down the ramp after all. Ha!

By the way, note that Mayfeld's prison jumpsuit is emblazoned with his inmate number— #34667. Oddly enough, we can actually recognize and read these large numbers.

Aurebesh, the standard alphabet of the Star Wars Universe, features alien-looking characters that correspond to English letters and is used extensively in the series. For reasons I don't pretend to understand though, this cosmic alphabet contains plain old Arabic numbers, just like we use here on Earth. Sure, they're a bit stylized, but still perfectly recognizable. 

Why would the producers go to the trouble to create alien letters, but not alter the digits? Odd.

• I've said it before, but I'm still not sold on the presence of comedian Bill Burr in this series. It's not that he's a bad actor— in fact he actually does a pretty decent job here. It's just that he feels completely out of place. 

Most non-Imperial characters in the Star Wars Universe speak in a somewhat formal manner with a flat, nondescript accent. There's also a timeless quality to their speech, as they tend to avoid current slang and references.

Burr sounds like he just stepped out of 2020, and doesn't bother to hide his prominent Boston accent. He feels way too modern, and sticks out like a sore thumb.

By the way, what's up with The Mandalorian's obsession with casting comedians in bit parts? So far in the first two seasons we've seen Horatio Sanz, Brian Posehn, Amy Sedaris, Richard Ayoade and Jason Sudeikis! Are they all friends of series creator Jon Favreau?

• Boba Fett's armor gets a brand new coat of paint in this episode, making it look like it just came off the assembly line!

Thanks, I hate it!

I think the problem is that Boba Fett's been around for forty years at this point, and in all that time his armor has ALWAYS been scratched, scraped and dinged. I'm sure this shiny new paint job was supposed to impress the audience, but it had precisely the opposite effect on me. It makes his armor look... fake, for want of a better word. It's like bad cosplay or a cheap Halloween costume now.

And when did this upgrade happen? Presumably Manny was in a hurry to get Baby Yoda back, and wanted to pick up Mayfeld as quickly as possible. Did Fett make a quick stop at Space Lowe's first though to pick up a couple of cans of armor paint? Or did he just happen to have some in the Slave 1's storage locker? And when did he actually do the painting? While the ship was traveling through hyperspace to the prison facility?

I guess all that's possible, as we've seen that hyperspace travel isn't instantaneous and it still takes a while to get from system to system. It just seems odd to me though that Boba Fett would take the time to give himself a makeover in the middle of a major rescue operation like this.

• Last week I mentioned that I've always liked the look of the Slave 1, even though its design is incredibly awkward and impractical. Because of the way it's configured, the ship has to lay on its back in order to land! That means anyone inside it ends up on their back as well.

Or do they? In this episode we see Manny and the others in the passenger area of the ship. It appears that this section is on some sort of gimble, and rotates as the ship tilts forward so that anyone inside it always stays level with the ground!

Oddly enough though, later in the episode we see Boba Fett in the cockpit of the landed Slave 1 and sure enough, he's lying flat on his back. Apparently the control center of the ship's in a fixed position, which seems like poor design. If ever there was a section that should stay level, you'd think it'd be the cockpit.

• The Star Wars Universe is a strange and puzzling place at times. It's filled with planet-sized spaceships, hyperspace drives, laser swords, sentient robots and all sorts of other highly advanced technology.

Yet when Manny wants to locate Gideon's ship, he can't just hack into a local computer to find him. Instead he has to physically travel to another planet and log onto an Imperial computer to look up the info.

What the hell? Who wrote this episode, my Dad? He used to think he could only access his email account on his own computer!

This would be like having to drive to Amazon's HQ in Seattle to order an item from their website.

It reminds me of the movie A.I., in which the robot characters David and Gigolo Joe have to physically travel to New York City to find Doctor Know (who's a holographic search engine) in order to ask him a question— rather than simply going online and doing it.

