Continue reading only if you have already seen the episode or aren’t bothered by spoilers!
Qui-Gon Jinn. Obi Wan Kenobi. Yoda. Darth Vader. Han Solo.
The Star Wars series has never shied away from killing its heroes when it was dramatically appropriate, or when the plot needed to be advanced. Thus far, Disney+’s The Mandalorian has shied away from the deaths of any heroic characters, with the show’s bad guys the only ones ending up in body bags.
That is, until episode 7 of The Mandalorian, titled “The Reckoning.”
First things first, I have to say that it’s a really solid episode – much better than the preceding episode, “The Prisoner.” For a more in-depth analysis of the episode in its entirety, check out this article by The Illuminerdi contributor Brenton Stewart.
But we’re just here to talk about that one moment. You know the one (assuming you saw the episode… **FINAL SPOILER WARNING**).
Farewell, Mandalorian Friend
In the first episode, The Mandalorian introduced us to an Ugnaught vapor farmer on the planet Arvala-7, where Mando first discovers “the child” (let’s call it what it really is… Baby Yoda). The Ugnaught, whose name isn’t revealed to Mando or the audience until episode 7, offers Mando invaluable assistance that allows the protagonist to succeed in his mission. The Ugnaught is quiet, solitary, supremely competent at what he does, and entirely disinterested in pursuing a life of violence and adventure with a Mandalorian bounty hunter.
After refusing Mando’s offer to join his crew, we last see the vapor farmer in episode 2, “The Child.” He finally makes his return to the screen in episode 7, when Mando and Cara Dune seek his help in protecting the child while they pull a job with Greef Karga (one of the primary antagonists of the first three episodes). Finally revealing his name, Kuiil agrees to watch the child and accompanies Mando and the gang on their journey to kill the man that hired Mando in the first place.
Predictably, things get a bit derailed when a squad of death troopers in black armor and a platoon of storm troopers show up and try to kill everyone. Prior to that, Mando sent Kuiil back to the Razor Crest, Mando’s ship, for safety. Before he can reach the ship, though, a pair of storm troopers on speeder bikes overtake the heroic Ugnaught and gun him down mere meters from the Razor Crest‘s armored hull before snatching up the child…
Roll credits. Cue the bugle. Lower flags to half-mast. Pour one out for poor Kuiil, who just wanted to live in peace and quiet.
Except… maybe not? I’ve heard a couple fan theories circulating that he wears armor under his bulky clothing, or that the child’s miraculous healing powers will save the Ugnaught.
Saving The Ugnaught
Honestly, though, I don’t think it’s even that complicated. We don’t see the storm troopers blast Kuiil. The camera smash cuts to Kuiil’s communicator, then slowly tilts up to reveal the vapor farmer’s body laying in the sand with smoke rising from… just behind the body?
I’ll come out and make a prediction: Kuiil’s still alive. It doesn’t look to me like he was actually shot with a blaster – the director simply wanted it to look like he might be dead to make for a good cliffhanger. Instead, I’m willing to bet that the storm troopers just blasted his blurrg (see the picture, if you’re not sure what that is) and Kuiil got injured in the fall.
Call me a cynic, but as a long-time comic book reader and tv watcher, this is a classic smokescreen. IG-11 will show up in the next episode to save the day, having brought Kuiil back onto the ship and gotten him healed up.
At least, that’s what I hope happens. Quite frankly, Kuiil deserves better than to die off screen in an implied heroic sacrifice.
What do you think? Is Kuiil really dead? How do you think he could have survived the events of The Mandalorian? Post your theories and speculations in the comments below, and be sure to check out the next episode of The Mandalorian, streaming on Disney+ Friday, December 27th, to find out if we’re right!