The Mandalorian has featured no shortage of baddies for its armor-clad protagonist to contend with, but the season’s penultimate episode might present the Mando’s toughest challenge to date: Moff Gideon, who is played by Giancarlo Esposito. You might recognize Esposito as Gus Fring from Breaking Bad, but here he’s an intimidating Imperial warlord, dressed in black and ready to exterminate the bounty hunter scum on Nevarro, as well as anyone who fails him (as the Client quickly learns).
While we first got a glimpse of Gideon in the trailers for the show, episode 7 and 8, appropriately titled “The Reckoning” and “Redemption,” give us our best look yet at the villain, as he arrives on Nevarro in a brand-new Outland TIE fighter to acquire the asset — aka Baby Yoda, who can’t seem to catch a break — from the bounty hunters. He doesn’t come alone, of course. Gideon also commands a platoon of stormtroopers and scout troopers as well as a squad of terrifying Death Troopers, the elite infantry unit first introduced in Rogue One. It’s with this superior force that Gideon quells insurrection on Nevarro and tries to turn Mando, Cara, Greef, and IG-11 into bantha poodoo.
As far as what Gideon’s ranking means, a moff is an Imperial governor in charge of a sector of space under the Empire’s control. You likely first heard the term “moff” in A New Hope, thanks to Grand Moff Tarkin, who was the leader of the rest of the “regional governors,” another way to describe moffs. After the Emperor dissolved the Imperial Senate, the moffs were in direct control of their individual sectors. It’s unclear if Gideon still rules over an entire sector of space, but he does have a strong hold over Nevarro at the very least.
We learn in episode 8 that Gideon was once a member of the Imperial Security Bureau, the elite intelligence agency charged with making sure citizens of the Empire remained loyal. As such, Gideon took part in the Great Purge — dubbed the “Night of a Thousand Tears” — the Imperial invasion that killed off most of the Rebel-sympathizing Mandalorian people on Mandalore and sent the survivor’s of the race into hiding. Mando even knows Gideon by name because of his reputation during this Purge.
As a Moff, Gideon has continued to hunt Mandalorians, which is bad news for the tribe living on Nevarro. After revealing themselves in episode 3, it looks like Gideon’s forces exterminated them, leaving only the Armorer behind.
The Mandalorian‘s cliffhanger ending also reveals one big detail about Gideon’s history with the Mandalorians: he now wields the Darksaber, the ceremonial weapon carried by the leader of Mandalore. The last to wield it, as far as we know, was Bo-Katan Kryze, who became the new Mand’alor at the end of the Rebels animated series. The fact that Gideon has the Darksaber, which is a unique black-bladed version of a lightsaber created by a legendary Mandalorian Jedi, might mean that Bo-Katan was killed during the Purge.
Despite his dark past, not all people on Nevarro view Gideon as a threat. As the Client suggests before he’s gunned down by the Moff, there are those who’d welcome back the order offered by an Imperial presence. Some believe that instead of the chaos found on the planet, there would be “peace and prosperity” under Imperial control. Certainly, Nevarro seems like a much quieter place since the Empire quadrupled its presence there, but not for entirely good reasons.
“In a way, you might call him an underworld character,” Esposito said of Gideon in an interview with Slashfilm before the start of the series. “You may also look at him as a savior, as someone who might bring back some order to the world after it’s all collapsed.”
But we all know that the Empire doesn’t just occupy a place without also completely strangling its freedom to death. Judging from his first outing, it doesn’t look like Gideon is a particularly forgiving Imperial. The fact that he survived the TIE fighter crash at the end of the season sets up the Moff as the show’s big bad. His survival likely spells doom for Greef and Cara, who stayed behind on Nevarro believing they’d defeated all of the Imperial forces on the planet. But the Moff might very well return to exact wift vengeance against those who opposed him on Nevarro, while also continuing his pursuit of Mando and the asset.
We’ll just have to wait and see in The Mandalorian season 2.
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