As a note, this review contains mild spoilers for The Mandalorian Chapter 7: The Reckoning. I would recommend watching before diving in.
By Thomas L. Kelly (@WriterTLK)
Wow! That’s as simple as I can state it. In past reviews, I’ve lamented how The Mandalorian has strayed from its central narrative. Turns out, there was a plan. The Reckoning—the seventh chapter of its premiere season—strung together all those disparate parts in an organic and wholly satisfying way.
Though it may not have always been clear, Mando’s journey—which has taken him across planets—was building more than just a diverse cast of characters. It was establishing stakes and providing us with reasons that people would be willing to follow him. For all he has done for others, the time would eventually come that he, too, would need a favor.
That is what The Reckoning presents us with. The bell has tolled, and Mando must answer for his actions. In betraying the code of the guild and shattering his pact with the client, he’d created a persistent problem for both himself and his former brethren.
That issue had manifested itself in the remnants of the Empire overrunning that town. It, like Mando, was slave to the Empire’s desire to reacquire the asset. Thus, when Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) implores him to return and aid them in alleviating their circumstance, his reasons for doing so are twofold.
One, assisting them with their plight will reingratiate him with the guild. Two, it will ensure he no longer needs to traverse the outskirts of space with one eye looking back. For the sake of the child, he cannot continue to run; the need for escape would be perpetual.
For fear of spoiling what proceeds this general set up, I will now focus on why The Reckoning was so brilliant. Its premise is the opportunity the show needed to bring all the frayed strands of Mando’s story together.
Mando believes the proposition to be a potential trap, so he knows better than to go it alone. Enter Cara Dune (Gina Carano). She, like him, is gun in need of a cause. In recognizing the imminent peril returning to the place of his treachery poses, he also understands the overt risk that presents to the child. So, he turns to Kuiil (Nick Nolte). If guns are to be drawn, then it’s best the child is nowhere near the fire zone. He trusts Kuiil to take care of him in his stead.
Bringing these incongruent elements together could have fallen flat; but Mando—despite how underplayed he is as a character—is the perfect cog. They all connect to him in different ways and for different reasons. And their interactions are a huge element of creating a further sense of appreciation for his ever-growing sphere of influence.
Having them all occupy the same space also gave them each far more to do. Much of what I love about the show is its deliberate pace, as well as its willingness to allow Mando to be the man who walks softly but carries a big blaster. That said, it was then nice to see how they were able to mesh with each other.
It’s people, who could’ve lived lifetimes never knowing the other existed, joining together in common cause and through a common thread. As generic as some of the story telling has been, it was top notch here; you’d be hard pressed to not appreciate how well they pieced it all together.
The episode even reintroduces IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi) in a way that makes thematical sense and services the plot.
In addition to the familiar, The Reckoning also presented us with a new menace—Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). At this point, you could just type cast Esposito as a villain. His presence alone incites trepidation. Gideon could signal that the looming existence of the Empire may be more an existential threat than a pathetic devotion to past glories.
As for the ramifications of The Reckoning, they will indeed be felt by Mando and his compatriots. This was The Mandalorian at its most potent emotionally. And I, for one, cannot wait to see how the show transitions from here.
This is the way…
The Mandalorian Chapter 7 Score: A+