• The plot of this week's episode revolves around Manny & Co. obtaining Gideon's coordinates in order to rescue Baby Yoda.

What's the deal with these coordinates though? Gideon's on a spaceship, right? You know, a ship that can fly through hyperspace and cruise around the galaxy? How could there ever be fixed coordinates for him? Even if Manny finds out his location, there's no guarantee he'd still be there by the time he arrives.

They could have easily plugged this plot hole with a simple line of dialogue, stating that Gideon was returning to his home base or heading towards an Imperial research facility.

• Manny and his gang reach the planet Morak, where the Imperials have a rhydonium mining facility. They then argue over who's going to infiltrate the place and look up the coordinates. Mayfeld suggests he go alone, but the others insist someone accompany him.

Manny's out, as he can never remove his helmet. Dune can't go, as she's a former Republic soldier. Fennec's a no-go as well, as she's wanted by the Imperials. Manny then suggests Boba Fett accompany Mayfeld. Fett politely declines, saying, "Let's just say they might recognize my face."

HAW! Of course the Imperials would recognize him! He's a clone of his "father" Jango Fett. Just as all the Clone Troopers were back in the Prequels!

If an Imperial Officer recognizing Fett's face is a bad thing, then I guess that means there are no more Clones serving the Empire during this era? Apparently Stormtroopers are now all conscripted citizens and not grown in a vat.

• The Juggernauts (aka Imperial Combat Assault Transports) featured so prominently in this episode appear to be a new type of vehicle.

They're similar in design though to the HAVw A6 Juggernaut used by the Republic forces in Attack Of The Clones...

As well as the HCVw A9 Turbo Tanks seen on Wobani in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

• The driver of one of the Juggernauts notifies the base that he's entering a tunnel. Seconds later, Manny, Dune and Mayfeld jump on the vehicle and take out the drivers. Manny & Mayfeld put on the drivers' uniforms and armor, then stand around talking to Dune for a while before eventually climbing into the Juggernaut and continuing toward the base.

The vehicles seemed to be in constant contact with the Imperials, who appeared to be monitoring their progress. Didn't anyone in the base wonder why this particular Juggernaut stopped dead inside a tunnel for fifteen minutes before going on its way?

As we see a bit later, the rhydonium becomes unstable if it's jostled around or the transport travels too fast. Maybe the base assumed the Juggernaut deliberately stopped to give the explosive substance time to settle down.

• Manny & Mayfeld drive the Juggernauts toward the Imperial Base. Along the way, Mayfeld taunts Manny, trying to ge a rise out of him, saying:

"I don't know. Seems to me like your rules start to change when you get desperate. I mean, look at ya. You said you couldn't take your helmet off, and now you got a stormtrooper one on, so what's the rule? Is it that you can't take off your Mando helmet, or you can't show your face? 'Cause there is a difference."

I assume this must be a rhetorical question, as Manny's literally wearing a Transport Trooper helmet instead of his own when Mayfeld asks this.

• At first I thought Manny's Transport Trooper armor was a brand new design.

I poked around various Star Wars sites to make sure, and found that It's clearly based on the Tank Trooper armor from Rogue One. There are some differences of course— especially in the chest plates— but the helmets look identical though.

• Rhydonium first appeared in The Clone Wars episode Missing In Action and has since been featured or mentioned in various Star Wars media. 

• As Mayfeld accelerates the Juggernaut to escape from the approaching pirates, the highly volatile rhydonium becomes unstable and sets off an alarm on the dashboard.

The Aurebesh text on the screen here translates to "WARNING." For some reason though, the letters are reversed! You can tell because the third letter (which corresponds to "R") should look sort of like the numeral 7.

But it gets weirder. The shot isn't simply flopped— only the letters are. So they don't spell "GNINRAW," they still say "WARNING." Somehow the letters are backwards but not the word itself. What the hell?

However this happened, I'm assuming the producers didn't bother to fix the error because they didn't think anyone in the audience would be nerdy enough to notice. But we did, production team. We did.

