The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 2 reintroduced R5-D4, a red and white astromech droid that’s more than a little hesitant to accompany Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu on their mission to Mandalore. Eagle-eyed Star Wars fans will immediately recognize the droid, with it being a throwback to Luke Skywalker’s adventures in 1977’s A New Hope — however, most won’t know of the droid’s importance to the Star Wars story, and how one selfless decision effectively changed the course of the galaxy’s history.
What is the R5-D4 droid in The Mandalorian Season 3 Episode 2?
The R5-D4 droid is sold to Din by Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) in her Tatooine hangar. Din specifies that he needs a droid that will be equipped for his trip to Mandalore, and that will be able to explore ahead of the bounty hunter in order to test the desolated planet’s atmosphere. R5-D4 isn’t best pleased with this objective, though he’s sent along to help Din and Grogu regardless.
The R5-D4 droid’s first appearance came in Star Wars: A New Hope, with him almost being purchased from the Jawas by Luke’s adoptive parent, Owen Lars. However, Owen eventually reconsidered his choice when R5’s motivator exploded, settling on R2-D2 instead and unwittingly beginning Luke’s journey to the Rebellion.
But R5-D4’s story goes deeper than this brief introduction. In a now non-canonical Star Wars Legends story, it’s revealed that the droid is actually Force-sensitive, with the comic book anthology Star Wars Tales 1 granting him the nickname “Skippy the Jedi Droid.” In the comic, R5 is depicted as having malfunctioned his motivator using the Force after seeing a vision of Luke Skywalker’s future.
While this is no longer canon, elements of this story were adapted for the 2017 anthology From a Certain Point of View. In the novel, R5 is depicted as having been on the Jawas’ sandcrawler for over five years, having his memory wiped after previously serving the Rebellion. In the story, R5 catches R2-D2 tampering with him, as R2 attempts to sabotage the droid in order to continue his mission delivering Leia’s message to Obi-Wan Kenobi. While R2 isn’t successful, R5 makes the selfless decision to malfunction itself when Owen attempts to buy him, acknowledging the importance of R2-D2’s mission.
While George Lucas likely didn’t intend for R5-D4 to be so important to the Star Wars story, the droid canonically kickstarted R2-D2’s introduction to Luke Skywalker, which in turn led to Obi-Wan Kenobi training him to become a Jedi. As such, there’s an argument to be made for R5’s selfless decision setting the entire Star Wars saga in motion.
Watch The Mandalorian Season 3 on Disney Plus.