Wednesday, March 22, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Mandalorian' - Bo-Katan Seeks to Honor the Covert While The Past Haunts Grogu in 'Chapter 20: The Foundling'

Disney+'s The Mandalorian - Episode 3.04 "Chapter 20: The Foundling"

Din Djarin returns to the hidden Mandalorian covert.

"Chapter 20: The Foundling" was written by Jon Favreau & Dave Filoni and directed by Carl Weathers

Sometimes this show can be wide and expansive with the scope of its storytelling. Other times it's incredibly intimidate. It has always been very episodic by nature. It's also built a nice ensemble for itself. One where it feels like a distraction when time is spent away from Din and Grogu. That should always remain the focus. This is the second episode in a row to feature a trip to Coruscant. Previously, it revealed the tragic fate of Dr. Pershing after his service with Moff Gideon ended. He was offered redemption. He tried to best serve the New Republic. The sins of the past were simply too pronounced. That vitriol still exists across the galaxy. Plenty of people have big aspirations for what the universe should become. The New Republic is fledgling. Bo-Katan failed when she tried to unite the various factions of Mandalorians. She has now found a place within the covert. She dismissed Din previously as being a member of a cult. It's now offered her a new outlook on life. That has been rewarding to an extent too. It's a new place for her to belong. It's also the show embracing small-stakes storytelling. This episode is essentially about training Grogu and Bo-Katan continuing to find her way amongst the covert. It's fascinating with Grogu because it builds to the day Order 66 was enacted. It reveals how he escaped the brutal fate. Kelleran Beq was the Jedi who guided Grogu to safety. Many enemy forces target them for complete destruction. They survive. Plenty of Jedi endured the pain of this moment. They all went into hiding afterwards. As such, Grogu's story is in line with how the rest of his kind adapted to a changing world. Luke possessed the willingness to guide Grogu in the ways of the Force once more. Grogu opted to return to Din. That placed him on the path of the Mandalorian. This is the way now. He is still in touch with the Force. Din knows he is far more capable than the rest of foundlings give him credit for. That leads to the amazing moment where he wins the challenge. Grogu is growing within the covert. The Armorer gifts him with the next extension of his armor. And yet, it's unclear how much time will pass before he is able to recite the creed. That matters to this community. Grogu is finding his way on this path. Din is a tough mentor. Moreover, Grogu is haunted by flashbacks just like his father figure was. Din has emerged on the other side. He sought redemption and claimed it. He's at peace. He now guides others along the path. That doesn't exactly make him a compelling central figure. Instead, the story is about things happening to others and Din simply responding with the cool skills he possesses.

Bo-Katan has equally found her place in the covert. She too was redeemed. It wasn't something she sought out. She simply helped Din achieve his goal. She took advantage of the situation. It was a blessing offered to her. And now, she shows how accepting and generous she is to this community. She brings honor to her house. That matters amongst the covert. None of them have the fuel to follow the winged creature back to its nest. This creature is the latest threat the covert has faced in isolation. They train. They prepare for whatever mission awaits them. Again, it can be small sometimes. It can also have the fate of their entire race attached. Everyone must be ready when the moment strikes. It's dangerous to attack the beast when the foundling could be injured in the process. It's risky to show up to the nest in the ship. The noise would announce their presence. Bo-Katan leads this mission. She is immediately gifted with respect. She doesn't know how to eat without removing her helmet in the presence of others. She knows how to scale the mountain and retrieve the foundling. It's an arduous journey. One plagued by a father's love for his son. That impulse is relatable to Din and Bo-Katan. They too view Grogu as the foundling under their care. They are tough but full of compassion. They all have to be smart and strategic. Even when they lose the element of surprise, the Mandalorians have the skills to defeat the creature and save the foundling. They are reunited at the place they now call home. They don't aspire for more. Of course, Bo-Katan has questions. She wonders what it means to have seen a mythosaur. That creature holds so much reverence amongst this covert. The Armorer believes Bo-Katan is simply talking about a vision she received. As such, it was destiny for her to receive redemption. That was the path for her. Bo-Katan believes it was real. That's what she encountered in the living waters. Din didn't have the same experience. It was unique to her. It weighs on her mind. She seeks to honor that moment. She doesn't seek to offend anyone within this community. She also prides herself on the symbols worn on her armor. It's a delicate balance. One that absolutely leads to personal redemption. It's more than simply words offered to her. It's a way of life. That ambiguity is hard to sell when the faces are covered all the time. Emotion has to be delivered in other ways. That's the true challenge. Moreover, the narrative has to be about more than providing that internal resolution. That makes this episode and the season as a whole feel a bit more aimless. Din had his purpose at the start of the season. And now, he has achieved that goal and joined the covert once more. Something drastic has to happen to disrupt this stability. That's just the basic tenant of storytelling even though these characters would love nothing more than to train and serve whenever they can for their people. The mission and the stakes ultimately have to rise above that even though the grounded nature of this particular episodes informs so much as well.