- Episode 7 (of 8), ‘Chapter 15: The Believer’
- Written by Rick Famuyiwa
- Directed by Rick Famuyiwa
Spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2 follow.
The Karthon Chop Fields are a junkyard of Imperial scrap. Inmate 34667 is dismantling a wrecked TIE Fighter when a New Republic security droid tells him he has new instructions. He’s told to salute Marshal Dune, who remands the prisoner into her custody. She says she has a job for him.
They walk towards Slave I where Boba Fett and Fennec Shand are waiting for them. “You know, for a second I thought you were this other guy…” he says to Fett, before he spots the Mandalorian coming down the ramp of the ship. He greets Mayfeld, who asks if Mando’s here to kill him. Cara Dune explains that she bent a lot of rules to bring Mayfeld along, and that he’s coming with them because he’s Imperial. He says that was a long time ago, but Mando points out that he still knows the clearances and protocols.
On Slave I, Mando tells Mayfeld they need co-ordinates for Moff Gideon’s cruiser. Hearing the name, Mayfeld tells them to forget it and take him back to prison. Cara says they have Mando’s kid – “The little green guy?” – so Mayfeld asks if he’ll be given his freedom in exchange for helping. Cara says that isn’t how it works – but he will be rewarded with a better view.
Mayfeld says he needs access to an Imperial terminal, suggesting a trip to Morak. Mando says there’s nothing there, but Mayfeld counters that it’s a secret Imperial mining hub – if they can get him into the base, he’ll get the co-ordinates.
Fett scans the planet and finds a refinery where the Empire are working with highly volatile and explosive rhydonium. It’s protected by anti-aircraft cannons and a platoon of security forces.
On the surface of Morak, Mayfeld says he won’t need long inside the base, so as soon as he has the co-ordinates, they need to get him out. Fett says that if he can get to the roof, he’ll drop in and pull him out. Dune suggests that she and Mayfeld swap out for the drivers of one of the juggernauts transporting rhydonium. Mayfeld argues that won’t work, however, because Imperial Remnant bases like this one are set up and run by the Imperial Security Bureau – if she gets scanned and her genetic signature shows up on a New Republic register, she’ll be detected. Fennec says she can’t do it because she’s on the ISB register too, while Fett also declines: “Let’s just say they might recognize my face.”
It looks like Mayfeld has to go alone, but Mando unexpectedly volunteers himself. Mayfeld says he can’t do it because his armor will be too characteristic, but Mando has other plans – and he won’t need to show his face either.
Juggernaut 5 enters tunnel T-12. Mando, Dune and Mayfeld jump onto the roof, before Cara enters the vehicle and incapacitates the drivers. Mando and Mayfeld put on the uniforms as a disguise, as Mando gives Cara his armor, telling her to keep it safe.
They drive off in the juggernaut. Mayfeld removes his helmet, wondering how the Mandalorians wear them all the time. As they drive past a wrecked transport, comms tell them to watch their cargo heat limits and speed. Mando says not to worry about the rhydonium – as long as Mayfeld drives safely, he’ll get them to the refinery.
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They drive through a village. Mayfeld says that whether it’s New Republic or Empire, they’re still invaders to the locals – some people in the galaxy are the rulers and others are being ruled. He asks if the Mandalorians were any different to the Empire, seeing as they fought many wars. “If you were born on Mandalore you believe one thing, if you were born on Mandalore you believe something else. But guess what? Neither one of them exist any more.” Mando gives him a look. “Hey, I’m just a realist. I’m a survivor, just like you.” Mando says the two of them are nothing alike. Mayfeld’s attitude is that you do what you’ve gotta do, and if you can make it through your day and still sleep at night, you’re doing better than most.
There’s an explosion in the distance, as comms explain that Juggernaut 4 – just ahead of Juggernaut 5 – has been destroyed. They tell Juggernaut 5 to proceed with caution, as they see another explosion on the horizon – it’s Juggernaut 3.
