Disney+ and Jon Favreau are bringing fans back to a galaxy far, far away with The Mandalorian series, and famed German director and actor Werner Herzog has a major role to play. Herzog's Mandalorian character is simply named The Client, and in the pilot he looms large as the series' main villain.
In the first episode, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) brings his latest capture into his bounty hunter guild on an unnamed planet, and inquires about another job. He learns about a mysterious, high-paying assignment that requires a face-to-face meeting. Naturally, the Mando accepts it, and he heads to an inconspicuous hideout to meet the payer. Once inside, he's surprised to find himself in a room full of Stormtroopers guarding Werner Herzog's mysterious Client. Herzog's character is a new show invention, but considering he's flanked by Stormtroopers and sporting an Imperial Medallion, we at least know he's not going to be one of the good guys.
When Mando's associate Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) arrives unannounced, the room nearly breaks out in a fight, but the Client tells the Stormtroopers to stand down. The Client then fills Mando in on the details: they need to retrieve an asset for him that is 50 years old. It needs to be returned alive, though Herzog also adds that proof of termination is also acceptable, but he'll pay less.
As a down payment, the Client gives Mando a Beskar steel piece (used for making damage-tolerant armor) and promises him a whole camtono (a lockbox) of it upon the asset’s successful return. As Mando leaves, the Client ominously says that returning Beskar back to a Mandalorian is “restoring the natural order of things after a period of disarray," which may very well allude to the Client's own shady motivations for why he's working with bounty hunters.
The major reveal at the end of the episode is of course that Mando figures out where the asset is hiding, and arrives to find that the 50 year old asset is in fact a baby Yoda (or at least a baby from whatever species Yoda is, which has never been canonically explored in Star Wars). Considering Yoda himself is integral to the Jedis in his old age, the Client may have just signaled he's out to stop any rebellions before they even begin — and he's going to be none too happy when he finds out that Mando made the split decision to protect baby Yoda instead of bringing him in.
Fans will have to wait and see what nefarious plans the Client has brewing, but Herzog teased that The Mandalorian is just as wild as the documentary and fictional films he himself creates. When discussing why he believes Favreau cast him, Herzog told Variety that "it’s a bit of an homage to my films and to my storytelling." Herzog noted that he thinks Favreau "sees a kindred spirit" in him, and that they both enjoy "putting emphasis on world stories, fever dreams in the jungle, quasi-science fiction stories."
Playing the central villain may ultimately feel like an unconventional move for Herzog, who focuses mainly on directing his own films and doing voiceover work, but his role in the show is the best sign that you can expect the unexpected in The Mandalorian.