Lock and load, Star Wars fans, because the latest episode of The Mandalorian on Disney+ dives back into the action. Episode 7 of the second season of The Mandalorian finds bounty hunter Din Djarin embarking on a dangerous mission in order to rescue his adorable traveling partner, Baby Yoda (aka Grogu).
Titled The Believer, the sixth episode of season 2 was written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa. The episode has Djarin enlist the aid of a former enemy to infiltrate an Imperial stronghold, only to have the mission test their resolve in unexpected ways. There’s a lot to absorb in every episode of The Mandalorian, so we provide a recap of the latest chapter each week and take a deep dive into some of its noteworthy elements. (There will be a discussion of plot points from the episode, so consider this a spoiler warning.)
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In order to retrieve the access codes Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) needs to rescue Grogu from Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), Cara Dune (Gina Carano) frees ex-Imperial sharpshooter Migs Mayfeld (Bill Burr) from the prison colony where he’s been working since the events of season 1’s sixth episode (titled The Prisoner).
The group travels to the planet Morak, where Djarin and Mayfeld plan to sneak inside an Imperial mining station, but they run into trouble when the pair — disguised as Imperial troopers — are forced to fight off pirates en route to the station, then must shoot their way out after a confrontation with an Imperial officer turns deadly. Along the way, Djarin is forced to violate one of the oaths he swore as a Mandalorian when he removes his helmet to get the necessary codes. They’re ultimately able to retrieve the codes, and both Dune and Djarin later agree to let Mayfeld go free.
Now in possession of a way into Moff Gideon’s ship, Djarin sends the Imperial officer an ominous warning: He’s coming for Grogu.
When Mayfeld and Djarin are forced to have a drink with Imperial officer Valin Hess, the conversation takes a dark turn when Mayfeld brings up Operation: Cinder. This might sound like a throwaway title for another horrifying Imperial operation, but Operation: Cinder has deep roots in Star Wars lore. First introduced in the Marvel Comics series Star Wars: Shattered Empire and then addressed again — and in greater detail — in the video game Star Wars: Battlefront II, Operation: Cinder was the scorched-earth plan enacted by Emperor Palpatine in a post-mortem message to his most loyal officers.
The command to initiate Operation: Cinder was delivered via a hologram of Palpatine set to run in the event of his death, and it instructed his most trusted officers to begin destroying the weakest planets still under the Empire’s rule. By eliminating the weaker worlds under Imperial control, Palpatine intended to strengthen the core of the Empire for a return to power in the future, since only the most devoted and loyal believers in the Empire would remain.
Given that Mayfeld was an Imperial soldier stationed on one of the planets targeted by Operation: Cinder — the planet Burnin Konn, to be exact — it’s easy to understand why his loyalty to the Empire took a hit after that experience, and why he still holds a grudge against the Imperial officer who gave the order to destroy the planet.
Imperial officer Valin Hess has a brief but potent role to play in the episode, and if he looks both familiar and frightening, there’s a reason for that. Hess is portrayed by veteran actor Richard Brake, who has played a long list of iconic, sinister characters over the years. One of his first mainstream roles was in 2005’s Batman Begins, in which Christopher Nolan cast him as Joe Chill, the man who murders Bruce Wayne’s parents — the impetus for his decision to become the masked vigilante Batman.
More recently, Brake portrayed the enigmatic character known as The Chemist in 2018’s cult hit Mandy alongside Nicolas Cage, but the actor is probably best known for playing one of television’s most iconic villains of the last decade: The Night King. Brake played the (literally) chilling villain of HBO’s Game of Thrones from 2014 to 2015, during the show’s Emmy-winning fourth and fifth seasons.
Serving as both writer and director of the episode, Rick Famuyiwa returns behind the camera for The Believer, having previously directed the second and sixth episodes of the first season. Those episodes include The Child, in which Djarin must battle a vicious Mudhorn to win back his ship from Jawas, and in doing so, discovers Grogu’s powerful abilities, as well as the Prisoner, in which Djarin first encounters Mayfeld while helping a group of mercenaries break a criminal out of a New Republic prison ship.
Famuyiwa hit Hollywood’s radar with his critically acclaimed 2015 coming-of-age film Dope, and was briefly attached to direct the DC Comics superhero solo movie The Flash for Warner Bros. Pictures before exiting the project in 2016. He’s currently attached to direct an adaptation of novelist Tomi Adeyemi’s young-adult fantasy novel Children of Blood and Bone for Disney.
It seems like there’s still a lot of story to tell, but only one episode of The Mandalorian remains in the show’s second season. The final episode of season 2 premieres December 18, and it’s difficult not to wonder how all of the narrative threads the second season has created can possibly be tied up in one episode — but at this point, Disney and showrunner Jon Favreau have earned plenty of trust that they’ll be able to pull it off.
Disney’s The Mandalorian is available to stream on Disney+, with new episodes premiering each Friday on the streaming service.
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