The Mandalorian Guide, Week 6: Every Question We Have After “The Prisoner”

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The Mandalorian Guide, Week 6: Every Question We Have After “The Prisoner”

Tell ya what, folks, over the six weeks I’ve been asking questions of The Mandalorian, the one I did not expect to receive a somewhat definitive answer was whether or not this dude Mando keeps his helmet on while clapping intergalactic cheeks. (Hello, welcome to a review of a Disney show.) But such is the joy of Chapter 6, “The Prisoner”—slickly directed by Rick Famuyiwa, who also co-wrote the script with Christopher L. Yost—which felt kind of like Suicide Squad in space, or maybe a version of Rogue One without that absurdly dull middle part that nobody talks about. It’s a good time!

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The Mandalorian Guide, Week 6: Every Question We Have After “The Prisoner”

In keeping with the general formula of The Mandalorian season 1, “The Prisoner” once again saw our titular buckethead (Pedro Pascal) making a pitstop in hopes of protecting ya boy Baby Yoda, only to find himself in another scrappy space fight. This time around, it’s a floating chop shop belonging to Ranzar Malk (Mark Boone. Jr.), an old crime-acquaintance of The Mandalorian who also insists on calling him “Mando” despite the fact Mandalorians are an entire race of people. Do ya just call them all “Mando” and hope for the best? Isn’t that kind of like calling The Child “Baby Yoda” despite the fact he’s not actually Yoda or a bab…oh that’s exactly what we’re doing isn’t it.

Anyway! Mando is recruited to help a crew of scoundrels—Mayfeld (Bill Burr), Burg (Clancy Brown), Xi’An (Natalia Tena), and Zero (Richard Ayoade)—break their comrade out of a New Republic prison ship. It’s a fun, flighty romp that thankfully takes place somewhere other than a desert planet. Mando is, of course, double-crossed for his efforts, but morphs into his Batman-ish final form to enact sweet, sweet justice on his two-faced associates. In the end, The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda blast off again, continuing their quest to find an episode that advances this narrative in any tangible way.

You probably have a few questions. I know I have a couple of questions. Let’s get into it…

Where the Heck Is This Guy From?

First of all, it’s always a pleasure to see Clancy Brown, the actor you hire if you need your character to sound like a gargoyle statue came to life and immediately started pounding Bud heavies. This is a compliment. The character Brown plays in The Mandalorian, Burg, is a Devaronian, the horn-headed race of aliens who all inexplicably look like the Judeo-Christian version of Satan. (Further Star Wars works actually established that only male Devaronians look like that, while females are pretty much just regular humans with full heads of hair. This is both very interesting trivia and the end-result of at least three fetishes.)

The first Devaronian to pop up in the Star Wars universe was an unnamed chap sitting in the Mos Eisley Cantina during A New Hope, chuckling away at how hard Luke Skywalker was about to get his ass kicked. (Designed, like most of the Cantina ghoulies, by the special effects gawd Rick Baker.) Star Wars Rebels fleshed out the history of Cikatro Vizago, a Devaronian who ran the Broken Horn Syndicate, the underground crime syndicate that also occasionally helped fund the rebellion’s actions against the Empire in exchange for a few less-than-legal favors.

What does any of that have to do with Burg? Nothing. My dude is just an extra-strong Devaronian who looks like David Harbour‘s Hellboy somehow managed to conceive a child with Ron Pearlman‘s Hellboy in defiance of reproductive biology. I love him. He is my favorite The Mandalorian character so far.

What About These Two?

The two aggressively close siblings up there are Twi’leks. We’ve discussed Twi’leks before; they are the race who have the healing baths that had Carl Weathers all horned up in a public diner back in episode 3. These specific Twi’leks, Xi’an and Qin, are played by Natalia Tena and Ismael Cruz Cordova, respectively. You most likely recognize Tena, whether it’s from her appearances in the Harry Potter films as Nymphadora Tonks or as Osha in Game of Thrones, in which she was killed off during the seventh and final season. (The seventh and final season is what I said.) But it’s actually Cordova with the bigger casting coinkydink: His most prominent role before The Mandalorian was on Sesame Street, where he played a character named…Mando.

 

The Mandalorian Guide, Week 6: Every Question We Have After “The Prisoner”

The purpose of these Twi’lek siblings is to fill out the increasingly-intriguing backstory of The Mandalorian. The character we’ve ridden with so far is one determined not to display anything other than stoic iciness. That veneer broke a bit when he risked his life to save Baby Yoda, but his implied relationship with Xi’an makes him finally feel like a real, breathing person who, at one time, cared about more than credits. (And, yes, totally boinked while wearing what amounts to a full-sized regulation NFL helmet). He also, clearly, has regrets. Turns out that Pedro Pascal is a heck of a voice actor, and the weariness in the way Mando says “just like old times” to his former partners-in-crime speaks volumes.

And This Guy?

