Friday, December 13, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Mandalorian' - Mando Teams with Old Friends to Pull Off a Dangerous Heist in 'Chapter 6: The Prisoner'

Disney+'s The Mandalorian - Episode 1.06 "Chapter 6: The Prisoner"

The Mandalorian joins a crew of mercenaries on a dangerous mission.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Disney+'s The Mandalorian.

"Chapter 6: The Prisoner" was directed by Rick Famuyiwa with story by Christopher Yost and teleplay by Christopher Yost & Rick Famuyiwa

Every episode of The Mandalorian so far seems to fall comfortably into the same pattern. The Mandalorian lands in a dangerous situation and eventually has to fight his way out of it. Some of these stories are better than others. It's fascinating to see the show play around with tone and genre. It has been evocative of westerns in some ways. This episode though is in full-on heist mode. That allows the proceedings to feature a few more characters than normal. Mando is actually working with a crew here. It's established that these are mercenaries he used to run with. There is no real explanation for why he worked with these people despite his adherence to the Mandalorian code. They view him as a trained assassin who enjoys killing. They also have no problems recruiting him for this mission despite them having gone their separate ways a long time ago. Of course, that is eventually proven not to be true. They still hold resentment towards him and are more than comfortable locking him away on the prisoner ship. That doesn't stop him from breaking out and exacting the justice he believes this particular crew deserves. It can be a fascinating conversation about when lethal tactics are necessary. Mando certainly has no qualms about killing people. That is a part of his job. He has the skills and tools to end lives. His ability to take out droids all by himself continues to showcase just how skilled and powerful he is. In those moments, he may actually be free because he isn't burdened by any sense of morality. He hates droids. That mentality has been expressed over and over again. As such, he can freely let his rage out on them. Killing people is a different task. It's one he is still willing and able to do. That means he can still be a little reckless. That is most apparent when it comes to him being a guardian to Baby Yoda. It truly does feel like Baby Yoda continues to find itself in a precarious situation made worse by his guardian who doesn't entirely know how to care for it. Mando protects the child in the abstract. But he is also willing to repeatedly lock it in a closet to avoid any damage to it when he is forced to land somewhere. The quality time they spend together in the cockpit is amusing and delightful. Again, the show is pointing out that Mando has developed a fondness for Baby Yoda just like all of the viewers watching this show. But the drama can only place these characters in precarious positions so many times before it becomes stagnant as a formula. The season has been incredibly episodic so far. Once more, that isn't a bad thing in the slightest. Most mythology driven narratives don't know what they are doing. As such, it's powerful to see this show only slowly introducing this world and expanding the focus. The audience has a grand sense of what has happened in the Star Wars universe. This show wants to make it a more personal journey for Mando. Sure, it's one with only a few fleeting hints at backstory. He was taken in by the Mandalorians after his parents were killed. He has never removed his helmet. No one has successfully taken it off his head during battle. He can still abide by those rules here as well. He gets into numerous fights with his fellow criminals. They are trying to break one prisoner out. It just becomes a precarious situation in which Mando strikes back after being betrayed. He doesn't kill Mayfeld, Xi'an and Burg though. Instead, he simply confines them to the same fate they wanted for him. That too may play as a teaser for a future story. It once again showcases how characters can have a grudge against Mando despite the good-natured motivation he has for caring for Baby Yoda. However, Mando also sets up Qin and Ran to be killed. They deserve that punishment more so than the others because they come across as the men in charge who don't really care what happens to their underlings. It's an understandable storytelling impulse. One that is admirable and a whole lot of fun to watch. But again, the show is starting to become too formulaic. As such, it needs to embrace something more in order to really establish itself as having genuine stakes the audience should invest in instead of solely cheering on the various cool action moments, beautiful direction and homages to the history of the universe or a particular genre.