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Chapter 6 of ‘The Mandalorian’ provides great actions scenes for viewers, but is ultimately a weaker episode in the series. (Photo provided via @themandalorian on Twitter)

TV Review: Chapter 6 of ‘The Mandalorian’ infiltrates a prison in its take on the heist genre

If the last two episodes of The Mandalorian have seemed a bit tonally different from their preceding episodes, that’s likely because they’re the only two episodes not written by series creator Jon Favreau. And just as the last episode, “The Gunslinger,” took heavy inspiration from westerns, Friday’s episode, “The Prisoner,” dives headfirst into the heist genre.

That isn’t to say that guest writers are unwelcome. Having new writers can mean potentially diverse perspectives on the wide universe of Star Wars. However, the narrative thread of the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and “baby Yoda” evading capture from having a huge bounty on their heads hasn’t progressed in any meaningful way. Similarly, the overarching story is in limbo while Mando and baby Yoda meet new characters and embark on new adventures.

“The Prisoner,” co-written by Christopher Yost and director Rick Famuyiwa boasts one of The Mandalorian’s widest guest casts yet, with the irreverent Mayfield (Bill Burr), flirtatious Xi’an (Natelia Tena), brawny Burg (Clancy Brown) and the droid Q9-0 (Richard Ayoade) making up the ragtag team of mercenaries joining Mando, led by the untrustworthy Ranzar “Ran” Malk (Mark Boone Jr.).

The five take a bounty to save Xian’s brother, Qin (Ismael Cruz Cordova), from a high-security prison. Of course, because this is Star Wars, the prison is floating in space and guarded by highly deadly droids. The team throws caution to the wind, however, and takes on the bounty with plenty of betrayals, Mexican standoffs and an appropriately heist-themed soundtrack by series composer Ludwig Göransson.

“The Prisoner” is the longest episode of The Mandalorian to date, clocking in at 41 mintues, and the added time is certainly felt. Most of the episode’s duration takes place in the one prison, and although plenty of action sequences and plot twists aim to switch up the pace, the episode’s pacing still suffers from being a bit longer than it needed to be.

Nevertheless, the entire cast gives expert performances, with Tena and Brown in particular playing the red Burg and blue Xi’an, respectively, with chaotic energy throughout. The mercenaries’ constant teasing and provocations of the Mandalorian seem unnecessary and eventually wear thin, but at their best, they play off each other for some humorous performances and impressive fight sequences.

The chapter contains some of the series’ best action sequences yet, most likely due to most of the combatants being droids. That allows Mando and company to do real damage on their assailants in a PG manner, showing circuitry instead of gore and spilling oil instead of blood.

Despite some affecting scenes and a satisfying close, “The Prisoner” falls among The Mandalorian’s weaker episodes, mostly because of its slow pacing and stagnant narrative. However, given the series’ strong record, the episode isn’t disastrous, and there are plenty of fun, humorous and tense moments to be found here. 

With Favreau taking back the reins as writer for The Mandalorian’s final two episodes, hopefully the story between Mando, baby Yoda and the large bounty on their heads will resume.

New episodes of The Mandalorian normally release Fridays on Disney+, but with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releasing in theaters Friday, the next episode will be released Wednesday.


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