Low on credits “The Prisoner” finds the Mandalorian teaming up with an old friend from his formative years as a bounty hunter, Ran. Now running his own crew Ran needs the Razor Crest for a prison break of one of his associates who got caught by the New Republic.
He’s a big shot gangster, putting together a crew.
That crew includes the former Imperial sharpshooter, Mayfeld (Bill Burr), the Devaron muscle Burg (Clancy Brown), and a former flame of the Mandalorian, Xi’an (Natalia Tena). Rounding out our merry band of misfits is Zero, an arrogant droid who’s flying the getaway ship.
Although Ran vouches for him, no one seems to trust the Mandalorian and they question him incessantly.
On the way to the New Republic prison, Burg and Mando get into a shuffle where the Devaron inadvertently opens the hiding place of Yiddle. Leading to more questions from the crew and thankfully the questions are interrupted by Zero’s flying before they can dig deeper into who this child is.
Inside the prison, the group runs into resistance from New Republic security droids as well as an unexpected crew member. A crew member equipped with a tracker that will send the New Republic right to their location. Leading to a stand-off between the Mando and his reluctant partners, who want to kill the crew member. Xi’an kills the New Republic pilot in the confusion and after a deep breath, they make their way to their target, Xi’an’s brother Qin.
Mando is the reason that he’s there, and as an act of revenge they place him in the same cell Qin was locked in. The Mandalorian escapes from his prison and one by one takes out the crew that betrayed him. Capturing Qin to take back to Ran for the reward and saving Yiddle before Zero can take him down.
The Mandalorian takes Qin to Ran, receives the reward, and leaves. As the Mandalorian makes his escape, Qin pulls out the New Republic tracker and three X-Wings appear out of hyperspace and destroy the compound. The Mandalorian jumps to hyperspace and quips to Yiddle, “See I told you that was a bad idea.”.
I like this episode a lot more than last week's disappointing “The Gunslinger”. Although I do have some similar issues about how it relates to the greater story as a whole, I’ll get into that a bit later.
Let’s start with what I liked!
I’m a sucker for a good heist movie and that’s exactly what this episode does well. It’s an oddball group of criminals working together and forming a plan to get what they want, in this case, Qin. Although “working together” probably isn't the right phrase to describe how these criminals do things.
It has all the aspects you want in a great heist story. A near-impossible job that needs the help of an old friend of the person planning it. The crew talking about their plan around a table while the camera rotates around them. An unforeseen obstacle that changes the plan almost completely. Twists and turns and of course, betrayals. All the while, our main character comes away with what they want.
We’ve seen it before in Solo: A Star Wars Story but it’s always fun to bring the genre to the Star Wars universe. It works well and it’s ultimately a ton of fun to watch which is exactly what last week's episode was missing.
For the most part, the team works for me but there are a couple of exceptions that I didn’t think meshed particularly well. I loved seeing Clancy Brown in a live-action role in a Star Wars story. He’s played a lot of important roles on the animation side because he has the voice of God, but he does a great job of playing Burg. He’s tall, menacing, and imposing, and a force to be reckoned with. I feel like I don’t see him in anything besides animated shows, but it was cool to see him here.
I also really enjoyed Xi’an played by Harry Potter alum Natalia Tena. She brought a scary, unhinged and animalistic energy to the role. Reminding me a little bit of Bellatrix LeStrange from the Potterverse and it works well here. Her past with the Mandalorian is intriguing to me and like everything about Mando’s past, I want to see more of it. I get the feeling we haven’t seen the last of any of these characters because someone will have to break them out at some point.
Plus Xi’an’s theme that plays throughout is perfect for her character and works well every time in the episode.
Bill Burr is a bit of a special case for me because I’m a really big fan of his work. I think he’s really funny and he’s done some pretty solid work on TV and film. That being said it was a little jarring seeing him here. I liked parts of his character and some lines worked well, but overall I think he feels kind of out place here. I wanted to love his character but something just felt a little off about his inclusion here.
The action scenes and the overall atmosphere of the episode worked for me as well. From Mando single-handedly taking down the battalion of security droids while the others watched. To the one on one battle between the Mandalorian and Burg. It all stands out and is a welcome return form from the first half of the season.
How about those X-Wing pilots? I know we’ve gotten Filoni’s voice before in canon, but it is nice that he’s officially a part of canon. When you add in Rick Famuyiwa and Deborah Chow, it’s a fun little cameo from some of the best directors in Star Wars. Maybe Bryce Dallas Howard will have a cameo next week to get a full set.
Like last week, my biggest problem with “The Prisoner” has to do with the overall narrative of the story. When you have eight episodes to tell a cohesive story, you have to keep it focused and always moving forward. This episode once again just feels like a detour and we’re not moving the story forward in a substantive way. My feelings on that may change when we see the final two episodes, but that’s my biggest problem with the episode.
Overall, I thought this episode was a fun take on the heist story, but it ultimately feels hollow to me. It doesn’t move the story in any substantive way and that disappoints me a lot. I’m expecting a fairly big story episode next week to blow me away as the first episodes did.
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