I’ll say it up front, I loved episode 7 of The Mandalorian. Not only did we get to see some familiar faces again, but ‘The Reckoning” put a sinister twist on things with a heavy dose of Imperial intrigue – and the introduction of a new baddie. Loved it. And as the penultimate episode, the anticipation of the finale has only grown more intense.
So before you go any deeper down the rabbit hole, be forewarned that SPOILERS are coming. So, if you don’t mind SPOILERS, then please proceed at a pace that feels comfy to you. With that, let’s talk episode 7 of The Mandalorian.
II was thrilled that early on some of my favorite characters are back in action. And while I thought episode 6 presented us with a motley crew of operators, what we get in episode 7 is, shall we say, an eclectic mix. Greef Karga, Cara Dune,and Kuill all show up again in an episode that had intrigue, action and, in the end, plenty to be worried about moving forward. It all begins with a communication from Karga, who tells Mando that The Client has increased his roster of ex-imperial troops and made Navaro a very unpleasant planet to inhabit.
The gambit is that Mando and Baby Yoda will be the bait. Get in close to The Client, Mando kills him, the troopers scatter like rats, and Mando is cleared of any Guild wrongdoing, etc. It’s obviously too good to be true and certainly not as easy as Karga lays it out, but Mando sees it as the only way to get off the “on the run” treadmill. As an aside, there must still be plenty of money floating around ex-Imperial circles to keep people employed. Interesting.
Look, given what’s transpired thus far, I suspect his trust level is running near empty and he demonstrates that by making some pickups along the way – Cara Dune (Gina Carano just makes me smile – every time), who is doing some hand-to-hand fighting for pocket change, and Kuill, who has made a new friend. That’s right, in addition to those I’ve mentioned, the bounty droid is alive and kicking. Thanks to Kuill’s rebuilding and reprogramming skills, the killer droid has been salvaged and turned into a working-class model. Kuill gives us a little backstory on how it all happened. It’s kind of a tender story, really.
Mando has zero trust in the reprogramming, but Kuill insists that the droid is harmless and poses no threat to Baby Yoda. Personally, I’m a believer in the “ghosts in the machine” philosophy. I do not trust this “new” droid that was, until recently, a stone-cold killer – with Baby Yoda as his target. I’m not buying it and Mando certainly isn’t buying it.
So Mando snags Dune, Kuill, the droid and, joyfully enough, three blurggs, with the prospect of ending this thing. Let’s be honest, Karga’s friendliness wasn’t really buying him any good will with me. This screamed “let’s get him back on the planet, kill him and take the child” action from the jump. I suspect Mando (and certainly Dune) knew it, too. However, the chance to clear himself and stop being hunted proved too strong a lure to simply ignore. I mean, there is that chance, no matter how slim, that it might be on the level. Doubted it and our doubts were confirmed later.
Fortunately, on the “cuteness” scale of the Baby Yoda meter, episode 7 had some good moments. There’s our little guy’s head poking through the hatch of the ship upside down, then the “I can fly this thing” moment, followed by another demonstration of his burgeoning force abilities. But before we get into that, let me say that as the Baby Yoda love-athon continues, I completely get it. That green bundle is so damn cute it’s almost unbearable. Then, our little guy goes and saves a life with his powers and it gets better.
Karga and some bodyguards meet Mando and his band outside town. It’s too far to go to reach town that day, so they make camp and as the tension thickens across the campfire, the camp is attacked by flying creatures that carry off two of the Blurggs and wound Karga. Turns out, the claws are poisonous, so Karga’s chips may have been cashed in. That is until Baby Yoda hops out of his newly reconstructed pram (thanks Kuill!) and does some good old-fashioned laying on of hands – force style. He reverses Karga’s poisoning and in the process, reverses Karga’s treacherous ways.
The next day, Karga dispatches his hired goons and comes clean to Dune and Mando about what he was really planning (You remember – kill and snatch). So, time for a new plan to get to the same end – kill the client. Using Mando as the bait now, they get the sit-down with The Client and certainly notice a lot more ex-imperial troops milling about outside and inside the bar. Good to see Werner Herzog again as he’s an actor I really enjoy.
