The Mandalorian

"Chapter 15: The Believer"

3 stars

Air date: 12/11/2020
Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Our new motley crew of heroes (Din Djarin, Cara Dune, Boba Fett, Fennec Shand) travel to a penal colony to recruit Migs Mayfeld (Bill Burr) into their adventure in exchange for a temporary release. (He crossed paths with Mando in last season's "The Prisoner" and got a lengthy prison sentence in the fallout.) They need Mayfeld because he's a former Imperial soldier who may know how to find Moff Gideon in Mando's quest to rescue the abducted Grogu.

Mayfeld directs the group to a mining operation on an Imperial-occupied world that exhibits a grittier war-torn impact than most Star Wars settings (the locals have clearly seen better days). If they can get into the base, they can access information on the whereabouts of Gideon's ship. Mando and Mayfeld pose as stormtroopers and seize control of one of the cargo trucks full of the flammable fuel, which they hope to drive straight into the base. But local marauders complicate the plan when they try to destroy the cargo convoy on its way back.

At first, "The Believer" seems to be settling into the tried-and-true Mandalorian action formula: Set up a MacGuffin-like mission to facilitate a long and elaborate action sequence. It does indeed do that, with Mando in his undercover stormtrooper outfit (far inferior to beskar armor) riding atop the transport trying to fend off waves of attackers and their thermal detonators. It's fun stuff, but after the extended TIE fighter pursuit through the ravine in "The Siege," these sorts of things start to seem a bit familiar.

Fortunately, there's more here, and it makes for yet another very solid episode of this compulsively entertaining action show. Once back at the base, Mando and Mayfeld have to retrieve the intel. But that requires a face scan, which requires Djarin to remove his helmet in the name of the mission even though it goes against the Way. (One quibble: Any security system that's only denying the known blacklist rather than requiring you to be an authorized user isn't worth much.) This series is clearly going to bide its time and make a Big Deal whenever its main character takes off his helmet once per season, but Pedro Pascal gets by far more face time here than in all the other episodes combined, and the story makes it work thanks to the earlier discussion about it between Djarin and Mayfeld.

Really, a surprising amount of this lives or dies on Bill Burr's performance, and he fits right into the team so much that I'd hoped he'd stick around. Like with his stand-up, Burr is someone who is funny (at one point Mayfeld references "TPS reports") but also seems to have a simmering rage lurking beneath the surface, ready to come out at any point. Mayfeld runs into a slimy commander from his past that he hates for his indifference in sending his buddies to die. Even after the mission is accomplished, Mayfeld can't look the other way after listening to the guy ramble on about fascism and feels compelled to shoot him in the middle of the break room. (I was reminded of how Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained just couldn't on principle let that one last thing go, despite knowing his ensuing action would be tactically disastrous.)

The big escape at the end shows how this series can work with the whole team involved, with Dune and Shand providing sniper cover, and Fett driving the getaway vehicle. It's well-executed if familiar stuff, and I was practically fist-pumping when Boba Fett deployed his seismic charges to take out the TIE fighters. (Seriously, those are one of the great weapons dreamed up in Star Wars.)

This sets up another season finale against Gideon, in which I hope he gets more screen time. Giancarlo Esposito has unfortunately felt largely wasted in walk-on roles this season, with his most prominent part having come at the end of last week's "The Tragedy." He's more of a looming presence in the margins than a character. But I guess you could say a lot of the characters on this show are somewhat thin, because they're defined by actions more than dialogue. Mayfeld seems to be an outlier, on the account that he talks a lot.

Previous episode: Chapter 14: The Tragedy
Next episode: Chapter 16: The Rescue

◄ Season Index

47 comments on this post

Kyle A
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 7:40am (UTC -6)
Man, how does a show keep delivering week after week, another winner. And when a certain weapon we’ve seen in the movies was used towards the end of the episode, I couldn’t help but laugh and say “YES!”
Latex Zebra
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 10:20am (UTC -6)
Oh man. I can't believe we only have one episode left and then probably a year wait for the next one!

Still at least Disney+ looks to be dropping a lot of their Marvel content soon. But still!

Another cracking episode, the mess hall scene was amazing, tense as you like.
Geekgarious
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
Pretty good episode. Not as good as the last two, but still fun. Seems silly of Mando to taunt Gideon. hope Gideon gets more to do in the finale.
Chris Lopes
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 12:52pm (UTC -6)
"Seems silly of Mando to taunt Gideon."

