Fight or Flight: Mandalorian’s Grogu wants the Best of both worlds…

The pace speeds up for Mando after Grogu's post-paintball perils, but are the pretty flashbacks the Best?

Djarin decides it’s time that Grogu has some practical training with the Mandalorian enclave with whom they’re still staying and after a tentative start, the diminutive figure manages to quite easily defeat his opponent, Ragnar. Unfortunately Ragnar doesn’t fare much better when a gigantic winged creature snatches him away and a search and rescue party in organised.

As Djarin and Bo-Katan lead that mission, Grogu stays behind and remembers snatches of his ordeal during the night of the infamous Order 66 and how a Jedi helped him escape…



Far be it from me to tell the Mandalorians where to pitch their camp and do their training, but – let’s be honest – their regular watering hole is proving to be a tad problematic in the safety department. We’ve already had big sea-monsters chewing through their ranks and now we have danger flying in to scoop off one of the enclave’s foundlings.

Grogu has a considerable amount of the spotlight this week, starting with a genuinely funny game with ‘not-rocks’ that proves charming in the moment, but then being sidelined from the main rescue mission because he’s ‘too young to take part’. That seems a little disingenuous given the action that the little green one has experienced and handled rather well. (Not least by ritualistically-paintballing Ragnar – the young and cocky Mandalorian foundling we saw being initiated a few episodes ago – in a mock-battle tournament before Ragnar was whisked away by that flying beast this week).  This leads us to Grogu kicking his heels with the Armourer and a wide-eyed flashback of Grogu’s escape during the night of the Order 66 massacre. He remembers being saved by a Jedi called Kelleran Beq, exercising some of the lightsaber skills that even Mace Windu would be proud of. Those with a passing knowledge of Star Wars might well clock the fact that the flashback rescuer is none other than actor Ahmed Best, the man who performed the infamous Jar-Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequels and has been on the thin end of fan derision ever since. (That’s somewhat unfair as while the character is indeed vewy, vewy awful, the actor was simply doing what he was told by the director as a motion-capture and performance artist). Here Ahmed gives a great cameo performance and shows some serious moves and despite this well-choreographed and CGI-enhanced scene feeling like classically-presented Lucasfilm filler for the already-reduced running time, one hopes that’s this not actually just a casting apology and that we do indeed see Best again as this new character and the brief interlude are the best thing in the episode.

One other thing regarding Grogu is that in a recent internet photoshopped meme we saw a depiction of Grogu wearing full (if appropriately-resized) Mandalorian armour, akin to Din Djarin’s attire and we actually get a first step towards that with the Armourer creating a bespar shield plate for the little guy. Can a full helmet be that far behind as an action figure accessory?

While it’s Bo-Katan’s idea to undertake the mission to rescue the stolen child with a degree of stealth and lack of more attention-grabbing tech, it’s interesting that she’s immediately given the default position of mission leader so easily and that the other warriors – who have bristled at newcomers in the past – seem to follow that lead so obligingly and without grumble – even letting her keep her place by the fire while they rest elsewhere. That being said, the raid on the beast’s nest is nearly a complete disaster with a lack of a real plan and everyone doing their own thing (and, I’m confused, is the kidnapped child the biological offspring of one of the warriors – whom he casually refers to as ‘Dad’ – or a Foundling? I only ask as it’s hard to keep track of the Mandalorian mantra from week to week.) I’m not sure what specific studio-note dictated that the flying beast’s chicks had to survive, likely to be trained as the Mandalorian’s back-up sky-rides, but their design was one of the few creative mis-steps with them looking like they stepped out of a Harryhausen first draft not a final rendering… and very much at odds with the better design of their mother.

Equally, there’s one niggle that is addressed from last week’s review, though it opens a box of further niggles in the process. Bo-Katan asks how she’s supposed to eat when she’s wearing the helmet? Din replies that each warrior goes off to somewhere out of sight so they can remove their helmet to eat. Two obvious points are: in the last few weeks it’s been hammered home that a Mandalorian can never ever ever ever remove their helmet under any circumstances without being banished and having to undergo missions of redemption…. with even the Armourer asking if Din took his helmet off during his ritual bath… and yet here we have the obvious caveat, albeit one that seems just as impractical in some ways. It’s almost as someone in the writers’ room finally realised the eating complication and threw in a line to cover it. Also, given that Bo-Katan may be an outsider but isn’t exactly a complete newcomer to the whole helmet situation, why doesn’t she know the answer already? It’s clearly aimed at the audience and it feels clumsy. (That being said, Kate Sackhoff at least makes a few seconds of genuine, physical appearance this week, though it looks like the bulk of the work goes to her stunt-double or stand-in. I was glad when she joined the cast, but despite elements being set-up for a more spiritual quest for her in the back-half of the season, it’s looking like a very part-time practical, on-set side-gig thus far).

Carl Weathers steps behind the camera and makes a decent job as a director and the short running-time, barely thirty minutes all-in, help the episode speed along. But the fault-lines continue. The show continues to feel bi-polar in execution… the tone and presentation from week to week is crazily inconsistent to the point of derision and it ultimately hurts the series, whatever you’re coming for as a fan. If last week’s entry was more like the deep, slow-burn, political Andor, we now have the kinetic, airborne Saturday morning serial King of the Rocketmen in glorious 4D, widescreen 4K technicolor. Once again, Mando/Din feels like a supporting character in his own show – and this is becoming such a default position that one wonders if the show should be immediately renamed to something more encompassing or at least involve a plural?

Ultimately, this is another well-rendered, very pretty-to-look-at but short and disposable entry – perfectly fine as a distraction and toy commercial but really just an attractive starter, or a dessert and definitely not a main course…



'The Mandalorian  S03 EP04 - Chapter 20: The Foundling'  (Disney+ review)
'The Mandalorian S03 EP04 - Chapter 20: The Foundling' (Disney+ review)
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