Unsurprisingly, Chapter 19 of The Mandalorian caused division among fans as it strayed too far from the core of the show for too long. We personally believe it was a necessary exploration of the post-war socio-political situation of the galaxy – something the Star Wars sequels acutely lacked – plus it allowed the Imperial subplot to move forward in unexpected ways. But as we know, you can’t please everyone all the time.
With Chapter 20, the show returns to the beloved “adventure of the week” format and puts the focus back on our main characters. Well, at least on Grogu and Bo-Katan, as Din gets sidelined for one more week.
Spoilers ahead for The Mandalorian Chapter 20: ‘The Foundling’
We’re pretty sure ‘The Foundling’ is the series’ shortest episode so far, and that is felt in many scenes; Grogu shines bright once again, and the brief look at the Children of the Watch’s day-to-day is welcomed, but equally important character beats are drowned out by an Order 66 flashback that runs a bit too long in our honest opinion.
At its heart, ‘The Foundling’ is all about the Mandalorians’ sense of community as well as protecting the little ones, things their culture had in common with the now-gone Jedi Order. We’ve mentioned in the past that Jon Favreau’s ultimate, crystal-clear plan is to have Grogu become the next Tarre Vizsla, a new bridge between the two factions, and the parallels in Chapter 20 support that idea more than ever.
The episode kicks off with the entire tribe sparring and training at the beach where they were almost engulfed by a giant beast. Who knows what their long-term plans are; for now, they appear to have settled down and be focusing on training the foundlings and future Mandalorian warriors. Of course, the extensive training course includes Grogu, who belongs to Din Djarin’s “clan of two” and is now also backed by Bo-Katan Kryze.
Watching Grogu duel Ragnar – the kid we saw in the first scene of the season – with a (fake) dart launcher that clearly wasn’t designed for someone that freakin’ small is hilarious and the kind of goofy Star Wars that The Mandalorian has captured so well time and again. It’s not an “empty” scene though, as Grogu needs to put his brief Jedi training to good use to make up for his lack of expertise with weapons.
That means more Yoda flips! And the (first) surprise comes when he empties the entire three-dart magazine on Ragnar in a split second, winning the round and the entire match. What are the specific rules of these training duels? Didn’t the round end after one shot was landed? No one seems to care. The second surprise is more serious, as Ragnar is snapped up by a flying, wyvern-like reptile. This kid sure attracts bad luck in the shape of huge monsters.
Din, Paz Vizsla, and other Mandalorians quickly take to the skies and chase the creature in full Iron Man fashion. But it’s not long before their fuel is consumed and they’re grounded. Thankfully, Bo-Katan used her brain and chased the beast aboard her starfighter. However, the rescue mission isn’t as straightforward as you’d expect, since they can’t alert the dangerous animal of their presence and endanger Ragnar’s life.
While the rescue party leaves to scout the terrain surrounding the beast’s lair, Grogu spends some time with the Armorer, who appears to be fond of him too. We get a nice little throwback to the series’ early episodes, when Din’s shiny beskar armor was forged, and that can only mean our little boy is getting more metal. The louder sounds of the process trigger his PTSD though, and we’re back to Order 66… again! Note that external Jedi help wasn’t needed this time around, so maybe Ahsoka isn’t showing up at all this season.
Anyway, we get to see an extended cut of Grogu being defended by the Jedi during the purge of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, and that means getting to finally discover who saved him from the claws of the Empire. In one of the show’s biggest curveballs so far (though one that won’t mean much to casual viewers), it is revealed that none other than Master Kelleran Beq (Ahmed Best) rescued Grogu and left the planet thanks to the help of the Naboo Royal Security Forces.
Now, who the hell is Kelleran Beq? Essentially, a Jedi character created for Best when he landed the gig of presenting Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, a children’s game show that was aired in 2020 on YouTube. Of course, a game show isn’t part of the Star Wars canon, but Kelleran Beq was apparently canonized.
His appearance as Grogu’s rescuer not only makes sense given his character’s teaching background, but also gives Best a well-deserved return to live-action Star Wars after suffering more than a decade of vitriol from the worst of the franchise’s fan base after having played Jar Jar Binks in the prequel movies. This creative choice also saves us from the “Somehow, Mace Windu has returned” theories that unimaginative fans have thrown around for more than two years. Making a “new” character Grogu’s savior was the right call here.