I'm hoping it's part of a larger plan to draw him out and direct his attention elsewhere. Gideon might not know about all of Mando's new allies.
Yanks
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 6:33pm (UTC -6)
I so enjoy this series.

Bill Burr does pretty damn good in the acting department. This is his second go-around in 'The Mandalorian' and he's nailed it both times. Particularly good in this one.

This series takes a standard shoot'em up "train robbery" show and makes it engaging.

I like every one of these damn characters!

Mando loses his armor for Stormtrooper get-up and I think he actually forgot he didn't have it on in his first go at the pirates. He got hit in the left arm and I felt like it said "damn!!!" But then he figured it out and show some serious hand-to-hand fighting skills.

What a pair Cara and Fennec are... hot and bad as hell. :omg: :bow:

So what new toy are we going to see from Boba Fett next week? That depth-charge thingy was pretty effective. Just love his ship and we got to see how it's functional this time from the inside. Pretty cool.

Speaking of Boba Fett, looks like he got a serious tune-up with his armor... did I miss something? When did this happen?

Loved Mando's little speech to Gideon... I think he should have ended it with... "I'm coming".

3.5 stars for me...

You know, I'm glad Mando and Boba Fett didn't fight, I much prefer rooting for both of them.

One episode to wrap it all up... I'll be bummed with no more Mando for awhile. At least we get a season 4.
Yanks
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 7:38pm (UTC -6)
Couple things...

I can't believe I was rooting for a couple of Tie fighters!!! ... especially since they were folks we would normally have been rooting for!!

Why is this episode titled "The Believer"?

Mayfield shot first!! haha
commisaro
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 11:49pm (UTC -6)
Decent episode -- that cantina scene was reminiscent of the bar scene in Inglourious Basterds. A few things didn't add up tho:

- Wouldn't Cara Dune want to access a bit more of the deployment data available on this terminal, being a newly-minted New Republic officer and all?
- The terminal scans people faces but doesn't verify that they work for the Empire?? Just to, I dunno, ensure that they have one?

Also, that Republic scrap prison was kinda dystopian. I guess Star Wars is more 40k than Star Trek.
Chris Lopes
Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 1:39pm (UTC -6)
"Why is this episode titled "The Believer"?"

Because the main characters (Mando and Mayfield) have to deal with their beliefs, or lack thereof. Mando has to choose between following the strict teachings of The Way as he has been taught (by keeping his helmet on) or finding out where The Child is. Mayfield has to choose between his professed lack of belief in anything beyond himself and his loyalty and feelings for dead comrades. In the end, Mando doesn't let a rule stop him from completing the mission, and Mayfield doesn't let his sense of self-preservation stop him from taking vengeance for the lives of the soldiers he lived and fought with.
Yanks
Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
Thanks Chris Lopes. I guess that makes sense.
Leen
Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
Empire Economy/Planning makes no sense to me. What kind of an operation does the Empire run where they routinely lose 100% of their important shipments to pirated so that any one that makes it is treated like a hero?

This whole show is written like a video game scenario.
MarkG
Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 3:59pm (UTC -6)
@Leen, to add to that thought, why are the Tie fighters not providing air support to these important shipments except from 100 meters from the base? :D
CaptainMercer
Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 9:37pm (UTC -6)
Note to Rian Johnson.. everything that you TRIED to do with DJ and failed, they succeeded here.. and even with that they managed to cram more and BETTER action (as well as more nuance) in 35 minutes than Rian got in over two and a half hours. but it just shows how you write SW and how you don't as this episode was nailing what Rian was trying for with DJ but failed!!!!

I'm not familiar with Bill Burr.. I heard he is mainly a comedian. Let me tell you.. even if Mayfield represents the only type of character he can play, I've seen actors with less range than one character succeed. He was absolutely fantastic in this episode. Not just funny (though his "you think?" line was perfectly delivered and hilarious) but he was very nuanced. The moment he made the decision to save Mando and therefore Grogu even if it meant that he might die was so perfect.

The more I think about this episode, the better it gets. The writing, the performances. Even the action. I love how when Cara and Fennec are shooting troopers at the dam, the camera follows them a while as they fall. These are movie-quality shots. I also love the shot where Mando throws the thermal detonator, and when it explodes, it blows him back.. all in the same shot
Henson
Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 11:01pm (UTC -6)
I'm only following casually, only watching clips, but Bill Burr feels like such a breath of fresh air: he's an actual character. In comparison, Mando is boring, Cara is boring, Bo Katan is boring, Asohka is boring (which is odd, since I liked her in Rebels), Boba Fett is boring...
Ian
Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 11:59pm (UTC -6)
Another good episode. Amazing job by Bill Burr who plays Mayfield. Now he's a likeable character. I wish he left the planet with them.
CaptainMercer
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 6:36am (UTC -6)
I watched it again.. Burr is so damn good. Like I know almost nothing about him, but his timing, his delivery.. it's really good. And his facial expressions throughout the mess hall scene.. just so damn good
Yanks
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 7:01am (UTC -6)
@Leen

"Empire Economy/Planning makes no sense to me. What kind of an operation does the Empire run where they routinely lose 100% of their important shipments to pirated so that any one that makes it is treated like a hero?

