‘The Mandalorian’ Ep. 7 Recap & Review: And There Shall Come A Reckoning

Things are starting to come full circle with the seventh episode, titled “The Reckoning”, as old friends return and Baby Yoda is in danger like we’ve never seen before. The aptly-titled episode sees Mando and Baby Yoda’s return to planet Navarro, where it all began, and the situation has gotten markedly worse since they last caused a ruckus there.

But first, Mando receives a message from Greef Carga (Carl Weathers), who tells him that the Client (Werner Herzog), who Mando screwed over when he ran off with the Child, has filled Navarro with Imperial stormtoopers, making Guild business exceedingly difficult. So Greef proposes a truce of sorts; return to Navarro with the Child, use it as bait to get close to the Client and kill him. If it all goes well, Mando gets to keep the Client and the bounty on his head will be rescinded. Everybody wins! Although Mando has little reason to trust Mando given they almost killed one another, it only takes him a few moments to make a decision. This is the only way they’ll be safe, once and for all.

Realizing he can’t pull something like this off alone, Mando makes a quick stop at Sorgan. No, it’s not to make out with Omera (who is probably there pining away for her Mandalorian crush), but to recruit Cara Dune (Gina Carano), who is enjoying herself by taking on all challengers willing to fight her for money. She’s reluctant to join Mando for a job so risky; she’s found her slice of peace in this galaxy, but agrees when he tells her the Client is Imperial.  Whatever the empire did to the ex-Shocktrooper it must’ve been pretty bad because she holds a grudge.

For those wanting a bit of Baby Yoda cuteness, Jon Favreau and director Deborah Chow give it to you, perhaps realizing The Mandalorian has been quiet in that department, lately. Aboard the Razor Crest, Mando and Cara go and check out the weapons locker, with her wondering if Baby Yoda will be safe all alone. Mando says “Sure”, only to find the ship rocked by turbulence just seconds later. Have the bounty hunters found them? Are they locked in an Imperial tractor beam? Nope, it’s just Baby Yoda playing around with the ship’s controls. That little scamp! Clearly, somebody needs to be watching over him.

The perfect person to do that? Personally, I would’ve chosen Amy Sedaris’ junker Peli Motto, but instead Mando turns to his Ugnaught friend Kuiil (Nick Nolte). As before, Kuiil doesn’t want to get involved in Mando’s dangerous business, but he’s also compelled to stop the Empire and their evil plans. We learn more about Kuiil and his backstory as an indentured servant, spending multiple lifetimes to earn the freedom he enjoys now. We also see the sudden reappearance of another old “friend”, the bounty hunter droid IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi). No longer a killer robot, Kuiil has repurposed and retrained it to be servile and peaceful. Naturally, Mando doesn’t trust IG-11 one bit. His dislike of droids is hammered home pretty hard this episode, which makes me think he’s going to be proven right at some point. For now, Kuiil is offering a different perspective, saying that droids are merely a reflection of their owners. It’s akin to children, who are brought into this world neither good or bad, but are shaped by the people who raise them. I can’t help but feel this is a point that will prove critical to the future of Baby Yoda. As of right now, we all think of him as good, and perhaps he will stay that way under Mando’s care. At the same time, he’s surrounded by nothing but battle and fear and death. What kind of effect could that have on him?

As if right on cue, we get what could be clue exactly what that means. As Mando and Cara are enjoying a friendly arm wrestling match, Baby Yoda stretches out its little hand and begins to Force choke her. Why? Because he thinks she is trying to hurt Mando, and we’ve seen Baby Yoda react to protect him in earlier episodes. But who else do we know that uses their Force choke powers on others? Yeah. That Darth Vader guy. The Sith use their powers like that. It might mean nothing, but I have a feeling this is going to be very important later on.

Following this, we get another glimpse at how little the Star Wars universe knows about Baby Yoda’s species, and the Force at large. Kuiil says he’s heard rumors about such powers while serving in the Empire, but doesn’t know enough to say more. It’s interesting to see how ignorant most are of the Force in this specific time period. During the Star Wars prequels, the Jedi were everywhere, even part of government. That dwindled when the Jedi Order was destroyed, but we’re seeing now how thorough the Empire was in wiping out any memory of their existence, their culture, their abilities. It’s pretty amazing, when taken in totality.

