As much as I've enjoyed the past few standalone adventures, it is admittedly nice to see The Mandalorian return to the tooth-and-nail serialization of its first few episodes this week with the new installment entitled "Chapter 7 – The Reckoning," in which the title character (played by actor Pedro Pascal) rallies the troops in order to return to the world of Nevarro and eliminate his ex-Imperial pursuers.

Spurred on by a holographic message from Greef Carga (Carl Weathers) offering a truce with the Bounty Hunters' Guild in exchange for taking out The Client (Werner Herzog) and a troublesome new local warlord named Moff Gideon (Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito) who have made things difficult on the planet after the mess left by the showdown in Chapter 3, Mando gathers up the few reliable friends he has left– Cara Dune (Gina Carano), Kuiil the Ugnaught (voiced by Nick Nolte), and even a reprogrammed IG-11 (Taika Waititi) for the mission.

Naturally, the Mandalorian has to learn to get over his well-established hatred and distrust for droids, but through an extended flashback sequence we learn how Kuill found IG-11 at the site of the climactic battle from Chapter 1, rebuilt his shattered memory core, and patiently trained him back to basic functionality. The sequence is almost heartwarming in demonstrating the care Kuill puts into the task, but Mando is still hesitant to accept the former assassin droid's assistance. I personally took the opposite view, being extremely thankful to have the character and Waititi back on the show, and hopeful for him to become a more regular presence in season two.

As has become the standard for this series, there's danger and betrayal around every corner once the group makes it way to its goal: giant winged beasts attack the party at night after they've met up with Carga and his goons, and the guild leader himself also has a few tricks up his sleeve. But things take a turn for the optimistic when Baby Yoda demonstrates his healing ability (coincidentally– or maybe not?– setting up a major plot point for this week’s release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), and Mando and Dune finally find themselves with another trustworthy ally. Kuill is sent back to the Razor Crest to protect the Child, and our heroes head into town with a plan. Sure it’s the old “Wookiee Prisoner” trick, as they called it in Lost— as referencing A New Hope, of course– but it works well enough until Gideon arrives with his menacing TIE Fighter and a battalion of stormtroopers and things go ballistic.

The episode uncharacteristically ends on an honest-to-goodness cliffhanger that I won't spoil here, but suffice it to say that The Mandalorian has managed to keep up its tension heading into this season's finale. Obviously Esposito's previous career choices have proven he's got the makings of an excellent villain, so I'm excited to see more of his character and perhaps learn about his past. Why are these Imperial holdovers so obsessed with finding Baby Yoda? Is The Client over and done with, making way for a new Big Bad? Will IG-11 somehow bypass his new programming and become a ruthless killing machine once again? I suspect we'll know more after next week.

My favorite thing about “The Reckoning” is how it brings together various characters the Mandalorian has met along the way during his journeys. I half-expected him to return to Amy Sedaris’s Peli Motto on Tatooine to retain her for more babysitting duties, but even without her presence (or any of the personalities introduced in last week’s episode “The Prisoner”) I think we’re beginning to understand how this series was planned out. Everything matters; seemingly isolated events factor into Mando’s character development and ever-growing roster of associate and enemies. It just may not be immediately obvious how or why. Creator Jon Favreau is playing a long game here, and at this point I have faith its resolution will prove to be a satisfying one.

The Mandalorian Chapters 1-7 are now available to stream exclusively on Disney+.

 
 

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