The Mandalorian

"Chapter 7: The Reckoning"

3 stars

Air date: 12/18/2019
Written by Jon Favreau
Directed by Deborah Chow

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Mandalorian receives a transmission from a still-alive Greef Karga, who offers to wipe the slate clean and take the bounty off his head in exchange for Mando's services to return to Nevarro and take out the Client, who has since become a thorn in Karga's side by taking control of the city and hampering the Guild's movements. Mando decides to accept, but not before making stops to pick up Cara Dune and Kuiil as backup for what could very well be a double-cross.

"The Reckoning" breaks from this series' string of entertaining but slight one-offs to delve back into the main thrust of what this show seems to be about — the idea of Mando trying to do right by the Kid in a universe of lawlessness where a recently defeated Empire is doing its best to claw back into the game on a frontier where nature abhors a vacuum. Mando's motley crew is going to do the best it can.

They also bring along IG-11, the former bounty-hunter droid Mando destroyed in the first episode, which has been repaired and reprogrammed by Kuiil to serve and protect, but which Mando doesn't for one minute trust. (Kuiil's montage of rehabbing IG-11 is another example of this show efficiently putting in valuable time on the periphery to make the universe feel bigger and more developed.)

Kuiil is vaguely familiar with Baby Yoda's mysterious abilities, but only in the loosest terms of rumors. (In a moment that strays from the Child's usual image as a cutesy pet, he Force-chokes Cara when he perceives her as a threat while she arm-wrestles Mando.) Outside of the Jedi/Skywalker frame of reference, the Force is simply a mystery to most people in the galaxy. They don't even know what it's called.

And yes, Greef Karga has every intention of double-crossing Mando, but that all changes after a night around the campfire where the crew is attacked by pterodactyl-like creatures and Greef is seriously injured. The Child saves his life by healing him with his mysterious magical abilities.

Once the alliance between these two is finally settled, we venture into town where we see how outnumbered Mando and his crew truly are, and we meet the Client for one last exchange of threats and information. (The Client makes a pitch arguing for the continued role of the Empire in a chaotic galaxy, which is intriguing in that it frames the situation in fascistic political terms rather than simply good versus evil.) But this showdown is merely the stage-setter for the reveal of the season's Big Bad, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), who makes a big, grand entrance of brute force (he has dozens of stormtroopers, and simply opens fire on the Client's establishment, rather than bothering to try to negotiate through him). Gideon makes clear his feelings about the importance of the Child and his intentions to take him at all costs.

"The Reckoning" is merely the setup for what is a two-part season finale, but it puts all the pieces in place, sending us out on a note of ominousness and tragedy (Kuiil is felled by stormtroopers, who kidnap the Child), and promising a major showdown between Mando and this surviving piece of the Empire that has staked its claim to Nevarro.

Previous episode: Chapter 6: The Prisoner
Next episode: Chapter 8: Redemption

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