Wow, wow, wow. If you told me a year ago that an episode of The Mandalorian would be good without a single shot of Baby Yoda and with Bill Burr on my screen the majority of the time, I would have said you were crazy. But The Mandalorian Chapter 15 was better than good, it was a heist, it was a redemption, it was action-packed, it was thoughtful. Returning for another episode, director and writer Rick Famuyiwa blew this episode out of the water.
In The Mandalorian Chapter 15, we finally meet back up with Migs Mayfeld, the character we first met in the Famuyiwa written and directed “Chapter 6: The Prisoner.” There have been a ton of callbacks to this episode this season and with good reason. Not only was it a fantastic bottle episode, but many of the characters in the episode had a history with our beloved Mando. Since that failed jailbreak, Mayfeld has been working off his 50-year sentence in a junkyard on Karthon.
We learned last episode that Mando needed Mayfeld in order to track down Moff Gideon because of his ex-imperial ties. After taking custody of Mayfeld by using her Marshal status, Cara Dune brings Mayfeld back to Slave I. There he is reunited with Mando. Despite their last encounter, Mayfeld doesn’t turn away an offer for a job, even if it means he gets nothing in return. I’d also like to say at this moment that the Empire should seriously think about changing their clearance codes and protocols because this just seems like basic security stuff.
Breaking into an Empire remnant security is easier said than done. Mayfeld needs access to an internal Imperial terminal. He directs the crew to the planet Morak, home to a secret Imperial mining hub where they mine for rhydonium. Famously, rhydonium is not only expensive, but it is extremely unstable and volatile. Forced to sneak in, they must hijack a Juggernaut vehicle transporting the rhydonium and impersonate troopers to get inside. Mayfeld can’t go alone, but anyone other than Mando will be detected by ISB. Setting aside his creed, Mando dons a trooper’s suit and goes in with Mayfeld.
Although we know Mayfeld to be quite the slimy character, this episode is his redemption. His snark and attitude play as charming instead of menacing, he doesn’t sabotage or plot against the group, and he reveals his own code of ethics and past. As he and Mando drive through the village toward the Imperial base, they drive past the civilians who are forced to live under this Imperial remnant’s thumb.
“Empire, New Republic. It’s all the same to these people. Invaders on their land is all we are,” Mayfeld says. “I’m just saying, somewhere someone in this galaxy is ruling and others are being ruled. I mean, look at your race. Do you think all those people that died in wars fought by Mandalorians actually had a choice? So how are they any different than the Empire? Look, if you were born on Mandalore, you believe one thing, if you’re born on Alderaan, you believe somethin’ else. But guess what? Neither one of them exist anymore. Hey, I’m just a realist. I’m a survivor, just like you.”
When Mando shoots back that they are nothing alike, Mayfeld has a good retort. “I don’t know. Seems to me like your rules start to change when you get desperate. I mean, look at ya. You said you couldn’t take your helmet off, and now you got a stormtrooper one on, so what’s the rule? Is it that you can’t take off your Mando helmet, or you can’t show your face? ‘Cause there is a difference. Look, I’m just sayin’, we’re all the same. Everybody’s got their lines they don’t cross until things get messy. As far as I’m concerned, you can make it through your day and still sleep at night, you’re doin’ better than most.”
He’s not criticizing Mando for his actions, but rather the fact that the two of them aren’t that different and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Adhering to a strict creed benefits no one when you’re up against a wall without anywhere to go. With Grogu, Mando has formed a real bond, one that can’t be broken, even by that creed. For a universe that often operates with strict rules, Mando’s decision to follow his instincts and do what is necessary is not a mark against him.
Before they make it to the base, two Juggernauts in front of them are attacked. Pirates, set on destroying the rhydonium, approach their transport. Forced to fight with his fists instead of a blaster, Mando takes on a small army of saboteurs. But the rhydonium is unstable, and just when we think this is it for Mando, two TIEs come in and save the day. Never thought I’d be cheering for the Empire, never thought I’d be excited to see TIE fighters.
Finally making it into the hub, Mando and Mayfeld spot a terminal, but not before another problem arises. Sitting near the terminal is Valin Hess (Richard Brake). Hess was Mayfeld’s commanding officer back when he was a field operative. Even though he’s not sure if Hess would recognize him, the mission is compromised if he is. The terminal requires a facial scan to complete, so Mayfeld calls off the mission. Unwilling to leave without Gideon’s info, Mando takes the lead.
Perhaps he’s motivated by getting his son back, perhaps it was also a little bit of that conversation with Mayfeld. After all, the rule isn’t don’t show your face. It’s don’t take off your helmet. And he’s already crossed that line. It’s time to stop pretending. Removing his helmet, we see the lovely Pedro Pascal once again this season. Of course, poor Din could not look more uncomfortable. After getting the information, Valin Hess spots him and starts questioning him.
Unfamiliar with Imperial protocols, he flounders until Mayfeld comes in to help his comrade Brown Eyes. Dragging the two of them in for some drinks, Mando and Mayfeld are forced to sit there until they are dismissed. But, seeing Hess again brings up old memories for Mayfeld. He mentions Operation Cinder, a disastrous operation in Burnin Konn where Mayfeld lost his whole division of 10,000 people.
While Hess shrugs it off as a victory for the Empire, it’s clear that Operation Cinder is exactly why Mayfeld left the Empire and became disillusioned. The fact that the Empire was willing to throw away the lives of their troops like they were nothing will never sit well with him.
“Everybody thinks they want freedom, but what they really want is order. And when they realize that, they’re gonna welcome us back with open arms,” Hess waxes, noting that the rhydonium that Mayfeld and Mando saved will allow the empire to commit atrocities even worse than what happened in Burnin Konn. By the time Hess raises his glass to cheers to the Empire, it seems inevitable that Mayfeld shoots him dead.
Caught in a firefight, Mayfeld hands Mando his helmet. “You did what you had to do. I never saw your face,” he says, and the two are forced to shoot their way out. Thankfully, they have Cara and Shand acting as snipers from a distance and Boba Fett mobilizes Slave I so that the duo can escape. As they fly away, Mayfeld takes a rifle and takes out the shipment of rhydonium.
Philosophy and ethics aside, there is also that great moment when the TIEs are pursuing Boba Fett and he drops a crazy seismic charge and the ships explode. Fantastic action, fantastic writing. Just a stand-out episode. With Moff Gideon found, Mayfeld is ready to go back to prison. But, he’s shown that he’s more than just the sum of his parts and that there is some honor within him. Cara announces that it’s a shame that he died during the job and effectively lets him go free.
Meanwhile, on Moff Gideon’s cruiser, he receives a message from Mando. It’s the same speech that Gideon sent to Mando back in “Chapter 7: The Reckoning.” But while Gideon’s words were ominous, Mando’s sound hopeful. “He means more to me than you will ever know.” I know it’s the same line, but Mando sounded a hell of a lot like Liam Neeson in Taken at that moment. He’s got a certain set of skills, guys.
So, what will we see in the finale next week? Will Mando defeat Gideon? Will we find out about the experiments on Grogu? Will we get to meet other Jedi? Will we be reunited with other Mandalorians? Will Mando doff his helmet again? I have no clue, but I can’t wait!
The Mandalorian streams new episodes every Friday on Disney+.