Nick Nolte's 'Mandalorian' character isn't a jerk -- he's brilliant. I have spoken.
He's deeply rational and admirable, even if many people might mistake him for a bit of a jerk.
Everybody loves Baby Yoda on The Mandalorian, and the bounty hunter protagonist is undeniably very cool, but the best and most under-appreciated character on the Disney+ show is definitely the Ugnaught named Kuiil who appears in the first two episodes to toss some no-nonsense shade around like a hilarious, crotchety old Boomer that you actually want to hang out with.
Imagine being able to instantly end any conversation you wanted by uttering three simple words: “I have spoken.” Feeling trapped in an awkward conversation at a party? “I have spoken.” Walk away. Exhausted by family meals during the holidays? “I have spoken.” Leave the room. If you assertively end a conversation early, nobody can argue with what you said. What if we all ended every conversation this way?
For the pig-like alien Kuiil, who speaks directly and without hesitation, this is how he ends every conversation. He comes across as deeply rational and admirable, even if many people might mistake him for a bit of a jerk.
Kuiil’s behavior is a prime example for why The Mandalorian feels so essential for Star Wars and unlike anything else that’s come before.
Most of these stories focus on humans, while other alien species are relegated to background noise or punchlines. We rarely learn about the physiology of an alien species, let alone what makes a culture unique. The animated series like The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels are better about exploring alien cultures, but The Mandalorian feels like the middle point between a series and an eight-hour movie.
In the very first scenes of The Mandalorian, we learn a lot about the species of his blue-skinned bounty, how he’s “molting.” The show also devotes a good amount of time to teaching us more about Yoda’s species and the rate at which they age. And, obviously, we learn a lot about Ugnaught culture through Kuiil’s peculiar behavior. All of this makes the Star Wars galaxy feel bigger than anything that’s come before it.
Kuiil isn’t even the first Ugnaught we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe. Ugnaughts appeared in The Empire Strikes Back on Cloud City, where they tried to melt down a dismembered C-3PO and grapple with Chewbacca. They also control some of the machinery used to freeze Han Holo. But in all these scenes, they’re presented as chattering aliens with no discernible personalities.
Do all Ugnaughts do this whole “I have spoken.” thing? Or is it an affectation unique to Kuiil’s personality? We wouldn’t know because Star Wars hasn’t really put in the time to show us … until now.
The Mandalorian tracks his first major bounty in Episode 1 to the desert planet of Arvala-7, and that’s where he encounters Kuiil shortly after landing. Kuiil interferes when the Mandalorian is attacked by some wild blurrgs and immediately offers to take Mando to the encampment where he can find his target. All he requests in return is one of the blurrg they fought together. When Kuiil claims that Mando will have to learn how to ride a blurrg to reach the location and the Mandalorian tries to argue, Kuiil counters with, “I have spoken.”
That’s the end of the conversation. Kuiil won’t waste any time arguing. You can imagine that other bounty hunters may have tried taking advantage of Kuiil or at least misinterpreted his curt way of speaking. But the Mandalorian kind of respects it.
The bounty hunter does have a hard time understanding Kuiil’s motives, especially after the Ugnaught refuses payment. Kuiil helps because he wants peace restored to his lands. If the Mandalorian successfully captures his bounty, then the endless stream of mercenaries might end. There’s something admirable about Kuiil’s values here. He’s a humble, salt-of-the-earth character who doesn’t bother contemplating any sense of morality; He knows what he wants out of life, and every choice he makes furthers that end.
In Episode 2, we learn that Kuiil worked his entire life to be free of servitude and retired to Arvala-7 to enjoy freedom and peace of mind. After a gang of Jawas dismantle the Mandalorian’s ship, Kuiil volunteers to help yet again without fuss. Just because things didn’t go according to plan, he doesn’t get frazzled by these frustrating developments. He even spends days helping Mando repair his ship. When the Mandalorian offers him a job, he politely declines, calling it “an honor.”
While everybody across the internet is obsessing over Baby Yoda — who is absolutely adorable — we should all recognize that Kuiil might be the single best part of The Mandalorian so far on account of his grumpy charm. Star Wars is better because Kuiil exists, and we can only hope that he returns later in the series.
I have spoken.
New episodes of The Mandalorian land on Disney+ every Friday morning.