WARNING: Plentiful The Mandalorian spoilers will be found below.
My biggest complaint so far with The Mandalorian, a show I’m otherwise enjoying, is its penchant for introducing interesting new characters, only for Mando to leave them behind and head to a different planet in the next episode. It expands the universe, sure, and it’s a formula that worked well for Star Trek and numerous other sci-fi shows, but I want more Gina Carano, dagnabbit. Thankfully, “The Reckoning,” the show’s best episode yet (a stark contrast from the other Star Wars project out this week), brought back not only Carano’s Cara Dune, but also Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi, with his switched turned to “good”), Ugnaught friend Kuiil (Nick Nolte), and the Client (Werner Herzog). Unfortunately, it’s the last time we’ll see two of them.
Mando heads back to Nevarro, where he found “The Kid” in the first episode, to strike a deal with Greef: if the bounty hunter kills Space Herzog, he’ll clear his name, and he’ll be safe to do whatever single fathers in the Star Wars galaxy do (“Baby Yoda, do you want to hear Dad’s garage rock band? We’re opening for Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes!”). Greef promises the plan, which also involves Cara and Kuiil, will go off without a hitch; it does not go off without a hitch. Instead of Space Herzog being guarded by four Stormtroopers, there are dozens, all with itchy trigger fingers. And they don’t even know about Cara’s rebel past. Space Herzog requests to see Baby Yoda, believing that he’s in a floating pod when actually he’s miles away with Kuiil, but before the jig is up, he receives a hologram-call from Moff Gideon, played with scary intensity by Giancarlo Esposito. He wants Baby Yoda and will do anything to get him, including blasting the hell out of the cantina where Space Herzog is present, presumably killing him in the process.
Do we ever see his corpse? No. But, I mean…
He dead. I suddenly relate to that depressed penguin.
Speaking of feeling depressed: when Greef’s stew-free plan goes sideways, Mando reaches out to Kuiil, telling him to get Baby Yoda off the planet. Our favorite Ugnaught is within feet of reaching the safety of the Razor Crest before he’s gunned down by a Stormtrooper, who also snatches Baby Yoda; now Moff Gideon can do who-knows-what with him. Kuiil’s surprisingly emotional death caught me off guard, and while it’s no Ned Stark losing his head (also in the penultimate episode of season one), it’s still The Mandalorian‘s first (non-Baby Yoda) shocking moment. Though I also felt for the poor blurrg that got snatched by that dragon. I love those ugly-looking land fishes.
The episode has another key scene, one that didn’t end in death but could have. During a friendly arm-wrestling match between Mando and Cara aboard the Razor Crest, Baby Yoda confuses the competition for Mando being in danger, and he Force-chokes Cara. It’s alarming that the child’s first instinct is to harm using the same technique that Darth Vader killed countless Imperial officers with, although later on, he heals Greef’s wound. “Droids are not good or bad. They are natural reflections of those who imprint them,” Kuiil says before his death. The same can be said of Baby Yoda in “The Reckoning.” The little guy did something bad, but he also did something good. Whichever side he leans towards — the Light or the Dark, as it were — will say more about those around him than his “natural” instincts. If he remains with the bad guy, that could be, well, bad news.
At least Herzog got to write his own lines before dying.