Back in 2015, an elaborate fan theory from a Reddit user named “Lumpawarroo” began making the rounds with its initially risible, then increasingly convincing argument that Jar Jar Binks—the mocking manifestation of all your years of serious devotion to a fantasy for kids—was a secret Sith lord all along. The theory offers some surprisingly persuasive evidence for the goofball Gungan as a Force-wielding mole, whose seeming dumb luck on the battlefield, baffling political sway, and general, irritatingly illogical presence at so many pivotal moments in the saga wasn’t just a means of moving some Jar Jar toothbrushes, but rather, a tip-off that he was manipulating these events undetected—the true Phantom Menace of the title. It concludes by arguing that George Lucas, who repeatedly referred to Jar Jar as “the key to all of this,” even intended to reveal this in the prequels, but chickened out over the intense hatred Jar Jar garnered. It also suggests that Disney’s new trilogy might finish what Lucas never could by bringing Jar Jar back, now fully unmasked as a powerful Sith lord, thus redeeming his entire arc (and the much-maligned prequels). It’s an intriguing hypothesis, and for once, it had people looking at Jar Jar with something besides utter disdain.
It’s also never going to happen. As excerpted by Mashable, Chuck Wendig’s new novel Aftermath: Empire’s End—part of the new, official, Disney-approved Star Wars canon—will finally answer the question of Jar Jar Binks’ fate by divulging that he washed up as a pitiful, despised, literal clown back on Naboo, where he does pratfalls for the amusement of little kids while the adults do their damnedest to ignore him. Besides being a sly commentary on the character’s general reception, the scene seems to confirm that Jar Jar’s actions weren’t a masterful act of subterfuge. Rather, Jar Jar really is a blundering idiot, and now everybody hates him for it:
A refugee boy named Mapo encounters a Gungan performing for kids on the streets, clowning around in a fountain twice a day while being studiously avoided by the grown-ups.
“Meesa Jar Jar,” says the clown when Mapo introduces himself.
The clown distracts the orphan from his own sadness by popping his eyes and bulging his cheeks, but is hiding a sadness of his own.
“Jar Jar makin some uh-oh mistakens,” the Gungan says, explaining why he isn’t wanted anywhere either. “Desa hisen Naboo tink I help the uh-oh Empire.” He stares into the distance, suggesting he knows more than he’s saying.
Of course, you could argue that it’s all another deception—that this little Eugene O’Neill vignette is meant to further disarm us as a set-up for Jar Jar’s unmasking as something far more sinister than a street clown. But taken at face value (and assuming no one involved with the revived franchise wants to gamble on bringing back its most-reviled character), Jar Jar’s official story seems to end here, with this erstwhile “key to it all” now exiled and shunned, consigned to fall on his ass forever for the derisive laughter of children while being ravaged by guilt for what he’s done. Even for those who harbor some sympathy for the character, it’s a fitting conclusion, one that should force even those who despise him to feel the slightest twinge of compassion. Or you just feel cathartic joy knowing that the annoying, bumbling dipshit who ruined everything got exactly what he had coming to him. Either way, it works.