Attack of the Clones,  Prequel Trilogy

Syfy Wire explains why Dexter Jettster is one of the most crucial characters in Star Wars

dexter.jpg

From Syfy Wire:

“From the first frame of his appearance in Attack of the Clones, Dexter Jettster’s smile and easy charm has been a fan-favorite in the world of Star Wars. The four-armed Besalisk was something we’d never seen before and, despite his gruff exterior, it was clear that he was hiding a character of wit, humor, and a big heart. What other sort of person would be able to befriend a Jedi like Obi-Wan Kenobi?

Now, how did he and Obi-Wan become friends, and where in the galaxy they would have even met, we still don’t have answers. But really, does it even matter? He’s delightful and we love him and he’s one of the best side-characters in the saga. And one of the most crucial, when you get down to it.

DEX’S DINER

One of things we love so much about Dex is the fact that he owns the coolest looking ‘50s diner on Coruscant. Naturally, this is a throwback to George Lucas’s early career with American Graffiti. Dex’s Diner has the same visual flair as Mel’s Diner, the chrome and neon hearken back to a more cozy time in the galaxy.

Fascinating side note about Dex’s Diner: Did you know that it’s a model? True story. And the neon all over the building (and entire street where it’s located) was hand-rigged by Grant Imahara (of Mythbusters fame) back when he was still working at Industrial Light & Magic. Which, somehow, makes it even cooler.

Then, when Obi-Wan walks inside, the smile he gives Dex would melt anyone. How could it not? The sly smile he offers as well as the warmth of his voice lets us know that this is the sort of person who can be trusted with our favorite Jedi Master. The animation of his character only adds to the easy charm. Notice how he wipes his hands, or how he pulls his pants up. The animation department spared no expense in giving him business that would make him unforgettable visually.

THEMATIC INTENTIONS

More than the visual aspect of Dexter Jettster, his place in the overarching themes and stories of the Star Wars saga are surprising.

Dexter Jettster introduces and bolsters one of the most fascinating thematic elements in the prequel saga and it has to do with droids and clones. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s search to identify Zam Wessel’s killer leads him to the droid archives, but they’re unable to help. Obi-Wan Kenobi then brings Dex the saber dart and he sees it immediately, placing it with the cloners of Kamino. “It’s the funny little cuts on the side that give it away,” he tells Obi-Wan. “Those analysis droids only focus on symbols. Heh. I should think that you Jedi would have more respect for the difference between knowledge and wisdom.”

And this is the opening salvo of winding storytelling that culminates in Padme’s death.

As Obi-Wan follows the breadcrumbs to Kamino, the Kaminoans explain to him that the reason clones are better than droids is because of that creative thinking of which they are capable.

Palpatine turns this in his plan, implanting chips in the clones, making them more droid-like. In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan’s deadliest foe in the first half of the movie is General Grievous, a warrior who so wants to become a more efficient killer that he modifies himself with droid parts. In the second half, it’s a man — his former apprentice — forced into such a thing. But the ultimate climax of this idea comes in full, haunting force when there are only medical droids in a mining facility left to care for Padme in her final moments.

Being droids (droids who focus on knowledge rather than wisdom), they have no knowledge of the machinations of the Force and what it might will to life. They come up with the best answers they can, but never once consider the implications the mystical energy field might have on their inexplicably dying patient.

Obi-Wan didn’t listen to his friend Dexter Jettster well enough, forgetting his wise words in the diner. Jedi needed more of that respect for wisdom and the Jedi order suffered for the lack of it. Padme even more so.

Here’s a version of Dex’s scene with the deleted sequence with the droids restored:

THE WHOLE PACKAGE

Dex is a fun character who helps tee up one of the most fascinating concepts in the entire prequel trilogy for those interested in reaching deeper into the mythology and connecting the dots. For those who just love his voice and his look, he’s one of the most visually interesting characters, too. His four arms make it look like you just want to hug the guy.

And he helped make one of the most memorable and delightful scenes in Attack of the Clones.

