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.
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.
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.