Ahmed Best made a surprise appearance in this week’s episode of “The Mandalorian” (“Chapter 20: The Foundling” for those keeping track at home). But if you were thinking that Best would make a return as Jar-Jar Binks, the character he immortalized in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” think again.
To explain: while the main story in the episode involved a bunch of Mandalorian fighters trying to bring a child back from the clutches of a large, dragon-like creature, much of the secondary plot was devoted to a lengthy flashback of Grogu escaping the Jedi Temple on Coruscant after Order 66 has been delivered. That means plenty of Clone Troopers gunning down plenty of Jedi, young and old. And this is where Best emerged.
He’s officially credited as Kelleran Beq, a Jedi on Coruscant who helps Grogu escape. They go on a high-speed adventure through Coruscant, take out some Clone Troopers, and, towards the end of the sequence, escape in a ship, blasting away from the planet and towards (relative?) safety.
And you know what? Best is really great. He’s commanding and assured and even though only hard-core nerds will even make the connection between Kelleran Beq and Jar Jar Binks, it feels nice that Best has been given a new opportunity in the “Star Wars” galaxy. Best has openly talked about the scorn and ridicule he faced after the release of “The Phantom Menace” and how much of that he internalized negatively. (He did show up, briefly, in the other two prequels but as a glorified background character and not one of the leads.) Canonically, the character remained on Coruscant and was a beggar/clown who delighted children but who was looked down upon by adults, who felt that he aided the rise of the Empire.
What’s more is that the character is very much alive at the end of the episode and there is a lot of time between the events of this episode and the beginning of “The Mandalorian,” when the title character (Pedro Pascal) is tasked with retrieving the character we now know as Grogu, for an evil, Empire-connected figure. In other words: we haven’t seen the last of Kelleran Beq (or Ahmed Best). And that is a very good thing.