The Mandalorian has continued to delight Star Wars fans with each episode. This is, of course, thanks to its mysterious protagonist, intriguing world-building, familiar imagery, and Baby Yoda. The series’ past three episodes have been standalone adventures. First taking Mando (Pedro Pascal) to a village under siege by old Imperial weapons, next to a New Republic prison, and finally the most iconic Star Wars planet, Tatooine. These anthological stories have been quality, but in our review of Chapter 5, we noted how it was about time for the show to give some sort of indication of where it wants to go. Chapter 7 subtitled The Reckoning gives us just that and sets the stakes for the show’s first season finale.
Directed by Deborah Chow, who also helmed Chapter 3, The Reckoning brings a number of characters back that we have met throughout the season. Carl Weathers’ Greef Karga returns, still working on behalf of the Client (Werner Herzog) to take Baby Yoda away from Mando. Mando is not offered much of a choice but to meet with Karga, yet is still able to round up a couple old friends to assist him in finally ending this conflict. Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Kuiil (Nick Nolte) join the bounty hunter in confronting Karga, but things quickly become complicated and life or death decisions have to be made.
Bringing back fan-favorite characters from earlier episodes is an expert play. It affirms that every episode thus far has been vital, gives the season a better sense of scale, and allows for fun interactions between characters you may never thought would meet. I was reminded of how Avatar: The Last Airbender often did the same- characters from standalone episodes, who you did not expect to really see again, would show back up in exciting and important ways. Keeping a laser-like focus on your protagonist is good, but for a series to continue thriving, it needs a diverse supporting cast to build stories of their own. Mando has always been more interesting when he actually has someone to talk to. The conversations he has with Cara and Kuiil, two people he genuinely trusts, help us learn more about the man behind the helmet.
The Reckoning helps give further context to The Mandalorian‘s place in the Star Wars universe as well, expanding on its post Return of the Jedi setting. Theories are poised that Baby Yoda came from a gene farm. Cara and Kuiil who fought for the Rebellion and the Empire respectively bicker about politics and a new Force power is shown, one that plays an integral part in The Rise of Skywalker. Whatever the Client wants from Baby Yoda remains unclear, but he appears to be an Empire, and thus Dark Side, sympathizer if not an outright loyalist. The show’s world-building continues to impress and even when it pulls from familiar Star Wars iconography, it still feels like something distinct.
Chow has seemingly struck gold again. Like Chapter 3 before it, this episode is certainly the best so far. Chow’s ability to stage tense and thrilling action sequences accompanied by a sense of camaraderie has made for some of the series’ greatest moments. In Chapter 3, a Western-inspired shootout between Mando and all of the other bounty hunters in town ends with his brothers and sisters quite literally flying in to assist. It has remained a highlight of the show. Here, Chow pays homage to creature features in a nighttime attack from large flying monsters. Blasters go off, victims scream out in the darkness, and the winged beasts screech with fury. It is good old-fashioned monster movie fun.
The Reckoning ends on an anxiety-inducing cliffhanger and sets the stage for the season finale, which promises to bring Mando’s struggle to keep the child safe to a close. While a happy and satisfying end to the journey thus far seems predictable, especially with Star Wars being under the Disney banner, the upcoming episode is directed by the zany filmmaker Taika Waititi. We should probably expect the unexpected.