• Manny climbs onto the top of the Juggernaut and battles the pirates. He manages to shoot a couple and knock them off the vehicle. He then takes careful aim at a third, slowly squeezes the trigger and is horrified to find the blaster's empty.

To my knowledge this is the first time in the entire history of Star Wars that a blaster has ever run out of ammo. And at the most plot-convenient time too!

I always assumed blasters used some sort of nearly-inexhaustible power supply, not finite cartridges. Maybe this one didn't run out of ammo, but actually jammed?

Whatever happened, it's brand new. And as is traditional in film and TV, once he realizes the gun's empty he throws it at his enemy!

• The alien pirates, with their droopy jowls, appear to be a new race we've not seen before.

So are these pirates indigenous Morakians? I'm not so sure. A few minutes before they attack, Manny and Mayfeld drive through a village full of poor and downtrodden humans. Mayfeld sees them and comments:

"Yeah. Empire, New Republic. It's all the same to these people. Invaders on their land is all we are."

That statement makes it sound like these humans are the ones native to the planet. So where the hell did the pirates come from? Do they live here too? Who knows?

I suppose this could be another situation like Mon Cala, a planet in the SWU that houses TWO completely different intelligent species.

OK, the Imperials know how dangerous it is to transport the rhydonium from the mine to the refinery. So why don't they provide a TIE Fighter escort for all incoming Juggernauts? Why let 90% of them get picked off by pirates?

The real world answer of course is so we could have a thrilling and exciting setpiece battle atop the vehicle. The in-universe answer though... you got me.

• The pirates attempt to blow up the Juggernaut by attaching thermal detonators to the rhydonium containers. These detonators are identical to the one used by Boushh (aka Princess Leia) in Return Of The Jedi.

• I'm sure this was probably a digital stunt— considering the way the pirate bounces off a spinning tire— but I was still impressed by it though, as it looked like it really hurt. And if it WAS real, then kudos to the stuntman!

• Just when it looks like all is lost for Manny and Mayfeld, two TIE Fighters swoop down out of the sky and blow up the pirates real good.
Seconds later, a squad of Stormtrooper rush out and pick off the rest of them.

Then as Manny & Mayfeld drive the Juggernaut into the base, they're saluted by the various flavors of troopers.

But... why? Why exactly were Manny & Mayfeld hailed as heroes when they arrived? The TIEs and troopers did all the hard work

Maybe the base was monitoring the Juggernaut and saw all the hand-to-hand combat between Manny & the pirates, hence the big welcome.

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. Inside the base we see dozens of generic Stormtroopers. But there're also a large number of Shore Troopers, first seen in Rogue One. In that movie this particular brand of trooper was designed for tropical environments, and was stationed on Scarif, a world filled with thousands of beautiful, pristine beaches.

So... where're the shores on this planet? It looks like a forest world, with nary a body of water to be seen. 

Obviously the Shore Troopers weren't intended solely for tropical climates.

• Another Observation: As the troopers welcome the "heroes" to the Imperial base, we see what appear to be a couple of Joe Lunchpails in the crowd, wearing coveralls and hardhats! 

This actually makes sense! Everyone in service of the Empire can't be some kind of Stormtrooper. Someone needs to make sure the TIE Fighters are tuned up and running properly, sling food in the cafeteria and clean the bathrooms. It's about time these unsung but incredibly important champions got their due!

• Mayfeld spots an Imperial computer terminal inside the Officer's Mess. As he enters the room, he just happens to spot Valin Hess, his former commanding officer from his days as an Imperial trooper. Afraid that Hess will recognize him, he tells Manny the mission's off. Manny then grabs the flash drive, er I mean code cylinder and obtains Gideon's coordinates himself.

This entire scene is a goldmine of plot holes, coincidence, stupidity and poor writing, and is quite possibly the worst sequence in the entire series (so far). Get comfortable, kids, as I tear it a new one!

