So much of Star Wars storytelling hinges on the fact that every ludicrous bit of imagination derived from George Lucas’ original 1977 film — the Jedi order, the Galactic Empire, swashbuckling rogues, beep-booping droids, cuddly Ewoks, a family of bloated slithering worm gangsters, religious zealots who express their faith through armor, jizz music — exists in the same cramped galaxy far, far away. Whether intertwined with the core “Skywalker Saga” narrative or adrift in the Outer Rim, Star Wars films, series, books, and games inevitably brush against the lore of the past and turns seasoned viewers into the Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood meme. This goes beyond Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary deep cuts and Knights of the Old Republic Easter eggs; Lucas’ world is so alive with history that a prestige-chasing series like Obi-Wan Kenobi will be forced, by world-building history and circumstance, to have a scene where the droids from the polarizing Attack of the Clones must show up.
With Andor, Lucasfilm’s two-season Rogue One prequel on Disney Plus, creator Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) sought to obscure the Star Wars-ness in his gritty character-forward thriller, sprinkling in connections and iconography only when necessary.
“The initial briefs for Andor that we got from Tony were [about] wanting the audience to feel immersed in the environment, wanting things to feel grounded and real, as though they’re in any other city,” TJ Falls, production VFX producer, told Polygon earlier this month in a feature on Andor’s movie-worthy prison trilogy. “So for us, it was about how we brought Star Wars into a show without it being so specifically gratuitous in terms of Star Wars effects.”
But when Andor gets a bit gratuitous, like the scene in episode 10 when a Cantwell-class Arrestor Cruiser (from Solo!) unleashes a wave of classic TIE fighters, the mind can’t help but wander. Andor takes place in 5 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin, as seen in the ’77 movie), which is just a few years after Obi-Wan rescued Kid Princess Leia from Inquisitors using his revived Jedi superpowers, and right around the time Ezra Bridger of Star Wars Rebels fame joins ex-Jedi Kanan on his freedom fighter missions. The world is alive! And most importantly, so is Jar Jar Binks.
So where is Jar Jar during Andor? The post-Disney canon doesn’t provide Binks fans (or “JarJarheads”) with many details but we do know he’s alive. In Revenge of the Sith, Jar Jar is still working as a senator from Naboo, and was right in the thick of the political headbutting with Chancellor Palpatine. In a scene from Sith’s novelization (that was reportedly in the movie but cut by Lucas), Jar Jar and several other senators issued “Petition of 2,000” to Palpatine, urging the politician to relinquish special powers granted during the Clone Wars. That didn’t happen — in fact, Palpatine went full force-douche and started the Galactic Empire instead. Jar Jar’s last appearance was by the side of Queen Amidala during her funeral.
Like Mon Mothma and many senators of the prequel era, Jar Jar may still be hanging around the Galactic Senate, hoping to ex-squeeze his way into whatever legitimate discussions may still exist. But as we know from Mon’s exploits in Andor, there isn’t much point; the Empire is in full control, and the senate is all for show. Sadly, for JarJarheads, none of Andor’s many scenes featuring Coruscant’s political sect mingling with the space illiterati feature a gungan caught between established order and liberal beliefs. Getting your head jolted by two podracer energy binders hurts, but picking your alliances in a post-Republic galaxy probably really stings!
And as author Chuck Wendig established in his canonical 2017 novel Aftermath: Empire’s End, which chronicles the events immediately following the Battle of Endor into the Battle of Jakku, it did. In one of the main plot’s interludes, Wendig catches up with Jar Jar back on Naboo. The gungan has been ostracized by his people, but finds solace in clowning around in the streets with refugee children. What started as a goof for Wendig became a redefining moment for the character; as many deep-nerd Star Wars fans have admitted since the book’s release, it’s hard to hate a character ripped in two by political strife who spends his final days entertaining the stranded children of war.
I admit that Jar Jar’s arc doesn’t have much to do with the shocking, thrilling events playing out in Andor, but (1) I will stop at nothing to make The Mandalorian devotees who live for Luke Skywalker cameos to give this fantastic mythology-averse show a chance, and (2) the fact that my mind wandered to “where is Jar Jar Binks in all of this?” feels like an answer to a never-ending question that has plagued fans and Lucasfilm: “what makes a Star Wars a Star Wars?”
Andor is a “serious” alternative to shows like Obi-Wan and EU comic book enterprises that exist to give classic characters another due, but also a romp full of snot nets and EDM planets. And what makes it Star Wars is its consideration of the past, present, and future. Lucas wanted the ’77 Star Wars to feel lived in, and even though there was only one story at that time, scrappy machinery and allusions to the Clone Wars created the full picture. Andor does this, too, with every side mention of “Palpatine” and worker lines creating nondescript Empire parts for vehicles we know are laying waste elsewhere in the (storytelling) universe. Seeing a Naboo head crest in Luthen’s store never dings as an Easter egg in Andor, but an obvious point of intersection for a functional space society.
Naboo... right... it exists... which means... the gungans are out there... which means... Jar Jar... where are you, Jar Jar...
Maybe Jar Jar Binks will crashded da heyblibber into Cassian Andor’s life in Andor season 2, but I am not counting on it. The fact that is entirely possible is the point, and the enduring joy, of this universe. Jar Jar is out there, god bless him.