REVIEW: ‘The Mandalorian’ Manages to Do a Lot with Little Time

As expected, Chapter 20 of The Mandalorian, The Foundling, did indeed continue to provide further glimpses into the tragic past of Grogu; additionally, despite its short runtime it also managed to further develop the increasingly interesting arc of Bo-Katan Kryze. The episode, written by Dave Filoni and directed by Carl Weathers, also serves as a reminder of how good fans of Star Wars have it these days. Packed with Mandalorians screaming across the sky in their jet packs while taking on a giant bird of prey, The Foundling features the kind of action fans of the original trilogy only dreamt of as children of the ’70s and ’80s.

It’s important for the audience of the series to keep in mind that, to some extent, The Mandalorian was borne of the dreams of a pair of ’70s and ’80s children. Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni grew up fans of the original trilogy, playing with their Kenner toys and imagining all the stories that George Lucas didn’t have time to tell in those films. Those imaginings have grown and with age and practice in storytelling have become the foundations of a world unto itself–a world within the world they grew up adoring–where dozens of Mandalorians are training, unbeknownst to them at the moment, to take back their ancestral homeworld. That homeworld that feels so familiar, the cultural rifts that fractured it and that make Bo-Katan’s adoption by the Tribe feel so awkward, and all the mythology that goes along with it…for the most part, that’s Favreau and Filoni building an empire on a few bread crumbs.

(L-R): Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), the Armorer (Emily Swallow), Paz Vizsla (Tait Fletcher) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Now a member of the Children of the Watch and, apparently, taking that privilege very seriously, Bo-Katan’s progress is the true center of the episode. Though Katee Sackhoff recently indicated that Bo-Katan might be just fine following rather than leading, the character, by her own admission, has always been good at war. And so, Bo-Katan eagerly led a war party into battle against a massive and incredibly Star Wars-y raptor to save the life of Ragnar, a Mandalorian foundling and the son of Paz Vizsla. It shouldn’t be lost on the audience that clans Kryze and Vizsla were among the most prominent and powerful of Mandalore’s past. Though Paz and the rest of the Children of the Watch never accepted Bo-Katan’s claim as ruler of Mandalore, a potential alliance between the two–and all the different twists and turns it might provide room for–will be worth watching.

Bo-Katan’s time in battle also allowed her to spend some one-on-one time with the Armorer as she replaced her shoulder pauldron. After seeing the mythosaur in Chapter 18, Bo-Katan had, until now, chosen to keep that information to herself. As Sackhoff explained in an interview, the character wasn’t entirely sure she believed what she saw and, therefore, was hesitant to share out.

She doesn’t trust necessarily what she saw. She might have thought that she imagined it. There’s so many things that she’s trying to process in her head that I don’t necessarily think that it’s something that she wants to tell anyone about right now.

Katee Sackhoff

By choosing to reveal what she saw to the Armorer while also choosing to adorn her new pauldron with the mythosaur signet, Bo-Katan is making the choice to commit to the covert…and The Way. While there’s still likely to be plenty of awkward moments, Bo-Katan has come a long, long way since she was seen pouting on her throne as the ruler of nothing.

(L-R): Grogu and Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) with stone crabs in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

While Bo-Katan’s journey was the meat, The Foundling also provided some potatoes by revealing a little more about how Grogu survived the massacre at the Jedi Temple following Order 66. As he’s apt to do, Filoni brought a non-canon character into the canon, this time in the form of Jedi Kelleran Beq. Played by Jar Jar Binks voice actor Ahmed Best, Beq was the host and main character of the now-canceled game show Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge. Beq’s rescue of Grogu gave the character a chance to show off the legendary lightsaber skills that earned him the nickname “The Sabered Hand” as he worked with some of Naboo’s finest to get youngling Gorgu off Coruscant. However, as Favreau recently indicated that he could go on making seasons of The Mandalorian forever, the episode left plenty of room to tell more of Grogu’s journey as this portion ended with him and Beq escaping into hyperspace.

The advancements to Grogu’s plot in real time are more significant, however. Having chosen to return to Din Djarin as a Mandalorian foundling, Grogu now has to learn what it means to walk The Way of The Mand’alor. And so, the episode sees Grogu begin his training by going up against fellow foundling Ragnar. Grogu uses The Force to help him defeat Ragnar in his training exercise shortly before Ragnar is picked off by the raptor. While there wasn’t much time to explore his feelings, it’s likely that Ragnar didn’t take too kindly to the defeat. While he hasn’t been developed much, Ragnar has had quite a bit of screentime which means his story–and how it intersects with Grogu’s–is certainly not done.

The Foundling certainly has all the earmarks of an episode that will undoubtedly pay major dividends down the road. For all the preemptive hand-wringing online about the episode’s short runtime, Chapter 20 of The Mandalorian may ultimately be remembered as a key chapter in the series.

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