We are, at long last, living in the early days of what is a long-overdue Ahmed Best renaissance. After years of horrifying torment the actor received for having the audacity to bring Jar Jar Binks to life, Star Wars (both its fandom and its institution) has accepted Best into its heart again as he hosts Jedi Temple Challenge. But this isn’t the first time Best has slipped into the galaxy far, far away without a Gungan guise.
In Jedi Temple Challenge, Best plays both game show host and, within Star Wars’ fiction, Jedi Master Kelleran Beq. Also known as “The Sabered Hand,” Beq is a teacher within the Order, working aboard the frigate Athylia to train potential younglings in the ways of the Force. That’s pretty much all we know about him, because, well, he’s the host of a game show for children that airs on YouTube. We haven’t had time to get to know Beq within the fiction of Star Wars yet, but the capacity is there, thanks to Lucasfilm’s plans to make all media output part of the vast mythos of the galaxy far, far away.
The first Star Wars game show, Jedi Temple Challenge, was originally scheduled to debut today. However, due to the ongoing protests against police brutality supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, the show’s host and producer, Ahmed Best, revealed the release has been delayed slightly.Read more
Right now, Beq’s a game show host, but in the future, he could be a comic book hero, a novel protagonist, a Disney+ series supporting character, hell, a Star Wars Story star. He could be the most coveted thing all Star Wars characters aspire to become: an action figure. Or, at the very least, a Funko pop. But this is not the first time we’ve seen Best get to play in the Star Wars universe outside of his role as Jar Jar. Alas, it’s a story even briefer than Kelleran Beq’s is, despite it being one nearly two decades old.
Appearing outside of his costume and head-tracking gear required to bring Jar Jar to life, Best played Achk Med-Beq in Attack of the Clones. Clad in a dark blue suit, he can be seen briefly in the background early in the movie when Anakin and Obi-Wan go hunting down would-be senatorial assassin Zam Wessel, chasing the shapeshifting sniper into a Coruscant nightclub. We get to see him prominently in just two shots: first, as Anakin passes by him to investigate the club (while Obi-Wan heads to the bar, that rogue), and then shortly after reacting to Obi-Wan literally disarming Zam after she attempts to sneak up on him. And… that’s it.
Thankfully, because the Star Wars Expanded Universe is the Expanded Universe — and therefore literally anything on screen has its own painstakingly detailed background, at least one spinoff short story, and, as mentioned before, an action figure — Med-Beq did at least get to live beyond the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse we saw of him in Attack of the Clones. It was established in the old online Star Wars databank that Med-Beq was a con artist and thief, working with his partner-in-crime Dannl Faytonni (played in those same nightclub scenes by Best’s fellow oft-hidden Star Wars actor Anthony Daniels) to scam bar patrons before Anakin and Obi-Wan showed up.
Faytonni and Med-Beq got one more adventure together in a Star Wars: The Clone Wars tie-in webcomic by Pablo Hidalgo, Grant Gould, and Jeffery Carlisle released in November 2008. In “Departure” — set before the events of the season one episode “Bombad Jedi” — fleeing a heist gone wrong, Faytonni and Med-Beq attempted to steal Padmé Amidala’s senatorial starship as an escape route. Naturally, they were prevented from doing so by the hijinks of a combined C-3PO and Jar Jar Binks, because that was the joke, but still, it’s the only time we actually got to see more of Med-Beq, and we got to see him alongside Best’s more famous Star Wars hero to boot!
But that comic doesn’t have to be all there is to the character’s story, and Best himself seemingly doesn’t want it to be. It’s not been confirmed in any source of canon material yet, but the actor firmly believes there’s more to both Master Kelleren Beq and Achk Med-Beq sharing part of a surname, taking to Twitter recently to suggest that they’re brothers.
— Ahmed BEst (@ahmedbest) June 3, 2020
Considering we don’t know the time frame of when Jedi Temple Challenge is set — oh, the absurdity of questioning the timeline of a game show for children! — means that this is an opportunity Star Wars should embrace, just as it has finally re-embraced Best himself. What if Med-Beq and Master Beq were siblings?
What if watching his sibling be whisked away with powers unknown into this mystical order drove Ahck to his life of debonair crime, hanging around in the shadows of Coruscant but just far enough down into its levels to be away from the shadow of the Jedi Temple itself? What if they crossed paths, a stalwart Jedi investigating heinous crimes in the heart of the Republic, only to be reunited with a brother long lost? Outside of Anakin’s tragic arc, we don’t really have all that many stories of Jedi being confronted with the bonds and family they were forced to leave behind, let alone one of their siblings on either side of the law.
There’s potential there for something. A potential, after years of neglect, Star Wars almost owes Best to explore. The game show’s a nice first step. Let it be one that Lucasfilm and Disney let Best take, to re-enter a much larger storytelling world.
New episodes of Jedi Temple Challenge are released on Thursdays.