He’s truly one of the great side-characters in Star Wars and I hope we get more stories with him sooner or later.”

10 Comments

  • Slicer87

    Its a decent article, but one glaring issue is the mention of chips in the clones. None of the films mention control chips. Instead, AOTC states the clones are engineered to be less independent and more suceptiable to orders than normal humans. Only TCW CGI series mentions chips as a poor retcon to explain why the nice guy clones in the show turn bad. TCW series differs from the PT so much that it is pretty much an alternative universe to the live action films and is impossible to reconsile the two as the same continuity.

    • Anthony P

      Perhaps Dexter is saying what he heard, not what he knows. If it’s what he heard but not what he knows, TCW didn’t retcon this.

      • Slicer87

        The cloners themselves say nothing about chips. Instead they tell Obi Wan that the clones are genetically engineered to be less independent and obey all orders without question. Basically that they are made not to be normal humans, heck Jango himself isn’t exactly normal, yet alone altered clones of him. AOTC implies that there is something off about the clones, that they are not a good thing. ROTS shows that the clones are indeed a bad thing. TCW writers decided to make the clones nice guys and made them too human.

        TCW, took the clones and many other plot elements and went against the films in different directions. People can claim they are in the same continuity, but the huge number of glaring differences makes it impossible for them to be really the same continuity. To say they are the same requires doublethink. Just like with Maul, he clearly died in TPM, while TCW went against the films and had him survive without explanation which horribly detracts from and contrdicts with the PT. I personally feel these changes do a major disservice to the PT. Like TCW is acknowledging the hateboy criticisms are valid against the PT and attempts to fix these nonissues with the series’s many unneeded plot changes.

        Something else to think about too is that live action movies and animated weekly half hour series are two vastly different media formats. That translating SW from one format to the other required major story changes in order to work. But it created dissonance, and it seems most people’s solution to this is take TCW’s version over the PT version of events. Many hateboys like TCW because they think it fixes and retcons the nonexisting issues in the PT. That the show saves the PT, a view I strongly disagree with. Also I view that the films are always a higher canon than any spinoff media and that the PT should take paramount over a spinoff cartoon. The PT should not be subject to the whims of a spinoff cartoon show. Moreover, like with the ST, TCW also suffered from too many cooks in the kitchen problem.

        I had a thread on the forums that shall not be named that listed the differences between the PT and TCW. It was a very long list.

      • Tony

        Never watched TCW, read the books or comics. I guess one could regard them as footnotes to the films. But as they say at University, if you wouldn’t include it in your actual essay, don’t bother putting it in your footnotes, we ain’t going to read it. And that’s the approach I take, so I just stick to the films.

        Furthermore, TCW etc. isn’t even GL’s work, it’s other people’s ideas. Sure Lucas would have been consulted, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he approves of all the ideas used. I think as long as it doesn’t massively contradict or undermine the story of the films, he’s happy to give the writers freedom to do what they want. Darth Maul is an interesting one, I don’t know the context of his return in TCW, but even if he does return I wouldn’t think it undermines the films. After all, he isn’t really a significant character in the grander scheme of things, the true phantom menace in the first film is after all Sidious. Now bringing back Sidious from the dead (I’m looking at you Disney), that is undermining the films in a significant way. And the fact they did it through the film medium as one of the episodes of the saga, and not simply through a tv show or book makes it even more shocking. It just makes the contradiction even more glaringly obvious and obviously more significant.

        @Slicer87 brings up a good point: we’re talking about different media formats. And this is significant because the films (1-6) are trying to tell a main story, namely the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. In order to tell this story, sufficient information needs to be given in order for it to make sense. And the saga (1-6 that is) does this brilliantly. It somehow manages to provide so much information in such a short space of time. They used a combination of tools. Firstly, and obviously, through dialogue. For example, Qui Gon explaining what midichlorians are, which is necessary to the story since Anakin is said to be the chosen one because of his midicholrian count. Secondly, and unique to film, through the blending of visuals and music. For example, and credit to Rick Worley’s wonderful documentary for this one, in ROTS Anakin waits in the council chambers, having been told to wait there while Mace Windu goes to arrest Palpatine, who is Anakin’s only hope for saving Padme. Anakin looks towards his home where Padme is, with his back turned to the sunset. The shot shifts from Anakin to Padme and back. We don’t hear any dialogue, only this haunting eerie music as Anakin sheds a tear. Through visuals and music alone, we can see he is feeling hopeless and torn. We don’t need minutes of dialogue telling us what Anakin is feeling.

