The recent announcement of the STAR WARS REBELS animated series, set between Episodes III and IV, has presented a plethora of possibilities for exploring elements of the STAR WARS mythos both original, and previously established. As we wait for the series to premiere in the fall of 2014, ApexFan explores some of those possibilities in a feature we call Rebel Dreams.
In this installment of Rebel Dreams, we take a look at the possibility of a Jar Jar Binks appearance in STAR WARS REBELS and express our hopes for the character.
Jar Jar Binks is the most reviled name in STAR WARS history. He is a polarizing figure that for many STAR WARS fans embodies all that is wrong with the prequel films. He’s been criticized as being everything from an annoying racist caricature to a cartoon whose only purpose is to sell toys to children.
While I certainly understand and even agree with some of these criticisms, I’ve never felt or understood the vehement level of almost primal hate that a lot of my fellow STAR WARS fans have for him. When you look beyond the comic relief of his pidgin speech, inherent clumsiness, and numerous poop jokes, you’ll find that the tale of Mr. Binks is actually a rather tragic one about the exploitation and death of innocence. The post Episode III, pre Episode IV setting of STAR WARS REBELS presents the perfect opportunity for its creative team to definitively end Jar Jar’s story in redemptive and emotional fashion.
In STAR WARS: EPISODE I- THE PHANTOM MENACE, Jar Jar Binks is presented in a very childlike and simple manner, to say the least. He’s in over his head throughout the film and doesn’t understand most of the larger implications of the events surrounding him. Despite all of this, or maybe even because of it, his inherent desire to do good is constantly on display. Indeed, many of the messes he gets himself into are the result of his trying to help his friends.
In a film that has to rely on many muted performances, Jar Jar’s boundless enthusiasm and short attention span (a byproduct of his innocence) is overwhelming. This only serves to further intensify our perceptions of him as an annoyance, much like the only child in a room full of adults who wants to discuss cartoons while the adults discuss more weighty issues. Witness the placement of Jar Jar with Anakin Skywalker during the scene in which Palpatine and Amidala consider the crisis on Naboo. The kids wait outside.
By the time of STAR WARS: EPISODE II- ATTACK OF THE CLONES, Jar Jar has earned a seat at the grownups table and is a junior member of the Galactic Senate, where he proposes granting emergency powers to Palpatine. This too is borne of Jar Jar’s innocence and desire to contribute to the greater good. Palpatine’s expert exploitation of that desire manipulates Jar Jar and results in what for him must feel like his finest moment. The Senate applauds him and we see his pride in doing the right thing and having the courage to take action when the rest of the Senate wouldn’t. In that moment, Jar Jar Binks has saved the Republic.
And therein lies the tragedy. Jar Jar’s finest moment leads to the galaxy’s darkest times. Our final image of Jar Jar is one of defeat, as he pays tribute to Amidala during her funeral procession at the end of STAR WARS: EPISODE III- REVENGE OF THE SITH. Amidala was the person who believed in Jar Jar’s inherent goodness when he was an outcast, and now his actions have contributed to her death as well as the Republic’s. Episode III’s Jar Jar Binks is far removed from the Jar Jar Binks of Episode I.
That’s the Jar Jar Binks I want to see in STAR WARS REBELS. A beleaguered man seeking redemption in a galaxy struggling under the weight of a tyranny he helped bring about. I’m not asking for him to be a main or even recurring character, I just want one three episode arc. And I believe having him pay the ultimate price in pursuit of his absolution at the end of that arc will only elevate his character and add more poignancy to the misunderstood Gungan.
If Dave Filoni and company can bring me to the brink of tears at the resignation of a spunky little Jedi padawan with a penchant for nicknames who I hated only five years ago, surely they can craft an equally emotional ending to the story of Mr. Jar Jar Binks.