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Ahmed Best Slaps in a Refreshingly Pulpy ‘The Mandalorian’

By Mike Redmond | TV | March 24, 2023 |

By Mike Redmond | TV | March 24, 2023 |


Previously on The Mandalorian: After leaving Mandalore where Mando took his special bath and Bo-Katan saw a magic dinosaur, the two are attacked by a squadron of TIE Interceptors, who distract our heroes long enough for Bo-Katan’s castle to get bombed into space poop. (That’s where she does her best brooding, you bastards!) Realizing some Imperial warlord — or perhaps even a Grand Admiral — is after them, they escape to the hidden location of Mando’s old covert where he and Bo-Katan are both accepted into the group thanks to their dual swims in the Living Waters. Meanwhile on Coruscant, former Imperial officer Elia Kane is using the New Republic Amnesty Program to kill off anyone who knows about Moff Gideon’s cloning experiments or whatever. It was honestly pretty boring and spent 14 hours trying to be Andor. I’m mad just thinking about it.

After last week’s mind-numbingly dull detour, Chapter 20 “The Foundling” clicked things back into gear with a light, breezy episode that, oddly, is getting smacked around in a lot of reviews because it didn’t move the ball forward or reveal a “big plan” for the season.

Folks, my salty ass loved it.

Week after week, people show up in the comments talking about how this show is their comfort food, and in my admittedly questionable opinion, this episode was The Mandalorian at its most comfort food-iest. It was a delicious 30 minutes of pulpy action that hit all the right notes: Mandalorians doing Mandalorian shit, Grogu doing Grogu shit, Jedis doing Jedi shit, and most importantly, Bo-Katan doing badass Bo-Katan shit.

Right out of the gate, Chapter 20 opens with Mando’s covert having a big ol’ dork day doing helmet warrior junk. They’re firing blasters into the water, sparring each other, shooting flamethrowers, you name it. Meanwhile, Grogu is doing what he does best: Finding small creatures and immediately eating them dead. However, before the little guy can munch down a space crab, Mando goes all Sports Dad and makes Grogu mix it up with his fellow Mandalorians so he can move up to becoming an apprentice.

(For those of you who wisely didn’t watch The Book of Boba Fett, Grogu bailed on becoming a Jedi, and now he’s going to join a different cult. It’s good to try new things, I guess.)

Despite the little guy being barely a foot tall, Mando plunks Grogu down in front of the kid who took the creed in the season premiere and tells him, “Shut up and fight my space baby if you know what’s good for you.” Helmet Boy agrees to the challenge, and Bo-Katan offers Grogu some encouragement as she straps on his hand darts. She says Mando is making him fight because he’s proud of him, which she knows because her dad was the same way, so this show is officially going whole hog on the father/son thing.

After taking two darts to the chest like an adorable sack of potatoes, Mando tells Grogu he knows what he can do and not to hold back. To the surprise of everyone there, Grogu goes buck wild with the Force jumps and nails a stunned Helmet Boy with three shots before he can even react. Was this predictable as hell? You bet. Did I care? Nope, because it was just a set-up for what comes next.

Thanks to getting wrecked by a foot-long Muppet and hit with the brutal Mandalorian burn of “One does not speak unless one knows” for saying Grogu was too small to fight, Helmet Boy walks away to sulk — which makes him a sitting duck for a space dragon that swoops in and snatches his pouting ass up. As Mando draws his blaster to fire at the creature, Paz Vizla pushes his hand down and warns him that shooting the creature will kill the Foundling.


Along with a handful of other Mandalorians, Mando and Paz fly off after the creature with their jetpacks, but their chase goes south as they run out of fuel. According to Paz, this happens every time, and they’ve yet to catch up with the beast, so things are not looking great for Helmet Boy. Fortunately, someone used her brain and hopped in her spaceship to fly after the creature.

In what is easily one of the coolest shots in all of Star Wars, Bo-Katan’s ship follows the dragon into the sunset and it is freaking rad as hell. Granted, I’m concerned with how this show is getting a little too Game of Thrones-ish, the pulp adventures vibes are surprisingly pushing those thoughts into the background.

