While clearly one half of a two-part finale, “Chapter 7: The Reckoning” nonetheless felt like The Mandalorian operating at its best.
This recap of The Mandalorian Season 1, Episode 7, “Chapter 7: The Reckoning”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
After a few weeks of side-questing, Mando (Pedro Pascal) returned to where it all began in “Chapter 7: The Reckoning”, leveled up and with his new party members in tow. The way The Mandalorian Episode 7 structured this penultimate installment had the benefit of retroactively validating all the far-flung galactic excursions we’ve enjoyed thus far in this stellar first season; we’re back on track with the main plotline, but the things Mando has done, and the people he has met along the way, mean that we return to Navarro in a very different position than when we left it.
First, though, setup, beginning with a call from Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), who has a proposition. Despite the fact that Mando shot up the entire planet and Greef himself the last time he was there, things are nonetheless worse than when he left; Imperial Stormtroopers are everywhere, and the bounty hunter business can’t continue as usual. So, the proposition is that Mando uses Baby Yoda as bait to kill The Client (Werner Herzog), which would get various outlaws off his back, and allow Mando to bury the hatchet with Greef. Do we believe him, dear readers? Of course not! But the opportunity to ensure Baby Yoda’s safety is too good to pass up, so return to Navarro we must.
But not straight away. Before that Mando needs to pick up some reinforcements: From Sorgan he grabs Cara Dune (Gina Carano), who is spending her time having laser-tug-of-war punch-ups in a cantina. Thus, she doesn’t need much persuading, and that’s before she spots Mando’s insane arsenal of weaponry aboard the Razor Crest. She’s up for some adventure, providing Baby Yoda doesn’t kill them both before they get there by messing with the ship’s controls.
Next in The Mandalorian Episode 7: Kuiil (Nick Nolte), the Ugnaught technological tinkerer who, as it happens, has re-wired the remains of IG-11 (Taika Waititi) in the intervening period. While he’s reluctant to get involved after having been sold to the Empire as an indentured servant and spent several human lifetimes working off his debt, he nonetheless sees the value in emancipating Baby Yoda, since we can’t expect the galaxy to change if we can’t go out of our way for one little frogman. Or words to that effect, anyway.
There’s quite a lot going on in these sequences that is worth mentioning. We get an interesting perspective on droids, for instance, even if we don’t quite learn the specifics of Mando’s obvious hatred of them. Kuiil insists they’re beholden entirely to their programming, and that their programming is the responsibility of their owners; they are, thus, just neutral reflections of whoever controls them. They have no will of their own. Mando, though, isn’t buying it, even when IG-11 starts serving his meals. (Kuiil’s repairing and training of the droid also takes the form a cute little montage explicitly meant to evoke a young child, so perhaps he’s right not to buy straight into the idea that these things are just wires and programming; the show itself doesn’t even agree.)
Anyway, the next interesting moment in “Chapter 7: The Reckoning” comes when Mando and Cara spend some time arm-wrestling and Baby Yoda, mistaking the scene for an attack, Force-chokes Cara half to death. It’s funny, but it also raises a legitimate point about something so young having such power; how can it be trusted to use it in the right way? Contrary to how we’re told IG-11 operates, Baby Yoda is entirely instincts and emotions.
On Navarro, Mando, Kuiil, and Cara meet up with Greef and some of his goons at a remote spot out in the dunes, and The Mandalorian Episode 7 once again evokes classic Westerns with hands hovering inches away from holstered blasters and so forth. But no violence erupts until later when the gang are all accosted by some flying fauna which chomps into Greef’s arm and apparently fatally poisons him. Just as he’s on the brink of death, Baby Yoda uses the Force to heal him, winning Greef over to such an extent that he later murders his men and reveals to Mando that the plan all along was to kill him so that he could hand Baby Yoda over to the The Client himself.
With a slightly amended plan – Kuiil takes Baby Yoda back to the Razor Crest, while Greef and Cara do the whole “fake prisoner” routine with Mando, complete with empty floating bassinet – the gang presents themselves to the Client and his dirty stormtroopers. I can’t imagine how many memes will be produced from the dialogue that Herzog chews through in this sequence, but it won’t be enough. Anyway, just as the ruse is about to be sussed out, the Client gets a call from Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), who occupies the next rung up the Imperial ladder, and has his Death Troopers open fire on the bar, killing everyone inside except our heroes.
With Mando and co. pinned down, Moff Gideon arrives in person in a really cool-looking landing sequence, while Mando tries to contact Kuiil to ensure he got Baby Yoda back to the Razor Crest in time. But the message is intercepted, and two Scout Troopers pursue them on speeder bikes. The final shot of The Mandalorian Season 1, Episode 7 is of Kuiil’s smoking corpse, having been unceremoniously killed off-camera, while the abandoned Baby Yoda is scooped up by one of the scouts.
“Chapter 7: The Reckoning”, while seemingly just one half of a two-parter that’ll presumably provide even bigger payoffs a week from Friday, still felt like The Mandalorian operating at its peak; conscientious of the overarching narrative, but still attentive to specific details, characters, and ideas that have been built up throughout the season as a whole. For the first time, too, it ended on a downer, proving it’s willing to have serious dramatic elements alongside its fantastical adventuring. Anticipation for the finale should be high.