This whole show is written like a video game scenario."

This is nothing new in the Star Wars universe.
Master Plo
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 7:14am (UTC -6)
Was it suggested in the episode that what was happening with the pirates was routine? I didn't notice that. Maybe they'd just been having pirate troubles in last few days, or weeks.
Austin
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 10:18am (UTC -6)
I’d give this episode 3 stars, possibly 3.5. It was still very good, but not the same caliber as the previous 3, all of which were 4 stars in my opinion. The pirates scene in particular was ok, but not great. One thing I did like about it was when Mando got hit, he was like “Ouch. This stormtrooper armor really sucks compared to my armor.” Maybe they’ll explore this later in an Iron Man “does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man” type of story.

The shot of the villagers as a Vietnam allegory was a nice touch, adding some humanity to a universe where entire planets can get kablooied in the blink of an eye. I also enjoyed the Magnificent 7 vibes. One question though, if Mando never takes his helmet off in front of other people (and I think the loophole here is that he’s not taking HIS helmet off), then why does he bother trimming a mustache? It’s more work.

@CaptainMercer: “ I watched it again.. Burr is so damn good. Like I know almost nothing about him, but his timing, his delivery.. it's really good. And his facial expressions throughout the mess hall scene.. just so damn good”

Bill Burr prior to this, is one of my favorite comedians. Blue, but not offensively so. If you think his acting timing is great, his comedic timing is amazing. Like you though, I had no idea about his acting chops. He was fantastic in this episode and the previous one he was in.
Latex Zebra
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 5:40pm (UTC -6)
@Leen - Yes because the economy of building a Death Star and loads of massive Star Destroyers and crewing them all is totally realistic.
Diederick
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 8:30am (UTC -6)
When the seismic charge went off, I said to my wife: right. Yes. In an atmosphere, they do make sense.

We very much enjoyed this.
Chris W
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 10:52am (UTC -6)
This show is infinitely better than Discovery, hands down. This is the way.
Mark
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 6:36pm (UTC -6)
@Chris W:
"This show is infinitely better than Discovery, hands down. This is the way."

Don't you mean, "I have spoken"? ;-)
Dave in MN
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 8:51pm (UTC -6)
This was a ⭐⭐⭐ episode. Enjoyable but somewhat flawed.

A few comments:

#1. I missed seeing Baby Yoda. I subtracted a half-star for no Grogu.

#2. Bill Burr is a great actor when given intelligent material. His character makes much more sense this go around.

#3. After Mayfeld gave his speech about colonialism, I found myself sympathizing with the natives (And no, it wasn't because our heroes were wearing Stormtrooper gear). The heroic soundtrack told me I should be cheering .... and I wasn't.

#4. I like how Mando is slowly but surely becoming less fanatical in his adherence to needless formality about keeping his head covered .... although the cynic in me says he'll regret not wearing his helmet at a certain point. (J wonder if any of the writers see a parallel between Mando's internal struggle and current Earthly religions that insist on head coverings for women) .

I'm sure Pedro Pascal is also happy about that. He gets face time!

However ....

#4. .... the plot makes a point to show Empire computer scanning his face (his head actually) and there's no no problem? Um, what? Subtracting a half star for that too. That was atypically dumb.

#5. The ignorant Empire officer speaks with a Southern accent? I'm just making an observation.

#6. I love Mando throwing Moff Gideon's words back in his face (although how was he able to exactly quote him?)

I'm excited for next week!
Dave in MN
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 8:52pm (UTC -6)
^

I proofread because you can't edit a post and I somehow still mess something up.

I swear I know how to count!
Ian
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 8:57pm (UTC -6)
@Austin " ...why does he bother trimming a mustache? It’s more work." I was wondering about that too but I'm sure it's really a Pedro Pascal thing not a Mando one.

