Although he might not have been as appreciated when he debuted in Attack of the Clones in 2002 (the very shoddy CG did not help), wise Besalisk diner owner Dexter Jettster has enjoyed a bit of a Star Wars renaissance in recent years on social media. The subject of countless memes and gifs on Twitter and Reddit, Dexter is one of several Prequel Trilogy characters who have enjoyed a bit of a reevaluation from fans who grew up with those movies, even if in this case it’s largely just for laughs.
But Dexter’s latest appearance in Star Wars canon is no laughing matter. In fact, his return in the short story collection From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi finds Dexter at a low point in his long life. If you’ve ever wondered just what happened to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s jovial pal after Episode II, you might not like the answers offered up by the story “The Veteran” by Adam Lance Garcia.
Like all the other stories in the collection, “The Veteran” catches up with Dexter during the events of Return of the Jedi, which takes place over 25 years after Attack of the Clones. The story picks up directly after the Battle of Endor, with people on the streets of Coruscant Level 2401 celebrating the Imperial defeat at the hands of the Rebellion. In one moment in the story, Dexter watches on loop the destruction of the second Death Star, “the shock wave blooming like a flower,” as Garcia describes it.
But Dexter is in no mood for celebrating with the rest of Coruscant. He’s lost so much — we learn in the story that Dexter not only lost the diner in the years after the rise of the Empire but that his trusty Jawa juice-serving droid Wanda broke down, leaving him on his own. Dexter also carries a lot of guilt from his Attack of the Clones days. After all, it was Dexter who helped point Obi-Wan to Kamino by identifying the poison dart used by Jango Fett to kill Zam Wesell. This led to the Jedi and the Republic discovering the existence of the Clone Army, sparking the violent, galaxy-altering Clone Wars and later the decimation of the Jedi Order at the hands of said army. Dexter feels complicit in all of that death and destruction.
“He still remembered the shape of the Kamino saberdart, the sharpness of its durasteel embedding prongs. The dried blood that covered its injector needle,” reads the story. “He had been so proud, so eager to impress his young friend. He could never have known where it all would lead, that the Republic would fall, that the light of the Jedi would be extinguished, that billions would die. Dex bore the weight of every life lost, but none more so than the boy he had met on Lenahra.”
Attack of the Clones established that Obi-Wan and Dexter knew each other from way back, and that the young Jedi Knight had visited the diner for advice before, as we saw in the recent novel Brotherhood by Mike Chen. But their first meeting wasn’t at the diner but on the planet Lenahra in the novel Padawan by Kiersten White, set almost a decade before the start of the Prequel Trilogy. By the time Obi-Wan drops by to Dex’s Diner with that dart in Attack of the Clones, the two are old friends. It’s no wonder, then, that Dexter mourns his part in what he assumes was the death of his friend during the events of Revenge of the Sith.
“Dex wasn’t sure whether the warrior had died on the front or during the Purge, though he prayed it was the former,” Garcia writes. “He couldn’t bear the thought of his friend being gunned down by his own men. Dex could never forget how the Jedi Temple blazed in the night, how the smoke billowed days after the fires were quenched, how the air tasted of ash, and how soot covered his diner for weeks, no matter how frequently he and Wanda cleaned.”
What’s ironic is that Dex assumes Obi-Wan died either during the Clone Wars or the Jedi Purge because he never saw the Jedi Knight again, but we of course know that isn’t true. Obi-Wan went into hiding on Tatooine for almost 20 years after Revenge of the Sith (except to save little Leia in Obi-Wan Kenobi, of course). That said, in this story, Dexter is remembering his friend during the events of Return of the Jedi, at which point the Jedi Master is actually dead and has been so for four years. Let’s not blame Dex for all that, though.
While “The Veteran” finds Dexter in a funk, it’s not all a downer. Dexter is eventually inspired to stand up and fight once again when a riot on Level 2401 turns into an Imperial ambush against Rebellion supporters. The story leaves Dex in a place of renewal and hope. Now that the Mandoverse is exploring the New Republic era, wouldn’t it be nice to learn on one of those shows that Dexter got back on his feet and reopened his diner? Or at least a Jawa juice stand?
From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi is out in bookstores now.