With Bo-Katan locking down the location of the creature’s nest, she returns to the Mandalorian camp to prepare a hunting party. The plan is to land a quiet distance from the site, climb the peak with their grappling guns, and rescue Helmet Boy without alerting the creature. Apparently, it has a tendency to murder Foundlings whenever it’s spooked, so you know, maybe try to avoid that.

Naturally, Mando is a part of the team, which leaves Grogu in the care of The Armorer. While alone in her workshop, she instructs Grogu on the life lessons that can be learn from forging Beskar. But the pounding of the forge triggers a traumatic flashback as Grogu remembers being present for the Order 66 attack on the Jedi Temple in Revenge of the Sith.

While Season 2 showed a brief glimpse of a frightened Grogu watching from his pod as clone troopers mowed down Jedi, this flashback finally answered the question of who rescued him from the temple. Star Wars guru Dave Filoni has hinted in interviews that Grogu’s savior would eventually be revealed, so as the scene kicked into gear, I was anxious to see which Star Wars legend would rescue our green boy. Clearly, it had to be somebody cool, right?

I would have never in a million years guessed Kelleran Beq.

For those of you don’t know Ahmed Best played Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequels, and to put it bluntly, he went through a world of goddamn. The intolerable hate that Kelly Marie Tran and John Boyega experienced in the Sequel Trilogy was forged in the Jar Jar fires. In recent years, Best has shared that the whole experience drove him to the brink of suicide. That’s how bad it got.

However, through all of that, Best has remained close with Lucasfilm, and the actor got a chance to return to the Star Wars universe with the Disney+ game show Jedi Temple Challenge. Lucasfilm even let him develop his own Jedi character for the show, Kelleran Beq, and at the time, it seemed like a nice gesture to cap an otherwise god-awful situation.

Fortunately, The Mandalorian stepped things up a considerable notch.


As Grogu flashes back to the Order 66 attack, a group of Jedi valiantly place themselves between our green boy and a wave of clone troopers breaching the temple. As they’re overwhelmed, one of the Jedi manages to get Grogu into an elevator before she’s gunned down and left to die on the floor beneath his pod. Scared out of his adorable mind, Grogu rides the lift down, and he has no idea what to expect as the doors slowly open. Waiting behind them is none other than Kelleran Beq.

When that reveal hit, it fully caught me by surprise. For starters, I didn’t clock what was happening as I tried to piece together who the heck is this character. But when I realized it was Best, I couldn’t help but grin at this unbelievably cool gift. Wielding double sabers, and the determination of a man who’s about to get a Star Wars moment for the ages, Kelleran rips his way through clone troopers and gets Grogu aboard a speeder. The two proceed to tear ass through Coruscant and find their way to a landing platform where a group of Naboo guards have a ship waiting for their Jedi friend. The guards selflessly stay behind to ward off an incoming assault as Grogu and Kelleran blast into hyperspace.

With that wicked little flashback over (this episode kept everything very tight and is all the better for it) we return to Grogu, who’s about to receive a new attachment for his growing set of Mandalorian armor. While he grappled with the still lingering fears from his past, The Armorer was busy forging him a rondel from pieces of Beskar donated by the covert. She places the rondel on his chain mail that Mando gifted him back in The Book of Boba Fett in another unfortunate reminder that this season technically started in a completely different show. More importantly, Grogu is slowly getting armored up — which means that cute little face will eventually get hidden beneath a helmet. Wait, no!

Meanwhile, Bo-Katan leads the hunting group to the base of the creature’s nest where they’ll camp for the night before making the climb. As they gather around the fire and food is passed around, Bo-Katan asks Mando the question on everyone’s mind, “How the hell do you eat with your helmet on?” Apparently, the answer is slink off to a corner where no one can see you take it off. I’m not even joking.

As everyone goes to hide their stupid naked faces, Paz Vizla tells Bo-Katan that as leader of the “war party” she gets the “honor” of staying by the fire to eat. Unfortunately, it’s not so much an honor, as some really lonely shit. Also, we’re reminded that Bo-Katan’s wig game is way better this season. Seriously, great job on that thing.