First of all, this looks like a pretty big base. In fact I'm betting it contains dozens, if not hundreds of computer terminals. When Mayfeld's afraid to use the one near Hess, why doesn't he simply look for another one somewhere in the building? One that's out of the way, where he won't be recognized or interrupted?

Secondly, what are the odds that Mayfeld would run into his former commanding officer on a secret Imperial base on this backwater planet? Ah, coincidence. The crutch of the lazy screenplay.

Unwilling to call off the mission, Manny accesses the terminal himself. Unfortunately it requires a facial scan, meaning he'll have to remove his helmet. Doing so is unthinkable for one of his kind, but recovering Baby Yoda is so important to him that he does so anyway.

This should have been a watershed moment in the series, as it's the first time in his life he's ever exposed his face in front of another living being. In fact his creed demands that if he ever does reveal his face he can't put the helmet on again. I cannot emphasize enough what a big deal this is in his culture, and what it means for him.

Unfortunately the scene's shot in such a lifeless, matter-of-fact way that you'd never know this was a major moment. Manny literally just reaches up and pulls his helmet off, the way a suburban husband takes off his hat when he walks in the door. There's no drama or weight to his action whatsoever, which completely ruined the scene.

Lastly, when Manny submits to the terminal's facial scan, it inexplicably approves him and grants access to the Imperial network. Think about that for a second. No living person or scanner has ever seen Manny's face before, which means there's absolutely no record of him in the Empire's database. So why in the name of sanity does it let him in? At the very least, shouldn't the terminal have set off some sort of "Unauthorized User" alarm? 

This would be like me gaining access to the Pentagon by showing my driver's license to the guard at the front gate.

• Unfortunately for Manny, Valin Hess notices his suspicious behavior and demands to know his "TK number." Mayfeld swoops in and provides a fake one, explaining that Manny's hard of hearing "since his vessel lost pressure at Taanab." He then grabs Manny's arm and tries to lead him away, saying, "Come on, let's go fill out those TPS reports." Several things here:

The TK number first appeared way back in A New Hope, where a Death Star officer called for a Stormtrooper designated as TK-421. Apparently it's an ID indicator for Imperial troopers.

We first heard the name Taanab back in Return Of The Jedi, in which Lando Calrissian explained how he became a general by saying, 
"Someone must have told them all about my little maneuver at the battle of Taanab." Note though that Lando pronounced the planet's name as "Tuh-NAHB," while Mayfeld calls it "TAY-nab."

Sigh... then lastly, Mayfeld makes a cringeworthy and horribly out of place mention of TPS reports, which is a very blatant reference to Office Space. Because what goes with Star Wars better than cynical workplace comedy?

• Last week I noted that when Fennec first appeared she was a ruthless, cold-blooded assassin who actively tried to kill Manny. Then in The Tragedy she teamed up with Boba Fett and was suddenly all about honor and duty, and pledged to help Manny rescue Baby Yoda. She literally became a completely different character in between seasons.

And so it is with Mayfeld here. Back in Season 1's The Prisoner, he was a cutthroat mercenary who physically abused Baby Yoda and attempted to kill Manny. Suddenly in this episode he's working alongside Manny, without any intention of betraying him. Even more amazing, he's suddenly concerned for the plight of the the average citizen of the SWU, showing real concern for the poor and oppressed villagers outside the base. What the hell?

I suppose it's possible that a year in prison mellowed Mayfeld's outlook and demeanor. But his change of character's a little too abrupt, feels unearned and comes off as jarring to me.

• Imperial Officer Valin Hess is played by actor Richard Brake. He's no stranger to genre projects, as he's appeared in numerous movies and TV shows. He's probably best known for playing The Night King in Game Of Thrones.

He does a particularly good job here, giving Hess a slimy, oily and very unsettling quality.