Mayfeld is from a desolate Outer Rim planet called “Massachusetts”, a strange, distant world run by a sect of the Sith known as a “Belichick.”

For real, though, there’s something about Mayfeld’s introduction that I think speaks to the winky-nudge fan-fictiony element of The Mandalorian that occasionally crosses the line into eye-rolling. The character is a former Imperial sharpshooter, a rank that leads to this exchange:

 

The Mandalorian Guide, Week 6: Every Question We Have After “The Prisoner”

The Mandalorian: “That’s not saying much.”

–

Mayfeld: “I wasn’t a stormtrooper, wise-ass!”

Funny, very funny, because as Star Wars fans we know that if you told a Stormtrooper to hit the side of the Empire State Building they’d somehow blast off four of their toes. But what sense does it make, in-universe, that the Empire was knowingly employing a whole-ass army of notably blind idiots? The characters themselves shouldn’t know this, or else the tension and stakes are erased from any previous scenes involving Stormtroopers. Imagine if A New Hope opened with the rebels being all like, “Oh no, it’s Stormtroopers, we’re sooooo afraid” while making jerk-off motions. It’s a small thing here, yeah, but it’s indicative of what made last week’s Tatooine excursion such a bore; interesting Star Wars stories should do more than just make you feel cool about being a Star Wars fan. As it stands now, Disney+ basically paid millions and millions of dollars to adapt Wookieepedia into a live-action television show.

What the Hell Happened on Alzoc III?

“Ask him about the job on Alzoc III,” Xi’an says about The Mandalorian, to which Manda replies: “I did what I had to.”

“I did what I had to” is a phrase specifically reserved for justifying any time you did some extremely regrettable shit. The only time I ever said it and meant it was after the incident at Dave & Buster’s that got me legally barred from the town of Edison, New Jersey. Almost equally dismal a place as Edison, New Jersey is Alzoc III, one of the most depressing footnotes in Star Wars history.

A frozen, icy planet populated solely by the furry-four, eyed Talz, Alcoz III was nevertheless rich in natural resources. The Empire, an organization solely populated by giant evil assholes, discovered the planet and immediately enslaved the Talz, keeping the entire enterprise off the Galactic Registry so the brutal operation could continue unimpeded by labor laws. The Amazon Prime of planets, basically. Alzoc III was only liberated after Death Star 2.0 was destroyed above Endor, sending the remnants of the Empire into safer corners of the galaxy than the Outer Rim.

But, seeing as how The Mandalorian rolled with Xi’an during the era of Imperial rule, whatever “the job on Alzoc III” was, it more than likely is the equivalent of the racist tweets in Mando’s history that would get him canceled as hell in 2019. We’ll probably never know for sure—similar to the entire prequel trilogy, The Mandalorian loves to casually mention stories that sound a whole lot more interesting than the story being told at that moment—but it’s absolutely worth noting that the book Galaxy Guide 4: Alien Races established that the Empire offered a 5,000-credit bounty for silencing any Talz found off-world.

 The Mandalorian Guide, Week 6: Every Question We Have After “The Prisoner”

What Is The Goal of The Mandalorian?

This is a bit of a double-sided question, because it’s pointed toward both The Mandalorian the character and The Mandalorian the show created by Jon Favreau. When it comes to any major property with a massive, devoted fanbase, I really don’t like being a debbie downer, and The Mandalorian is a fun weekly vacation in a galaxy far, far away, but like, what are we doing here? We are 3/4 of the way through the first live-action Star Wars series ever, a show that set up a story about a Mandalorian protecting a mysterious child from the Empire but then just…sent them both on a bunch of side quests. It feels like we already beat the game and now we’re just searching for trinkets so we can 100% the map. Again, it’s fun, and hearing Bill Burr of all people dunk on someone by calling them a Gungan is genuinely a delight, but after six hours I don’t know anything about the main character other than his aversion to droids and proclivity with a flame thrower. The central mystery over Baby Yoda’s identity has been locked in a storage closet since episode 3. The “antagonist” is vaguely the fallen Empire, and specifically Werner Herzog‘s unnamed character who also hasn’t been seen in three episodes. The main character’s “want”, I suppose, is to keep flying somewhere safe, but mostly it’s just to keep flying, period. Imagine Lord of the Rings, but instead of walking the One Ring safely to Mordor, the goal was to just…walk. Anywhere. Just walking. 

I don’t know. I don’t know! The aesthetic and design and attention to detail of The Mandalorian is a beautiful sight to behold, and it’s clearly made by people who love Star Wars. But man, I’ve never really agreed more with Martin Scorsese‘s “theme park” dig than when I’m watching The Mandalorian. It’s just “Star Tours” you can stream from your couch. I don’t know. 

(Disclaimer: None of the above means that I wouldn’t burn down my own grandparents’ house if it meant keeping Baby Yoda warm on a chilly December night. I still have a soul, people.) 

The Mandalorian Guide, Week 6: Every Question We Have After “The Prisoner”

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