So far, “The Mandalorian” on Disney Plus hasn’t been without its faults and we’d say even a little underwhelming. However, the latest installment is undoubtedly the most original and entertaining so far. Entitled, “The Prisoner” it certainly plays on the “jail break” Western trope – even down to the classic “betrayal,” but it also borrows a little from “Die Hard” and the idea of one man nothing but using wit, cunning and a modified heavy blaster to outfox an overwhelming number of adversaries.
We open with the Razor Crest landing onboard a small space station in one of several glorious shots of that lovely looking ship in this episode. Onboard is an old acquaintance of the Mandalorian’s, a man named Ranzar “Ran” Malk (Mark Boone, Jr. from “Batman Begins”) and he’s got a job offer. It seems the Mandalorian reached out to Ran, so clearly he’s still looking for any non-Guild-related work he can find.
In essence, it’s a jail break, but it requires teaming up with three other mercenaries: a cocky, cowboy character called Mayfeld (comedian Bill Burr), a Twi’lek named Xi’an (Natalia Tena from “Harry Potter”), a Devaronian named Burg played by none other than the legendary Clancy Brown (“Highlander,” “Cowboys & Aliens,” “Rebels”) and finally a droid called Q9-0, or just Zero, voiced by British comedy actor Richard Ayoade, from “The IT Crowd.”
Almost immediately you can feel the Mandalorian thinking to himself that this gig is getting worse by the minute. And his/our suspicions are confirmed when Ran explains that the main reason they agreed to include the Mandalorian was so that they could use his ship. Apparently, the ship is so old it’s off both the Imperial grid and that of the New Republic … whatever that means. The weak justification for having to use the Razor Crest for this particular job and little overacting from the mercenaries are really the only complaints we have about this episode and to be honest, since the rest of it is so entertaining, it’s not too difficult to look past these.
The prisoner, who Ran says is an old colleague, is on a New Republic maximum-security prison transport that’s manned by droids. And talking of droids, the approach that the Razor Crest must take to avoid detection is so extreme that Ran says Zero must pilot the ship in. Further adding to the Mandalorian’s frustration about this plan.
En route, the four mercs continue to wind the Mandalorian – and each other – up, pushing buttons, nosing around and going through all his stuff, generally upsetting the balance of things. It also seems Xi’an and the Mandalorian have some history and the others tease him about not taking his helmet off. “I wonder what he looks like under there,” Mayfeld says. “Maybe he’s a Gungan,” he laughs as he does an amusing impression of one.
Burg then goes to forcefully take his helmet off and the Mandalorian naturally defends himself, but in the struggle, Burg smashes against a control panel that opens another storage compartments to reveal the cute and adorable baby Yoda. And what’s nice is that we’d completely forgotten about him for the last 11 minutes, and instead were allowed to focus on new characters.
Of course everyone is interested, but thankfully, they don’t know that baby Yoda is a wanted bounty, since they’re not part of the Guild, so their interests — for the time being – are all about how cute and adorable he is. And he really is.
Mayfeld picks him up just at the moment that Zero drops out of hyperspace and – as everyone is thrown about the cargo hold – drops baby Yoda! [Warning: Do Not Attempt To Eat Or Drink At This Point During The Episode As Choking Will Occur.]
Zero takes the Razor Crest through a thoroughly amusing “Airplane!”-esque series of maneuvers and they land, undetected atop the prison transport ship. The Mandalorian hacks the outer hatch lock so they can enter and Zero has tapped into the prison transport’s main computer so he can disable the surveillance systems.
They cautiously make their way through the ship, walking past rows of cells with all manner of incarcerated alien creatures inside, plus an Ardennian and even an Imperial officer. The ships corridors are a maze and without Zero guiding them, they’d have no chance of finding their target. The set design is simple, but it’s effective and it makes for a welcome change of location.
By blasting a MSE-series mouse droid for no reason other than selfish amusement, Burg has alerted the droid guards to their presence. While everyone panics as they’re pinned down, the Mandalorian flanks the droids and singlehandedly takes out about five using just about every weapon at his disposal, which is nice to see. And that’s what they’re for. Despite saving everyone’s necks in quite spectacular fashion, the others are unimpressed.
Monitoring events from the bridge of the Razor Crest, Zero redirects the remaining guard droids away from their position and the group continues to make their way to the control room. Inside, they find a very nervous New Republic officer (Matt Lanter from “The Clone Wars”). Despite the Mandalorian’s best efforts to get everyone to calm down and thus prevent this young man from dying, Xi’an gets fed up and kills him anyway. However, before he dies, he manages to activate a tracking beacon that has alerted the New Republic to their intrusion. Zero informs they now have 20 minutes to get what they came for and get off the ship.
Using nothing but brute force, Burg takes out a few New Republic droids that look like a hovering variant of a R1-G4 armed with a formidable looking heavy blaster. Eventually they get to the cell they’re looking for, open the door and release…another Twi’Lek. Qin (Ismael Cruz Cordova), brother of Xi’an, who reveals that he’s in that cell because of the Mandalorian.
