‘The Mandalorian’ Is Making Some Fans ‘Uncomfortable’ in a Good Way
For generations now, Star Wars has served as a kind of comfort food for fans. Fans could count on the stories for healthy doses of nostalgia and entertainment. But Star Wars also has sometimes troubled its audiences with challenging moral questions. One particular episode of The Mandalorian, “The Believer,” stood out that way, thanks to Bill Burr’s character.
What happened in ‘The Believer’?
The seventh episode of season 2 featured the return of Migs Mayfeld, the character played by Burr first seen in season 1. At the start of the episode, Mayfeld is serving time at a work camp when Cara Dune enlists him on a mission to help the Mandalorian rescue the child from Moff Gideon. They need Mayfeld’s knowledge of Imperial codes to help them retrieve information.
Mayfeld and the Mandalorian hijack a vehicle to get them to the terminal they need, and Mayfeld notices ordinary people on the planet and muses how the empire really isn’t that different from any other ruling class. He tells the Mandalorian: “You said you couldn’t take your helmet off, and now you’ve got a Stormtrooper one on. So what’s the rule? Is it that you can’t take off your Mando helmet or that you can’t show your face? Because there is a difference. … Everybody’s got their lines they don’t cross until things get messy.”
What’s ironic about this is that Burr was known to have disdain for Star Wars before he was cast in the show. Screen Rant found that a fan had dubbed one of Burr’s anti-Star Wars monologues over his Mayfeld dialogue. Casting Burr was a potential minefield, given how toxic fandom sometimes becomes. But some fans ate up Burr’s character — even when he was abrasive.
How did fans react to ‘The Believer’?
Fans on Reddit took notice not only of the discomfort but the fact that it has precedent. One wrote, “This is my favorite chapter of the series. Things suddenly got realistic, and I felt uncomfortable. I haven’t felt that way since Yoda and Mace Windu overlooked the Clone Army of the Republic… right beside Palpatine.”
Another fan even brought up the notion of comfort, saying, “His talk with Din about how people don’t want freedom but a leader to follow, that’s EXACTLY how the First Order took over the galaxy in a few days. They took the charge the people of the galaxy were waiting for, unfortunately for dark reasoning but it was comfort. Loved that.”
Burr himself thought he would be a source of discomfort because of his Star Wars rants. But showrunner Jon Favreau didn’t see them as a problem, according to Screen Rant. The Reddit forum backs him up.
Some say ‘The Mandalorian’ played it safe in the end
Fans were also delighted by the finale of the second season, which featured the return of a very famous Jedi. While some people predicted this move, other observers criticized the finale for falling back on lazy nostalgia and undercutting the series’ best moments.
Critic Matt Zoller Seitz wrote in Vulture: “When Mayfeld’s long-suppressed guilt bomb detonates, Star Wars momentarily becomes as morally instructive and clearheaded as [George] Lucas always wanted it to be. … (But) here comes the season-two finale, making like Lucy yanking the football away from Charlie Brown. Now The Mandalorian, like Grogu, has the potential to go one way or the other: to embrace the light side or get swallowed up in the darkness.”
For now, most Star Wars fans seemed to be pleased with The Mandalorian, and they have another nostalgia-heavy series, The Book of Boba Fett, in the works. Opportunities for pleasure and disappointment will be plentiful.