An Old ‘Star Wars’ Friend Becomes a New Jedi Hero in ‘The Mandalorian’
Ahmed Best returned to Star Wars in the best way possible.
The Mandalorian season 3 has held many surprises thus far, but the return of one actor in particular was a triumphant cameo for the ages.
During The Mandalorian episode 4, “The Foundling,” Grogu has an extended flashback showing how he escaped the Jedi Temple during Order 66. After many Jedi Knights were killed while protecting him, one Master managed to take out multiple clones and get Grogu out of the Temple and off of Coruscant. That Jedi Master’s name is Kelleran Beq, played by Ahmed Best, who longtime Star Wars fans will recognize as the actor behind another prequels character: Jar Jar Binks.
Ahmed Best is the best
Ahmed Best was one of the first actors of color in a prominent Star Wars role, playing Jar Jar Binks in all three Star Wars prequel movies. He faced a lot of criticism for the role, including racist harassment. In many ways, he was the predecessor of John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran, serving as a litmus test for the toxicity of Star Wars fans. Despite the harassment, Best has maintained ties to the franchise, reprising his role in everything from The Clone Wars to Robot Chicken, appearing in many documentaries, and hosting the Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge game show.
When you look at his career, it’s hard to argue that Best has returned to a franchise he never truly left; despite the hatred and vitriol he received, he truly put his all into the character and Star Wars, all while acknowledging the toll it took on him.
Still, it’s wonderful to see him rewarded for his patience and positivity, getting to play a powerful Jedi Master who dual-wields lightsabers and has arguably one of the best chase scenes in recent Star Wars. I think it’s also notable that this episode was directed by Carl Weathers, who is only the second Black man to direct Star Wars.
Who is Kelleran Beq?
The funny thing about Kelleran Beq is that it is also the name of Ahmed Best’s character on the Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge game show. On the show, he guides padawans as they go through their Jedi Trials. While you don’t need to have seen the show to understand his character, it’s a fun easter egg and it reminds us of Best’s contributions to the franchise.
Another interesting thing about Kelleran Beq in The Mandalorian is that he escapes with the help of Royal Naboo Security Forces, who he calls his friends. This is likely a reference to Jar Jar Binks, who was a representative for Naboo during the Clone Wars. Jar Jar Binks was shown traveling with Padme Amidala in a ship like the one in which Kelleran Beq escapes.
It’s hard to say whether we’ll see more of this character (very few Jedi survived the events of the Original Trilogy, and Grogu ended up in the Empire’s hands somehow), but I am definitely open to it.
There’s a joke in the Star Wars fandom that Dave Filoni (creator of The Clone Wars and producer on The Mandalorian) will find a way to depict Order 66 in every Star Wars property he has a hand in. But honestly, I can’t bring myself to mind if it gives us wonderfully triumphant scenes like these.
(featured image: Disney+)
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