'The Mandalorian' Moves The Pieces Into Place For A Killer Climax With "The Reckoning"

Naturally, there are spoilers here.This episode opens with a message from Greef Carga. If the Mandalorian wants to make things right by the Imperial client (Werner Herzog's character) and the Bounty Hunting Guild, he needs to return back to Nevarro with the child (referred to by many as "Baby Yoda.") But Greef offers a chance at a double-cross. If the Mando can kill the client,  then everyone will get what they want and he'll be straight with the guild.Not trusting Greef's word, the Mandalorian spends much of the episode assembling a team from allies across the series. When Cara Dune (Gina Carano) hears that they'll be killing ex-Imperials, she's in. The ughnaught Kuiil agrees only so long as he is able to take his blurrgs and a reprogramed IG-11 as nursemaid. Reluctantly, the Mandalorian agrees and they set out for Nevarro.Greef Carga meets them in a remote area with a group of muscle and says they'll need to walk into town. After an attack from the local wildlife in the middle of the night, Greef is wounded. There aren't enough medpacs to stabilize him, but it doesn't matter. The child reaches a hand out and, through the Force, cures Carga. The next day, unable to reconcile his plan with how he was saved by the child, Greef Carga kills his crew and reveals that the original plan was to double-cross and kill the Mando. He's firmly on the Mando's side now and offers to help get him in the room with the client to kill him.Things seem like they're going well until they get to the major settlement and find not a few stormtroopers but an entire garrison. As they're meeting with the client, a new player in town arrives and guns the client down. This is Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and he wants the asset badly.The Mandalorian was smart enough to not bring the child to the meet, instead leaving it with Kuiil to race back to the Razor Crest. Sadly, he doesn't make it and the episode ends with the asset in Imperial hands. And that's where we leave off until next week.


Deborah Chow is back in the director's chair for this episode and she handles the build-up with aplomb. For an episode that could have largely been place-setting for the cliffhanger and part one of the season finale, she is able to imbue it with real stakes and wonder. She's also able to capture great character moments from everyone we've slowly been learning about over the course of the series. Every episode to this point that has been dismissed as filler was part of the prologue to get us to this point and bring us back into the overarching story and Chow handles it expertly. The action sequences, especially the winged wildlife attack at night, evokes scenes from old westerns where the heroes and villains sit around a campfire and get to talk before something catastrophic happens. It is even reminiscent of the campfire scene in Solo: A Star Wars Story until the attack begins. These scenes are common in westerns and samurai films and it's great to see it done well in Star Wars. The final five minutes of the episode are a masterclass in rising tension. Chow sharpens the anxiety of the audience to a point and then leaves us wanting more. It's something one should study to see how rising tension functions, especially in a compressed format. Every step they take to the meet up is marked with stress, knowing that Kuiil is racing back to the Razor Crest with the child. Every extra Stormtrooper that they didn't expect is a threat. And when the client is gunned down as brutally as Sonny Corleone was in The Godfather, we know Moff Gideon means business. 

What to look out for

Without giving anything away for The Rise of Skywalker, there's a moment in this episode that fans will want to go back and refer to after seeing the film. But I'll leave it there until you've all seen the film.The most fun nod in the episode is Gina Carano's Cara Dune doing some MMA fighting in a bar the way Marion Ravenwood would tackle a drinking contest. It's definitely a tip of the hat to Gina Carano's former career and creates a really great moment.There has been much written about the fact that the 501st, a fan group who craft their own Star Wars armor, was called in to act as extra stormtroopers in an episode of The Mandalorian and I strongly suspect it was this episode (and possibly the next). At the end, when Moff Gideon calls in his support, stormtroopers flood the area and it's the largest assembly of the Empire we've seen in this era. Something interesting to note is the TIE Fighter that Moff Gideon pilots. Its wings fold and allow him an easier path to get to the ground as he disembarks. Normally, TIE Fighters simply rest on their wings, so this is something new we're seeing for the first time. Was it something standard the Empire had prior to the fall? Or is this something new to Moff Gideon in a post-Empire world? We likely won't know the answer for awhile.Gideon is a character we know little about. We know he's a Moff, a high-ranking Imperial leader, but whether he's appointed himself that position or not is unknown. And we know he knows about the asset and he knows more about it than any of the other characters do. This establishes a promise that we're going to get some more answers during the season finale and that can't be a bad thing.The best nod, though, comes with the live-action version of a Kenner action toy. The Imperial troop transport was a toy made in the original days of Star Wars toys and always seemed a bit absurd as a concept. Dave Filoni brought it to life in Star Wars Rebels and it always brought a smile to those who knew what it was. Now that we see it in live-action, it brings an even larger smile. 


Those hoping for a more long-format show rather than the episodic format we've been getting through the middle of the season finally have something to latch on to. However, it's all predicated on information we learned and characters we met along the way during those so-called "filler" episodes. None of them were disposable in that we continue to learn what the Mandalorian's code of honor is and where he'll draw lines as he's challenged further. Will the loss of an ally like Kuiil push him further? That's definitely a question worth exploring as we head toward the season finale. Deborah Chow once again proves here that she's a master director of Star Wars stories and if she wasn't handling the entire Kenobi series, I'd be rooting for her to step onto one of the feature films. Maybe that's not far off anyway. The way she builds slowly toward the action by deliberately building the team and the climax feels like a World War II movie as much as a western and it works here in the Star Wars universe, proving once again how malleable a galaxy far, far away is for different (sometimes opposing) genres.