All roads lead to this. The Mandalorian has been very content with doing standalone stories ever since the end of the third episode. But Jon Favreau and his team began to close up the plot threads established early on in the episode with The Reckoning, the penultimate episode of the first live-action Star Wars show.
The episode opens up with a familiar face: Carl Weather’s returns as Greef Carga, the big boss of the bounty hunters guild who set Mando up with the contract to acquire Baby Yoda in the first place. Initially left for dead, Greef wants to recruit Mando in order to take out Werner Horzag’s The Client, who has since run the planet Navaro into full occupation, which isn’t good for business. Mando knows the deal is a solid one, as he’ll be exonerated for past transgressions and Baby Yoda will no longer be hunted. But in order to take out the Imps, he’ll need help.
He recruits Nick Nolte’s Kuiil, Gina Carano’s Cara Dune and even a reprogrammed IG-11 (Taika Waiti, back from the grave), to help protect the child and take out the Imperials, who number around four. Of course, it’s a double-cross on Greef’s part, but he rescinds the duplicitous plan once Baby Yoda uses the Force to heal him after a night-time attack by local creatures. This is after he uses the Force to choke Cara Dune when he witnesses the two of them engaging in an arm-wrestling competition. Yoda is fiercely protective of Mando and his understanding of light and dark isn’t clear yet. But he knows he has powers and can influence people. Interesting.
From there, the stage is set for an action-packed finale, which will be directed by Watiti. Greef, Cara and Mando hatch a plan, with Mando being the bait and Baby Yoda being escorted back to the Razorcrest by Kuiil. Only things take a turn for the worst and it’s not in the most typical way. In an effort to wipe out Mando and his allies, The Client and his squad of stormtroopers are assassinated…by the Imperial Remnant. Enter, at long last, Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon.
Gideon only shows up at the end of the episode and he is a force to be reckoned with. He’s cool, calm, calculating and ruthless. He flies in on a sweet, new TIE fighter and uses a squad of Death Troopers to willingly sacrifice his own troops-all to make a point. I want the finale now. But I also hope Gideon doesn’t get killed off by the end of the episode, rather serving as the foil and threat of the second season. Gideon mentions he desperately wants the child, more than the Mando will ever know and that drive gets Kuiil killed by the end of the episode, with Baby Yoda in the hands of the Imperial Remnant. The stakes are real now.
This episode is directed by Deborah Chow, whose involvement makes me even more excited for the Kenobi series. She has a clear understanding of character and plot, making us root and care for characters by increasing the stakes and making us question loyalties. Thanks to the set up in the first half, as well Favreau leaving a bread crumb trail through the season, the stage is beautifully set for the finale and we’re heavily involved in hoping Mando recovers Baby Yoda from the Empire while also being intrigued as to what the big deal is with the child. I do wish we got more time with characters like Cara or got to cut back to see what the Empire was doing during the past few episodes, but that is my only gripe about the overall direction and payoff with this episode. Thankfully, the episode also brings the rest of the season together and sets up a high stakes finale. Bring it on.
Stay tuned for our spoiler-free review of The Rise of Skywalker!