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The Mandalorian: The Prisoner

“No questions asked. That is the policy, right?”

Well, that was a bit of a departure. This episode was all about darkness; it was shot mostly in the blackness of space and the ill-lit corridors of a prisoner ship, paralleling the darkness in Mando’s past. In the last few episodes, we’ve seen Mando as more of a hero- in this episode, we’re reminded he has some skeletons in the closet.

There’s not much black and white in this show. As I said before, in an earlier review, this show operates under the umbrella of morally grey. For the most part. Bounty Hunter is not the noblest of professions, and the audience knows this, but still, watching Mando go rogue and protect the Child at cost to himself makes us think Mando is good. And maybe he is- but not all good. "The Prisoner" underlined this and checked the viewer’s expectations, in case we had forgotten Mando’s career. Reading between the lines, we can definitely guess that Mando has maybe killed people who weren’t bad guys.

Which gives a lot more weight to the trajectory Mando is on now. Protecting the Child, not just because he is growing attached, but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s a shot at redemption, it’s a chance to change and leave the darker days of his past behind. Mando is slowly changing, right in front of our eyes. In "The Sin," he deliberately made a choice to go back for the Child. In "Sanctuary" he made a choice to help the farmers even though he wasn’t getting paid. In this episode, he takes on a job with mercs he used to run with because he needs the cash, and finds out he’s not one of them anymore.

The actor who played Ran is wonderful in despicable roles. (A bit of an oxymoron for you?) Ran was no different. He was cruel and heartless, and enjoyed pushing Mando’s buttons, and Mando just took it, for the majority of the episode. The crew Mando got assigned was the riff-raff of the Galaxy: Burg, the Devaronian muscle; Zero, the praying mantis looking Droid; Mayfeld, the ex-imperial sharpshooter; and Xi’an, the crazy and sadistic Twi’lek, who it’s implied Mando had a fling with, several years back. One of the crew commented that Xi’an was heartbroken when Mando left, and it certainly seemed like the flame of her anger had not cooled over the years. Hell hath no fury, and all that. Not only did Mando used to run with this lot- and enjoy it- he was involved with someone like Xi’an.

But while "The Prisoner" was meant to establish the company Mando used to keep, it was equally important to establish that’s not who Mando is anymore. Mando was clearly uncomfortable when he found out the mission was to break a prisoner out of a New Republic prison ship, and he drew on his crew when he found out they were going to kill an innocent. He even ended up using the New Republic later to destroy Ran’s base; an obvious sign of good defeating evil.

I thought Mando was in real trouble there when they discovered the Child; Mando had kept his patience and his silence through all of their baiting, just to back Burg down from removing his helmet- but the Child is the one he would always draw arms for. Luckily the job started before anything could happen, but things continued to run downhill fast, not surprisingly. Mando was unable to save Davan, the New Republic guard, which ended up calling a New Republic death squad down on them.

The prisoner in question ended up being Qin, Xi’an’s Twi’lek brother, who Mando left behind in some way and who had no compunction about tossing his sister to the wolves, even though she had just helped spring him. The last ten minutes, after the crew betrayed Mando and locked him in Qin’s cell, were just amazing. I absolutely loved Mando reaching his threshold and promptly breaking out of cell just to stride directly to the control room. The fight scene where he shuts off all the lights, jammed the comms and started locking down the doors actually sent a shiver down my spine. It was very Batman-esque. We got to see Mando doing what he does best, hunting his prey. He certainly didn’t hold back this time. They picked the wrong man to double cross.

And for all the trouble it cost him, Mando emerged victorious, unsurprisingly, once again proving there’s no one like him in the galaxy. I loved that scene of the Child reaching up to stop Zero just to have Mando blow a hole through his circuits. The crew got their just desserts, ending up in the cell they locked Mando in, Mando got paid, and the episode ended with a bang, when Mando left the tracking beacon with Ran just for X-Wings to soar in and blow them to smithereens.

The ending was a bit strange; we were led to believe Mando killed his crew, but then it made a point of showing that he left them alive, but imprisoned. But what was the point of that, if he was basically going to pull the trigger on that hangar, even as villainous as they were? Mando may be better than he was before, but he’s still dangerous, especially when it comes down to his and the Child’s survival. And he will always adhere strictly to his code; something Qin used against him. But Mando had the last word in the end.

Everything tied up neatly, but the episode had a bit of an unfinished feel to it- what’s going to happen if that crew ever escapes their cell?

Interesting details and tidbits:

The Razor Crest is undetectable by both Imperial and Republic ships. No wonder Mando’s attached to it.

Mando and Ran used to run jobs when they were younger, trying to make a name for themselves. Was this before Mando joined the Guild?

Had Mando and Xi’an slept together in the past? It seemed to imply they did, when Mayfeld asked if Mando had ever removed his helmet and Xi’an replied with “A lady never kisses and tells.” Would Mando keep his helmet on for that? Again, it felt kind of implied that the answer is yes. Mando and Xi’an obviously had had something romantic between them, though not anymore.

Mayfeld mentioned that the Razor Crest looked like “a Canto Bight slot machine.” Just how big are these slot machines?

Mando used his harpoon gun to net a droid before using its arm to pick his lock.

I was a bit surprised Burg made it out of the metal doors fiasco alive- he did get his horns sheared off, though. I can’t help but think Mando should have terminated him when he had the chance. He didn’t have a problem letting the whole ship bay go up like a firework.

It never told us how or why Mando left Qin behind. Though seeing the end of this episode, I’m inclined to say, it could have been worse.

That scene of Mando appearing behind Mayfeld with the strobe light effects was very cool and very effective.

Zero discovered Greef’s old transmission to Mando and was going to kill the Child. Bad idea. Though even if he hadn’t, it probably wouldn’t have saved him.

Mando’s desperate for cash. Obviously.

Mando needs to get the Child a Rubik’s cube or something. It can’t be easy flying around without the top of his gear shift. His giving it to the Child transitioned him back to the more moral role of pseudo-dad.

Memorable quotes and moments:

Ran: “What’s the look? Is that gratitude?”
Ran reminded me a lot of the character this actor played in Batman Begins, which was a corrupt cop.

Ran: "We were all young, trying to make a name for ourselves. But running with a Mandalorian, that brought us some reputation."
Mayfeld: “What’d he get out of it?”
Ran: “I asked him that one time. You know what you said, Mando? Target practice.”
Mando: “That was a long time ago.”

Ran: “Mayfeld’s one of the best triggermen I’ve ever seen. He was an imperial sharpshooter.”
Mando: “That’s not saying much.”
Mayfield: “I wasn’t a storm trooper, wise-ass.”

Ran: “You good with that?”
Mando: “You tell me.”

Xi’an: “I’m all business now. I learned from the best.”

Mayfeld: "Is he as good as they say?
Xi'an: "Ask him about the job on Alzoc III."
Mando: "I did what I had to do."
What happened on Alzoc III?

Mando: "Do you realize what you're going to bring down on us?"

Mayfeld: “What about your sister?”
Qin: “What about her?”
Mayfeld: “Nice family.”

Mando: “They got what they deserved.”

Mando: “I told you that was a bad idea.”
Not quite “I have a bad feeling about this” but pretty close.

This was a very good, and very cool episode, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I have other episodes.

Three out of four tracking beacons?
Valkyrie

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