One of the things I’m really delighted with about The Mandalorian is the spaces that are being filled in a bit between the fall of the Empire and the rise of the First Order. One of the questions I’ve always had was what happened to all the ex-empire and resistance folks. There must be cool stories there. Well, The Mandalorian is giving us a glimpse into that. Much of what made the Empire bad is still in the air, with ex-troops and officials becoming warlord factions. The old ways are simply not put on a shelf, but continue to fester.
The Client gives us a nice glimpse into that when he starts monologuing about why the Mandalores resisted Imperial rule. “The Empire improves every system it touches. Judged by any metric – safety, prosperity, trade, opportunity, peace. Compare imperial rule with what is happening now. Look outside, is the world more peaceful since the revolution? I see nothing but death and chaos.” He uses the present tense in this little chat, which again offers a clue that acceptance of the fall of the Empire is not completely reconciled – by many? Are we seeing, in the lust for Baby Yoda, an attempt to reconstruct The Empire? Interesting thought, isn’t it? Is this is the genesis of the First Order?
It’s a good reminder to us that the world of Star Wars post-Empire is a realm in flux and, yes, chaos. The echoes of the past aren’t completely lost and there are many who yearn for those former days. It’s a great lesson to remember – toppling an evil empire doesn’t remove the evil, it simply forces it underground and into the shadows. That’s the world that The Client and his associates are currently occupying. And somehow Baby Yoda is a component of that. Or more accurately, perhaps it is the force powers that are of interest.
While tensions mount in the bar, The Client gets a call. We are introduced to Moff Gideon, who is appropriately attired in black with a cape – classic bad guy attire. And that’s when all hell breaks loose. Shots rain down on the bar from outside as a large contingent of storm-troopers disembark and fire away, killing everyone but our heroes. Meanwhile, Kuill, who has been tasked with seeing Baby Yoda back to Mando’s ship, doesn’t quite make it.
Troops at the ready outside the bar, Karga, Mando and Dune under cover in the cantina with dead bodies scattered everywhere, and what should we see but a Tie Fighter drop in and the black-clad presence of Moff Gideon on the scene in person. Let me be blunt – I am a huge fan of Giancarlo Esposito’s work and he immediately gives Gideon a weighty serious vibe as he addresses our guys in the bar. He wants Baby Yoda and they have no idea how important it is that he get it.
“You have something I want. You may think you have some idea of what you are in possession of, but you do not. In a few moments, it will be mine,” he tells his captives. And he’s right. We see Baby Yoda on the sand, a storm-trooper hand scooping it up and riding away, then the communicator on the ground and finally Kuill, who has been hit with a blaster – apparently dead. The reckoning has come and the prize, Baby Yoda, has been lost.
That was a tough one to swallow given how well Mando has done protecting the child. But now the task at hand will shift. For 7 episodes it has been about running and protecting Baby Yoda. Now, that task will change. My gut tells me that retribution for this is going to be bloody and with the last episode of season 1 coming, I look forward to a full-on confrontation with Moff Gideon. But first, out heroes have to get out of that bar intact and with their health. My hope is Karga will join them. On the flip side, I’m devastated with the apparent loss of Kuill. I have enjoyed hearing the voice of Nick Nolte again and thought that voice and that character were wonderfully synced.
So, the final episode of season 1 is nearly upon us and it will be interesting to see what direction this all goes heading into season 2. Are we about to have cliff-hanger of an episode followed by a season of Mando in chase mode? Or will things be taken care of on Navaro and some other adventures await in season 2? Again, the measure of a series for me is whether one episode makes me hungry for the next. And in the case of The Mandalorian, I can say that has been the feeling week to week. I’ve enjoyed the new show that is giving us new characters while also filling in some of the blank spots in the Star Wars world. Season 1 finale – let’s do it.
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