The Mandalorian

"Chapter 20: The Foundling"

1.5 stars

Air date: 3/22/2023
Written by Jon Favreau & Dave Filoni
Directed by Carl Weathers

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The Foundling" clocks in at just about 26 minutes, if you excise the recap and end credits, making it the shortest episode of The Mandalorian to date. The svelte runtime is a good fit for the void of content. I'm all for fun episodic adventures, but this outing is painfully slight, even for this series. When you only have eight episodes every year or two of a series as high-profile as this, is it too much to ask for more meat? I don't think so.

I'm growing more concerned over how seriously we can take Grogu as Mando's student. During the opening training scene, he faces off against another foundling (who asks, not unreasonably, why his opponent doesn't wear a helmet; can you picture Grogu with a Mando helmet?), and it's a pretty hard scene to swallow. At least Yoda could talk in backward riddles with 900 years of wisdom before pulling out a lightsaber. With Grogu, it's like fighting a teddy bear; you look ridiculous for getting beat, even with his high-jumping Force advantage. There's a major tension brewing here: How can Grogu continue as a cute, endlessly nonplussed mascot while also becoming a fierce Mandalorian warrior? These two things are not a fit, to put it mildly.

A crisis emerges when a foundling is grabbed by a giant raptor and carried off to its nest as food (why do the Mandalorians continue to camp where there's all this extreme wildlife danger?), resulting in a search party which Bo-Katan leads. The episode remembers that the Mandalorians can remove their helmets to eat, so long as it's in solitude, so that's something. It turns out the kid is actually Paz Vizsla's son, begging the question of who his mother is, and whether the mother and father have ever taken their helmets off in the presence of their son, or, for that matter, each other. (You probably know where I am going with this: Surely, children are not conceived during kinky bouts of helmet sex. I'm guessing it goes something like this.) And, yes, I know foundlings are by definition orphans, but surely not everyone on Mandalore, or even the Watch, was an orphan. How could such a society possibly function? The answers are not to be found here.

There's a big action scene involving a desperate rescue of the foundling while the raptor is in flight. It's what you would expect on this series: competent, elaborate, and obligatory. It ends with the death of the mother raptor in the jaws of a massive sea creature after it has crashed into the water because of the Mandalorians' rescue of the kid — and then a bridge-too-far conceit, in which the Mandalorians bring the massive baby raptors back to the camp to raise as foundlings. Uh-huh. I guess it's the least they could do for killing the mom, but the scene belongs in a cartoon. These are wild animals, not people.

While all this is happening, the Armorer creates for Grogu a beskar chest plate while she speaks of forging metal as a metaphor for forging young Mandalorians. While watching the sparks of the hydraulic press, Grogu has a PTSD flashback to his escape from Coruscant during the fall of the Jedi Temple, where he was rescued by a Jedi named Kelleran Beq, who is played by Jar-Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best, doing his best to redeem his place in Star Wars history with a four-minute action sequence. This Jedi character is apparently originally from an online Star Wars kids' game show, played there also by Best, which makes this one of the stranger cross-media tie-ins, even for this franchise.

Meanwhile, the Armorer has a lot to say, but conveys very little. There are lots of vague nuggets of would-be wisdom, and the reverence grows tiresome. Bo-Katan takes the Mythosaur as part of her symbol (because she saw one in the waters of Mandalore), and asks if what she saw could possibly be real. Of course, all things are possible, the Armorer replies, ending with our favorite drinking-game line, "This is the Way." Because all things are the Way. The Way is like the fortune in the cookie.

This is an episode of The Mandalorian that feels like it's reaching into its usual bag of reliable tricks, but the spell has been replaced with artifice, and it instead comes up with empty air. Empty, hot air. Less, here, is less rather than more. Let's hope for more next week, shall we?

