[The following contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Mandalorian. Read at your own risk.]
Another episode, another one-off side-quest that could be watched in any order. All you need to know are the basics: The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is on the run from bounty hunters, needs money, and has Baby Yoda stowed away on board his ship, the Razor Crest.
Those various factors bring him to a space station run by Ranzar Malk, referred to here as Ran (Mark Boone Jr.). Ran offers that Mando join his five-person crew to infiltrate a prison transport operated by the New Republic, break out an "associate," and get paid an unspecified amount of money.
Ran and Mando used to run together back in the day, before Mando ditched the group. Some members are still salty about Mando's exit, but Ran acts like it's water under the bridge. He tells stories from their shared adventures as if he's reliving the drunken college days when his life peaked. Mando just recalls those days as "target practice." Despite Ran's congeniality, can you really trust a guy who says he doesn't trust anybody? (Well, it's a prison break, so no. Obviously.)
Mando is dubious about getting involved in something that could bring more attention to him and cause unnecessary death, especially considering the details are slim, but Ran assures him that the prison transport is operated exclusively by droids. The mission seems simple enough: fly random zigzags to get close to the prison transport without being detected, find a way aboard, sneak through the ship, and extract the prisoner.
Of course, like any good heist, this one is bound to go off the rails. The ship turns out to have a human New Republic pilot (Matt Lanter), leading to a 4-way Mexican standoff as the mercenaries haggle over whether to kill him. (They obviously kill him.) As soon as the prisoner is freed, the rest of the crew double-crosses Mando and locks him in the prisoner's old cell as revenge for when he left them behind years ago. When Mando escapes, he must stalk and defeat the other mercenaries on the ship one by one. Meanwhile aboard the getaway ship, Zero discovers Baby Yoda's cash value, leading to a deadly game of cat and mouse.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. This episode is a play on heists, so you know what that means...
It's time to put together a crew.
Ex-Imperial Sharpshooter Mayfield (Bill Burr), Ran's number two, has his own number three -- a mechanical third arm holding an extra pistol. This wisecracking bully insists on being first onto the prison transport -- will he demonstrate a special skill set? Nope. Everybody else comes aboard moments later. Turns out, his only skill is holding three of the eight guns in the Mexican standoff. Overcompensate much?
Those three guns means he's got slightly better aim than your average Stormtrooper, something Mayfield is sure to point out, but when he inevitably turns the tables on Mando he's easily dispatched (we'll get more into the reason for this later, we promise). All it takes is some cheap slasher film theatrics from Mando -- disappearing and reappearing with the lights -- closer and closer -- now he's right behind you! -- and Mayfield's quipping days are over.
But don't worry, he's fine.
Burg the Devaronian (Clancy Brown) is large. This is actually hinted at in the dialogue when Burg comments repeatedly on how small Mando is. Every crew needs a big guy to throw stuff, lift stuff, and hurt stuff. Burg is so big, he can even bear hug the Dalek-esque droids onboard the New Republic prison transport before smashing them into each other.
When Mando unleashes a flamethrower blast right into his face he takes it like it's nothing. Turns out he doesn't just look like the devil, he's fire-retardant too.
The one thing he's not impervious to: doors. But he's not going to go down like a stupid rancor, no! It takes two high-powered doors to finally squash Burg like a bug.
But don't worry, he's fine.
Q9-0 (Richard Ayoade), better known as "Zero," is insufferably cocky, especially for a droid. But he's the only one who can fly the elaborate zigzags to land on the New Republic ship that are necessary for some reason. He IS the best, so what are you gonna do?
Later, Zero discovers a message from Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), remember him? This old message turns Zero on to the value of Baby Yoda (remember him?), who has been leering at him from around a corner of the Razor Crest, implementing the same cheap slasher film theatrics as Mando.
When Zero later corners Baby Yoda, he holds up his hand and tries to use the Force on Zero. And for a second, Baby Yoda is delighted by the idea that he exploded a robot all by himself like a big boy. Too bad: it was just daddy blasting Zero from behind -- the same trick he pulled with IG-11.
Don't worry, he's dead.
Every crew needs its own Harley Quinn -- a specialist in befuddlement, obfuscation, and all things off-kilter. Xi'an the Twi'lek (Natalia Tena) is notorious for her sharp daggers, sharper mind games, and even sharper canines. When she's not hissing like a cat, or licking her teeth like they are implants, she's distracting Mando with hints at their shared sexual past. (Don't worry, Mando always uses protection in bed -- his helmet.) And when no one is looking, she throws her knives.
Anyone who has met Xi'an will tell you that she's generally unlikable if not repugnant, which raises a few questions for us about Mando. Buy hey, we all have that one ex we don't want to talk about. Either way, a double-cross brings Mando to his senses, and the next time they meet he turns her own knives against her.
Do worry, she's fine.
Boy, Richard Simmons is not looking great in his 2019 comeback. Xi'an's Twilek brother Qin, the mysterious "associate," can talk his way out of any situation -- except for a prison situation. That's why he needed Ran's crew to heist him out of there in the first place. You want to know why all these crew members turned on Mando? Well, it's because he left Qin behind on a previous job, which landed him in his cell, and payback is a bitch.
The team flips the script on Mando, kicks him into the cell, and make for the exits on their own. When Mando eventually dispatches all the other members of the crew, it is Qin's smooth-talking skills that get him safely home -- until he's exploded into the vacuum of space. Try talking your way out of that, Richard.
Actually, Qin is played by Ismael Cruz Cordova, best known for his stint on Sesame Street as a character named (*ahem*) Mando.
That leaves the most important role for Mando -- bringing in all the fancy tools to crack safes, pick locks, and fight droids. And when things get complicated, he can MacGuyver his way out of a jail cell with nothing more than a severed droid arm. It's like using an HDMI dongle to unlock your front door.
Appropriately enough, the rest of the crew sees Mando as less of a badass and more of a nerd. He won't take off his homemade cosplay armor, he keeps trying to make the phrase "this is the way" a thing, and it's soooo Mando to have a weird Baby Yoda pet.
After their failed attempt to make Mando The Fall Guy of this crew and he escapes (see above), Mando locks up the surviving members and drops Qin off with Ran, who immediately tries to have Mando killed. Already prepared for this, Mando re-double-re-crosses Ran by ingeniously repurposing a fob-esque tracking device that is somehow not referred to as a fob.
That causes a squadron of New Republic X-Wings to appear, piloted by three directors of the series (Dave Filoni, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow) and they seem to execute a war-crime on Ran's space station, blasting it out of existence before asking any questions. Is this what the First Order is so upset about? At least the Galactic Empire asked Leia questions before they blasted Alderaan!
But, wait, couldn't Mando have done this whole job by himself? Was there anything -- literally anything -- anyone else did to help? (And don't say flying zigzags; we all know Mando could nail those zigzags.)
Seems like Mando might be better off without a crew.
But there might be something to that force-sensitive New Kid.
Previously on The Mandalorian...
New episodes of The Mandalorian are available Fridays on Disney+.
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