We’re in the endgame now.
There’s no coincidence in the timing, as Mando draws to a close, Disney tease us with a raft of new shows. After the mess they made out of the sequel trilogy (The Last Jedi notwithstanding), half a dozen new shows may be ambitious.
Still, it’s because of episodes like The Believer that we can have faith that Disney are finally getting it right when it comes to the future of Star Wars on the (large) small screens.
You know the drill by now – Mando is searching for Grogu, so he inevitability needs to break into somewhere (an Imperial facility) to get the information that will drive the next episode (where Grogu is).
This time, he needs the help of an ex-Imperial employee, hence a trip to a prison camp to pick up Mayfeld (Bill Burr), the sharpshooter who double crossed Din back in chapter 6.
While The Believer is as much a collection of typical Mando plot beats as any, there’s some delightful character development going on. Din will clearly do anything to save Grogu – anything – while Mayfeld gets a bit more backstory, with an added dimension as a result. His cynicism playing nicely into a developing subplot that will almost certainly see Din question his own belief system sooner or later.
The rest of Din’s burgeoning gang are somewhat sidelined, but even then Boba Fett gets an armour upgrade, a seat back at the helm of Slave 1, and a callback to the greatest sound effect Star Wars audio legend Ben Burtt ever created.
Meanwhile, the set designers continue to knock the backgrounds out of the park – there’s something especially fun about seeing Imperial technology being used for industrial or commercial purposes, while the Imperial facility is A New Hope level of quality.
With so much packed into the 35 minutes, it’s easy to take for granted sequences like the forest chase scene, a stunningly realised sequence that features a dollop of dry humour. Now something of a veteran with three episodes under his belt, Rick Famuyiwa’s direction is first rate, never losing sight of the characters despite the multiple explosions and, well, pirates.
The Mandalorian might be Disney’s first step into a larger live action world, but the shows that follow will need to be something special to even come close to this one at its best.