Warning: This is the Way to our The Mandalorian season 2, episode 7 review which contains major spoilers – turn around to avoid having the new episode ruined!
The problem with having an iconic character on a TV show is that, if they’re suddenly sidelined for someone less interesting, we cannot help but feel disappointed that we’re not spending our time with that iconic character. The Mandalorian has this problem twofold. Not only does the presence of Boba Fett loom large, but the absence of a certain green Child also weighs heavy on proceedings.
First, let’s talk Boba – and how strange it is having this borderline mythologised character simply on call for backup. Last week, the feared gunslinger was the centre of attention, walloping Stormtroopers in the head and revealing background details that fans had been dreaming up in their heads for 40 years. This time around, we learn nothing more about the warrior. This isn’t Boba’s episode, and that’s OK to a certain extent, but there’s no helping that feeling of wanting to see more.
Onto Grogu, formerly Baby Yoda, officially The Child. Though we don’t see him on-screen – and this is the first episode so-far not to feature him – Grogu’s presence is still felt as Din Djarin hunts down Moff Gideon. To accomplish that task, Mando must recruit Bill Burr's Migs Mayfeld, a former Imperial who nobody was calling to see again. Gina Carano’s Cara Dune hops along for the ride, though thankfully there’s not much of her this time around, while Ming-Na Wen's Fennec Shand is good added value – a spin-off about her time with Boba would be a fun watch.
After Cara frees Mayfeld, he reveals that he needs access to an Empire station in order to retrieve coordinates pointing towards Moff Gideon. From there, we follow a familiar formula: Mando heads to another planet, accomplishes a quest, and flies off again. However, where “The Believer” really thrives is in the quieter moments that reflect on the cold galaxy.
As Mayfeld and Mando help the Empire deliver some explosive materials, fighting off pirates en route, there’s a serious question regarding whether they are doing the right thing. Sure, the duo are trying to help Grogu – but at what cost? Allowing the Empire to rebuild its weapons? And when they do arrive at the base, there are celebrating Stormtroopers with their arms up in the air – it’s strangely reminiscent of Luke returning from the Death Star and celebrating his victory.
Mayfeld equates how normal people see the Empire and the New Republic as the same thing, and that’s a serious dilemma. The idea of the Star Wars universe not being entirely black-and-what was a point last overtly expressed in The Last Jedi, when Finn and Rose saw the starship dealers selling to both the Empire and New Republic. Now, The Mandalorian is essentially asking us to think about colonialism. That’s some tough stuff to chow down on.
However, writer and director Rick Famuyiwa makes clear who the villains really are. After the shocking removal of Din’s helmet – it’s good to see you, Pedro Pascal! – Mayfield and Mando have a drink with an Imperial officer who committed atrocious war crimes. It’s a reminder of, yes, the Empire are the villains, don’t overthink it. As Mayfield pulls that sniper riffle's trigger and destroys the base, there’s no more arguing over who the good guys are. That doesn't mean, though, that we cannot question the actions of those meant to be doing good.
Of course, while these are all interesting subjects to ponder, the action and plot of the episode are still standard Mandalorian. Mayfeld may be fleshed out into an interesting character, but when Boba Fett’s flying around in Slave 1, there’s no denying where I would rather be. Fortunately, there are a few more chances to see Boba on Disney Plus – no doubt he’ll appear in one of the many, many Star Wars spin-offs announced just hours before the episode aired.