Although Star Wars fans have The Rise of Skywalker to look forward to this week, The Mandalorian is ramping up to the conclusion of its first season and this week’s episode, “The Reckoning,” helps set the stage for an intense season finale. Mando (Pedro Pascal) is approached by his old boss Greef Carga (Carl Weathers) who offers him a proposition: Assassinate the Client (Werner Herzog) and clear his name. Sensing a trap, Mando enlists the help of Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and the Ugnaut Knuill (Nick Nolte) and returns to the planet Nevarro, which is now under ex-Imperial occupation. Things go from bad to worse when another ex-Imperial, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) arrives with a legion of stormtroopers.
A criticism I’ve seen in other reviews and online chatter about The Mandalorian is that its episodic nature feels very predictable, and that guest stars never seem to last more than one episode. While I understand some of the complaints, especially where the fifth episode is concerned, I feel like the serialization of the series makes it stronger. Characters introduced in one episode can appear in future episodes and help our hero out when he needs it. Mando knows he can’t go to Nevarro alone, and seeing such a solitary character seek out help is both a pragmatic move and a sign that he is willing to trust other people. The serialization is also a wonderful tribute to the serials that inspired the Star Wars films.
Series creator Jon Favreau pens what is probably the tensest episode of The Mandalorian to date. From the minute Mando receives Greef’s transmission, to the moment Gideon’s TIE Fighter touches down, there is a palpable sense of dread. Our hero, although not alone, is immensely outnumbered and outgunned. And this antagonist seems far more canny and dangerous than the previous menaces Mando has faced. Favreau also writes stellar interaction between Mando and the rest of the cast, especially Cara and Knuill.
Cara is reluctant, at first, to join Mando, but upon hearing that their target is an ex-Imperial she eagerly leaps at the chance. Knuill not only volunteers to help look after The Child while Mando carries out his plans, but the depths of his generosity are shown in greater detail when we meet a companion who he saved from the edge of death. He and Cara also share a simmering hatred of the Empire.
Deborah Chow, who helmed “The Sin”, returns to direct this episode and once again she knocks it out of the past. There are quiet, contemplative moments, like Mando considering Greef’s offer before blasting off into Hyperspace. And there are action-packed moments, including a shootout with winged dragonesque creatures. Chow also builds on the tension of Favreau’s script, especially when Gideon’s battalion arrives. First, a legion of Death Troopers fire into the cantina where Mando and his friends are. Then a hovercraft arrives, and more stormtroopers pour out. If Chow continues to deliver stellar pieces of television like this, I cannot wait to see what she does with Kenobi.
This character work also lands due to the actors’ commitment and skill. Again, Pascal turns in a wonderful vocal performance as he comes face to face with old friends and new enemies. His voice leaps into anger when the Child is threatened, and desperation when Gideon’s forces attack. Weathers is delightfully affable as Greef, and Carano lights up the screen with her dry wit. Although he makes a small appearance in this episode as Moff Gideon, Esposito is appropriately magnetic and menacing. If I have one issue with the episode, it’s that it largely table setting for the season finale. Our heroes end up in a rather tight spot, and the episode more or less ends there. Also, I wish Moff Gideon would have been introduced earlier in the episode, although if he ends up being a recurring antagonist I’ll be happy.
The Mandalorian has set the stage for an explosive season finale, and I cannot wait to see how Mando and his friends deal with Gideon’s troopers and to see if potential seeds are sown for the second season.
Episode 7 of The Mandalorian is currently streaming on Disney Plus. The Season 1 finale will premiere on December 27th.
'The Mandalorian,' Episode 7 - "Chapter 7: The Reckoning"
he Mandalorian has set the stage for an explosive season finale, and I cannot wait to see how Mando and his friends deal with Gideon’s troopers and to see if potential seeds are sown for the second season.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.