        Just as sufficient information needs to be given, unnecessary information could detract from the flow of the film. I recall Lucas saying that originally ROTS planned to deal with stuff like resolving the Kamino Clones mystery from Ep II. But then he decided that the focus of Ep III needed to be more on Anakin.

        To try and sum up what I’m trying to say, a film is telling a main story. Through that story the author is trying to convey themes and lessons.
        The unique thing about Star Wars is that it’s set in an imagined universe. And it’s a testament to Lucas that so many people are captured not just by the main story of the film, but also the universe it is told in. The universe itself, however, isn’t the point of the films. It’s just a means for telling a story and conveying themes in a way that will appeal to people, especially kids. The films could go into detailing stuff like Clones with chips and so forth (to just randomly pick one of the things mentioned in the earlier posts), tell us why Maul’s face is red and black, what the heck Jawas are etc. but it doesn’t, because that’s not something we need to know in order to understand the main story. That sort of detail certainly goes into exploring in more detail the universe of Star Wars, but the point of the films is the main story and it’s themes.

        I think the role of the Tv shows, books and comics and simply to provide those additional details about the universe of Star Wars which has captured our imaginations.
        For me, everything I need is in the films. I’m interested in the larger universe of Star Wars too, but I feel it is something Lucas left for own imaginations. TCW, the books and comics are basically just the imaginations of other writers. I prefer to use my own imagination, it’s quite fun pondering things like where Jawas came from.

        Ah the joy of Star Wars : )

      • Slicer87

        The issue with many of the spinoff media attrmpts to provivde additional information is that they almost always end up confusing details up worse and outright contradicting the films. Like with the clones, in AOTC the movie outright states that they are engineered to have docile personalities to make they accept all orders without question. In TCW, the clones are changed to having normal personalities but have implanted mind control chips that overrides their normal personalities. Filoni claims the chips arr his idea because he thought Palp’s plans were too unstoppable and needed weak points to make his plans fragile which I find bizarre.

        But that is the problem the old EU had, too many differing and fompeting artistic visions trying to alter Star Wars to each individual writer’s vision. Hence the too many cooks issue that all spin off Star Wars media has been plagued with. A classic example is with TIE fighters. The EU has claimed TIE wings are solar panels for years, which makes little sense. The original ILM designers and model makers said that they intended TIE wings to be large radiators for their high output reactors which makes much more sense than solar panel wings.

        As for bringing Maul back, his brother just finds him in a junkyard half crazy with a spider cyborg lower body with no explaniation of how or why. Killing Maul is a major point in Obi Wan’s character arc which is greatly diminished by his return. Maul even says so in TCW when he reconfronts Obi Wan after being restored by magic, not the Force, actually magic which in TCW exists besides thd Force, ugg. One of the major problems with TCS is that it often went on bizarre tangents that badly contradicts with the PT films. So instead of adding details, ig just muddied the waters with competing artistic visions or Lucas’s backpeddling to appease the nerd crowd.

      • jpieper668

        @Slicer87
        I Blame the Whiny fans for Bringing back Maul he was never meant to be the Darth Vader of Then Prequel Trilogy!

  • Juju

    Lucas supervised closely all of The Clone Wars, and he said it was part of his Canon. That’s a fact (it doesn’t mean we should force ourselves to like it though)

    • archdukeofnaboo

      @Juju

      Exactly. Lucas doesn’t get enough credit for TCW, which was his idea and where many of the story ideas came from – including Ahsoka. Dave Filoni is still George’s heir, but fans need to be more careful about who they apportion its success to.

Leave a Reply to Tony Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *