This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian, “Chapter 7: The Reckoning.”
After several weeks of one-off adventures, it was only a matter of time before The Mandalorian addressed the bounty on the Mandalorian’s head and brought the season closer to its finale. “The Reckoning” serves not only as a good setup for what will most likely be an action-packed finale, but it also kept me on the edge of my seat.
After receiving a transmission from Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) explaining that he would like to declare a truce with the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), the Mandalorian sets out to recruit a team of allies in order to put an end to the Client (Werner Herzog). Apparently in the wake of the Mandalorian’s assault in “The Sin,” the remnants of the Empire have tightened down on the town and turned it into a police state. Karga is willing to drop the bounty on the Mandalorian if the Mandalorian kills the Client.
Given that Karga has been quick to betray the Mandalorian at nearly every opportunity, the Mandalorian understandably opts to assemble a team not only to mount this mission, but to protect the Child from any harm. He recruits Cara Dune (Gina Carano), who is all too willing to help the Mandalorian once he mentions that they’ll be killing ex-Imperial officers and soldiers, Kuiil (Nick Nolte) the moisture farmer, and a repaired IG-11 (Taika Waititi), who Kuill repaired and reeducated after the events of “Chapter 1” to assist him on the farm.
What’s refreshing about this setup is that, in any other situation, this ragtag team would put aside its differences for the common goal: protecting the Child. However, one can’t help but feel that this team is only being united by the tiniest of threads. While no one trusts Karga — and for good reason — each member of this team has a counterpart whom they are eager to argue with and threaten. Cara, a former Rebel shock trooper, is constantly confrontational with the gentle Kuiil, who was an indentured servant for the Empire. He claims that he bought his freedom, but Cara doesn’t trust a single word of what he says, stating that no one just walks away from the Empire so easily.
Meanwhile, while the Mandalorian’s hatred of droids is well known, he especially doesn’t trust IG-11. In his mind, IG-11 is and always will be a killer droid — and no amount of reprogramming will change that. It’s still unclear why the Mandalorian hates droids — even Kuill asks the question before the Mandalorian changes the subject — but it’s been established well enough that the audience has no reason to doubt the Mandalorian’s bias against droids, and especially IG-11.
As the crew began their mission, I couldn’t help but be uncertain exactly what would happen next. After the crew touched down on Nevarro and met Karga, I fully expected him to gun down the Child right then and there, especially with his bodyguards in tow. That didn’t happen, and their entire trip towards town was marked with uncertainty. Were they going to ambush the Mandalorian? Was Karga true to his word? These questions littered my mind, even during the Mynock attack. Everyone felt like they were fair game to die and that anything could happen.
Of course it wasn’t surprising that Karga was eventually going to betray the team, but what I didn’t see coming was his own double-cross thanks to the Child saving his life. He would have died without the Child’s intervention after the Mynock attack — it goes to show that despite being completely willing to sell out another bounty hunter, there’s still a sense of honor for the old man.
Say what you will about the previous three episodes and their vastly different levels of quality, but The Mandalorian is always at its best when it keeps focus on the Mandalorian and his actions in relation to the Empire. Whether it’s working for them or fighting in direct opposition to them, sidelining them for several episodes only serves to hurt the show’s forward momentum. You can’t simultaneously have the first major arc dedicated to developing a core relationship and then spend the next several episodes with what amounts to little more than filler.
When the group finally arrives at the town and meets with the Client, understandably everything turns south for the group, but not in the way I’m sure many were expecting. Instead of the Mandalorian gunning down the Client, a barrage of Stormtroopers assault the Client’s hideout, murdering both him and his platoon (sans Wilhelm scream sadly), leaving the Mandalorian, Cara, and Karga left scratching their heads at what just happened. We’re left with an imposing sight: countless Stormtroopers pointing their blasters at our heroes, dead bodies scattered throughout, and suddenly a TIE fighter appearing with an imposing officer (Giancarlo Esposito) stepping out of the craft.
This was really the only true misstep I thought “The Reckoning” took. It’s setting up a pretty dire situation for the Mandalorian, but it’s also introducing a new villain at the eleventh hour with no backstory and no history other than the assumption that he was manipulating the Client all along. Sure, I’m afraid of this man because he’s played by Giancarlo Esposito and you don’t mess with Gus, but there’s no reason within the context of the story for me to be afraid of him other than he’s clearly meant to be the bad guy. Even our heroes shrugged their shoulders at him because there’s simply no context for why we’re supposed to fear him.
Thankfully, “The Reckoning” works far more than it fails and sets up a good finale for the show’s first season. Our heroes are in their darkest hour, everything is falling apart around them, and there’s no guarantee that everyone will make it out alive. While I doubt we’ll get some major backstory on either the Mandalorian or Esposito in the final episode, I’m sure that it’ll close out this first season with style.