A skiff filled with pirates pulls up alongside. One of them jumps onto the roof of the juggernaut and attempts to plant a thermal detonator. Mando climbs outside and shoots him. Another skiff pulls up, and more fighters board the juggernaut. Mando’s blaster runs out of charge, so he has to battle them hand to hand. He fights them off, but another skiff is on their tail, so he tells Mayfeld to speed up – though the acceleration causes the temperature gauge on the rhydonium to go critical.
Mando fights yet more pirates, and this time one is successful in planting a thermal detonator. Having cleared assailants from the ship, Mando manages to throw the thermal detonator away before it explodes, taking out two skiffs.
Yet more pirates appear on their tail as Mayfeld slows down for a derelict bridge. As the skiffs close in on the juggernaut, two TIE fighters swoop in to shoot them out of the way. Stormtroopers move in to clear up the stragglers, while other Imperials salute them into the refinery, to receive a hero’s welcome.
Mayfeld leads them to the officer’s mess where they’ll find the computer terminal. He spots a familiar face and says he can’t go in– Valin Hess is his former commanding officer and he can’t risk being recognised. Mando says they can’t abort because if they don’t get those co-ordinates, he’ll lose Grogu forever. Mando tells him to hand over the data stick, but Mayfeld says that, in order to access the network, the terminal has to scan your face. Mando takes it anyway.
Mando gives Hess a half-hearted salute as he approaches the terminal. As it scans his helmet, Mando removes his helmet to give the system a view of his face. It gives him access and he locates Gideon’s cruiser.
Hess has been taking an interest in the “trooper”, and asks for his designation. Mando tells him his designation is “transport co-pilot”, but Hess wants his TK number. Mayfeld steps in, saying “This is my commanding officer, TK-593, sir. I’m Imperial Combat Assault Transport Lieutenant TK-111, sir.” He says Hess will have to speak up a little bit to Mando “since his vessel lost pressure in Taanab”.
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Hess shouts, “What’s your name, officer?” Mayfeld says they just call him “Brown Eyes” and they turn to leave – but Hess says they’re not dismissed. He asks if they’re the drivers who delivered the shipment of rhydonium – the only successful transport of the day. He invites them to join him for a drink.
Cara and Fennec take a position above the base, plotting to take out the troopers and cannons when necessary. Cara wonders why Mando and Mayfeld are taking so long.
Hess asks for a toast. Mayfeld suggests a toast to Operation Cinder. “Now there’s a man who knows his history,” says Hess. Mayfeld says he doesn’t just know it, he lived it, recalling that he was in Burnin Konn. Hess says he had to make many hard decisions that day.
“Yes you did,” says Mayfeld. “Entire city gone in moments along with everybody in it. We lost our whole division that day. Man, that was like 5-10,000 people.”
“All heroes of the Empire,” says Hess.
“Yeah. And all dead.”
Hess says it was a small sacrifice for the greater good. Mayfeld says it depends on who you ask, and wonders if it was good for them, their families and the civilians who died defending their homes.
“But we’ve outlasted them, son,” counters Hess. “The New Republic is in complete disarray and we go stronger.” He says that with the rhydonium they’ve recovered, they can create havoc, and that people will turn to the Empire again because what they really want is order, not freedom.
As Hess toasts the Empire, Mayfeld pulls out his blaster and shoots him, before taking out the other Imperials in the room. He hands Mando his Trooper helmet, telling him, “You did what you had to do. I never saw your face.”
As Stormtroopers come to them, they escape through a window onto a ledge. Fennec and Cara cover them with blaster fire, as Boba Fett starts his rescue run. Mando and Mayfeld climb onto the roof of the refinery. Slave I hovers next to the roof and opens its cargo bay – the duo jump across to the ship. Mayfeld, a former Imperial sharp shooter, uses a rifle to blast a shipment of rhydonium, which explodes and destroys the base. “We all need to sleep at night,” he says.
