Jar Jar Binks is one of the most polarizing characters in Star Wars, but an episode of The Clone Wars made him and the Gungans secretly tragic.
Jar Jar Binks and the Gungans are often reduced to a punchline, but an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars added a layer of sadness to the character. Jar Jar Binks debuted in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and was created with the aim of bringing comedic relief to the film. However, it turned terribly against him. Jar Jar’s array of burlesque and bodily function-based humor was among the most criticized elements of The phantom menace at its output. The backlash was so intense that Jar Jar’s role was diminished in subsequent episodes of the prequel saga, and he only got a non-speaking role in Revenge of the Sith. Nevertheless, the damage was done; Jar Jar Binks would be continually being cited as one of the main reasons critics didn’t like the prequels as a whole.
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When Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiered in 2008, it was tasked with telling an enjoyable story between two of the prequels. The characters and parameters he would use already had negative connotations for much of Star wars‘established a fan base, and remedying these associations would not be easy. So it was an unusual choice for The clone wars do not follow Revenge of the Siththe strategy of its most polarizing actor possible. Surprisingly, this gave Jar Jar Binks a semi-recurring role and even made him a central player in some storylines.
One such Gungan-centric arc covered episodes 2 and 3 of The clone wars season 4, “Gungan Attack” and “Prisoners”. It featured some of Jar Jar’s most heroic moments, as he led the Gungan charge in all-out war between aquatic species. At the same time, however, he offered an unfortunate reason for his erratic behavior. As an amphibious creature on land, Jar Jar was, quite literally, a fish out of water – a fact he had little empathy for.
“Gungan Attack” and “Prisoners” tell the story of an attempted separatist attack on the Mon Calamari system, and the Jedi’s efforts to stop it. The Karkarodon Riff Tamson has caused a civil war between the Quarrens and the Mon Calamari. The Mon Calamari were overwhelmed by Quarren forces, but the Republic was unable to deploy their own Clone Troopers to the planet in time. Obi-Wan Kenobi suggested calling the Gungans, who lived in watery pockets of the Earth planet of Naboo despite their amphibious nature. Jar Jar Binks urged Gungan’s High Council to send their troops and followed Gungan’s Grand Army to Mon Cala. There the Gungans fought bravely on the underwater planet.
During the battle, the Gungans – and Jar Jar in particular – moved with an agility almost out of character that showed how well adapted they were to water. After being cast out from Otoh Gunga, Jar Jar was known for his clumsiness on earth, suggesting his kind was just not meant to spend so much time there. Jar Jar’s exile from his underwater world may have affected his coordination and cognition, leading to the bizarre personality that caused so many eye rolls. Jar Jar Binks’ awkward demeanor may not have been inherent in the character, it was just the best he could do at the time, and he might have been capable of more if he had had the opportunity. In retrospect, this made his banishment and the other characters’ boredom with him somewhat tragic. However, redeeming the Gungans is only one Star Wars: The Clone Wars‘many strides towards repairing the legacy of the prequels through its strong writing and fleshed out characters.
Next: What Happened To Jar Jar Binks After The Prequels?
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