Kuiil: He Has Spoken
Like many other geeks across the world, I picked up Disney+ for The Mandalorian. I had told myself I wasn’t going to get the network until all the episodes were out, and then I was only going to keep it long enough to watch the series, then cancel it until all the Winter Soldier episodes were out. Of course, it didn’t work that way. I made it mostly through the first day of Disney+’s existence, but before the day was out my timeline was filled with “I have spoken” and rumblings of “Did you see that ending?” When my wife got home from work, she mentioned that she wanted to get Hulu for a different show, and I immediately responded with, “Well, I want you to have your show, so we should get you Hulu, and oh look, there’s a bundle with Disney+.” The rest was history.
As the weeks went on, I was able to sit back with my family and watch one of the most fun and entertaining installments into the Star Wars franchise. Of course, everybody and their mom was excited about Baby Yoda, but honestly Kuiil still hit me the hardest. He was the breakout of the first episode, but more and more as the series went on, he was the actual heart of the story. When season 1 ended, it was his impact that rippled the most throughout the story the most.
He was able to make an isolated loaner believe in family. He was able to take a hardened killer, and turn him into a sacrificial babysitter. Even though his screen time was short, he was able to be the voice of wisdom, integrity, peace, and redemption that all the wandering characters in this story needed. In many ways he was the embodiment of what God calls Christians to be in society. Kuiil inspired me, and I hope I can share those inspirations with you.
Kuiil was an Ugnaught of integrity. He was trustworthy in his words and actions. One of the initial things that made him a likeable character was his repetitious catchphrase of. “I have spoken.” It’s a great way to express that you are done talking, but even more so it is a confident voice that you will stand by your word. Even though he was half the size of the Mandalorian, whenever Kuiil uttered those words, Mando stopped arguing. He wasn’t vague, or passive aggressive. He didn’t have hidden agenda driven subtext when he spoke. You could understand what he meant, and take him at his word.
Sadly, that’s something we gravely lack in today’s culture, even in the Christian community. Today alone, I had to calm down an ugly comments section on a Faith & Fandom meme because people were being salty about Doctor Who companions. Even in the staff meetings in my church, we can rely on sarcasm or implications over clear communication. As believers, our integrity needs to be clear, and nothing displays our integrity as clearly as our communication. People should be able to trust that our words are not only honest, but that they can be taken as presented.
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” - Matthew 5:33-37
Jesus makes it clear that our speech should be trustworthy. He desires that our words be so clear, people don’t have to question their value. We shouldn’t have to promise or swear. We shouldn’t have to apply some additional layer of truth to what we say. It’s that thing when people say, “Can I be honest?” That shouldn’t be a question. That should be the default.
To be people of integrity, our words need to carry the weight of integrity. As Jesus stated, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,” and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” When people can trust our words, they can trust us. When our words are questionable, we are questionable. Our audible and textual integrity shouldn’t be in question. When we have spoken, that should be enough. Our speech shouldn’t be the limit of our integrity though. Kuiil’s integrity wasn’t limited to his words. His actions spoke for themselves. When he acted, his deeds could be trusted. You want to be able to trust when someone says they will do something, but also that when they do it, it will be done well or to the best of their ability. Kuiil’s actions were proven time and again. When Mando’s ship was ravaged by Jawas, he returned to Kuiil, and Kuiil subsequently restored Mando’s ship. When the child needed protection, he returned to Kuiil. Mando even thought enough of Kuiil to ask him to be on his crew. You don’t do that if you don’t think someone has the integrity to back up their words with actions.
Mando had severe trust issues with most everyone, but he didn’t second guess Kuiil. When Kuiil suggested using the droid to protect the child, Mando hated the idea, but Kuiil hit him with the statement, “Do you trust me?... Then you will trust my work.” And the droid hating mercenary trusted the integrity of Kuiil more than his own instincts. God calls us to be people of integrity with our actions as well.
“For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” - 2 Corinthians 8:21.
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” - Proverbs 11: 3.
“Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.” - Psalm 41:12.
