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1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+

Why is Jar Jar in Episode I?

We ran a poll recently here at Tf.n, asking what people thought of the new all-digital character of Jar Jar Binks. After taking a look at the final tally of that poll, it's clear the anti-Jar-Jar faction edged out the believers and casual fans.

Remember, there were many people who hated Jar-Jar Binks before the film had even come out. Sure, he sounded great in concept, but then the photos started leaking out on the Internet. "How did Lucas get from Chewbacca to Jar-Jar?!" - - surely it was wondered by quite a few fans. If he didn't work, the film would suffer greatly.

There was no way we were going to like this guy.

Then came the 12:01 showing of TPM on the 19th. And many people loved him! Not just some, but most everyone in the theater thought that Jar-Jar was one of the best spots of the movie. Many thought he added the "whimsy" that is the hallmark of the SW movies. As unrealistic as the character is, he makes the movies more "realistic", if they can be that in the least.

But there's still a lot of people out there who despise Jar-Jar Binks, for one reason or another. A lot of fans are wondering why Lucas put this Gungan degenerate in the movie in the first place. But they're forgetting that Jar-Jar is a character who appeals to children, and the child in all of us... and one way or another, we're going to come to like this guy! We have to...that's all part of the plan. He's meant to be adored, and not like Ewoks - we're supposed to have a real attachment to Jar-Jar Binks.

Which leads to this possible theory. There's a definite reason why Jar-Jar Binks is in the prequels. It has everything to do with Anakin's conversion to the Dark Side. And Anton Chekov.

Chekov, who we remember as the great Russian playwright, had one great rule of drama. It went something like this: "If a gun is to be fired in Act 3, it must be shown on the wall in Act 1. If a gun is shown mounted on the wall in Act 1, it must be fired by Act 3." This is a great way to express the concept of dramatic setup.

We all know Anakin and Jar-Jar have begun a friendship. No doubt that in the years following TPM, that friendship will grow tremendously. And in the years to come, both Anakin and Jar-Jar will change: they will grow up, they will mature. They will also find themselves being pulled from one extreme to another. In their own ways, both Anakin and Jar-Jar are the embodiment of childlike innocence: Anakin is ever hopeful, Jar-Jar is ever persistent. They both have no lack of enthusiasm. They have found the same circle of loving friends. They are the absolute last people in the SW movies we are going to come to expect to betray one to another.

Which is why Jar-Jar is needed right now. In TPM, Lucas mounted a lot of guns on the wall... just waiting for the right time to pull all the triggers. Jar-Jar Binks is one such trigger.

The rest of course, is speculation, but hear it out. You see, when Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, he is going to proceed to wipe out most of the Jedi. He will probably kill a lot of other people in the process. These will be but statistics. They will not be the reason why we are going to be booing his appearance in Episode 4. No, if we are going to absolutely, utterly hate Vader, we're going to need a darn good reason to do so. There has to be one, and ONLY one, outright irredeemable act that Anakin/Vader will commit, that will set every heart against him forever. That reason is Jar-Jar Binks.

Sometime in Episode 3, amidst all the betrayals that will be taking place in the collapsing galaxy, this will be the one that will send little children crying into their mothers' bosoms. Anakin Skywalker, now turned to the Dark Side, betrays his old friend Jar-Jar Binks and murders him in the most cold-blooded, most heinous way that Lucas' compunctions and ILM-effects can get away with on the big screen.

Lucas said back in '94 that the big theme we would see in the prequels would be that of betrayal. That we wouldn't know who was the good guys and who was the bad guys sometimes. That friendships would be destroyed. The Anakin/Jar-Jar relationship will become the worst of these dramatic betrayals.

Next time you see Jar-Jar Binks, laugh at him. Come to love him. Then weep for him. For all his innocence, he may have the most terrible fate of all when this part of the story is complete.

by Chris Knight and Joshua Griffin
June 18th, 1999

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