We’ve reached the 20th episode of The Mandalorian, and it’s a significant one. Don’t let the short runtime deceive you, for this episode contains some important character moments – as well as one of the best cameos in Star Wars history.
It’s the midway point of this very strong third season, one that continues to explore questions of what it truly means to be a Mandalorian. Let’s dive in to our review of Chapter 20, “The Foundling”, and just be warned that there are full spoilers ahead!
At the desert home of the Mandalorian covert that’s part of the Watch, the warriors train against one another in combat. Grogu sits by the shore occupied by ‘rocks’, but Din Djarin wants the kid to train as a foundling. So Grogu is put up against another foundling, Ragnar, who challenges the kid to a duel with darts. Ragnar quickly gets the upper hand, but after Djarin encourages him to let the others see what he’s capable of, Grogu uses the Force to leap around and catch Ragnar by surprise, winning the duel.
Ragnar goes away by himself toward the water, where he is then snatched by a giant flying creature. Djarin, Paz Vizsla, and others take to flight with their jetpacks in pursuit, but the long distance causes their jetpack fuel to run out. Bo-Katan Kryze follows behind in her Gauntlet fighter, however, tracking the beast’s location back to its’ nest. She informs the others, and they head off in pursuit of the foundling.
Grogu stays behind, and the Armorer fashions him a piece of beskar armor for his breastplate. While she works on it, Grogu has flashbacks to Order 66. We see a group of Jedi sacrificing their lives to protect him from the enemy 501st troopers, getting Grogu in an elevator… which opens to reveal Jedi Master Kelleran Beq. He fights off other clones and flees with Grogu on a speeder bike through the Coruscant skies, pursued by two gunships. He meets up with a Naboo security force, who hold off the clones long enough for Kelleran and Grogu to escape aboard a Naboo cruiser.
Back in the present, Bo-Katan leads the effort to retrieve Ragnar, and the Mandalorians scale a cliff – at the top of which is the beast’s nest. Vizsla rushes forward, looking for his son, Ragnar, but the beast surprises him. The beast takes Vizsla and his son and becomes airborn, leading to the other Mandalorians trying to save them while in flight. They eventually prove successful, and as the beast crashes into the water it is eaten by a larger beast in the sea. The triumphant Mandalorians return, and Bo-Katan is lauded for upholding the highest of Mandalorian ideals in saving a foundling. The Armorer fashions a new piece of armor for Bo-Katan to replace one she lost in the endeavor, and she asks for the emblem of the Mythosaur to be on it. She confesses to the Armorer that she saw one, but the Armorer dismisses it as nothing more than a dream.
As this show loves to do, the subtitle can have multiple meanings in an episode. In this episode, “The Foundling,” a lot of the plot revolves around the mission to recover the foundling Ragnar, but the real focus is on the foundling Grogu. I love how this season is totally leaning into Grogu being a Mandalorian, and if there was any doubt before, there’s none any longer.
Djarin considers Grogu to be his foundling, and the rest of the clan accepts him as such – including the Armorer, who begins forging him new armor. Grogu is beginning to train as a Mandalorian, but he’s also had training as a Jedi. In this episode he puts both to good use, winning the duel by utilizing both the Force and the Mandalorian wrist darts. It’s an interesting development for a group that has been raised to view the Jedi as their enemies, dating back long before any of them were born. But that wasn’t always the case, as Bo-Katan mentioned to Grogu in Chapter 18, and she has fought alongside and befriended Jedi before. And long ago, the Tarre Vizsla became the first Mandalorian to join the Jedi Order, creating and wielding the same darksaber that Djarin now possesses. He was a Mandalorian who became a Jedi; with Grogu, we’re seeing a Jedi become a Mandalorian.
But his past is dark, his history as a Jedi coinciding with their fall in the great Purge. We got another flashback to Order 66, and finally, two years after we first learned that Grogu was taken from the Jedi Temple, we get to see how it happened – and who it was to take him. There were all sorts of guesses that people had, almost all of which were so ludicrous that it became funny. But the real answer was better than any of them, and it amounted to one of the best cameos we’ve seen in Star Wars: Jedi Master Kelleran Beq. We’ve actually seen him before, as the host of the Jedi Temple Challenge Youtube series that saw a group of Jedi younglings going through the Trials. He was nicknamed the “sabered hand” for his skills with a lightsaber, and we get to see that on display with him wielding two lightsabers simultaneously in combat. Jedi Temple Challenge is a series that’s somewhat canon… meaning that the character of Kelleran was considered to be canon but not the specific events of those Trials. It was a fun series, but all the better now that Kelleran has shown up in this series in such a key way.
