Subtitle: I have complicated feelings about Jar Jar
Given the Netflix summary “Jar Jar and Threepio work together to save Padmé” I went into this episode with trepidation. And within five seconds Jar Jar had Padmé’s ship in a tailspin.
Jar Jar is a walking disaster. That’s his entire character. The whole of the prequel trilogy is people making wrong choices but ninety percent of what Jar Jar does is without intent. He just … wanders into trouble.
He also just wanders into success. Which is exactly what happens in this episode. And thus it adds nothing to Jar Jar’s story or character.
It’s annoying because I actually want to know more about Jar Jar. I want to like him!
Jar Jar is clearly not representative of the Gungun species or culture — when we first meet him, he’s been evicted from their society! And while he ends up rewarded for his actions, he’s still very clearly Jar Jar the walking disaster— but he ends up as their Representative in the Republic.
Did he parlay his military prowess into the appointment? Did Padmé suggest him, or even appoint him herself? Or did Palpatine as part of his nefarious plotting? Did the Gungun council select Jar Jar because he has a personal relationship with the Naboo and the Jedi? Or maybe just to get rid of him?
I would love to see Jar Jar interacting with other Gunguns and with other members of Republic political sphere. I want to know who he is separate from Padmé, with whom he has a vaguely symbiotic loyalty, and Palpatine, the master manipulator, around whom everyone’s choices are suspect. I get none of that in this episode.
But on the other hand, Padmé gets to be awesome. I am already quite over the recurring ‘Padmé gets herself captured’ plot but at least here there is history — Nute Gunray has been after Padmé since she was the child queen who thwarted him. She escapes, saves Threepio (this is also recurring but just because Padmé is good at getting herself out of trouble doesn’t mean her purpose is to be in trouble, mmmkay), and then Jar Jar, too.
We also get Padmé backstory which I am ALL ABOUT. Padmé calls the leader of Rodia “Uncle” because he was a friend of her father’s she’d met as a little girl. I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT PADMÉ’S FATHER AND FAMILY AND CHILDHOOD AND… but I digress. Uncle Ono betrays Padmé, handing her over to Gunray, because the Republic has failed to provide for his people and the Separatists promised supplies. I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT REPUBLIC POLITICS AND THE REPUBLIC’S FAILURES AND I WOULD LOVE TO SEE A CHART OF THE INCOME INEQUALITY BETWEEN CORUSCANT AND THE OUTER RIM AND… oops, sorry again.
So Jar Jar is mistaken as a Jedi because he puts on a Jedi cloak that just happened to be in Padmé’s closet. Threepio claims to not know whose it is and I can’t decide if he’s covering for Anakin or is just confused/clueless/Threepio. Not that it’s important, I am just very invested in their relationship and who knows what when and how the droids interact with… well, at least I didn’t capslock that time?
Jar Jar the Not Jedi makes friends with a giant sea monster who lives under the planet (so, Uncle Oro and Papa Naberrie bonded over their underwater populations? These are the things I want to talk about) and he and his new bestie arrive just in time to thwart Gunray’s plan to (re)capture Padmé. After witnessing all the betrayal and destruction that comes along with the Separatists Uncle Oro rejoins the Republic. Nute is arrested and Jar Jar is a mostly accidental hero again. It wasn’t a terrible episode but it’s one I never need to see again.