Chapter 6 was my favorite episode thus far, but it admittedly served little purpose in advancing the overall arc of the narrative. In Chapter 7 of Disney+’s The Mandalorian, our protagonist must finally reengage with the powerful forces that seek to hunt him down.
The episode begins with a transmission from Greek Karga (Carl Weathers), who reveals that the bounty hunter guild would like the Mandalorian’s assistance in assassinating the Client (Werner Herzog). Mando does not want to watch his back for any more assassins, so he accepts the offer and enlists the help of old friends. He enlists Cara Dune (Gina Carano) on Sorgan, and he then goes to Avala-7 to gather Kuiil (Nick Nolte). With three Blurrgs and a droid in stow, Kuiil reluctantly agrees.
As we watch a training montage that blatantly humanizes IG-11 (Taika Waititi), Kuiil describes in detail how he reprogrammed IG-11 as a nursing droid. The montage fell flat for me due to Kuiil’s drab delivery, the monotonous pacing, and the stilted dialogue. It does, however, serve the important purpose of juxtaposing the robotic being against the living, and it attempts to convince the viewer that IG-11 has undergone a complete transformation.
Despite Kuiil’s trusty handiwork, Mando insists that the droid’s new programming cannot supersede its fundamental nature, which seems counterintuitive. Humans program robots such that their programming determines their behavior, but humans themselves cannot be programmed. While views on human nature may vary, we can at least generally agree that some sort of “human nature” exists, which influences our behavior in ways that cannot be overwritten through training, education, and certainly not through programming. The Mandalorian believes in living beings’ capacity for change, yet he denies that droids can truly be reprogrammed. In a way, Mando thinks of droids as more alive than anyone else.
The group soon arrives on Nevarro and meets up with Karga, and every viewer knows that betrayal is coming. I was not expecting, however, that they would suffer casualties from a Mynock attack — these flying beasts have become bigger, more dangerous, and much better rendered since their first appearance in Empire Strikes Back (1980). I do wish the Mynock confrontation played out with more interesting action than the constant spray of blaster shots, but no matter. The beasts provide some shock value, and they serve the plot by leaving Karga an injury that Baby Yoda heals with the Force.
With his life indebted to Baby Yoda, Karga can no longer follow through with their plan to betray Mando. He double-crosses the other bounty hunters, and they devise a new plan: Karga will bring the Mandalorian in cuffs, Dune accompanies them as the original captor, and Kuiil takes Baby Yoda back to the fortified ship.
Given that the Client has not found them yet, I found their plan a bit stupid: they could have easily waited for Kuiil to safely return to the ship before entering the city. The execution of the following scene also feels unpolished. They seem to succeed in meeting the Client only through dumb luck and the enemy’s uncharacteristic naivety. Dune and Karga continuously converse with the Mandalorian (their plotting seems so obvious), and when The Client asks to see the child, they awkwardly use the excuse that “it’s sleeping” before deus ex machina strikes in the form of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito).
I was glad to see Esposito appear in this show (what a killer cast), and I appreciated his show of force: Death Troopers and Storm Troopers surround the building, and he descends in a TIE fighter. When we recall the flagship Star Wars films, we think of TIE fighters as little more than pests to be out-sped by the Millenium Falcon. Here, with the scale drastically reduced, a single Fighter poses a grave threat.
My favorite part of the episode turns out to be its ending. Having intercepted the Mandalorian’s communications to Kuiil, two Scout Troopers ride out to retrieve the child. As the troopers close in on Kuiil, he makes every effort to ride to the ship, ignoring the Mando’s calls to report his status. We feel confident that he will make it — maybe the Blurgg takes down the troopers, or maybe Baby Yoda will unleash the Force again. We’ve seen the troopers fail so many times before, so surely they will fail again.
They do not. As the panicked Mandalorian continues to call on Kuiil, the final shot of the episode shows his dead body sprawled out on the ground. He was the man who liked to say “I have spoken,” yet he never had a chance to speak any last words.
Holistically, the plot of Chapter 7 felt contrived and unpolished. It does not make much sense; rather, it comes off like a series of events hastily stitched together to get the Mandalorian and co. from point A to point B. Fortunately, point B shines because Kuiil’s sudden death feels truly tragic. Gideon has the Mandalorian surrounded, and his scouts have obtained Baby Yoda. With the situation this dire, I can only look forward to seeing how they escape in Chapter 8.