Given how little direct sunlight Mando comes in contact with he should look really pale and have a severe case of helmet hair but this is probably nit-picking.
CaptainMercer
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
@Dave in NM
The scan works like a Captcha today.. it doesn't verify who you are.. just that you are a human and not a robot. When Fett said he couldn't go in, it's because he is exactly like a clone which they phased out. The reason Dune and Fennec couldn't go is that the ISB is actively looking for Fennec and Dune is actually with the New Republic. But there are legions of stormtroopers.. and the implication is that the technology (in terms of information processing) isn't as good as our tech today (just like the rear-view monitors on the Juggernauts look like old VCR footage) .. so the database is just checking mainly to see if you are a "human" and not a clone
Dave in MN
Tue, Dec 15, 2020, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
@ CaptainMercer

That seems like a plausible explanation....

... except they have faster-than-light travel, cloning, holograms, force fields, artificial intelligence and cryogenics. They've existed as a space faring civilisation for millenia and have contact with almost every sentient speciies in the galaxy.

Maybe it's just a continuity conceit of the universe (like the sets of Trek's original series being canon despite their dated nature) and I'll accept it if that's the case .... but, in-universe, I don't think it's plausible that their computational abilities are at a early-1990s level.

I felt it was natural to assume it was a scan to check identity (especially after they just showed us files of criminals that included their photos and personal information).
CaptainMercer
Wed, Dec 16, 2020, 4:18am (UTC -6)
Yeah,.. I've thought about it a bit. The original SW film was made a while ago.. as was 2001 A Space odyssey.. and though these films have obvious advances over us, anything about information processing is more primitive. The Empire and even the first order have very simple little diagrams for their radars, like when Finn and Poe escape together in a TIE. Despite how ubiquitous the tech is in SW, I've noticed (at least in the original films and the sequels.. this was kind of worked against in the prequels) almost none of the technology really improved the quality of life. They still lived rough lives.. things like shipboard computers still depended on blinking lights etc. I noticed that Fett had to press like FOUR buttons, including one above his head, to release his Seismic charges. Perhaps the New Republic is putting serious work into developing their databases, they want to track all of their prisoners, and keep good tabs on loyal systems in order to not lose everything they gained from the destruction of the Empire proper.. which is why the two X wings cops didn't have too much of problem pulling up The Mandalorian and the Razor Crest earlier this season.
CaptainMercer
Wed, Dec 16, 2020, 4:20am (UTC -6)
@Dave in NM
the above message is my reply to you.

Also, happy holidays,..
Love discussing this nerdy stuff
AndreRhineDavis
Wed, Dec 16, 2020, 5:09am (UTC -6)
I guess it sort of makes sense that the face scanner could simply let anyone in as long as their faces aren't on some "unauthorised" list (of known criminals and such), but it would make much more sense for it to only let people in if they're on some "authorised" list (of imperial officers and soldiers).

Then again, this is the same Empire that allowed any droid aboard the Death Star to just plug in and control any system without any sort of authorisation check, as R2D2 was able to do in A New Hope. Security in the Star Wars universe is incredibly lax in comparison to modern cryptographic standards.
Albert Walding
Wed, Dec 16, 2020, 2:00pm (UTC -6)
@AndreRhineDavis
In one of Timothy Zahns EU-Novels an Alliance-Officer remarks that it used to be very simpel to infiltrate the Empire at the height of its power. There were so many outposts and ships that it was impossible to keep everybody up to date of everything. So it usually sufficed if a ship had a valid recognition code to be accepted as legitimate even if it did not show up on any registry of imperial vessels.

So as stupid as checking only against known unauthorized personal may seem to us it may have been the best they could do without disrupting their own operations to much just because the records were always out of date.
CaptainMercer
Wed, Dec 16, 2020, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
"Do they have a code clearance?"
"It's an older code, sir, but it checks out."

Sounds like the same organization that would make a scanner like this.. especially with more stormtroopers than they can possibly file paperwork for
Matt W
Wed, Dec 16, 2020, 6:10pm (UTC -6)
"The Believer" may also refer to the Imperial officer whom Mayfield shoots.

Fucking unbelievably fantastic episode. Three in a row, too, with "The Jedi" and "The Tragedy" before this.
Dave in MN
Wed, Dec 16, 2020, 8:36pm (UTC -6)
What if Boba Fett got plastic surgery? Could he trick the scanner? 😉

I'm just joshing, but I do appreciate the explanation.
Dave in MN
Wed, Dec 16, 2020, 9:06pm (UTC -6)
^

That was @ Captain Mercer.

Hope you (and everyone else) enjoys the holidays!

PS I'm assuming by your screen name that this will be good news!