Then comes the double-cross. Mayfeld shoves the Mandalorian into the cell and locks it. With Zero calling out how much time is left every few minutes, we’ve got an exciting ticking clock-style climax on our hands. Fifteen minutes are left; that’s how much time the Mandalorian has got to save himself, his ship and poor baby Yoda who’s on board.
Meanwhile, on the Razor Crest, Zero is scanning through some holographic communications and comes across the order from Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) on behalf of the Guild to return the quarry to the Client (Werner Herzog). Now Zero has an idea of how much that cute and adorable baby is actually worth.
The Mandalorian blasts a patrolling droid through the bars of his cell and using his grapple hook, manages to haul the arm of the droid into the cell. Activating its data probe extension, he sticks it into the door lock and opens it. And we get to the most interesting part of this episode. Making straight for the control room, he switches to emergency lighting – making everything turn red, which really sets the scene – and shuts strategically located blast doors in order to split up the fleeing five mercenaries. Then he jams the communications between them and Zero on board the Razor Crest.
Qin has ended up with Mayfeld, while Xi’an and Burg wander the corridors together. Nervously they turn each corner with their weapons raised and without Zero guiding them, they have no clue where they are. The incidental music here takes a slight turn, changing from the signature wind flute score by Ludwig Göransson to a more suspenseful, almost “Usual Suspects”-style score, which further adds to this set piece.
Burg has unwittingly found himself back in the control room, having been steered in a circle by the Mandalorian, who is hiding above in the ceiling panels. Seizing his chance to take the big Devaronian out, he once again uses every weapon at his disposal, only this time they have no effect. Not even the flamethrower. Then there’s a great throwback reference to the first episode where the Mandalorian cuts a cowardly Quarren in half by closing the door of the cantina on him. Seemingly with no way to defeat the mighty Burg, he throws a baton at the door control and the blast door quickly closes down on Burg’s head. Phew. But no…we see Burg standing up and actually lifting the blast up. What in the galaxy is going to stop this beast?! But without even blinking, the Mandalorian hits another control panel and a second blast door closes horizontally on his head.
Humor is incorporated in this episode far more than the previous few, but it’s well written, well placed and not over-used, even if one or two scenes do go on a little longer than they need to.
The Mandalorian goes after the rest of the mercenaries. Hiding in the shadows and appearing and suddenly disappearing in the single blink of an emergency strobe light. He ends up in a knife fight with Xi’an and creeps undetected right up to Mayfeld. He catches up to Qin and lets him believe he’s killed the others, in order to convince him to surrender. Finally, he boards Razor Crest and blows a nice, big hole in Zero who’s been trying to hunt down baby Yoda.
Affairs are almost in order, but not quite. The Mandalorian returns to the station to a waiting Ran. Qin steps off the Razor Crest leading Ran to believe the rest were all killed, something that the Mandalorian doesn’t deny. The bounty hunter collects his reward and leaves, not wasting any time. Once the Razor Crest is spacebourne, Ran walks over to a coms stations and simply says, “Kill him,” as Qin looks on, laughing.
A sleek and heavily armed starfighter rises up on a launch pad behind them and Qin notices a device flashing and beeping that’s been attached to his belt. Oh yes, it’s the New Republic tracker from the prison transport. And that very moment, three T-65 X-wings drop out of hyperspace…and almost collide with the Razor Crest.
Superfans might notice that the three X-wing pilots are played by Dave Filoni (Trapper Wolf), Rick Famuyiwa (Jib Dodger) and Deborah Chow (Sash Ketter), all directors of “The Mandalorian.”
They swoop in and basically blow the station to bits, Qin and the treacherous Ran and all. The Mandalorian doesn’t hang about to watch and the Razor Crest makes the jump into hyperspace, to another adventure as he continues to try and find non-Guild work while nothing related to his story whatsoever seems to happening on Nevarro. We do get a glimpse of a cell on the prison transport and see that Mayfled, Xi’an, and Burg are in fact all still alive and locked up together. And what’s nice is that we can just about see, through the bars of the cell, that Burg’s horns are broken, so now he looks like Hellboy.
The seventh episode of “The Mandalorian” will air on Disney+ on Dec. 18, followed by the final installment on Dec. 27. The dates are irregular to accommodate the theatrical release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” on Dec 20.
Disney Plus has also announced that the penultimate episode (Dec. 18) of the first season will have an “exclusive sneak peek” at the upcoming “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” film.
A monthly subscription is available for $6.99; annual subscriptions cost $69.99. You can sign up for Disney Plus here. Amazon has announced that the Disney+ app will be available on devices including Fire TV, Fire TV Edition smart TVs and Fire Tablets (compatible ones). Disney+ won’t be available in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy or Spain until March 31, 2020.