Ian Thomas Malone



March 2023



The Mandalorian Season 3 Review: Chapter 20

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture, Star Wars, TV Reviews

Much like its adorable breakout character, The Mandalorian is a show that’s caught between two worlds. The space Western largely produces its best work through self-contained adventures that manage to tell a complete story within a single episode. The show has never completely lost sight of the bigger picture, even if its narrative usually works better when it does. Chapter 20, “The Foundling,” managed to straddle the two in a quite effective fashion.

Grogu’s status within broader Mandalorian lore (resisting the “Manda-lore” pun at all costs), has been an awkward elephant in the room for the whole season. In a world where even Bo-Katan leaves her helmet on, Grogu’s cute face increasingly sticks out like a sore thumb. The reality is that the show will never cover their expensive, extremely cute puppet’s face for any length of time while the show is still on the air.

“The Foundling” finally addressed this dynamic, offering a passable explanation for why it’s okay for Grogu to leave his helmet off. The fifty-year-old baby still can’t talk. It’s a little ridiculous, but the Mandalorians are nothing without their fanatic traditions. Grogu’s acrobatics in his paintball fight with the raptor-fodder foundling Ragnar were absurd, harkening back to Yoda’s horrendous fight with Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones. We don’t like Grogu and Yoda’s species for their gymnastic abilities or their linguistic abominations. We like them because they are cute.

The foundling abduction gave the episode a serviceable A-plot, with the season’s best special effects. Paz Vizsla is not a particularly strong character and the episode suffered from having him on screen for so long without firing his cool minigun. The cinematography and lighting issues that have plagued the last few episodes were fixed here, with franchise mainstay Carl Weathers handling directing duties. The episode also effectively touched on Mandalorian culture without feeling bogged down by exposition, even if their creeds are getting a little tiresome three seasons in.

The main event of the episode surprisingly took place on Coruscant, a location last episode botched completely. After failing to riff off Andor last week, The Mandalorian crushed Obi-Wan Kenobi with its depiction of The Purge. The highlight of the episode was seeing Kelleran Beq, played by Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best, save Grogu, an immensely touching experience for those of us who feel that Best was unfairly scapegoated for the sins of the prequel trilogy. It seems likely that we’ll see more of Beq, originally introduced in the children’s game show Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, later in the season, giving Best an additional well-deserved victory lap. Maybe we’ll get lucky and be treated to the long-awaited return of Jar Jar himself.

The scene between Grogu and The Armorer was oddly touching, the latter showing off the sense of family that clearly keeps Mando coming back to the helmet weirdos. The Armorer repeated this same dynamic with Bo-Katan later in the episode, wisely endearing their people to the audience through interpersonal communication, not exposition dumps. The rather short episode could’ve benefitted from an additional scene with Katan, who’s easily had the best character development this season.

The Foundling addressed a few of the show’s longstanding questions alongside competent episodic storytelling and stellar effects, a healthy improvement over its early season sluggishness. We’re at the halfway point of a season that has largely felt like it’s going through the motions. This episode took a big step in the right direction, especially without the tedious comedic efforts by a certain red astromech droid.