The Orville resumed filming on the 4th of this month and, at that point, they had six and a half episodes filmed. They already have all the Space VFX done, the soundtrack recorded and the remaining scripts had time for a bit more tweaking.

If they're running at an episode a week, I wouldn't be suprised if episode 9 is filmed before Christmas break. The end is in sight!!

Also, considering the current entrainment drought due to the shutdowns, I wouldn't be surprised if Hulu asks them for a few more episodes. It's a lot easier to up the season order when the show is already in motion.
CaptainMercer
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 1:56am (UTC -6)
@Dave in MN

Nice.. I heard that they resumed but I didn't know all those specifics. As a Trek fan in his 40s I really love the show.. it's like watching "new reruns".. I love the crew, and that they shoot it like TNG.. and yet it's not weighed down in cynicism. I just really enjoy spending time with the crew and "living" on that ship. That would be incredible if Hulu wanted more episodes but not sure how rigidly planned the season is. Maybe they can do another couple of stand-alone bottle episodes like "Deflectors" and "Lasting Impressions" (both excellent episodes form Season 2)) that really develop the characters.

I cannot wait to go back. I watch every episode of Discovery, but I often am left cold.. but following an episode of Disco with an Orville episode cheers me up .. they didn't reinvent the wheel.. but they just brought me back

Thanks for the good news!
CaptainMercer
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 2:07am (UTC -6)
@Matt W

After watching the episode I thought it might also be that officer to which the title refers to. OMG he was so great. "WHAT's YOUR NAME, OFFICER."

hard to believe this 35 minute episode contains everything I love from from action, to Star Wars fanservice and worldbuilding.. but most of all just a great damn story.. with actual character development. I never imagined I'd be seeing this
CaptainMercer
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 2:21am (UTC -6)
Dave @ MN

I meant to add: happy h9olidays to you as well. i don't have any kids so the holidays are pretty low key for me. Might watch Tenet again
Latex Zebra
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 7:05am (UTC -6)
@Jammer - Will you be retrospectively reviewing season one when this has finished?
I think you'll have a while before season 3 airs and I think season 1 has some great talking points.
Jammer
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 8:19am (UTC -6)
@Latex Zebra: Yes. It is already underway. We are doing a rewatch as we bring our kids into the viewing.
Andersonh1
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
This show continues to be SO GOOD week after week. My only complaint, and it's a small one, is that this season had three or four episodes in a row where Din shows up, meets someone, and helps solve a local problem before he can keep moving forward with his quest. So things felt slightly repetitive. But that's a minor quibble.
Jammer
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 12:35am (UTC -6)
Review now posted.
Latex Zebra
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 3:25am (UTC -6)
@Jammer - Awesome, look forward to those. My son is a huge fan. He reminds me every Thursday night we have The Mandlorian the next day.
Thank the maker for Baby Yoda/The Child/Grogu for getting loads of kids into Star Wars,
Booming
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 6:18pm (UTC -6)
Well acted by Bill Burr. I was surprised by how not annoyed I was by him. Maybe a few lines too many but I thought he made it through the dramatic scenes pretty successful. Who knew?!
Patrick D
Mon, Dec 21, 2020, 4:44am (UTC -6)
Fuck Bill Burr and his bordering-on-alt-right "comedy". That is all.
Dave in MN
Mon, Dec 21, 2020, 9:38am (UTC -6)
Most people that are creatively inclined are akso flawed human beings.

If we judged every creation by the worst thing it's creator said or did, we'd have no entertainment.
Naomi
Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 2:05pm (UTC -6)
The taunt had me squealing. Mando is so BADASS. I started working out again because of this show.

But yeah. The line about "they think they want freedom, but what they really want is order" takes me back to high school history class, when our teacher asked us, as a mind experiment, to defend fascism.

Mayfeld and Mando's discussion about malleable ethics was amazing, enhanced by the fact that Mando wouldn't even engage and explain that swapping helmets isn't actually a betrayal of his code.

Mando took off his helmet! But this was cheapened for me. The whole point of Mando logging in instead of Mayfeld was that Mayfeld didn't want to get recognized. Then he... immediately stepped in and wasn't recognized. So Mando was seen by other living beings for the first time for... literally no reason. Wish it was more crucial.

Interesting point about the natives on all these planets being under someone's thumb. Reminds me of Kira's speech at the beginning of DS9. Fun watching Mando kick ass even without his precious beskar.

Also, been thinking about how Mando's faith compares with Earth religions. Excited to see a huge exploration of Mandalorian lore (heehee) in season 3... and there's an opening for the Return of the Mayfeld!

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