Once again, Deborah Chow delivers a superior episode of The Mandalorian. Last night's new episode, "The Reckoning", stands with "The Sin", the season's third episode, also directed by Chow, as one of the two best episodes of the series so far. Easily. No contest.
Favreau's writing isn't much better but it's decent enough, pulling the various threads together. The best moment is given to Werner Herzog as the sadly departing mysterious Imperial client. He asks Carl Weathers if he really thinks things have improved since the Empire was overthrown, effectively making the point that, generally speaking, things seem to be worse. I mean, we really haven't seen enough of the galaxy at this point to know if it's true but it would make sense for there to be chaos in the wake of the collapse of an Empire. The Roman Empire was followed by the Dark Ages, after all.
Wouldn't it be great if someone in the Star Wars planning team said, "Hey, let's make this the Dark Ages of the Star Wars universe." But then of course the Disney minders would say, "But with cute babies and simplistic morality." Oh, well.
Above all it's pacing that elevates "The Reckoning". Chow effectively builds tension as the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) desperately comms Nick Nolte, racing on a big lizard against speeders. There's a sense of real, precarious danger you don't get from the other directors on this show.
Herzog's departure is an effective surprise (though I never thought Herzog would stick around for another season) and then in strolls Deborah Chow's friend from Better Call Saul, Gus Fring himself, Giancarlo Esposito as an Imperial Moff whose stormtroopers still have nice clean armour. I genuinely want to know what happens next and hopefully we're in good hands next week with Taika Waititi.