‘The Prisoner’ continued the three-episode streak of side quests that feel very episodic, but I’m finally setting into this pattern.
I’m a much bigger fan of the structure from the first three episodes, where each episode leads strongly into the next and it feels like one continuous story. But that pattern broke with episode 4, and now we need to come to terms with the fact that The Mandalorian is, in fact, an episodic streaming series and not a film broken into several parts. While it’s not my preference, I am getting used to it and enjoying it for what it is. When I accept the episodic nature of the series, ‘The Prisoner’ was actually a fairly decent episode and I can appreciate it.
Baby Yoda was absent for a great deal of the set up for ‘The Prisoner,’ which felt jarring at first. I feel like such baby Yoda garbage for this, but I was definitely mumbling in frustration about his absence. Where is our little womp rat?! But when he’s finally revealed in his little bed chamber, the true risks of the episode, as well as the Mandalorian’s lifestyle choices overall, becomes quickly apparent. Mando has decided to keep the child, but not give up his career, and this is a dangerous combination.
Basically, our Mando is a hard-working single father who can’t really afford a baby sitter, so he drags his child to work and hopes he stays out of trouble while he works to put food on the table. Shout out to all the hard-working single parents out there! You don’t get nearly enough credit for what you do.
It was definitely a high anxiety episode as Mando had to leave baby Yoda behind with a rather unscrupulous droid and hope that everything worked out. And, of course, it didn’t. The whole mission goes sideways as it turns out it was a set up for revenge against the Mandalorian. The prisoner turns out to be someone he’d ‘left behind’ before, so now it’s their turn to dump him and escape.
The last half of the episode becomes a high anxiety race against the clock as Mando fights to free himself, take out his former heist team members, and get back to his child on the ship. And all of this before the New Republic comes bearing down on them.
Speaking of which, seeing all the New Republic stuff was super cool. Everything from the uniforms to the X-wings was a trip down nostalgia lane and I enjoyed it. It is interesting placing them in the antagonist role, but what else can you expect when the protagonist is a morally gray bounty hunter? It’s still interesting to note, though.
On a similar note, I want to give special props for the scene where the Mandalorian is sneaking up behind sharpshooter Mayfield in the hallway while the lights flicker on and off. It felt very much like a horror film, only we are rooting for the monster lurking in the shadows to win. While the execution of the scene could be lifted from, say, an Alien movie, the roles are reversed and the anxiety turns into excitement. It was beautifully done.
Speaking of Mayfield, I also want to give recognition to the joke that Stormtroopers have terrible aim. When he’s introduced as an ex-imperial sharpshooter, he defends himself by saying he was absolutely not a Stormtrooper. While meta jokes like this can sometimes feel clunky (as much of the meta in last week’s episode did), this got a pretty big laugh out of me. I almost don’t care that it was blatant pandering to the fanbase, because it was damn hilarious.
And then we have baby Yoda.
Oh sweet baby Yoda.
For much of the episode he’s left to fend for himself and we get a glimpse of the intelligent being behind all the cuteness. He spends much of it spying on the droid Zero, and then, when the droid decides to seek him out, acts totally innocent like he hadn’t just been lurking about the ship. This kid is sharp. And he’s weaponizing his cuteness. We are doomed.
But the best part was when Zero was moments away from firing on him and baby Yoda decides to try and use the force against him. Before he has a chance to do so, Mando shoots Zero from behind and saves the day. But baby Yoda does a double take at his hand like ‘holy crap, did I do that?!’ ICONIC.
The child may be able to use the force, but it’s clear he’s still not entirely clear on the finer details of its use. He is ultimately just a baby with an insanely powerful skill and no master to train him how to use it. Sometimes it drains him. Sometimes it confuses him. But he knows it’s there and he wants to use it to protect himself and his Dadalorian the best he can. They’re a team and they’re in this together.
The episode ends with Mando talking to his kid like this was just another day on the job for them. This is their life now. It’s dangerous. It’s unusual. It’s not at all what either of them probably expected. But this is their life and they’re going to make the best of it.
The gap between ‘Chapter 6: The Prisoner’ and ‘Chapter 7’ is going to be shorter than normal. The episode will be released on Wednesday due to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker being released on Friday. There will be a special ‘sneak peek’ during the episode, though it’s unclear if it’ll just be a clip from the film, or if something from the series itself will be relevant to the movie. As there are about 25ish years between the show and the movie, my bet is that we are getting a separate clip and not a tie-in within the episode. But who knows? Maybe baby Yoda will be the savior of the new trilogy and pop out of nowhere to save the day. I mean, probably not… but who knows, man. Anything can happen.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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