“The Foundling” Takes The Mandalorian Back to Formula
Chapter 20 of The Mandalorian goes back to the formula that made the show a success in the first place, and surprise, it’s good.
The Mandalorian Season 3, Episode 4:
“The Foundling” Review
After last week’s episode tried to emulate Andor with mixed results, Chapter 20 of The Mandalorian titled “The Foundling,” goes back to the basics of what makes this show work. It offers a fun adventure, with great action and character moments. Although as the fourth episode of an eight-episode season, it may not move the main plot forward as much as one would hope, the character building is strong and should hopefully lead to a worthy payoff.
After last week’s detour to Coruscant to follow Dr. Pershing, this week we’re back with Din and Bo-Katan. As the Mandalorians of the Children of the Watch train, one of the foundlings gets taken by a creature that looks like a pterosaur so Mando and Bo team up to lead a rescue party. It’s a classic Mandalorian plot that harkens back to episodes like Season 1’s “Sanctuary” and Season 2’s “The Marshal”.
The episode’s simplicity is its greatest strength as it allows for the focus to be on the action and Bo-Katan’s continued character arc. Both of those elements will please fans of The Mandalorian and the wider Star Wars universe as a whole.
“The Foundling” is directed by Carl Weathers and much like his previous directorial effort, season 2’s “The Siege” he showcases a deft eye for directing action. As the pterosaur is a flying creature, most of the action takes place in the air as the Mandalorians use their jet packs to chase and take on the beast. There’s a kineticism to it all and it remains fast and frantic throughout. You can feel the speed and the frenzied nature of the rescue efforts.
Besides just being an excuse for Mando to fight a dragon monster, what the little adventure accomplishes is furthering Bo’s alignment with the Children of the Watch and the traditional ways of Mandalore that she no so long ago scoffed at. The first two episodes of the season did a good job of establishing her and Mando’s differing belief systems and how seeing the Mythosaur made Bo question her own theology. “The Foundling” shows Bo more willing to cooperate and possibly even assimilate into the ways of Children of the Watch.
Bo hasn’t taken her helmet off since she saw the Mythosaur and in this episode, she is continuing to integrate with the Children of the Watch. When she damages a shoulder plate the Armorer forges her a new one which Bo requests to have the Mythosaur adorn it instead of her Nite Owl symbol. Bo’s belief system is rattled and that’s not only interesting for her character but it’s clear will gain her new allies in the Children of the Watch to help fight whoever sent the TIE Interceptors to Mandalore last episode.
Grogu also has a nice character-building subplot this week as well. Not only does Mando have him take place in a bit of Foundling training to show off his abilities but as the Armorer forges some armor for Grogu, the world’s cutest Force user experiences a flashback to how he escaped Order 66.
This sequence is another great showcase of Carl Weathers’ ability to helm action as the camera brings us up close to the harrowing action of the Clone Troopers cutting down Jedi as they try to get Grogu to safety. Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best appears in the flashback as the Jedi that ultimately gets Grogu to safety, which is a nice cameo role for an actor whose life was once made hell by fans of the franchise.
The effects and creature work has been phenomenal all season and it’s not different here. Grogu continues to be a standout in animatronics and CGI. His eyes are so expressive that just the look on his face after the flashback, you can tell how those events still affect him in some way. The pterosaur as well is an incredible creature design. All of its scenes take place during the daytime and there are no cracks in the suspension of disbelief.
This is a classic episode of The Mandalorian in the purest sense. It uses a simple plot and the structure of a western to offer breakneck Star Wars action while continuing to build characters. If there’s one complaint, it’s the lack of real forward momentum with the main plot. It does excellent work creating more building blocks, but we’re heading into the second half of the season without a clear idea of where it’s going. That’s a small complaint though for what is otherwise a terrific half-hour.