That’s not why the cameo is so great, though: it’s because Kelleran is played by Ahmed Best, making his triumphant return to the Star Wars franchise on-screen. Best played Jar-Jar Binks in the prequel trilogy, a role that was one of the most innovative in CGI film history. But for the role he got considerable hate from the darkest parts of the Star Wars fandom, which was so intense that he found himself contemplating suicide. It should be a startling wake-up call to segments of a fanbase that has perpetrated some of those same worst tendencies with the more recent Star Wars films, but it also is hopefully a reminder that the light will always triumph over the darkness. In recent years Best has received a very warm embrace from fans, and now he’s back on-screen in a key Star Wars role. Truly, it was such a wonderful moment to see play out, and I couldn’t be happier for Ahmed Best that it happened. He’s the one who rescued Grogu!
Of course, we don’t know what happens to his character, Kelleran Beq, after this. We don’t know why Grogu wound up where he was when Djarin found him, nor where Kelleran is. But those questions are for another time, as what we know now is that the way Grogu got away was thanks to this Jedi Master. He had help from the Naboo, which makes sense, given that they are basically the most heroic and ready to help as anybody. It’s hard to quantify the impact the Naboo people and government have had during this time period, and that just continues. Here’s an interesting thought, though: who was the one driving this help? Padmé Amidala is the planet’s Senator, but this is all happening while her marriage with Anakin is crumbling, and that might mean she’s occupied by some other things. She, of course, is exactly the kind of person who would still send people to help the Jedi however possible, but what if the help was driven not by Amidala but by the planet’s Representative, Jar-Jar Binks? That’s probably a bit far-fetched, but I think it would be awesome to learn that Best’s two characters, Binks and Beq, actually worked together to free Grogu from the Jedi Temple and save him from the Purge.
Reigning the speculation back in, though, the final thing to discuss from the episode is Bo-Katan Kryze and her continuing journey. She seems to have embraced, at least tentatively, her role in this covert. But most importantly is that, when a foundling is in trouble, she’s willing to jump in and help. She leads the quest to save Ragnar, and the rest of the clan is endeared to her because of it. I’m still not convinced that she’s fully embraced “the way”, but it does seem like she’s content to oblige the rules while a part of this new covert. That was all precipitated by the shocking events at the end of the season’s second episode, which was even more shocking to Kryze than it was to audiences: the appearance of a Mythosaur. She chose to keep that information to herself and not mention it to Djarin, but she finally opens up to the Armorer. Getting the emblem on her armor, she told the Armorer that she saw one. The Armorer dismisses it, though, saying that many people have seen the Mythosaur in dreams or visions, and she doesn’t get what Bo-Katan is saying – nor would she believe it even if she did. Kryze is confident that she saw it, but I’m sure the Armorer’s response doesn’t help with the bewilderment and surprise behind it. Did she really see what she thought she saw? What is the significance of that? Her taking the Mythosaur as an emblem is, I think, emblematic of her embrace of at least some of their peoples’ traditions.
Oh, and on a related thought, that Mandalorian covert needs to move planets. Ragnar has now been attacked by two different beasts, one from the sea and one from the air, and when he’s snatched by the flying beast (that looks like it’s straight out of Jurassic Park) the others admit that it’s happened before. Like, I’m sure this is a nice hidden world or whatever, but wouldn’t you think at some point having your people killed by these beasts isn’t worth it? But that would mean that Jon Favreau doesn’t get to introduce more monsters, which is probably too hard, since The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett have both made significant use of these monster-like creatures. All of which, of course, could be leading somewhere… I’m not convinced it’s coincidental that this Mandalorian covert has faced several beasts so far, with Djarin playing a pivotal role in defeating both, when a Mythosaur lurks beneath the living waters of Mandalore, sure to be relevant down the road.
This was a great episode, with a fairly straightforward plot surrounded by key events for Grogu and Bo-Katan while including a heartwarming cameo. This series has had a very strong first half of this third season, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.