Previous episode: Chapter 19: The Convert
Next episode: Chapter 21: The Pirate

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36 comments on this post

Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 6:40am (UTC -5)
I guess this show can work well in shorter run times. Though edited to an inch of its life to be 30 minutes, this was the best episode yet of a season that just feels a bit toothless.
Love the cameo if Ahmed Best, and seeing a battle on Coruscant just felt so... Star Wars to me.
Though I guess Din is no longer the main character anymore
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Meesa un savin' da baby Yoda okie day?
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 7:55am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode very much but this season overall so far seems really disjointed. The wildly differing run times just add to that sense of disjointedness (nearly an hour last week, this week just over 30 minutes). It seems to have lost its focus - what is the dramatic goal now that Grogu has been rescued and reunited with Mando? I thought this season would primarily be about Mando needing to bathe in the waters and become a Mandalorian once more (with adventures along the way) but it's already happened. It's trying to become something different, branch out more but the process is a bit of a messy one.

I suppose The Mandalorian in the title doesn't necessarily mean Din any more. Going forward it could be Bo Katan. Or even Grogu.
Roger Ailes
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Coruscant looks pretty great for a show with much less budget than a blockbuster film (not that the show doesn't have a high budget for a TV show).
Good episode with solid character work, action and lore tidbits.
I've seen complaints going around about how Mando can't stack up to Andor and is more cheesy on both the writing and production side etc, but I think both approaches are enjoyable.

Biggest plothole- how those dinosaur babies fit onto Bo's ship. Lol.
Latex Zebra
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
Decent. Enjoyed that more than last weeks. The show is a bit all over the place but I'm kind of used to that. Just really want to switch my brain off and just enjoy this as a fun series. And it is.
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
Another fairly middling episode, unfortunately. I enjoyed, perhaps as Disney executives might hope, the scenes with Grogu, and there's a bit to suggest Bo-Katan is realizing the potential of once again being a leader of a group of Mandalorians, but the framing was unimpressive. The action scenes also did not seem to quite have the same technical prowess as seen in episode like Chapter 11: The Heiress.

Not a bad watch by any means, but also not to the level of most episodes in the prior two seasons.
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
Weekly random thoughts:

-The flashback was the best part, but it was still just lightsabers vs blasters which we've seen a thousand times. Also Grogu has been in danger with loud sounds and bright lights many times, but only now did it prompt his brain to briefly show us his past?

-No mention at all of the hour long detour to Coruscant last week? Weird. But we did see the top of the mountain again for 2 seconds in the flashback.

-We have yet another monster on a tan/brown desert planet, and as a bonus it attacks in the exact same location as the other monster did 3 episodes ago. And it sure found a lot of twigs for that nest in a place seemingly not overly abundant with trees.

-The procedural rescue mission was fine but didn't show us anything new. They climb the mountain and fight the monster but there's never a sense of danger. Also, "everyone go out into the open to eat, away from this nice little area that we just established is safe and out of sight" is silly. Why don't they just turn their backs to each other in a circle around the fire? What if the other guys finish eating before the designated leader and come back too soon and accidentally see her face? Because This Is The Way. At least it's really easy to fly to Mandalore, walk through the cave for a bit, and take a quick dip in the water in case that were to happen.

-Not to be a broken record from my posts over the last couple weeks, but the plot reset from Boba Fett is continuing to hurt the show. I definitely agree with @Artymiss above that it's not clear what the season is supposed to be about so far. Aimless adventuring isn't really working.

***Ignore any comments you've seen me post on SNW, wherein I love the aimless adventuring. It's different. ;-) ***

-Do I like Picard S3 more than Mando S3? I think I might. What a wild turn of events.

-Pluses: continued great production values, Grogu playing paintball for a minute, Ahmed Best as a Jedi. Overall though this was dull and not much happened. Two stars.
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
I just started the Mando last month (late to the party), but I'm all caught up now. I'll just say that, watching it all back-to-back, this season feels like it's meandering and has somewhat lost The Way. (See what I did there?)
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 9:58pm (UTC -5)
Good overall, though I agree this season has been disjointed. Anyone else think that the Mandalorians need to find a better location for their 'secret base?' First a huge sea monster attacks them, then a dragon steals a kid. Ahmed Best rocked it as a Jedi however, and the rescue of the kid was enjoyable.
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
I kinda liked the Grogu parts of this. The flashback was really enjoyable and I'm glad there's some movement on him becoming Mandalorian.

Din is becoming the least important, most boring part of his own show unfortunately. It's Book of Boba Fett all over again.

Pure speculation on my part, but I suspect that Disney firing Gina Carano screwed up whatever plans Favreau et al had. Season 2 had a pretty clear hook for the next season: Din's got a cool new quasi-Star Destroyer for a ship, the Darksaber, and a posse with Bo and Cara Dune. The clear goal would seemingly have been to had over Moff Gideon to the New Republic and get Din et al tied up in Mandalorian politics via the Darksaber.

(And what happened to the Darksaber? It was this big fucking deal in season 2 but nobody cares any more.)
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
Also: anyone else starting to notice how absurd it is that these guys are in full armor all the time? They don't have lightweight versions for climbing, or casual outfits for hanging out?

It was a problem in season 1, too, but back then the focus was on Din's divided loyalties, so it was easier to overlook. I'm having a much harder time when there's a hundred Mandos hanging out on a beach shooting guns at nothing.
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 1:34am (UTC -5)
I assume the Mandalorians live underground and only come up for air and exercise on this beach? All we ever see are the Armorer's area and that beach. How and where do these Mandalorians live, sleep, eat? Where do they store their ships and provisions? Where are they getting their provisions from? What are their provisions? There's no sense of how this small society actually functions. Oh well. This is the way.
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 1:54am (UTC -5)
"Why don't they just turn their backs to each other in a circle around the fire?"

I don't think they're allowed to remove their helmets in the presence of others therefore it wouldn't make any difference if they had their backs to each other (or kept their eyes shut which seems like another option). Crazy I know.
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 2:06am (UTC -5)
I still haven't bothered watching this season and been waiting for a home run review. Everything I'm seeing here and on other sites points to a creative downslide - and now Jammer throws down a sub 2-star score? Yikes.

Might save this season for a binge watch down the track, if I bother at all. Who woulda thunk I'd be watching Picard S3 each week and giving Mando the cold shoulder?
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 2:19am (UTC -5)
I don't watch the show anymore but I sure love those reviews. Hahaha.

If I remember correctly Gina Carano was supposed get her own spin off show Rangers of the New Republic so she probably would have had only a small role in this.
Daniel Prates
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 6:39am (UTC -5)
This series is going nowhere awfully fast.
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 7:14am (UTC -5)
I think it would have been interesting to depict the Mandalorians as having zero poker face without their helmets. Like, if they take it off, they show every single emotion that would normally be concealed, simply because their helmets cause them to have no need to hide their expressions and they forget to do so. This was a theme in an early TNG novel, Masks.
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 8:12am (UTC -5)
I guess I hated this less than last week's episode.

And it made me laugh.

Gilligan’s Starship
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 10:05am (UTC -5)
It’s not clear yet what they’re trying to set up in these episodes but it feels like Bo Katan will be riding the Mythosaur at some point to reclaim the House of Kryse’s to rule over Mandalore. And last week’s ep with Dr. Pershing combined with all the clone intrigue in The Bad Batch series seems like putting the pieces in place to retcon Palpatine cloning Snoke in The Rise of Skywalker.

But Grogu is still a question mark: if they wouldn’t let him stay with Luke, they certainly wouldn’t let him join this Mando cult. I’m also a little tired of seeing no human faces and just a lot of expressionless helmets. It saves the production money because then you can just use all stunt doubles for main cast + costumed extras, but it’s just not engaging to me.
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
Hell, this episode was even worse than the one before, which was the worse than the one before, etc.

EpisodeNull said:
"Also: anyone else starting to notice how absurd it is that these guys are in full armor all the time? They don't have lightweight versions for climbing, or casual outfits for hanging out?"

Thank you, glad I am not the only one thinking this. And while I thought it was cool hearing "this is the way" during the first season, the way this show is fucking itself up rapidly over the next season and a half, it was annoying to hear it every time in this episode for this ultimate dumbshitness called "the creed."
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
"-Do I like Picard S3 more than Mando S3? I think I might. What a wild turn of events."

It's not even a close call for me. Picard S3 takes the cake.
S3 of Mandalorian so far is in close competition with late season 3 fuckery of Discovery.
Jason R.
Fri, Mar 24, 2023, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
This is really the nadir of the series. I have really had it up to here with this unexplained space burkha helmeting thing.

As I was watching the training scene with all these various Boba Fett clones (down to Boba Fett toddlers basically) all I could think was how laughable this would have been to anyone who watched Empire Strikes Back for the first time - that somehow there'd be a spinoff show on this one cool (but secondary) character including a hokey made up religion.

And I couldn't agree more with Jammer's comments concerning Groku. He's training to be a Mandalorian now? Ummm... What? Was that decided off screen? Was there a discussion? And the dart battle between Groku and that kid was ludicrous. Can you imagine Groku flying around in Mandalorian armor with a jetpack and a blaster? The poor kid was being asked to basically duel a stuffed animal.

This is like something out of a Troma movie.

That said I will address Jammer's point about why the Mando cult hangs around in the Land of the Lost - it seems this is by design given the Armorer's comments about how Mandalorians need to be forged by adversity. I guess the threat of 100 foot alligator dragons and aggressive Pterodactyls keeps complacency to a minimum.
Sat, Mar 25, 2023, 4:23am (UTC -5)
Not terribly impressed with this third season. It’s verging on parody at times. The solemn nature of the Mandalore is getting a bit comical.
Sat, Mar 25, 2023, 6:29am (UTC -5)
Kara Thrace: Mother of Dragons.
Sun, Mar 26, 2023, 1:32am (UTC -5)
I binged three episodes in a row to "catch up" for this shit? Geesh.
Sun, Mar 26, 2023, 4:18am (UTC -5)
I'm having a major trouble suspending disbelief over Grogu right now. As a cute merchandising opportunity he's great as the occasional deus ex Jedi.

But in this more active direction this time around, he still moves and acts like a feeble, inarticulate muppet that barely seems conscious of it's own existence, never mind being able to win against a child. Gonna have to pick a line, and fast.
Sun, Mar 26, 2023, 11:59am (UTC -5)
Baby Yoda's cuteness is the only thing keeping me watching at this point. And that's wearing thin. All of this is getting old fast.

One question, did I miss it and they already explained how you can have foundlings when they only recently found out you could still bathe in the living waters on their home planet? How have they been dealing with that before then?
Sun, Mar 26, 2023, 4:15pm (UTC -5)

They have really painted themselves into a corner with this “Helmet on all the time “ business. It’s ludicrous.

Surely if a race of people had worn helmets for a thousand years their faces would look messed up. Pale skin, eye problems. Probably have no hair. None of it makes any sense if you scratch away at the surface.

Do they wear their helmets when they are having sex? On the toilet?
Tue, Mar 28, 2023, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
The only good part of this episode was Baby Yoda’s flashback since it felt like watching an additional part of Revenge of the Sith.

Wouldn’t a show set in the Clone Wars, or just after it about Jedi survivors up against clone stormtroopers be way more entertaining?! There was even a superb novel (“Rise of Darth Vader”) that had something similar.

The flashback scene was at the very least entertaining. But yet again they’re using these flashes of Grogu’s past to get you to watch. And even this, the old CGI clones looked better. The Jedi Master’s acting was superb though (the line “there are no others”) and Grogu’s mixed joy and fear were nicely done along with the music in the scene. I wish the entire episode (and series) was about those two.

Not sure it makes sense though given they got away and the Master somehow got killed and Grogu abandoned. Not that Grogu should even be back after Season 2.

Bottom line is that the rest of this show is going to be ruined since all roads have to lead to Disney’s insane (and insulting) TFA and the Disney sequels. Couple that with Filoni’s usual butchering of saga (Episode 1 to 6) movie canon and the flawed Marvelisation of this franchise and it’s a recipe for mayhem.

Real shame to think of what could have been when you hear or George’s original sequel outline, and what was achieved with Andor/Rogue One.

The youngling Jedi would better fit a story set in the Old Republic (from the video games) before TPM. As would frankly the Mandalorian as well.
Tue, Mar 28, 2023, 10:04pm (UTC -5)
- Also, the CGI in the episode, like the last, was very spotty. Coruscant either looked really great or painfully awful. The Jedi Temple colonnade where the Jedi Master first dual-wields, for example, looked like a bad video game render, and most of his speeder-bike flight was really janky. The Naboo starfighter looked excellent as did the scenery, as did many of the wider shots of the city, but just like some of the scenes with Pershing, Coruscant looks really low-res. The Prequels did a heavy-CGI epic environment the right way by making everything have the same sort of filter, so it was consistent and to this day looks like a majestic galaxy far far away. Andor also used slick effects with real world location to show it in detail in daylight and high res for shots of the planet (fitting its importance as the capital).

The Jedi Master protecting Grogu was cool on the balcony. Some of the clone troops who came off the gunship look noticeably fat though.

These Disney shows have also shown Order 66 with poor Jedi choreography - a big step down from the Prequels or Originals. (Even the Disney sequel choreography was utterly awful). It’s now at the point where they really do look like they're just waving their sabers about, rather than making concentrated deliberate moves. And the lightsaber lacks its elegant blade and looks like a noticeable toy glow stick. In this opening flashback scene, there are maybe two to four troopers running forward two at a time, at four Jedi who are well aware of their approach and have lightsabers raised and time as the door is yet to be breached. Yet the two Jedi at the front maybe deflect one shot each and fall. The rear two Jedi then openly turn their backs on the remaining two clone troops who are still approaching and firing at them! With the last falling and the elevator door not even closed as the troops are still rapid firing at Baby Yoda. The scene could have had the same events, but should have been choreographed with far greater finesse. I’d say the Kenobi Order 66 scene was arguably better with the choreography in the Temple.

The entire point of the saga was showing how Jedi were usually only beaten by surprise (like being shot at by your own troops in the back), or by overwhelming force (like a platoon lining up and firing all at once, or troops surrounding a Jedi) or superior skill of another Force user.
Wed, Mar 29, 2023, 12:58am (UTC -5)

"Bottom line is that the rest of this show is going to be ruined since all roads have to lead to Disney’s insane (and insulting) TFA and the Disney sequels."

Yep, this is a concern of mine as well. The more they can steer clear of it and tell their own unique story, the better.
Wed, Mar 29, 2023, 3:00pm (UTC -5)

The thing is that has been the case from day one with the Mandalorian. It was always set in the Disney sequel universe from day one. Emphasis on Disney sequel. Not George's original intention for "what happened next" and not the Expanded universe either. Purely the Disney sequels.

There were (and still are) continuous references to the Disney sequels throughout the show. That is why it is baffling why the destruction of the Star Wars saga got thunderous applause. It's like the knife that was stabbed into the Saga is being slowly twisted on stage for an audience and I would have thought most would be aghast and appalled.

At the same time it comes across as entirely aimless. I think past Star Wars stories by various mediums - be they the saga movies (George's), , the various books by the likes of Luceno etc, the anthology films like Rogue One or the Andor show, or indeed the older video games gave us actual gripping stories that complimented the saga (not contradicted them) and obviously had nothing to do with the Disney sequels.

