Why Was Jolee Bindo Even In Knights Of The Old Republic?

Jolee Bindo is a companion character in KotOR, a former Jedi who’s left the order. When it comes out that Player One is Darth Revan, he makes a point of saying he won’t judge them, and there’s a conversation with Bastila where he insists he’s not a Jedi anymore and she shouldn’t think of him that way or expect him to behave like one. In terms of alignment (which can’t be altered by player action for any character except their own customizable protagonist), he’s firmly neutral, leaning only slightly towards the light.

Until you reach the end of the game, when suddenly he insists that you must redeem yourself and turn to the light. He’s read ahead in the script, you see, and knows that there are only two outcomes: You embrace the Jedi Order and save the Republic, or you become an insane psychopath and Sith Emperor. The entire neither-Jedi-nor-Sith thing that Jolee Bindo was carrying water for is chucked completely out the window.

Now, you can only have so many ending cut scenes, so you can’t have endings where you ditch the war and become a pirate or retreat to a hermitage on Dagobah and leave the whole mess behind or destroy both the Sith and the Republic to plunge the galaxy into chaos. Ultimately, the ending of the game is about a battle between the Sith and the Republic and one of those two is going to win, so the ending cut scene will depict one of those two things. That’s fine, resources are limited.

But you could do a lot more with those two cut scenes than they actually do. In the light side ending, you are unambiguously a Jedi who has returned to the order and forsaken the dark side, but the only thing that makes this clear is not-Yoda saying as much.

All it would take is a couple of new voice lines to acknowledge an ending where you reject the Jedi for brainwashing you twice (once through childhood indoctrination, then again with Force powers) but write off the Sith Empire as a failed experiment and defend the Republic. Instead of a line about the return of a prodigal knight, not-Yoda will have a line where he says the Jedi will be waiting to welcome you back if you change your mind about leaving or, if the budget is so tight you can’t even record a few extra lines, just cut that part completely and have the cut scene end with the Republic officer giving you a medal.

Contrariwise, Dark Bastila’s speech announcing the return of Lord Revan can say basically anything and the cut scene would still look the same. This one needs new voice lines to change its context rather than working reasonably well only by removing dialogue, but you don’t need any new animation for an ending that suggests that (whether they will succeed or not) Revan intends to use the Sith Empire to bring justice and order to the galaxy, so that threats like the Mandalorians, the Czerka Corporation, and the Exchange will no longer menace the Outer Rim. You could also have Juhani not turn on you for this one because of her experiences growing up, and have her standing off to the side in this version of the cut scene (the ending cut scene is in-engine, so this addition should be trivial – and if it isn’t, leaving her out of the ending cut scene wouldn’t be the end of the world, Canderous and HK-47 aren’t present either).

A cut scene in which you soak the Republic for millions of credits in exchange for your assassination of Darth Malak would benefit from some new animations in the Republic cut scene, but wouldn’t require a new set or any animations that aren’t used elsewhere in the game. You’d want to stage the cut scene slightly differently so that Canderous Ordo (if you’re dark-leaning) or Mission Vao (if you’re light-leaning) can give a few voice lines about loading all the credits up onto the Ebon Hawk, since the player character is unvoiced (the player clicks on their dialogue options but no lines are ever spoken).

Setting the player up for these different endings could also be accomplished entirely with the existing conversations on Rakata Prime, first at the temple summit and then on the beach where the Ebon Hawk has landed.

Of course, if BioWare wants to make a game which is ultimately about Jedi and the Republic versus Sith and the Empire, and forces you along one of two endings because they want to focus on the primary conflict of the Star Wars universe, that would be fine – but this brings back the question in the post title: Why, then, have Jolee Bindo in the game at all? A character whose whole schtick is rejecting the Jedi but still opposing the Sith?

There’s other ways you could reinforce the inevitable break between light and dark, Republic and Sith, like having Juhani and Canderous get into a fight over what happened to the Cathar homeworld that results in one or the other of them leaving your party (this would also be a much better way to deliver Juhani’s backstory than the exposition dumps she gives in the game, but that’s true of everyone except Zaalbaar and T3-M4). This would make it clear both that the light and the dark ultimately don’t mix and also side Juhani firmly on the light side, when her fall to darkness (however brief) somewhat implies that she might be more morally flexible than she ultimately is (even if you convince her to kill someone for revenge, she immediately regrets it and does not change alignment or decide to stick with you if you go dark side – I think this might’ve been a planned option that was cut for time). Or you could replace Jolee entirely with a more overtly dark-aligned Force User (a Sith would be politically bizarre, but some kind of Witch of Dathomir type would work, especially since their recruitment on Kashyyyk would be almost unaltered) who plays shoulder devil to Bastila’s shoulder angel, so instead of a character who draws focus towards rejecting the light/dark dichotomy, you have a character who emphasizes it.

But the simplest way of fixing this problem would be to just have Jolee Bindo be an unambiguously light sided character. He hasn’t abandoned the Jedi Order, he’s just communing with the Force on Kashyyyk for a couple of years, a perfectly Jedi-y thing to do. He doesn’t refer to himself as a former Jedi and has no conversation with Bastila where he insists she respect his departure from the Order, because he’s still a Jedi. He can still be less prone to voicing an overt opinion on your decisions compared to Bastila, but even if he’s more reserved about his exact thoughts and feelings, it’d still make sense that he turns on you if you embrace the dark side on Rakata Prime, because he’s a Jedi, plain and simple. Unlike the proposed changes in the previous paragraph, this doesn’t even significantly overhaul the game. A good impressionist (or Kevin Michael Richardson reprising the role) could probably mod this fix into the game without much difficulty. Even easier from the perspective of first building (rather than modding after the fact) the game, you could just not have Jolee Bindo at all. He doesn’t contribute anything to any of the themes that the game actually pays off.

But instead they have Jolee Bindo, Jedi in disguise, who’s there to make you think this game includes alternatives to the Jedi/Sith dichotomy and then gives you a Jedi ending and a Sith ending with no variants or third option whatsoever.

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