***WARNING! The following contains major plot spoilers for Episode 7 of The Mandalorian!***
After the disastrous prison break in last week's episode, The Mandalorian assembles a new, more trustworthy crew in Episode 7 (titled “The Reckoning”), which is the best installment of the Star Wars show yet. That's saying a lot since every episode has been excellent.
“The Reckoning” also brings in the Imperial warlord known as Moff Gideon (Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito), a character I've been looking forward to meeting for a while now.
Chapter 7 (director Deborah Chow's second episode this season) brings Season 1 full circle by reuniting the main character with several familiar faces. But I'm getting ahead of myself here…
The latest episode (it premiered today, so as to tease The Rise of Skywalker; read our review here), begins with Mando (Pedro Pascal) receiving a hologram message from bounty hunter guild leader, Greef Karga (Carl Weathers). Greef informs our hero that Nevarro, the planet on which the guild is based, has fallen under the oppressive rule of ex-Imperial goons after Mando decided to abscond with Baby Yoda.
Karga offers a truce, full pardon, and payment if Mando returns to Nevarro under the pretenses of returning the child and kills The Client (Werner Herzog) in the hopes of sending the stormtroopers scattering like cockroaches with the light turned on. Mando accepts the proposition but decides to take a leave out of last week's episode and assemble his own motley crew for the job.
First, he heads back to Sorgan to recruit Cara Dune (Gina Carano), who helped him protect a village in Chapter 4. At first, she refuses, saying that while she's a Rebel veteran of the war against the Empire, she's done some things since that has made her a fugitive of the New Republic. She doesn't flat-out say that she has the death systems on 12 systems, but that's pretty much the gist.
When Cara hears that Mando is on a mission to kill an Imperial warlord, she agrees to come aboard. It's the equivalent of that “You son of a bitch, I'm in,” line from Rick and Morty. Through Cara and Mando's conversations, we learn that former followers of Palpatine are simply known as “Imps,” a simple shortening of the word “Imperial.” It's a fitting monicker since the term “imp” carries a negative connotation of evil spirits.
From Sorgan, Mando, Cara, and Baby Yoda go to see Kuiil (Nick Nolte), the Ugnaught from the first two episodes. In my recap of Chapter 2, I voiced my hope that he would return in a later episode, so you can imagine my joy of seeing the gruff moisture farmer re-enter the story.
It is revealed that Kuiil (his name is pronounced like “quill”) recovered the remains of IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi)—the bounty hunting droid from the season premiere—and reprogrammed him to be a domesticated machine that moves crates and pours tea. Mando, who wants Kuiil to look after Baby Yoda, doesn't trust IG-11 one bit and refuses to let the droid look after The Child.
Kuiil, once an indentured servant for the Empire, agrees to look after Baby Yoda not for payment, but as a symbolic gesture of defiance to the lingering cruel actions of the Emperor's followers. Proud that he was able to earn his freedom through several human lifetimes, the Ugnaught ideologically clashes with Cara, who sees Kuiil as a good-for-nothing collaborator.
“The Reckoning” is such a fascinating episode because it isn't afraid to explore the fallout of war and those who participate in it. Can someone overcome the stink of unsavory actions during wartime?
Is Kuiil actually a war criminal? It doesn't really matter now because he is sadly killed by the very end, which did play with my expectations. I thought IG-11 might save the day, but no dice. Kuiil is dead and Baby Yoda is back in the hands of the Empire—or what's left of it, at least.
But once again, I'm getting ahead of myself…
On their way to Nevarro, Mando and Cara have a friendly arm-wrestling match. Mistaking this as a real fight, Baby Yoda nearly Force chokes Cara to death—a nice indication that BY really is just a child that doesn't understand his powers yet. I'm also curious why none of the characters (especially Dune who fought with the Rebellion) don't immediately think of Luke Skywalker or the Jedi.
They eventually reach their destination and rendezvous with Karga and two guild goons. The group ventures across the lava fields toward the town, but is attacked by poisonous pterodactyl-creatures that nearly kill Greef.
Had it not been for Baby Yoda's Force-related healing powers, Karga would be a goner. Like it happened with Mando, Baby Yoda softens Karga's heart and the guild leader decides not to double-cross Mando by killing him and taking the kid.
Mando decides to send Kuiil back to the ship with Baby Yoda, while he, Cara, and Greef head into town to kill The Client. Finally, Werner Herzog is back, delivering lines about the glory of the Empire like an old Nazi recounting the “good old days” of the Third Reich. “Compare Imperial rule to what is happening now,” he says. “Look outside. Is the world more peaceful since the revolution? I see nothing, but death and chaos.”
As bad as this guy is, he's technically not wrong. After all, the First Order was allowed to come into being right under the nose of the New Republic. Anyway, we bid farewell to The Client who is shot to death by stormtroopers before Mando and the others can double-cross him.
Moff Gideon, who was wise to the plan all along, arrives in a TIE Fighter (I mean, what an entrance!) and basically reveals that he's been pulling the strings on the Baby Yoda hunt this entire time. Now trapped in a cantina surrounded by a small battalion of troopers, Mando, Cara, and Karga are pretty much SOL. To make matters worse, Gideon now has the kid. He states that Baby Yoda means a lot to him, but we still don't know why.
We'll get some kind of resolution to this pickle when Chapter 8 of The Mandalorian, aka the Season 1 finale, debuts on Disney+ on Friday, Dec. 27. Written by Jon Favreau, the eighth episode was directed by Taika Waititi.
For our guide to the entire series, click here. For our recaps of Episodes 1 – 6, click on one of the links below: