An Absolutely Iconic Star Wars Figure Helps Grogu in 'The Mandalorian'
The following story contains light spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 3, Episode 4 "The Foundling."
SEASON 3 of The Mandalorian has been all about reclamation. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been (rightfully) maligned in the years since it's release, but The Mandalorian has worked hard to bring back characters people actually liked from it (Babu Frik and the Anzellans) and potentially answer what the "somehow" in "somehow Palpatine returned" really means after all. The Star Wars prequel trilogy hasn't needed much help being reclaimed in recent years—the support is so strong that Hayden Christensen's return in Obi-Wan Kenobi came with much excitement and was widely praised—but one of the most polarizing figure of that era gets a true moment to shine in The Mandalorian's Season 3, Episode 4, titled "The Foundling."
While much of "The Foundling" is spent on a side quest story to rescue one Mandalorian foundling—Paz Viszla's son—the more substantial part of the episode is spent exploring the backstory of another foundling, our dear sweet Grogu, of course colloquially known as Baby Yoda.
As The Armorer makes Grogu a rondel from the Beskar of other Mandalorians (part of a foundling ritual), Grogu reflects on his past—particularly, how he escaped from Order 66. Before we get any further, we should clarify that this timing 100% checks out; Grogu was 50 years old when we first met him in the first episode of The Mandalorian, which takes place only a couple years after the end of Return of the Jedi. And we know A New Hope takes place only around 17 years after Revenge of the Sith, when Order 66 was called. So this flashback to Order 66 sends us back around 25ish years in the past, to when Grogu was a youthful late 20s.
Grogu's flashback begins with our adorable sweet baby being protected by some Jedis as the Clone Troopers burst in, shooting at everyone; there are calls to make sure Grogu gets to Telleran, who can get him to safety. And before long, Grogu gets to Telleran—and we see someone who may not be such a familiar face to Star Wars fans, but has been a part of their lives for more than 20 years.
Ahmed Best, who plays Jedi Telleran Beq, is known for playing Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequels
We quickly see that Telleran is a badass Jedi, capable of dual wielding lightsabers, fighting off essentially an army of clone troopers on his own, flying a speeder across Coruscant with a busted engine, and getting Grogu to safety. He's also just a charismatic dude—Obi-Wan tends to kind of be a grump, maybe if Telleran trained Anakin things would've gone a little different.
But what Star Wars fans may not realize is that actor Ahmed Best, who plays Telleran, was first in the Star Wars universe as a different character: the one and only Jar Jar Binks. He played Jar Jar not only in the prequels, but also in the animated Clone Wars TV series.
"Gratitude! Good to be back. There is so much to say and share," he wrote in an Instagram post regarding his The Mandalorian appearance. "It’s going to take a couple of days. But, for now, I’ll just say thank you to all that have held me up and made me better."
Seeing Best happy and embraced in his return to the franchise is an wonderful turn of events; his portrayal of Jar Jar was met with much criticism upon initial release, and that turned into years of toxic hate from the fanbase and others. “There was just so much hate and anger and venom directed at me, and I took it personally," he said back in 2019 about his experience. "I put a lot of me into that work, and if you talk to any artist who really cares about their work, you’re talking about them."
Best was also open about his experience with racist harassment he got ("I was called every racial stereotype you can imagine") and revealed that he even contemplated suicide: "I felt tired of having to explain myself. I felt tired of having to defend myself and defend my work. I felt tired of having to fight back against racism and the racial stereotypes. I just wanted to play a part. I was exhausted."
You can watch Best's video discussing all of this below:
Ahmed Best also plays Telleran Beq elsewhere in the Star Wars universe
While The Mandalorian's "The Foundling" episode was the first canon appearance for Best's Telleran Beq character, it's not the first time he put on the Jedi robes. Back in 2020, he began playing Telleran Beq in Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, a Legends of the Hidden Temple-esque game show that aired on the Star Wars Kids YouTube channel.
This is fun for a number of reasons: a) Star Wars doesn't forget anyone in their universe, whether they're maligned prequel characters, or hosts of game shows and b) it shows that game show hosts can, indeed be badass when given the opportunity.
So when do we get to see Ken Jennings with a lightsaber?
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