Looks like this is Accent Week on The Mandalorian. First we have Mayfeld, who, as I pointed out earlier, has an inexplicable Boston accent. And now there's Valin Hess, who's apparently from the Southern part of the Star Wars galaxy. Hess speaks with a prominent Southern drawl, despite the fact that Richard Brake is from Wales.

• Hess insists that Manny & Mayfeld join him for a drink, and asks what they should toast. Mayfeld, seething with anger toward his former commander, suggests Operation: Cinder. 

First off, Operation: Cinder was devised by Darth Sidious, and was designed to punish the Empire in the event it failed to prevent his death. Once he died at the end of Return Of The Jedi, officers loyal to Sidious targeted various Imperial planets, including Burnin Konn— where Mayfeld was stationed. How he survived the bombardment is apparently "a story for another day."

When Mayfeld mentions Burnin Konn, Hess says, "Now there's a man who knows his history." But wait a minute... at this point in the timeline, Operation: Cinder happened just four years ago! Does that seem like "history" to you?

• Fennec Shand and Cara Dune don't get a lot of lines this week, but the two of them were definitely the MVPs of the episode. Without their sharpshooting and sniper skills, Manny and Mayfeld would have been killed ten times over by the Stormtroopers who were after them.

This is as good a time as any to take a moment and give a shoutout to the kickass women of The Mandalorian. Over and over this show features strong, independent female characters who are every bit as competent as the males— if not more so!

Best of all, these ladies are awesome on their own merits, and don't build themselves up by tearing down or diminishing their male counterparts (as Captain Marvel and the Thirteenth Doctor consistently do). Which is exactly as it should be!

Kudos to series creator Jon Favreau for giving us so many awesome female characters!

• Cara Dune needs to invest in some new clothes. She's been wearing that same outfit since last season. Let's hope she launders it regularly. Or that they have stink-proof clothing in the SWU.

• Manny & Mayfeld run up to the roof of the base, where they're picked up by Boba Fett in the Slave 1. The Imperials then send a measly two TIE Fighters after them. Fortunately Boba Fett's able to obliterate the TIEs with one of his ship's patented seismic charges.

Note that the seismic charge looks, explodes and sounds exactly like the one that Jango Fett launched against Obi-Wan in Attack Of The Clones.

• Once inside the Slave 1, Mayfeld grabs a blaster and fires it at one of the rhydonium-laden Juggernauts on the ground. This starts a chain reaction that completely destroys the entire Imperial base.

So help me out with his motivation here. Mayfeld used to be a sharpshooter in the Imperial army, and was presumably a loyal soldier. That all changed during Operation: Cinder, which wiped out Mayfeld's entire division (except, somehow, for him). He's now pissed at the Empire in general and his former commander Valin Hess in particular, for sacrificing his fellow troopers "for the greater good." Mayfeld believes they were treated as cannon fodder, as the infantrymen had no say in their deaths.

All well and good, and I have no trouble understanding his attitude here.

But then at the very end of the episode he takes a parting shot and blows up the Imperial base. A base filled with infantrymen who had no say in their deaths

What the hell? Isn't he now just as bad as Hess? If not worse? Adding to the confusion, Mayfeld seems quite pleased with himself after his little genocide, saying he can now sleep soundly after killing several thousand men.

Maybe I'm just particularly dense, but I honestly don't understand his rapidly conflicting and variable motivation in this episode.

• Callback Moment: In the final seconds of the episode, Manny sends a personal message to Gideon, warning him that he's coming for Baby Yoda:

"Moff Gideon. You have something I want. You may think you have some idea what you are in possession of, but you do not. Soon, he will be back with me. He means more to me than you will ever know."

This is almost word for word what Gideon said back in Season 1's The Reckoning, when he demanded Manny hand over the Child: 

"You have something I want. You may think you have some idea of what you are in possession of, but you do not. In a few moments, it will be mine. It means more to me than you will ever know."

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