Verdict At Glance
Mando S1E6 is brilliant, a return to form that not only recaptures the glory of S1E4 but expands the menu of what this show does well.
Mando receives an unspecified offer of work from his old collaborator Ranzar Malk. Its a five man job, and Mando will be the fifth. Mando lands on Malk’s space station and quickly meets his crew of cynical ne’er do wells: Mayfield, a human with a suspiciously Anglo-American name for Star Wars; Xi’an, a Twi’lek femme fatale and expert in hand to hand combat heavily implied to be Mando’s ex (and played by none other than Natalia Tena, or Osha from Game of Thrones); Burg, a Devaronian strongman whose charater design is pure thrift store Hellboy; and Q9-0, a bug-eyed Droid pilot with a British accent who gets in a charminly Droid supremacist “Organics suck” word or two. After introductions are concluded and Mando the anti-Droidite is forced to accept that, yes, the robot is flying the ship, the crew is sent off in Mando’s starship The Razor Crest to board a New Republic prison frigate and bust someone from jail. The identity of the target is unnamed, but we do learn as a neat tidbit that Mando was selected because his ship is “off the grid” in a Star Warzy type of way, being unmarked, unregistered, and untraceable by either the Empire or its successor state.
After boarding, Mando et al. quickly run into a platoon of guard Droids carrying blaster rifles. I’m not gonna lie: the design of these Droids, heavily patterned on the HK-50 Droids of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (or KOTOR) 2, was fucking amazing, seeing as the HK-50s were themselves patterned on HK-47, the pyschopathic assassination Droid of the original KOTOR who is the funniest character, organic or inorganic, that Star Wars ever has or will produce. The gang falls into this trap and is totally useless and pinned down, till Mando flanks the Droids and fulfills the promise he made to us of going full John Wick in episode 3. The fight choreography of The Mandalorian gets better every episode, and with Droids not being actual lifeforms whose blood and dismemberment would make the show unsuitable for a TV-14 rating, we get some full on savagery in the vein of robot amputations and decapitations in this episode. The plot only thickens from here.
Next, when the gang seizes the ship’s control room, Mando and Mayfield get into a standoff over whether or not to execute the human pilot they unexpectedly discover at the helm. Mando’s attempt to coerce Mayfield into sparing the pilot fails when Xi’an, clearly fed up with this posturing boys nonsense from the both of them, knifes him in the heart and pushes them to move on. After Burg, quite humorously, dispatches a giant cylindrical tank Droid then hurls it into a reinforcement tank Droid, they reach the target and the real fun begins. Mando is stunned to discover the target is Qin, Xi’an’s brother and his former associate, then is promptly thrown into the selfsame cell they just liberated Qin from. With the death of the pilot having set off a Republic distress signal, the squad makes for The Razor Crest to escape before reinforcements arrive. Q9-0 discovers a hologram of Greef Carga placing a bounty on Mando in the ship, and immediately realizes The Child is a hot commodity.
Before the squad can escape however, Mando breaks free, sabotages the ship, separating the squad in half, and then hunts them down one by one, incapating Burg and Xi’an and killing Mayfield. Q9-0 attempts to kill the child, but meets a similar fate, while Qin, appealing to Mando’s honor as a Mandolorian, successfully persuades Mando to take him back to Malk alive. After returning Qin and receiving payment, Mando leaves. Malk plots to kill Mando using a gunship from his space station, but Qin and Malk quickly learn to their chagrin that Mando has planted the distress beacon on Qin. Moments later, an X-Wing squadron (composed of episode director Rick Famuyiwa and colleagues Deborah Chow and Dave Filoni in cameo) blasts out of hyperspace, flies past Mando, and give his betrayers hellfire as Mando and The Child resume their wanderings. Xi’an and Burg are shown to have survived their respective beat downs and been imprisoned in New Republic custody.
The show has done giant alien animals, Wild West style shootouts, a war episode and a fair bit of martial arts up until this point, but this time we got to see a full-blown heist thriller. If the ultimate double-double-cross was totally predictable, the execution was nonetheless excellent. The Mandalorian needed to recover hard from the complete let-down that was episode 5, and it more than delivered.