Much like last week’s episode of The Mandalorian, “The Foundling” is a smaller scale episode that serves as a connecting piece to the larger Star Wars saga. Unlike last week, however, “The Foundling” seems to have righting some wrongs on the mind rather than just revealing them. The end result is probably the least balanced episode of the season thus far but feels important to get through all the same.
Jumping straight to the big surprise, The Mandalorian has finally begun to answer its very first question: How did Grogu survive Order 66? The answer isn’t exactly shocking but the details are the fun part. Grogu was spirited away by a Jedi at the temple during Anakin’s siege, and that Jedi was named Kelleran Beg.
At the risk of having an honest to god Glup Shitto moment, I had to roll the episode back and run that name back before the character appeared, just to make sure I heard it right. Kelleran was the name given to the host character of Jedi Temple Challenge, a Legends of the Hidden Temple knockoff that Lucasfilm ran on YouTube a while back, It’s cute enough for the kiddos, but the series was notable because Kelleran was portrayed by Ahmed Best – who also played Jar Jar Binks.
To say that Ahmed Best’s life was changed for the worst due the presentation and reaction to Jar Jar is an understatement. Outside of maybe Jake Lloyd or Kelly Marie Tran, Best got the brunt of the worst of what fandom could throw at anyone. In recent years, both Lucasfilm and the fandom have tried to make amends – his role on Jedi Temple Challenge and a standing ovation at Celebration being most notable. Seeing Ahmed Best bring Kelleran into canon while looking cool as hell is a genuinely great thing to see for a franchise that has failed plenty of the talent that gives it life, Best’s entrance is staged like any other major cameo would be – rightfully so – and since Grogu’s flashback ended with him and Kellevan escaping Coruscant, it seems we’II be seeing him again.
It does seem that even the direction and writing knew what the nerds were going to focus on. The rest of “The Foundling” is pretty light fare, being the lull to show more of what Din’s order operates, quickly sending him and Bo- Katan off on a fetch quest so Grogu can flashback in peace. If you’re familiar with other Dave Filoni (who wrote this episode with Jon Favreau) works like the beginning of Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels: establishing a remote base and using the down time to show some character interaction and new aliens. Compared to those episodes of Rebels though, this is much more in the serviceable adventure column, rather than very compelling.
Bo-Katan’s side plot does make a bit more headway, and I am liking that she’s still not falling into the antagonist role. We still don’t know what her agenda may be – and I’m no longer sure she has one. She confesses the truth of the Mythosaur to The Armorer with no manipulation, even reinforcing when The Armorer misunderstands. I am beginning to wonder if the second half of the season will be dedicated to Bo getting her groove back rather than forcing her into conflict with Din and his Way.
Overall, “The Foundling” is the episode to start moving The Mandalorian forward. It’s a bit clunky with the split storylines, but we know more than we did before. Beyond all that, giving Ahmed Best a role is noteworthy and welcome all in of itself. Hopefully we’ll see more attempts from Lucasfilm to rebuild bridges, because there’s still plenty to work on.
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‘The Mandalorian’ 3x04 - 6/10