Frankly take Baby Yoda out of this show and is it anything really? I think his character would fit far better in a story set in the days of the Old Old Republic (when the Jedi and Sith were in great numbers). And same goes for the Mandalorians as well. The Marvel style mayhem of various shows crossing over doesn't really fit what Star Wars was either. You never used to have to read a particular comic, or a subsection of a book, or play a video game, or see a scene from another show to enjoy and understand a movie. And that is just the flaws of the Disney sequel orientated story from the crazy higher ups and their flawed lore, let alone Filoni's usual changing of established lore.
Fri, Mar 31, 2023, 2:16am (UTC -5)
Oooo I like harsh reviews of episodes I liked. It's nice getting some perspective. Yes it was a dumb action episode but I think you could appreciate the action/rescue scene a bit more. High flying dexterity has seldom looked so good.
Personally, I'm hoping we get more Weathers in the directors seat!
Sat, Apr 1, 2023, 2:20am (UTC -5)
I keep forgetting you cover Mando on this site! Just happened to see it when I came to talk about a TOS episode.

I liked this a little better than Jammer did (let's say 2.5 stars, as I gave it 3/5 on my TVTIME app), but I agree it was awfully slight.

I don't see why fundamentalist Mandalorians wouldn't simply have sex with their helmets on.

"[T]the scene belongs in a cartoon."

Isn't that true of many scenes on this show? It throws in slightly more sophisticated story elements from time to time, but it is definitely a "for the whole family" affair--unlike "Andor", which is delightfully sophisticated, adult fare.

@Derek: "No mention at all of the hour long detour to Coruscant last week? Weird. But we did see the top of the mountain again for 2 seconds in the flashback."

What's weird to me is that Coruscant is supposed to be a planet that is entirely urban at every point, yet they keep showing this one block! What are the odds?

"Why don't they just turn their backs to each other in a circle around the fire?"

That could work, but they need blinders to deal with their peripheral vision.

@Jason R: "I couldn't agree more with Jammer's comments concerning Groku. He's training to be a Mandalorian now? Ummm... What? Was that decided off screen? Was there a discussion?"

I think that was fairly implicit in his choosing Din's gift of chain mail instead of the light sabre Luke offered.

I agree that they are clearly working to rehabilitate the misbegotten sequel trilogy. Problem is that as they pull that albatross up, they drag themselves down until everything is lukewarm.

My biggest problem with this episode is the lack of urgency in going after the kid. They say they can't fly right up to the nest because that will cause the dragon to eat him. But what do they think will happen by waiting overnight? In the end, they just battled the dragon anyway, and it had already eaten the kid but he was somehow fine.
Sun, Apr 9, 2023, 6:09am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this one as a Saturday afternoon serial, with some strong advancement for Bo Katan, but the decision on the new foundlings???? IF, we get a season 5 perhaps they will show up again.
Sun, May 7, 2023, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
This is too simplistic and doesn't work like very early MAND did. Felt like an unusually short MAND episode that basically has a goal to score Bo-Katan some points with the Mandalorians and get Grogu started on his path to become a Mandalorian. I have issues with the 2nd part and if Bo-Katan goes down the road of assimilating into Mandalorian society, she'll be a lot less interesting. Overall, can't think of anything noteworthy here and am wondering where S3 is going.

This hideout that the Mandalorians train at sure has its hazards, perhaps why they chose this place for seclusion. Nothing remarkable about rescuing the foundling from the raptor -- seems kind of arbitrary that Bo-Katan would know what not to do in the rescue of the foundling. Thought it was interesting when she asked about how to eat when others are around...

Does Grogu himself wish to become a Mandalorian just because he prefers to be with Din Djarin instead of Luke? I suppose that's what you get when you associate with Mando -- if you're a kid, you're doomed to being forced to become a Mandalorian. Pretty stupid part about his duel with the Mandalorian foundling.

Not sure what the purpose was of throwing in some bad memories for Grogu of his escape from stormtroopers while a giant medallion of sorts is forged for him. But I don't think I've ever seen him with that pained expression on his face as the hammer was pounding in the forge.

As for Bo-Katan saying she saw a mythosaur - a noble vision - maybe that's all there's to it -- just more justification for her getting the highest Mandalorian honor.

2 stars for "Chapter 20: The Foundling" -- watchable but a underwhelming overall especially the Grogu subplot. Wonder what way Bo-Katan's development will go, if she'll effect any change on the Mandalorians or if she'll become a stiff like them. This also felt like just making up the numbers - almost pure filler.

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