‘The Mandalorian’ offers a key flashback – and an unexpected cameo

After the previous week’s extended detour into the dysfunction of the New Republic, “The Mandalorian” returned to more conventional pursuits, like an aerial battle to save a Mandalorian child from a giant winged monster.

But the fourth episode, “The Foundling,” was actually defined by a flashback, one that featured a rather special cameo.

After many questions about his origins, Grogu, a.k.a. Baby Yoda, flashed back to his perilous escape from the Jedi Temple, as a Jedi bravely rescued him from the invading Imperial stormtroopers when Order 66 was implemented.

That Jedi was played by Ahmed Best, who occupies a complicated place in “Star Wars” lore as the voice of Jar Jar Binks, the comic-relief character that everyone seemed to love hating in director George Lucas’ second (and in the “Star Wars” timeline, first) film trilogy, beginning with “The Phantom Menace.”

In a 2018 social-media post, Best referenced the “media backlash” that he had faced early in his career (without specifically naming “Star Wars”) and alluded to having experienced suicidal thoughts. Fans who recognized him immediately responded to the casting when the episode went live on Disney+.

Other than that nostalgic callback, “The Foundling” largely dealt with Mandalore’s warrior culture, while addressing one of the logistical mysteries associated with its customs – namely, how Mandalorians eat without violating their code about removing their helmet in front of others.

The Baby Grogu sequence, meanwhile, at least temporarily returned some of the focus to that character, who has occupied a less central role after his fate and future drove the narrative during the show’s first two seasons.

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