Now that we’ve learned how Mando eats a sandwich, it’s time to slay a space dragon. At first light, the Mandalorians begin their climb by firing grappling hooks out of their wrists because, again, this whole episode is a pulpy sci-fi comic come to life. Director Carl Weathers (That’s right, baby.) knew the assignment.

Upon reaching the nest, Mando spots a heat signature off in the corner, prompting the usually stoic Paz Vizla dives in. When a very surprised Bo-Katan and Mando ask what the heck he’s doing, that’s when Paz drops a bomb, “He’s my son.” An interesting wrinkle that we’ll come back to later. Turns out Helmet Boy’s name is Ragnar, which we learn from Paz yelling it while frantically digging through the nest. We also learn that the heat signature is not the boy, but three dragon babies who burst out of the thicket and start screeching to high heaven. Unaware of the Mandalorians hiding inside the nest, mommy dragon shows up and barfs up a still-alive Helmet Boy. But before Paz can grab him, she sees the intruder, snatches the boy in her talons, and takes off again. Not great!

Knowing full well this approach is a recipe for disaster thanks to the limited fuel in their jetpacks, the Mandalorians fly off after the dragon anyway. Using their grappling hooks and flame throwers, they do everything in their power to get the dragon to release the boy. Bo-Katan literally stabs the thing in the freaking eye, which finally does the trick. Mando snatches the kid out of the air, and it’s a pitch-perfect moment as score collides perfectly with his catch. Pure. Pulp. Goodness.


After the dragon meets a watery death thanks to one of those giant alligator creatures from the premiere, the Mandalorians return to the covert with the boy. Upon their arrival, The Armorer personally praises Bo-Katan for performing the most important function of their creed: Protecting a Foundling. Speaking of, Bo-Katan has some more to add to the mix: The three dragon babies. Again, the Game of Thrones vibes are strong.

During the fight with the dragon, Bo-Katan lost a piece of armor, so The Armorer offers to fix her up because that lady really loves melting shit. The two retreat to her workshop where Bo-Katan tries to open up about seeing a mythosaur in the Living Waters of Mandalore, but The Armorer isn’t quite following (or is being deliberately obtuse…). She thinks Bo-Katan merely had a “noble vision” of the creature, which will happen when one walks The Way. As Bo-Katan emphasizes that what she saw was real, the episode ends with her staring at a metal sculpture of the mythical beast while The Armorer returns to her work, suspiciously not blown away by news that a mythosaur is out there.

Mike Drops

— So Paz Vizla having a kid is an interesting development. I’m guessing this is purposeful because it highlights a stark difference between the Mandalorians, whose path Grogu has chosen, and the Jedi, who he told to eat a dick. The Mandalorians are allowed to bone (I’m guessing with their helmets on?) whereas the Jedi are strictly forbidden from having attachments or else you turn into a murder robot who orphans his kids. Of course, the Mandalorian’s still have the whole helmet thing going on, so I’m truly curious to see if this show has the stones to poke at not getting sucked into dogmatic belief systems.

— Speaking of the Jedi, this is almost definitely a plot contrivance to slot Grogu into Order 66, but where was he when Anakin murdered all of the Younglings? Was Grogu being kept elsewhere for a reason? More importantly, remember when George Lucas constantly talked about how Darth Vader hunted down and killed all of the Jedi, but when Revenge of the Sith came out, he literally just slaughtered a daycare then called it a day? That was some real bullshit that we don’t talk about enough.

— Finally, Tori shared this Omid Abtahi tweet, and my stupid thoughts about last week’s episode aside, this is what Star Wars is all about: Sharing these stories with people you love. It’s far too easy to get caught up in online rants about “cultural hegemony” or “selling out,” and lose sight that these are supposed to be fun little adventures that fuel the imagination of the next generation. Should we still critique them? Absolutely. But don’t lose sight of what’s important: The power of a good stor—

Oh goddammit, now I’m Game of Thrones-ing. Sonofa…