Meeting up with Greef on Navarro, it’s pretty tense all around. Greef has come with his own group of loyal bounty hunters, while Mando, Cara, and Kuiil stand opposed. Agreeing to put their mistrust aside, they hole up in a cave only to attacked by what appear to be mynocks. It’s a cool sequence that seems to be kinda pointless, until you realize Greef has been poisoned by one of the creatures. Just as it looks bleak for him, Baby Yoda does something amazing. Using his little tiny paw, Baby Yoda uses his own life force to heal Greef’s injuries. He’s done a little of this in the past but not on this scale. His life saved, Greef suddenly blasts his friends and reveals to Mando the truth of their mission. The original plan was to betray Mando and turn him and Baby Yoda over to the Client. However, he’s now seen what Baby Yoda can do, and so he’ll just betray the Client, instead. The plan is to proceed ahead: use the kid as bait, get close, kill the Client. Easy peasy. Except in this new scenario, Kuill will go back to the Razor Crest with the Child, and they’ll use its floating carrier as the bait.

Nothing goes as planned, naturally. With Mando acting as Cara and Greef’s prisoner (a nice callback to Chewbacca playing pretend prisoner in A New Hope), they meet the Client and he’s coolly delighted to see them. We can tell, because he’s relaxed enough to wax poetic about the efficiency of Imperial authority, and how everything has turned to shit since they were destroyed. He also compliments Mando’s new armor, questions the Mandalorian’s rebellion, and offers Greef a drink. But just as he’s demanding to see the Child (“We’ll all be quiet”, he says when told the kid is asleep), he gets message (“I need to take this call”) from Moff Gideon, played by the great Giancarlo Esposito. Turns out, Moff Gideon, a character newly-introduced to the Star Wars canon as far as I know, is the guy who really wants Baby Yoda.  He drops a couple more battalions of troopers into Navarro, and they begin blasting away at the Client’s bar. Not only do they kill the Client, but pin down Mando, Cara, and Greef.  As Moff Gideon’s TIE Fighter lands, we also see a pair of troopers pick up Mando’s distress call to the escaping Kuiil. Realizing he’s got Baby Yoda, they take off after him in speeder bikers.

And here is where your heart may start to sink, True Believers. As Kuiil gets closer to the Razor Crest and its heavy weapons and impenetrable defenses, the speeding troopers close in on him. And just as he’s about to reach the ship’s doors, over the desperate cries of Mando asking if he got away, Kuiil is killed by what appears to be blaster fire. A stormtrooper races over in his speeder and scoops up Baby Yoda and flies away as Kuiil’s body smolders.

What’s unclear, at least to me, is whether he was shot by the troopers or by the IG-11, which may in fact still be designed to kill. Much of this episode finds Mando arguing that certain droids are dangerous by nature. It goes against all sensible logic, a logic that Kuiil defended right up until the moment of his death.

Another strong episode of The Mandalorian, with Chow the right choice to direct this particular episode. It moves along very quickly, and while clearly the first part of a larger story, it works as an integral cog to the season. With only one episode left, there hasn’t really been an outright bad chapter yet, but all that’s going to matter is the big payoff.

On a side note, one of the lasting legacies of The Last Jedi (hate it, but leave me out of it) is an expansion of our understanding of the Force. So much more than a way to jump really far, or to have clearer intuition, or to lift ships out of swamps, we’re seeing just how deep its mystical aspects go. This shouldn’t be a surprise given some of the things we’ve seen (Leia surviving the vacuum of space), but with The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker (no spoilers!!) we’re seeing Lucasfilm placing the Force in an increased place of prominence similar to what we saw in the Star Wars prequels. That makes this series critical viewing if you’re going to understand what’s going on in the future.

After a little break, The Mandalorian returns on December 27th.