In my previous review, I raved about the polished and progressive execution of The Mandalorian’s 5th chapter. I was pleased to find a continuation of that polish in Chapter 6, entitled “The Prisoner.”
Strapped for cash, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) reunites with an old friend named Ran (Mark Boone Junior), who hires him to rescue a prisoner from a New Republic ship. Their meeting takes place in a base of sorts, and Ran introduces Mando to his new crewmates: a sharpshooter named Mayfield (Bill Burr), a Devaronian brawler named Burg (Clancy Brown), a droid pilot named Zero (voiced by Richard Ayoade), and a knife-wielding Twi’lek named Xi’an (Natalia Tena).
This episode’s camera work stands out from the moment Mando steps into Ran’s headquarters. As he walks by tertiary characters, the camera pans to each person that walks past — focusing on them just as our masked protagonist turns to meet their stares. It immerses the audience into the scene and enhances our understanding of the protagonist’s psyche. We see these characters from the Mandalorian’s perspective, and we feel the same persecutory judgment emanating from their eyes.
A more threatening tension underscores the dynamic of the crew. Each person feels extremely dangerous, and the episode’s strength lies in being able to push the mission forward while the team verges on self-destruction at all times. Egos clash constantly, and the dialogue shines when the characters venomously fill it with taunts and threats.
Although the Mandalorian’s distaste for droids has essentially become a meme at this point, I appreciated how the episode played around his differential treatment of biological and robotic beings: he demonstrates his most fearsome fighting prowess against droids, and he shows his most merciful sentiments toward the living. We get to see his full capacity for violence, but we also see that he follows a strict moral code.
Tensions boil over when the rescuee turns out to be another estranged colleague named Qin (Ismael Cruz Cordova). Mando’s crewmates betray him, and he must pull out all of his tricks to survive. As he systematically eliminates his crewmates one by one, a combination of cinematography (flashing red lights in eerie corridors) and soundtrack (dissonant instrumentals over pulsating, droning percussion) create a thrilling atmosphere for the episode’s climax. I most appreciated the moment when he takes out Mayfield. Each flash of light renders the Mandalorian’s approaching figure visible for only a moment. Then he disappears entirely, giving just enough time for the camera to rotate and capture the terror on Mayfield’s face before he reappears behind him.
Due to the tight editing, we do not see the fate of any of the crew members at first. Qin even assumes that Mando killed them, and Mando cryptically responds, “They got what they deserved.” We later find out that he simply locked Mayfield, Burg, and Xi’an in one of the prison cells. Beyond its comedic value, this scene underscores the Mandalorian’s moral code. He did not lie when he said “they got what they deserved deserved” — he simply did not believe they deserved death.
Perhaps Mando holds less sympathy for Qin and Ran, or perhaps he feels absolved from responsibility if he does not pull the trigger himself. Either way, he makes peace with their deaths after procuring the payment and letting the New Republic X-Wings gun down the base. As he and Baby Yoda make their escape, he adds the cherry on top by turning to his companion and saying, “I told you that was a bad idea.” Hopefully, he comes up with more in Chapter 7 — the bad ideas seem to make for some great television.