I guess the rehabilitation of Jar Jar Binks continues, although the setup for this one seems a little more tenuous than the Gungan’s previous outings. At this point, Jar Jar feels more natural to the series to me than the sore thumb he seemed to be in the earlier parts of the series and the movies. But giving him a love interest of such status and intelligence seems a little bit of s stretch to me.
If anything seeing how Jar Jar and Queen Julia first met and she ended up falling for him would be a more intriguing story I fear we’re never going to see. Because how?
Season 6, Episode 08: The Disappeared, Part I
After having so many longer storylines, going back to a shorter one is kind of refreshing. We’re introduced to the Bardottan people, a race of inherently force sensitive aliens that want little to do with the ways of either the Jedi or the Sith. In fact, they seem to inherently distrust the Jedi due to their whole kidnapping of children to take into the order to train as Jedi. Their words, not mine. Although as this series reaches its conclusion, I’ve lost some amount of respect and patience for this iteration of the Order and how they operate.
Being a neutral planet, the Bardottan Queen pleads with the Senate for help, but will only accept the help of a single person: Naboo Representative Jar Jar Binks. Knowing full well that Jar Jar would be well over his head if he were to go alone, Mace Windu volunteers himself to accompany the Gungan in putting the matter to bed.
The early parts of the episode show that there is some kind of romantic relationship between Jar Jar and Queen Julia, a state of affairs I desperately want to know how it came about. The only answer we ever get is that she might be attracted to the childlike naivety of Jar Jar’s mind. Either way, all the people of the planet are aggressively distrustful of Mace and seem to hang onto Jar Jar’s every world. Despite the fact that he is obviously an idiot.
Things take a turn when the queen mysteriously vanishes right from under her armed guard. We learn of a dark cult and a prophecy that could lead to darkness for the entire galaxy if they sacrifice her like the visions claim. And seeing as how these duck people are all connected to the force, there must be some truth to them.
Bumbling their way into a dark temple beneath the royal palace, Jar Jar and Mace fight off the masked cultists who are using some kind of green orb to extract the living force right out of the people they’ve already captured. At this point, I felt there was something familiar about the artefact they were using and felt it seemed to have some kind of visual connection to a certain other force using cult, separate from both the Jedi and the Sith.
A similarity that, as it turns out, was no accident on the part of the writers.
Season 6, Episode 09: The Disappeared, Part II
While the cultists escape with the unconscious Queen Julia to one of the planet’s orbiting bodies, both Jar Jar and Mace give chase. Making their way through the settlement on the moon, hot on the heels of the very conspicuous looking cultists as they fight their way through the marketplace.
Jar Jar seeming to bounce back and forth between helping and hindering his stoic Jedi companion. In all seriousness though, the Jar Jar of this episode, for all his typically characteristic bumbling, is doing his best to face any fears he might have and continue pursing and fighting the cultists who have captured his “Queenie”. So much so that he honest to God fights off people, intentionally. Not doing it through simple bumbling and dumb luck like he normally does.
He lands a great sucker punch on one guy and then clotheslines him into the ground for good measure. I mean, I’m sure Mace could have handled all this one his own eventually, but seeing Jar Jar being active in the pursuit and the fight was good. And Mace giving him (somewhat condescending) praise for doing so felt good. Having Jar Jar existing as a being of pure Magoobian good fortune really did make him feel like he existed in a different world than the rest of the rather serious characters around him.
Something that would have been even more apparent around Mace Windu, whose stoic nature is almost statuesque.
My observation about the cultist sphere looking somewhat familiar was apparently no accident on the part of the creators, and the the “great mother” the keep referring to is indeed the Night Sister leader, Mother Talzin. In what proves to be her final appearance in the animated series before she meets her final end in the Son of Dathomir comic book series.
The prophecies told by the Bardottan people seemed to have been real, as if Talzin can consume the Queen’s living force energy in some Indiana Jones looking temple contraption, she would become a great threat to the galaxy, one even the Jedi and the Sith would both fear. So one on the par of “Son” or Abeloth.
Thankfully, she never gets the opportunity thanks to combined efforts of both Jar Jar and Mace Windu, who thwart her plans and leave her to flee. The result all tying up nicely as Queen Julia thanks her beloved Jar Jar and finally puts her people’s distrust of the Jedi to bed.
This was a nice, short, no-nonsense story. The kind of quick and easy storyline I feel like I haven’t seen in ages as the series started to lean into heavier, four-part story arcs for a good long while.
This marks Jar Jar Binks’s final appearance in the Clone Wars. Way back during the early stages of this series, I talked about how the Clone Wars ended up being something of a redemption for the Prequels, taking some of the more controversial aspects of those movies and recontextualizing them to make them feel like they sat better within the continuity.
There’s no doubt that it turned Anakin Skywalker from a contentious figure into a much loved character. And no character benefitted from the the series more than Jar Jar. While the series never made moved to alter his character, it made him less of a bumbling, oafish stereotype. Instead it made him a simple, yet kind-hearted being whose unshaking belief in his friends made him somewhat more heroic in many aspects.
This final appearance of him shows Jar Jar as the best he’s ever been throughout the series. As I mentioned while talking about the episodes themselves, it’s the most proactive he’s been in helping the heroes achieve their goal, rather than simply bumbling his way to success almost as if by accident. If anything, he takes the lead in this episode, holding his own to an extent that been Mace allows him to take the lead in certain moments.
While Jar Jar has been much reviled by the fanbase since the prequels, becoming the face of everything wrong with then, I feel like the Clone Wars has more than redeemed the character and made him feel like a natural part of the franchise. I only wish we ever get to see any real conclusion to his story. While the novel Empire’s End did detail how Jar Jar spent the remainder of his days as a pariah, his unwavering kindness to everyone he meets makes him a far more tragic figure than anyone would dare to say.
So long Jar Jar, you didn’t deserve the hate you suffered.