As they retreat, a pair of TIE fighters are on their tail. Boba Fett unleashes a sonic mine which destroys both Imperial ships.
The Mandalorian thanks Mayfeld, who wishes him good luck for getting his kid back. Cara compliments his shooting and says “It’s too bad Mayfeld didn’t make it out alive.” She’s happy to pretend he died on Morak and lets him go free. Mando confirms they got the co-ordinates on Moff Gideon, as Cara asks about their next move.
On Gideon’s cruiser, an officer shows him a holo message from the Mandalorian. “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.”
It’s a measure of how consistently brilliant The Mandalorian’s second season has been that ‘The Believer’ is a slight disappointment. On most levels this is a solid, brilliantly produced episode of TV, but it’s also way too formulaic to truly stick in the memory.
While adhering to a formula is what makes The Mandalorian tick – Mando takes on a mission, Mando finds people to help with mission, Mando completes mission – usually a familiar arc is dressed up with some brilliant character interplay or a major revelation about Star Wars lore. Here, almost everything that transpires could just as easily have happened off screen – the co-ordinates to Moff Gideon’s cruiser are really just a handy plot device to set up a major showdown in a season finale that promises to be massive. Devoting an entire episode to this side quest feels like filler, especially with Boba Fett, Fennec Shand and Cara Dune sidelined for most of the episode.
That said, there’s still plenty to like. The juggernaut chase is brilliantly choreographed, with Mando’s lack of weaponized armor forcing him to improvise as he fights off wave after wave of pirate attackers.
It also gives us a closer view of the inner workings of the Empire, with Stormtroopers behaving like humans – celebrations like that are usually more associated with the good guys in Star Wars – and insight into the organisation’s worldview. Valin Hess is chilling because he wholeheartedly believes the Empire is acting for the greater good, while Mayfeld’s redemption is totally earned because you see his evolution from world-weary cynic to full-on doubter of the Imperial creed. He’s now the only (living) being in the galaxy who could recognize Mando’s face in a police line-up, but you believe he’ll keep the secret.
Force the facts
- Mayfeld first appeared in season 1 episode ‘The Prisoner’. He’s played by American comedian Bill Burr, co-creator (and star) of Netflix animated series F is for Family.
- This is the first episode of The Mandalorian not to feature Grogu/Baby Yoda.
- Rhydonium, a fuel used in starships, has been referenced on numerous occasions in animated series The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.
- It’s the second time Mando has removed his helmet on screen. Mayfeld and the Imperials are the first human characters to see his face. (Bounty droid IG-11 saw him in season 1 episode ‘Redemption’.
- Valin Hess is played by Richard Brake, who you may recognise as Joe Chill – killer of Bruce Wayne’s parents – in Batman Begins.
- Mayfeld says that ‘Brown Eyes’ lost his hearing at Taanab. The planet was first mentioned in Return of the Jedi, when Lando Calrissian humble bragged about a “little manoeuvre at the Battle of Taanab”.
- Burnin Konn, the site of Imperial atrocities referenced by Mayfeld, has also been referenced previously in canon – it’s mentioned in the Doctor Aphra comic book series.
- When Mayfeld suggests a toast to Operation Cinder, he’s referencing the scorched Earth policy that followed Emperor Palpatine’s death. He’d ordered the destruction of numerous planets, including his own homeworld of Naboo.
- Sonic mines, like the one Boba Fett uses to take down the TIE Fighters, have long been part of Slave I’s arsenal. Jango Fett used them against Obi-Wan Kenobi in Attack of the Clones.
- Mayfeld references 'TPS reports' while undercover, which is a reference to the 1999 cult classic movie Office Space.
- The episode’s writer/director Rick Famuyiwa previously helmed ‘The Prisoner’.
New episodes of The Mandalorian are available to stream on Disney Plus every Friday.