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Old Beliefs are Sacrificed in ‘The Mandalorian’ Chapter 15

Our precious Baby Yoda is nowhere to be found, making our rage as palpable as to that of our hero.
The Mandalorian Chapter
By  · Published on December 11th, 2020

The Mandalorian Explained is our ongoing series that keeps an eye on Lucasfilm’s saga about the Galaxy’s most dangerous single dad. In this entry, we look at what went down in The Mandalorian Chapter 15 — the seventh episode of Season 2 — and contemplate the morality of our hero. Yes, there be spoilers here.

If there was any doubt about how Mando Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) felt about Grogu before this week’s episode of The Mandalorian, it’s gone now. The bounty hunter who walked into a bar and snatched a Mythrol in Chapter 1 would barely recognize the Beskar-adorned daddy of Chapter 15. Previous principles are shifting. Honor matters little with the kid in danger. This is the way.

As expected, to uncover the whereabouts of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and his force-wielding prisoner, Mando requires the knowledge of former Imperial sharpshooter Migs Mayfeld (Bill Burr). Republic Marshall Cara Dune (Gina Carano) bends her own set of rules and arranges for Mayfeld to fall under her custody. Released from his shackles, Mayfeld reluctantly agrees to aid Mando on his quest to rescue “the little green guy.” What options does he really have?

Entitled “The Believer,” The Mandalorian Chapter 15 reveals itself to be a tale of choices. When faced with survival, both codes and ideologies waffle. Belief breaks for self-preservation and the good health of your loved ones. The decisions made under these circumstances are the ones that define your character and establish your path.

With the Razor Crest in pieces, Mando relies on the assistance of Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) to drag him from one pit stop to the next. Mayfeld leads the crew to a Rhydonium refinery on the planet Morak to hopefully access an ISB scanner and pinpoint Moff Gideon’s cruiser. To bust into the base, Mando agrees to shed his treasured armor and go undercover as a Juggernaut pilot alongside Mayfeld.

This raises an eyebrow, but Mando unmasks out of sight and slips into the Imperial gear with little more than a grumble. He’s not happy about it, but he’s got to get the kid. That’s the mission.

For a good portion of The Mandalorian Chapter 15, director Rick Famuyiwa transforms the action into an homage to William Friedkin’s Sorcerer (and/or Henri-Georges Clouzet’s The Wages of Fear). The Rhydonium Mando and Mayfeld are hauling in their Juggernaut is highly volatile. They must keep a slow and steady pace and avoid potholes if they’d like to keep their body from blowing to bits.

As they pass through a Morak village, Mayfeld comments that the natives don’t care whether their planet is under the boot of the Empire or the Republic. It’s the same sentiment expressed succinctly by DJ (Benicio Del Toro) in The Last Jedi. Righteousness breeds oppression.

What separates Mayfeld from Mando? To hear Migs tell it, they’re a lot alike. They do what they have to do to meet another day. If your head finds your pillow each evening, and your rest goes uninterrupted from nightmares, then that’s a victory.

Mando doesn’t have much time to argue as other Juggernauts on the road explode around them. They hit the gas as a gang of raging marauders storm their vessel. Mando calls them pirates, but they aren’t interested in raiding the Rhydonium; they’re looking to blow it up.

Whatever their motives, Mando doesn’t have time to handle these invaders peacefully. While Mayfeld trickily pilots the Juggernaut down its rocky road, Mando goes hand-to-hand with the bandits. They don’t stand a chance. Corpses litter the street.

How are we to feel as Mayfeld and Mando make it to their destination only to be greeted by cheering Stormtroopers? Like garbage. Mando slaughtered those that would have been hailed as heroes in Return of the Jedi.

The soldier doesn’t have time to think about his actions. He’s got to get Mayfeld to the IBS scanner. They dash on over to the mess hall, but sitting there, enjoying his lunch, is a former commander of Mayfeld’s, Valin Hess (Richard Brake). If the sharpshooter is recognized, the job is kaput.

With no other option presented, Mando enters. The scanner requires facial recognition, so the helmet comes off for the first time this season. A few episodes ago, such an action would have deeply shamed Mando, but the code goes out the window with Grogu on the line.

The gesture is all for naught. Hess calls over to Mando, and Mayfeld has to jump in to save his bacon. Hess does not recognize Mayfeld, and that sticks in the sharpshooter’s craw. As the three men sit down for a drink, Mayfeld offers a toast to Operation: Cinder.

We’ve heard this military action referenced in Star Wars: Battlefront II as well as in a few comics and novels. It was one of the final orders given by the Emperor. In case of his death, burn everything to the ground. When Darth Vader chucked his boss down the Death Star’s reactor shaft, hundreds of Imperial jackasses like Vess turned their canons on key territorial cities.

One of these cities was Burnin Konn, where Mayfeld was stationed. When Hess gave the order to execute Operation: Cinder, he eradicated Mayfeld’s platoon in the process. Sharing a drink with Hess and listening to him explain why the galaxy needs order (a First Order, perhaps?) gets to be a little too much. Mayfeld returns Hess’s grin with a blaster round to the gut.

All hell breaks loose. Mando and Mayfeld shoot their way out of the compound and hop aboard a swooping Slave I. As Boba Fett ferries them to safety, Mayfeld takes aim at the Rhydonium exposed on the Imperial base platform and fires. The whole damn place erupts.

Pleased with Mayfeld’s sharpshooter skills, Cara Dune takes pity on her prisoner. She lets Mayfeld skedaddle, agreeing to tell the Republic that he died in the explosion on Morak. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Mayfeld walks away briskly.

The Mandalorian Chapter 15 concludes with Mando sending a holo message to Moff Gideon. It’s a warning. Buddy, Mando is coming, and he’s bringing hell with him. His final line to Gideon is a mirror of what the Moff once told Mando on Nevarro in Chapter 7, “He means more to me than you’ll ever know.”

The Moff might not ever know, but we sure do. Mando has made Grogu his mission. He will compromise anything and everything to keep the little guy out of harm’s way, whether that means taking off his helmet, dishonoring his creed, or killing those that have no reel beef with him.

Season 2 of The Mandalorian has been one of great internal change for our lead character. He’s had his eyes opened. Mando finally realizes there is more to life than what the Children of the Watch gave him. There are other Mandalorians out there. There are other ways of living to be had.

Grogu represents infinite possibilities. The kid is a bundle of hope in a galaxy plagued by strife and terror. The sensation he’s sparked within Mando is unlike anything else the bounty hunter has ever experienced. With each passing day, Mando sacrifices his old life to get closer to this new one of fatherhood.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)