The Mandalorian Struggles To Find the Way, Despite Its Best Cameo To Date

The Mandalorian Struggles To Find the Way, Despite Its Best Cameo To Date

This week’s episode of The Mandalorian left us conflicted. On the one hand, it did everything we say we want the show to do: our heroes go off on an epic adventure while also expanding the mythology of the franchise. But with all that happening now, at this point in the third season — and coming after an episode that seemed to spin the show into another direction — we can’t help but wonder, what’s the big plan here? What, exactly, is the Way?

That said, there is one reveal that’s so incredibly magnificent, it almost saves everything else around it. We’ll get into that and more right now.

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Chapter 20 of The Mandalorian (can you believe we’ve had 20 of these?) is called “The Foundling” — and despite that title seemingly referencing Grogu, it didn’t only mean him. (Just as last week’s “The Convert” could’ve meant Pershing or Bo-Katan). Things start with the group of hidden Mandalorians we just saw Mando and Bo-Katan re-integrate into. Everyone is training on the beach. Hand-to-hand combat. Weapons. Wasting ammo by firing it into the water, etc. Mando decides this is the perfect time for Grogu to start training with the other foundlings and matches him up with Ragnar (Wesley Kimmel), the kid we saw get his helmet in the season’s first scene. He’s the other foundling of the title.

Ragnar and most of the other Mandalorians think Grogu is too small to train, but no one who knows him thinks that. It’s decided they’ll compete with darts (Star Wars paintball basically) and after getting beat twice, Grogu uses some of those Jedi skills he learned from Luke Skywalker, goes all Yoda in Attack of the Clones, and beats Ragnar easily. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Ragnar is then plucked off the beach by a huge flying creature referred to as a Raptor. Several Mandalorians fly after the creature to try and save him, but they all run out of fuel. Luckily, Bo-Katan used her now helmet-covered head and flew behind them in her ship. She returns revealing she knows where the Raptor has brought Ragnar, and a team is assembled to go get him.

The squad. (Image: Lucasfilm)

As Mando, Bo-Katan, Ragnar’s father Paz Vizsla, and a few others set off to rescue the child, the Armorer continues Grogu’s training. She explains to him how crucial the beskar forge is to Mandalorian culture. How it’s a representation of their transformation due to trial and adversity. And as the machine works to craft a piece of armour, Grogu watches the machinery and it brings him back to a crucial memory.

It’s the Order 66 flashback we saw briefly in The Book of Boba Fett as well as the trailer for this season. The Clones (all voiced by Temeura Morrison) are mowing down the Jedi as the Jedi attempt to protect Grogu. They all die, but not before just before they get Grogu into an elevator. He goes up, up, and the doors open to reveal… Jar Jar Binks.

OK, not really. It’s Jedi Master Kelleran Beq, played by Ahmed Best. Best was the actor who played Jar Jar and, in the years since, went through some really tough times due to the public reception of that character. However, in recent years, Star Wars has begun to make things right again, first casting Best as the host of a Star Wars game show called Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge and now making that game show canon by taking that same character and putting him into this story. (And if you’re thinking “Didn’t Best also play a patron in that Coruscant bar in Attack of the Clones?” The answer is yes, and he’s claimed the characters are related.)

Kelleran Beq makes his Star Wars narrative debut. (Screenshot: Disney+)

Beq uses the saber from his fallen comrade to defend Grogu with two sabers as the Clones fire upon them. The pair then jump into a hoverbike and fly through the streets of the city planet, resulting in another Attack of the Clones-type chase sequence. They even made an unexpected turn at the peak of Umate, which played in role in last week’s episode. Eventually, Beq and Grogu happen upon what appears to be Padmé Amidala’s ship from the prequels (or maybe another H-type Nubian yacht from Naboo). And as the Naboo guards protect the Jedi and the youngling, the pair jumps in and escape Coruscant.

Since the very first episode of The Mandalorian we’ve wondered where Grogu came from. And though we still don’t know everything, to know that he was saved from the Jedi Temple during Order 66 by Kelleran Beq, played by Ahmed Best, is just an incredibly satisfying and deserved turn of events, both in our world and the Star Wars galaxy. We hope we get to see more of Beq in the coming weeks. Maybe he too is still floating around the galaxy.

