I thought the pointlessness of the frog lady chapter couldn’t be topped; I was wrong. And this is the second to last episode! What were they thinking? I’m beginning to believe the rumors of Pedro Pascal almost quitting during the filming of season 2 of “The Mandalorian” are correct. All of which are highlighted in this episode, I’m sorry, chapter. For those who are unaware of what I’m referring to, allow me to indulge you.
Rumors circulated the internet that Mr. Pascal almost left during this season’s filming due to 2 reasons. One was because he never gets to show his face during the show while everyone else does. The second was its episodic nature. To address the first problem he had, it certainly sounds absurd. Mando’s purpose is that he can’t show his face. It would be ridiculous that Pascal would take issue with such a thing. I can understand being frustrated that he could be paid to record his dialogue in the studio. Simultaneously, virtually anyone could don the armor with the audience not even noticing who’s in it. But you signed up to play the character regardless. Plus, you’re starring in Star Wars.
Yet, there’s a moment in this episode where I think Chapter 15 Writer/Director Rick Fukuyama listened to Pedro in this instance. Guess what? It was the best moment in “The Believer.” Now we get down to Pascal’s best point. The episodic nature. Chapter 15 would work fine if it took place early in the season. When we were this close to the end of last season, the audience was presented with a thrilling bridge-building nail biter. “The Believer” provides no new information that we haven’t already been given.
All the familiar elements of the show are in place. Mando breaks into an Imperial Facility (the third one this season) then a shootout occurs. There’s a brief conversation about Mando’s beliefs. We get a small taste of “The Mandalorian” team filling in the gaps trying to correct the sequel trilogy’s poor writing. We have various hero shot fan service bits. Lastly, we end on a cliffhanger. When Rick Fukuyama’s name popped up on the end credits, I noticed a pattern. Last season Mr. Fukuyama directed “The Child” and “The Prisoner.” This season he directed “The Believer.” All filler episodes.
If you’re tired of hearing the word filler, then too bad. I enjoyed the chapters Rick headed last season. He’s excellent at conducting action sequences. “The Mandalorian” is only eight episodes, though with varying unpredictable episode lengths. Judging by the stamp on the runtime, you can essentially tell if it’s going to service the story or not. At 38 minutes, I had a feeling where things were going to go. Then again, I was utterly wrong about last week before the episode started, for the most part, at least. Although “The Mandalorian” is an action series, it doesn’t need constant action, but that has become Star Wars in general.
Everyone wanted Star Wars to be more exciting after the prequels. If they had to hear more space politics or mopy romantic dialog, fans would throw their plastic lightsabers in the trash compactor. When Disney swooped in, they provided all the action anyone could ask for. The prequels’ problem wasn’t that there was too much talking or even politics per se; it was that it was all horribly written. George Lucas is an incredible world-builder while being a horrendous screenwriter. With good screenwriters, Disney could have written something meaningful like “The Empire Strikes Back” did so many years ago. Opting for cheap entertainment, the mouse house had gone with all-flash with very little substance. The material is here in “The Mandalorian,” but in such short tidbits, the wonder of its effects’ appeals fizzles away, leaving something hollow underneath its helmet.
Rick Fukuyama’s chapter is an amalgamation of every negative element in “The Mandalorian” and represents every missed opportunity that Disney takes with the Star Wars franchise. At the end of “The Force Awakens,” we’re excited to see where the story goes. In the next film, it becomes a parody of itself. With the long-awaited reintroduction of Boba Fett and Grogu’s capture, we want to see how everything will come to ahead. Instead, we have another lazy Imperial Base shootout. The best episode so far was “The Jedi.” Not because it had the best action but because it was the quietest one. Made by the current savior of Star Wars himself, Dave Filoni, “The Jedi” was able to write what George Lucas wanted to if he knew how to make a good screenplay.
With the recent announcement of many new Star Wars shows, everyone decided to ease the breaks and have fun with this episode. They knew when they’d break the news; Rick could discharge another one of his filler chapters with possibly minimal blowback. When you only have eight episodes that you release every week, you shouldn’t waste your audience’s time. Believe it or not, Star Wars fans wouldn’t mind a little more talking. Don’t say, “we’ll fill in the gaps with these new shows.” That’s sweeping a problem of dull writing under the rug. The fans deserve thrilling action compiled with a dynamic story.
My patience was tested this season, then rewarded with “The Jedi.” Now that Dave Filoni is working on these other shows, episodes like this are unacceptably tedious. The Mando team can do better. I’ve seen the potential in “The Mandalorian.” When it works, it’s phenomenal; when it doesn’t, it can be infuriating. Unless the final episode of “The Mandalorian” is an hour plus long, I have a bad feeling about how it will wrap.