As cool as the flashback is (Beq truly kicks ass, and we love Republic gunships), this trip down memory lane eats up a good chunk of the limited runtime and ends with the promise of another flashback at a later date. Did the duo seek shelter on Naboo before hiding in the Outer Rim for decades? We might have to wait for season 4 to get more answers. Another point worth bringing up is that the touch of Dave Filoni (co-writer on this episode) is hard to discern, as there wasn’t a big Jedi lore deep dive nor connections to his animated series.
Meanwhile, the Armorer has crafted a round beskar chest piece for Grogu, who is pretty much immune to shots to the chest at this point (he had already received Frodo’s mithril shirt but made with beskar). One step closer to the baby-sized helmet with room for his lovable ears!
The hunting party, led by Bo-Katan, makes camp for the night before climbing the rock formation on top of which the winged horror has its nest. At this point of Chapter 20, one has to wonder whether they’re taking too long with the rescue; Ragnar could’ve been eaten hours ago, and it’s established this has already happened in the past with other members of the tribe. It appears the Children of the Watch are quite bad at defending themselves from the local fauna.
Despite her focused leadership and strong initiative, Bo-Katan could be considered another “foundling” of the group, since she has forgotten the traditions of old. Katee Sackhoff gets to exhibit some awkwardness and insecurity when she asks how they can eat without removing their helmets. The answer is easy: as bonded as they are, eating isn’t a communal activity for the orthodox Mandalorians. As the leader of the party, she gets the “honor” of sitting by the fire though. It’s during this helmet-less moment that we clearly see on her face the internal struggle she’s dealing with. There’s no other path forward for her now (or so it seems).
It’s also important to underline how Paz Vizsla appears to be quickly coming around to the idea of having the Kryze heir around. We wouldn’t rule out further conflict in the near future, but it seems like Mandalorian tradition takes priority for him, even above his personal feelings about who should join them or who holds the Darksaber (which isn’t brought up nor used in this episode).
After reaching the nest, Ragnar is nowhere to be found, but the creature’s hatchlings are, and their mother doesn’t take long to show up and regurgitate Ragnar (their next meal), who has apparently been inside the beast all this time. The ensuing kerfuffle sends the wyvern flying off again, and a climactic sky-high action scene ensues, reminding us of how much money Lucasfilm can spend on this show.
Carl Weathers’ episodes have typically featured strong action scenes, and Chapter 20 keeps that tradition going. While some bits of the Coruscant chase earlier in the episode looked a bit off, the stuff with the Mandalorians rocketing around is mostly great and keeps the tension up. Paz Vizsla, who’s revealed to be Ragnar’s father indeed, doesn’t bite the dust, as much as he’s trying to sacrifice himself for his son all the time.
The pursuit ends with the winged terror falling to the waters below and immediately getting eaten by another specimen of the kaiju-sized species that gave the tribe trouble in Chapter 17. Jurassic World, anyone?
With their bonds strengthened and the kid rescued, the hunting party returns home with the beast’s hatchlings, which they’ll surely put to good use. Bo-Katan earns the group’s highest honor… and a mythosaur signet. Now that’s getting things done. We can guess her current plan is to search for the mythosaur, but the Armorer tells Bo that was a mere vision once she reveals what happened in the Living Waters of Mandalore. As religious and traditional as the group is, it appears they’ve given up hope of seeing a mythosaur alive; such creatures belong to ancient legends.
It remains to be seen how Bo will be able to convince both the Children of the Watch and Din of what happened in the Living Waters. And with only four chapters to go now, we must also consider how big of a role Moff Gideon and the Imperials will have this season. Moreover, the Nevarro-pirates subplot has yet to be resolved. With so much going on, was a throwaway adventure the best vehicle for the quiet but solid character work done in this episode? That’s a discussion worth having at length until Chapter 21 rolls around.
Overall, Chapter 20 is a classic Mando adventure, except that Din has been sidelined again. Our predictions of Katee Sackhoff becoming the co-star of the show this season were entirely correct, and at this point, we wouldn’t be surprised if she became the lead for the remainder of this entry. Jon Favreau’s excuse is that the show is called The Mandalorian, and that gives him plenty of room to toy with our expectations. Fair enough.