While the entire Internet seems to be losing its damn mind over Baby Yoda, The Mandalorian “Chapter Six” continues the trend of the last three episodes by placing the Force-wielding child further into the background of the series. Good luck nabbing gifs this week. While the entire Bounty Hunter Guild is turning over every rock in the galaxy, Mando (Pedro Pascal) and The Child are casually looking for work in all the wrong places.
The Lone Wolf and Cub dynamic we dreamed of way back in “Chapter Two” is nowhere to be found. Sorry, kiddo, you gotta stay in your closet while Daddy galivants with traitorous scum. But what about Mr. Jangly Spurs??? We want to see Boba Fett!! (Or whoever that mystery character is.) Too bad, gang. You get Bill Burr and his fellow guest-star cronies instead.
After slapping his ship back together and leaving Tatooine in his rearview, Mando meets up with a few of his old pals aboard a rustbucket space station. Ranzar Malk (Mark Boone Jr.), the commander of the vessel and one-time partner of Mando, offers an invitation to join his crew for a New Republic (formerly the Rebel Alliance) transport jailbreak. Mando is reluctant, especially after making eyes with the gang of ragamuffins, but he needs the credits. Why? Not sure, but apparently money spends quickly when you’re on the run in the Outer Rim.
Every Western television series, whether you’re Gunsmoke or Kung Fu, eventually makes its way toward a train robbery episode, and The Mandalorian is no different. His apple dumpling gang includes a former Imperial sharpshooter named Mayfield (Burr), Burg the towering Devaron (Clancy Brown), one-time fling Xi’an (Natalia Tena), and the dependable pilot Q9-0 a.k.a. “Zero” (Richard Ayoade). They all try to dominate Mando at some point, but we know who packs the flamethrower in this crowd.
We get the impression that Mando only agrees to go along on this mission because he believes the New Republic transport will be guarded exclusively by droids, and we know how much Mando loves blasting droids. Naturally, as the crew makes their way through the cruiser’s corridors, popping sentries and exchanging hurtful barbs, they discover the one biological “egghead” (Matt Lanter, the voice of Anakin Skywalker in the Clone Wars animated series) monitoring the prisoners within.
Six weeks of caring for Baby Yoda has softened the gunslinger’s soul. Tearing robots limb from limb is all he needs to satiate his bloodlust, and he’s certainly not interested in bringing the wrath of the New Republic on his hide by executing one of their fleshy drones. His comrades feel differently, and Xi’an puts a blade in the poor kid’s ribs. Down he goes, as does the mission.
With alarms raised, the gang has to expedite the retrieval of the prisoner and make it back to Mando’s Razor Crest before a squadron of X-wing Fighters lands on their heads. They crack open the necessary cell and yank Qin (Ismael Cruz Cordova), brother of Xi’an, from within. There are more terse exchanges. Mando knows a lot of folks and seemingly doesn’t get along with any of them.
Ready to skedaddle, Mando is betrayed and locked within the cell Qin just busted outta. That doesn’t last long as he snatches a droid’s arm and uses that to free himself. Mando then brings his full fury upon his crew, beats them down, but leaves them in cells for future episodes rather than severing their souls from their bodies. See, growth!
The honorable bounty hunter makes good on his word and returns Qin to Ranzar Malk. The rule is “No Questions,” so Malk doesn’t raise a stink when none of his hired goons return with Mando and Qin. He lets Mando take off from his station, but when Mando’s back is turned, he orders a gunship to obliterate the Razor Crest. Joke’s on him, as Mando has stuffed a New Republic tracker down Qin’s pants, hailing three X-wings to his location. By the way, the pilots are played by three Mandalorian directors, Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow, and Rick Famuyiwa.
The X-wings make quick work outta Malk’s station, while Mando and Baby Yoda skirt off toward another adventure-of-the-week. The episode is slapped with “The Prisoner” subtitle, and while it absolutely refers to the duplicitous Qin as well as the group of thugs Mando leaves in lockup aboard the New Republic transport, I gotta say that it also feels like the title refers to the audience. We’re being held captive to a system of storytelling that feels dated by at least 15 years.
The Mandalorian kicked off as this epic internal struggle set against a backdrop of Star Wars, Western, and Samurai films. Our gunslinger is a driftless foundling who found purpose in the protection and comfort of another foundling. He rejected his way of life for the betterment of a child, and his clan exposed themselves in “Chapter Three” to honor their code alongside his.
That episode concluded with an all-out assault of Mandalorians versus a batch of wretched cutthroats with the implication that an entire galaxy of killers would be chasing Mando to his grave. What the last three episodes have delivered is a trilogy of aimless adventures. Stall, stall, stall.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives next week, and we only have two episodes left of The Mandalorian. The series has done a decent job of implying how the successful revolution of Return of the Jedi altered the societal and political landscape, but we have zero understanding of how the First Order will rise and result in The Force Awakens. That’s okay. That’s probably a job for a different spinoff show.
I only ask that The Mandalorian deliver on the story we were promised by those first three chapters or even the first chapter’s climax. Give us Mando and Baby Yoda. Give us the saga of his creation and the terror of his pursuit. The child obviously means a lot to the audience, but does he really mean anything to the series? Give us more than actor cameos and action figures to litter our bedrooms.