‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3, Episode 4: “The Foundling” Review
"The Foundling" regains some of 'The Mandalorian's' footing, but it fails to establish a path forward for the rest of season three. That's a problem.
After a dismal third episode, season three of The Mandalorian manages to get itself back on track long enough to crank out a half-decent entry with a few notable surprises, even if it doesn’t really go anywhere important. A few basic questions are answered, but they inevitably lead to larger ones, meaning there’s more story left to tell. The question is whether it’ll be worth it or not.
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So far, season three’s Achilles’ Heel is a story that simply isn’t as interesting or engaging as the one told between the first two seasons. With the Grogu story arc all but wrapped up, the only remaining option for the writers is to expand outwards, and that is yielding hit and miss results. “The Foundling” hints at something yet to come, but after wrapping up the first half of the season, it’s unclear if there’s enough material to forge a decent ending.
The episode re-focuses the narrative back on Din Djarin, Grogu and Bo-Katan Kryze, a partner threesome who have become interconnected with a broader overview of the Children of the Watch. Last week’s episode saw Djarin redeem himself after bathing in the living waters underneath Mandalore, but it also saw Kryze accepted into their ranks as well. This episode focuses on Kryze re-familiarizing herself with their ways, including how the Children eat food while wearing helmets all the time.
Thanks Jon, we were gonna’ ask about that.
Meanwhile, Grogu takes his first steps towards learning how to be a Mandalorian, including participating in a test of skill against a young boy. He also spends some alone time with the Armorer, who triggers some repressed traumatic memories that pave the way for an interesting flashback sequence involving Order 66, and the massacre at the Jedi Temple.
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The bulk of the narrative, however, focuses on a young Mandalorian boy carried off by a large carnivorous winged creature. Djarin and Kryze lead a small strike team to rescue the boy, accompanied by the former’s old rival Paz Vizsla, who is also his father. It leads to a decent fight against the creature, which, unfortunately, does not actually contribute much to the story.
“The Foundling” has a few great moments that center mostly on Grogu’s flashback sequence to the fall of the Jedi Order and the rise of Emperor Palpatine. Audiences have seen this type of flashback before in shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi, triggering some deja vu in the process. However, it’s done to much better effect in The Mandalorian, with a sliver of extra backstory regarding the manner in which Grogu escaped extermination.
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The most surprising part of the episode is the return of actor Ahmed Best, who sheds the curse of his role as Jar Jar Binks in favor of Jedi Master Kelleran Beq. Here, Best gets to redeem his image in the eyes of fans by expertly wielding two lightsabers in Jar’Kai form against squadrons of Clone Troopers trying to murder both he and Grogu. It’s a great scene, and Best deserves a lot of credit for selling the intensity of Kelleran Beq, who will probably show up in more flashbacks at a later date.
There’s also a few snippets of cool elsewhere in the episode, such as the design of the large winged shriek hawk, and Bo-Katan’s exchange with the Armorer, where she confirms that the creature she glimpsed at the end of episode two was a mythosaur. How this factors into the overall Mandalorian storyline hasn’t yet been revealed, but the mythosaur is considered one of the most ancient pieces of their lore, dating back thousands of years. We’ll see if it goes anywhere.
While the episode is much better than the preceding one, it also shares a few of the same weaknesses. Once again, Din Djarin has been stuffed firmly in the background, becoming a bit player on his own show. For the moment, this is largely a Bo-Katan Kryze show, and that’s going to cause problems near the end of the season. I keep making the comparison, but The Book of Boba Fett made this exact same mistake, and now Favreau and his team are repeating it.
It’s not enough to derail the episode, but it is jarring enough to be noticeable. Same with Grogu’s flashback. While very, very cool in its own right, it can’t be effectively tied to the rest of the narrative, especially with four independent storylines taking place at the same time with little-to-no overlap. It’s easy to tell that the writers are having trouble adapting previously bad creative decisions into the future story.
And it must be mentioned that the entire subplot involving the shriek hawk makes absolutely no sense at all. When the young Mandalorian boy is carried off, Bo-Katan manages to scout its nest, and she organizes the rescue party to go after him. However, a whole day passes in between events, including a night’s rest, which doesn’t make a lot of sense when the action picks up the next day.
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The Mandalorians make it to the top of the creature’s nest, only to discover three hatchlings inside waiting for mother to bring them food. It’s then that the shriek hawk returns, vomiting up the Mandalorian boy so he can be picked apart by the offspring.
The audience is expected to believe that the boy survived the entire night in the creature’s gullet, only for the mother to feed her young the next day.
It makes no sense, and it’s these kind of head-scratchers that make one wonder what’s really going on inside the writing room. Why is nobody questioning this kind of thing? How can such illogical plots go completely unnoticed by people who are being paid significant sums of money to write these episodes? It’s just another example of the lax attitude at Lucasfilm, and by extension, Disney as a whole.
“The Foundling” is a decent fourth episode, but it steps on quite a few rakes before the end credits roll. A lot of its problems should have been caught during the writing stage, which is inexcusable. However, the inclusion of the Grogu flashback sequence is a major highlight of the episode, and it’s one of the more interesting mysteries surrounding the larger narrative.
The problem is that after four episodes, the season still doesn’t have an endgame in mind. Instead, it’s spent most of its time wrapping up one loose end plot arc, while introducing another. Without a bridge between them, the character of Din Djarin is little more than a stand-in while other characters step into frame and have their moment. So far, season three has been rather wishy-washy, but it’s the paper-thin subplots with no exposition or forethought that are really hurting it.
With four episodes down, the next one needs to create a solid foundation to run on, with no excuses. The showrunners of these Star Wars TV shows need to stop planning out every season like a pair of bookends, and instead focus on a clearly defined narrative that doesn’t bounce all over the place. Seasons one and two of The Mandalorian did this with remarkable finesse. Everything that has since followed has failed, including – so far – this season.
NEXT: ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3, Episode 3: “The Convert” Review
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