Integrity is not only important. It also must be intentional. In other words, it doesn’t just happen. It’s a conscious effort. That last verse, Psalm 41:12, iterates that concept in such a way that makes me nauseous. David could say that God upholds him because of David’s integrity. If you felt like God only upholds you based on the level of your integrity, does that make you comfortable?
I remember watching the episode where Kuiil and Mando put his ship back together after the Jawa debacle, and I was anxious. Thinking, “that thing was just ripped apart mercilessly and then pieced back together by a hobbit and dude with restricted peripheral vision. I wouldn’t trust that thing to fly in space.” If Kuiil’s work lacked integrity, Mando and the child would suffocate and die in the cold vacuum of space.
But Kuiil’s integrity held up. We should be able to have the same confidence in our own integrity when we stand before God and this world. We should be able to be bold and confident in our integrity, not anxious and fearful. People will see the cracks in the persona we project unto the world. As Kuiil told Cara Dune, “I was sold to the empire in indentured servitude. I bought my freedom with the skill of my hands and the labor of three of your human lifetimes. Do not cast doubt upon that of what I am, nor whom I shall serve.”
Not only was Kuiil a model of integrity; he was an advocate of redemption. IG-11 was a killer. In essence, he was a straight up murderer. He was hasty to dish out death, whether through blaster or self-destruction. Being captured or imprisoned was not an option. He was even willing to kill a child, which landed him a new hole in his central processing unit. Kuiil found him though, and brought him back. Regardless of who the droid had been beforehand, he was willing to put his time and effort into helping it become something more.
It’s not like he just had to patch it up. He had to put time, effort, and sacrifice into the process. As Kuiil stated, “I found it laying where it fell, devoid of all life. Reconstruction was quite difficult, but not impossible. It had to learn everything from scratch. This is something that cannot be taught with the twist of a spanner. It requires patience and repetition. I spent day after day reinforcing its development. With patience and affirmation.” I know Kuiil could use the extra help on his settlement, but I personally don’t believe he put this time and work into bringing IG-11 back simply for the cheap labor. I think it was as much about redemption as it was anything else. He demonstrated what it was like to take someone dead in their own actions, bring them back, and help them become something more. That is what Christ does in our lives. He takes where we are devoid of life and helps us find new life and purpose in Him
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” - 2 Corinthians 5:17
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” - Romans 6:5-8
“When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”- Ephesians 4:21-24
IG-11 was a different droid. He became faithful and sacrificial. Everything he was before was gone. That’s what happens to us as well; not only does Jesus give us life, He makes us new. Just like with IG-11, that process isn’t instantaneous. It takes time, effort, and commitment. Kuiil said he spent day after day reinforcing and affirming who IG-11 was in his new life. God does the same with us, offering to reinforce, affirm, and stay by us. The only thing is He puts the responsibility on us. We have to make that conscious effort to remain in His presence as He shapes us and forms us in our new identity. He warns us not to go back to who we were, but oftentimes we are stubborn and selfish and ignore the new life and identity He is trying to bestow on us.
Mando wasn’t quick to believe. When Kuiil tried to explain to Mando that IG was something new Mando protested, but Kuiil made Him understand.
“Mando: It tried to kill him.
Kuiil: it was programmed to do so. Droids are not good or bad. They are neutral reflections of those who imprint them.”
In our lives we have a corrupted sin nature. I mean, we are literally born sinners. It’s not until God is moving in our hearts and lives that we become the good He desires for us to be. All it took for IG-11 was to be imprinted and trained. For us though, it is a constant process of submission and sanctification to become who we are called to be. Thankfully, as patient and affirming as Kuiil was, God is so much more. Just like Mando could place confidence in the reformation Kuiil produced in IG-11, we can be confident of the work God has begun and continues to do in us.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 1:6.
Mando, Cara, Greef, and the child all owe their lives to Kuiil. Without him, the story would have ended with Mando getting eaten by a blurrg within the first 15 minutes, and that’s not to mention all his other countless contributions. Kuiil was an inspiration to believers in integrity and redemption, and to live with honor and to give people second chances. I’m sad that his character died, but I’m grateful to have experienced him. I’m not sure if this chapter will encourage you, but either way, I have spoken.