There’s nothing quite like a bad guy having his own, snarky and threatening words tossed right back at him. There’s an inherent malevolence and doggedness when someone who has been hurt or wronged utters the same words an antagonist had used when he thought he was in an unbeatable position of power. Mando took the words that Moff Gideon had somewhat teased he and his companions with while having them trapped in a cantina in season 1.
Mando is coming for Grogu and there, just for an instant, the icy cool of Gideon’s countenance had a little glitch. The euphoria of acquiring his prize came to a sudden end when a video communication from Mando essentially told Gideon, “I’m coming for the child…and for you.” Man, that was good. Chapter 15, “The Believer,” may have ended with Mando putting Moff Gideon on notice, but it began with the return of a character from season 1 and plenty of imperial entanglements. What fun, right?
But while this episode featured that golden nugget of a Din Djarin moment, the general vibe of this one was somewhat different. Mando and Cara Dune spring Megs Meyfield (played delightfully by Bill Burr) from his hard labors in prison because he has the ability to access an Imperial terminal that will allow for the tracking of Gideon’s ship. There’s little to suggest that Meyfield will be the hinge on which this episode swings, but beneath that hard, cynical, “seen too much” shell of Meyfield, there’s something more.
In what has become something of a trope for The Mandalorian, there’s a secret Imperial Remnant base on a distant planet, which is the closest one that would have a terminal. Oh, it’s a mining operation that is quarrying highly volatile material. And while you can kind of see where this is likely headed, it’s the insertion of Meyfield into the matrix that takes this episode up a notch. He’s a guy that likes to talk and often, within all the words he spews, there are some hard truths. And those truths were revealed in this episode.
The gist of the episode is simple – there is always a line people won’t cross until “things get messy.” And in that moment, you aren’t ever quite sure what someone is capable of. For Mando, that line is Grogu. Not only does Mando take off his Mandalorian armor to wear imperial trooper gear, but he later takes off is helmet to complete the mission. For Mando, when Gideon snatched Grogu from him, that’s when things got messy and pushed him over that line he would never, under normal circumstances, cross. It also demonstrates just how invested emotionally he is in his green charge. Grogu has gone beyond cargo or a task. Again, he’s family. I also wonder if his exposure to Bo-Katan, and her counsel about being Mandalorian, may have informed his decision a bit.
Mando and Meyfield highjack a transport so they can gain entrance into the facility, deal with some pirates, and then we are regaled with life according to Meyfield. Yeah, he’s a pretty cynical fellow and you realize there’s something just under the surface with this guy. But what? Also, a note here about the “pirates.” Normally, you think of pirates as blood-thirsty rogues interested in attacking vulnerable ships and snagging as much booty as possible. Mando calls them pirates, but they aren’t interested in booty, they simply want to blow up the volatile substance being mined.
On some level, they are less pirates and, perhaps, freedom fighters trying to drive the Imperial Remnant from their lands. I thought it was an interesting designation for a group that had no interest in anything but blowing up the transports and the loads they carried. Perhaps Meyfield’s assertion that there are always rulers and those who are ruled – Empire or New Republic – that leave the commoner in a place where they have no control under the thumb of an entity that simply doesn’t seem to care. And, the desire to be free of that creates the need to fight back. Interesting that Meyfeld tells us that the Empire and New Republic are very likely different sides of the same coin.
It feels like that may have been the whole thrust of that conversation later. Once in the facility, Meyfeld can’t bring himself to enter the officer’s mess where the terminal is because his former commander is seated at a table. Meyfield isn’t sure the man would recognize him, but he can’t cross that line to find out. Thus, Mando goes in with the data stick and accesses the system, where he is forced to remove his helmet – another big moments. Good to see Pedro Pascal’s face once again, but it’s a face that the Empire officer takes an interest in.
And that line that Meyfeld wouldn’t cross suddenly gets crossed as he slides in to rescue Din from the interrogation of his former commander, putting up some wonderfully creative BS story that seems to satisfied the officer. Enough so that, in celebration of them getting their load in safely, he offers to buy them a drink. It’s here that Meyfeld brings us into the pain and horror he’s experienced during his time as an Imperial sharpshooter. As the officer discovers he and Meyfeld’s common experiences in battle, we see the tide of conversation start to shift very subtly. The Imperial officer is light-hearted about the thousands of lives lost in a specific battle, about the entire city wiped off the map, and the ultimate goal that people will crawl back to the empire because they don’t want freedom, they want order.
Meyfeld, at last, is having none of it. As he asks about the dead, the carnage and the horror, the officer’s light-hearted blow-off of it all as the fallen being “heroes of the empire” seems to confirm a coldness towards soldiers that Meyfeld can’t stomach. There’s a great moment here when Djarin makes eye contact with Meyfeld and tries to plead with him to stop. It’s a telling moment because Din Djarin is a warrior as well, having seen his own brands of horror and death – he can read the body language and tone of voice that Meyfeld is bringing to the conversation. Too late, Meyfeld blasts the officer in the chest, setting off a wonderful running blaster battle that takes us out the window, up the side of a building and onto the roof.
Meanwhile, Cara Dune and Fennec Shand demonstrate their long-range shooting skills by picking off Imperial troops at an impressive rate, clearing the road for Meyfeld and Mando to find refuge in Boba Fett’s ship, which has been standing by for the getaway. It’s a fun little fight and one that ends in one last statement by Meyfeld, who uses Mando’s rifle to set off the volatile minerals that are being mined, and thereby destroying the whole facility. And when he turns to Mando to hand the gun back, he simply states that it was something he had to “get off my chest.” It’s a beautiful last statement about the horrors of war and serving a group that cares little for the common soldier who fights and dies.
There’s a nice payoff at the end when Dune, who is now a New Republic marshal, decides to list Meyfeld as dead and let him go. The group of Mando, Fett, Dune and Shand have all witnessed some terrible things and bring their own level of cold cynicism to their lives, but in Meyfeld they see a fellow traveler of that world, and on some level his getting things off his chest was a little bit for them as well. And with that, Mando sends his message to Moff Gideon, setting up an very interesting season finale. And I’m looking forward to it.
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