The fate of one of the “Star Wars” saga’s most divisive characters as at last been revealed.
The upcoming novel “Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End,” by Chuck Wendig, finally puts to rest one of the sci-fi franchise’s burning questions: What ever happened to Jar Jar Binks?
In case you’ve managed to block him from memory, Jar Jar was introduced in 1999’s “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” as a well-meaning but accident-prone Gungan who befriended Ob-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn on Naboo. Played by Ahmed Best, he was the first fully CGI central character in a “Star Wars” film. He was also almost universally reviled by audiences and critics alike.
His general inability to connect with viewers didn’t keep Jar Jar from going on to great things, however. After rousing a small rebel band to defeat a Trade Federation army in “The Phantom Menace,” he went on to become a delegate in the Galactic Senate in “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.” By the time “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” came around, Jar Jar had been relegated to being seen, not heard. He had one brief scene and a throwaway line, but since then the character has yet to reemerge in the official canon. Until now.
Wendig’s novel, the third in a series that bridges the gap between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens,” raises the sleeping Gungan from his canonical slumber in an interlude chapter that pokes into the recesses of a galaxy shaken by the fall the Empire. Warning: Spoilers.
The chapter follows a young boy named Mapo walking down a Naboo city street when he happens upon a street performer. The boy introduces himself to the performer, who responds, “Meesa Jar Jar.” Jar Jar then explains his current predicament, noting that he’s made some mistakes along the way and is paying the price. One such mistake is effectively handing unlimited power over to the future Emperor Palpatine without first consulting his senator.
Now, Jar Jar truly inhabits his comic-relief role; he has returned to Naboo and performs for gaggles of refugee children. For some readers it will be just deserts for a particularly reviled character, while for others it may be viewed as a bit too much. Here’s how the children see him, and how adults don’t:
The clown, they called him “Bring the clown. We want to see the clown. We like it how he juggles glombo shells, or spits fish up in the air and catches them, or how he dances around and falls on his butt.”
The adults, though. They don’t say much about him. Or to him. And no other Gungans come to see him, either. Nobody even says his name.
The chapter ends with Mapo interested in becoming a clown, but no greater closure than that. As it turns out, the intervening years between the two films has been a dark, chaotic time for everyone. Even the usually jovial Jar Jar Binks.
“Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End” goes on sale Feb. 21.