As Grogu’s flashback ends, we’re back at the forge with the Armorer, who has crafted a second piece of beskar armour for Grogu. It’s the signet of the Mudhorn Clan, made up of himself and Mando. And even though it’s so big Grogu looks a bit like Flavour Flav, the Armorer says he’ll grow into it.

Grogu is joining Public Enemy. (Screenshot: Disney+)

The rescue party reaches the peak Bo-Katan believes the Raptor lives on but decides to climb it in the morning. It’s time to settle in for the night and eat — but, well, this was a little jarring. We’ve heard dozens of times how Mandalorians in this clan cannot take off their helmets. We also know that they have to eat and sleep at some point too. It’s a point that’s been hammered into us so often you almost forget season one where we saw that Mando had taken his helmet off in private. And so, when Bo asks him how they eat and Mando explains that everyone goes off by themselves so they can take off their helmets and eat without being seen, it both makes sense and is a tad odd. Why does that not count as taking off your helmet? Is this just like the tree falling in the woods thing — if no one sees or hears it, it didn’t happen? These rules just don’t sit right with me.

Nevertheless, as mission leader Bo gets to sit by the fire and eat, which she does, sans helmet. The next morning, the seven Mandalorians begin to scale the rock toward the Raptor’s lair. Watching them all climb up using their ropes is kind of fun, and soon they reach the nest — but neither the Raptor nor Ragnar is there. Something alive is in there though, so Paz goes digging only to find three baby Raptors. Anyone who has seen any movie with animals in it, from Jurassic Park to Cocaine Bear, knows what’s next. Momma Raptor returns and she’s pissed. She spits Ragnar out of her mouth, ready to feed him to her babies, and a massive fight ensues. Even seven Mandalorians are not quite enough to beat a single fully grown Raptor but, eventually, Bo and Mando strike decisive blows and Ragnar is saved, just as the Raptor falls to the water and is eaten by a bigger creature, probably the one from the first episode. (Don’t forget, “There’s always a bigger fish.”)

Bo the hero. (Image: Lucasfilm)

The group returns to camp heroes and the Armorer singles out Bo-Katan in particular. By saving a foundling, she’s completed the highest honour of the creed and gained a new respect. Oddly though, Bo and the group also brought back the three baby raptors to be raised as Mandalorians — which, going back to that helmet thing, just doesn’t make a ton of sense. (It’s better than leaving them to die since their mother is now gone, but is still morally ambiguous at best.)

Nevertheless, Bo’s armour was damaged in the fight and the Armorer is happy to replace it for her. Bo asks if, along with symbol of her traditional clan, the Nite Owls, she can also wear the mark of the mythosaur. Yes, the Armorer says. The mythosaur is always appropriate as it represents all Mandalorians. At this point, even with the helmet on, you can see that Bo has something up her sleeve. She’s working something out under there. So, maybe not surprisingly, she reveals to the Armorer that she saw a mythosaur. Not in a dream, which makes the most sense, but in real life. The Armorer, it seems, either doesn’t believe her or ignores her because she just hits her with a “This is the way.”

What do you really believe, Armorer? (Image: Lucasfilm)

Directed by Greef Karga himself, Carl Weathers, “The Foundling” was a suitably entertaining episode of The Mandalorian. The Raptor action scenes were exciting and well-staged. It’s always fun to see a bunch of Mandalorians flying around and fighting. Plus the reveal of Grogu’s savour as Kelleran Beq and the emergence of Bo-Katan were both excellent.

And yet, the season is halfway over and what did this episode really accomplish? Grogu continues to integrate into the Mandalorian ways, we learned a bit more about his past, and Bo-Katan is hatching some kind of plan. Is that really enough for a full episode? It just felt like “The Foundling,” while fun to watch, was half an episode of the show. But maybe, with half the season left, dangling storylines like the mythosaur, Moff Gideon, the New Republic, the Darksaber, and so many others will finally begin to come into focus.

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