NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Mandalorian” are present in this review
After a bit of a sour note that came during the previous week, The Mandalorian appeared to return to its original style in its sixth episode, namely a more thriller-focused, morally ambiguous showcase of the darker side behind the post-Empire era. “Chapter 6: The Prisoner” fortunately delivers a much better episode as a result, albeit one that still has a few plot hiccups, despite an overall entertaining story conflict. This conflict begins when the Mandalorian visits another old contact, Ranzar “Ran” Malk, when it once again comes time to look for some off-the-grid bounty hunting work.
The good news is that Ran has a job for the Mandalorian. The bad news is that it involves a particularly nasty former crew that the Mandalorian quite rightly severed ties with, who need his help to reclaim one of their own from a, “Rival faction.” It’s not long either before the Mandalorian learns that the, “Rival faction” in question is actually the New Republic, and that the prisoner wasn’t taken hostage, but was legally arrested. Regardless, the Mandalorian remains backed into a corner with the breakout mission, when Ran coerces him into taking the job, this time under a new team leader named Mayfeld, played by Bill Burr.
The first half of this episode begins as an entertaining heist plot, one that provides more semi-recognizable guest stars for The Mandalorian, even if they’re a bit less exciting this time. As cool as it is to see Game of Thrones’ Natalia Tena as a Twi’lek saboteur with a possible romantic connection to the Mandalorian, or The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade as reconnaissance droid, Zero, their characters don’t really manage to compare to former guest personalities like Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand, Gina Carano’s Cara Dune, or even Taika Waititi’s short-lived IG-11. Burr’s Mayfeld is arguably the best part of the crooked ensemble, nicely hammering home the uncertainty of the Mandalorian having to run with an old crew that he previously left in his rear view, due to their extreme methods.
Those extreme methods do at least create a nicely tense heist though, as the Mandalorian must capitulate to breaking into a New Republic ship, comforted by the knowledge that every crew member on board is supposed to be a droid, something that he has no problem destroying. Inevitably though, there is one human crew member that ends up being discovered, namely the security chief, whom the Mandalorian attempts to spare, before Xi’an ends up killing the guy anyway. This nicely cements that Mayfeld’s team is up to no good, and that Mayfeld himself has particularly little regard for human life, though this turn might have worked better if the crew wasn’t being so needlessly antagonistic. Ran even begins the episode by talking about how there’s no room to be stupid or reckless on the job, and yet, that’s exactly what Mayfeld does, needlessly provoking both the Mandalorian and the New Republic, which of course causes the dead security expert to activate a tracking beacon, alerting several New Republic ships to the prison breakout.
The prisoner in question also turns out to be Xi’an’s brother, Qin, but this doesn’t end up mattering much, since the heist crew betrays the Mandalorian, and ends up kicking him into Qin’s cell, before sealing it. This leads into an even more exciting second half for this episode, which unfolds like a cat-and-mouse game, after the Child starts distracting Zero, and comms eventually cut out, shortly before the Mandalorian uses one of the nearby droids to escape confinement. Upon seizing control of the security grid, the Mandalorian then starts isolating and seemingly picking off the crew members, before eventually confronting Qin, who surrenders, claiming that the Mandalorian has a code, and that he must do the job that he was hired to do.
The way that the episode keeps viewers on their toes in this second half is awesome, and this is where, “Chapter 6: The Prisoner” especially shines. Even better is that the fates of Mayfeld and his crew are nicely left ambiguous at first, despite initially kicking off with Burg being crushed between two sets of security doors, which the Mandalorian tricks him into standing near. This creates the impression that the Mandalorian is indeed killing his treacherous crew, but nonetheless, he delivers Qin to Ran as promised, and leaves with his pay, shortly before Ran demands that his crew kill the Mandalorian. Before they can blast the Razor Crest out of space however, Qin discovers that the tracking beacon was hidden on his person, and the New Republic sends several X-Wings to destroy Ran’s operation! That’s already a pretty awesome ending for this episode, but even better is the final reveal that the Mandalorian didn’t actually kill Mayfeld’s crew, and merely left them imprisoned on the New Republic ship, likely in Qin’s old cell. It’s a perfect line between ruthlessness and mercy, and it once again represents the character of the Mandalorian at his best!
Granted, Zero wasn’t so lucky, since the Mandalorian does destroy him when he goes to kill the Child (again, begging the question of why Mayfeld’s crew is being so needlessly cruel and careless), but Zero was a droid, so that’s a whole different set of rules. I wish that the Child wasn’t forced into the storyline so awkwardly, since the only reason that Mayfeld’s crew sees him is because the Mandalorian hid the Child in an easily accessible, unlocked compartment, which somewhat undermines the otherwise outstanding resourcefulness that the Mandalorian displays in this episode, but oh well. The fact remains that, “Chapter 6: The Prisoner” is a huge improvement over The Mandalorian’s very shaky fifth episode. The combination between a heist storyline and a cat-and-mouse storyline was overall executed very well, even if the plot still had to be forced along by a few contrivances with Mayfeld’s crew. Still, it’s good to see The Mandalorian rebounding, and finding its footing again, before it presumably heads into its debut season’s climax during the two subsequent episodes.
- The Mandalorian undertaking a shaky heist with a shaky crew
- Fantastic cat-and-mouse game in the second half
- Awesome ending twists that diplomatically neutralize Ran and his crew
- Mayfeld and his crew being inexplicably aggressive and reckless
- The Child's incorporation into the story is a bit awkward