The greatest tribute that the series has done The Mandalorian to the entire Star Wars saga is actually also the best homage to the greatest hero of the entire saga: the astromech droid R2-D2. The scene of R5 in R2-D2 mode directly saving Mando in episode 3×08 (The Return) of The Mandalorian connecting to the central computer of Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) base as if it were the Death Star and, thanks to that, indirectly allowing him to rescue Bo-Katan, first, and she all of Mandalore, later, is pure lore from Star Wars. Do you remember when George Lucas said in an interview in 2005 that “R2-D2 is the greatest hero in the entire saga. Whenever there’s a pivotal moment in the original trilogy or a moment of real danger, he’s the one who gets everyone off the hook”? When Luke, Han, and Leia get stuck in the compactor in A new hope it is R2-D2 who rescues them. Otherwise, there would have been no Star Wars, no New Republic, no relegation, no rise of Skywalkers. If R2-D2 hadn’t carried the message to Obi-Wan there would have been no saga either. R2-D2 is the most important character in Star Wars. If you think about it, he’s appeared in every major feature film in the saga, witnessed the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire, was there when the Resistance lost all hope, and even fueled the franchise by helping the heroes track down Luke. Skywalker in the final trilogy. Does it seem unimportant? The best hero of the saga is the astromech robot, originally owned by Naboo and Princess Amidala, named by George Lucas from the improvised acronym of one of his editors in american graffiti for Reel Two, Dialogue Two (reel two, dialogue two): R2D2. So the fact that R5 ‘save the day’ in the style of R2-D2 is an important episode, like this 3×08 of The MandalorianIt is not just any nod to a character in the franchise. It is a tribute; it is a recognition.
In 2016, four years after Disney acquired Lucasfilm, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (How Star Wars conquered the Universe), a book exploring the history of the franchise, revealed that the astromech robot R2-D2 was originally the guardian of the Journal of the Whills. The book pointed out that Lucas’s idea for the third trilogy of the saga revolved around the Whills. Lucas had planned that all of Skywalker’s history would be the narration of an ancient text narrated by chroniclers known as the Whills and all of Skywalker’s stories were contained in a journal. Lucas had foreseen that the Whills would play a major role in Episodes 7, 8, and 9. Disney went another way. The fact is that this book includes a conversation that Lucas has with the animation director Rob Coleman. Lucas told Coleman: “The entire Star Wars story is actually being told to the guardian of the Journal of the Whills, do you remember that? One hundred years after the events of return of the jedi it is being told by none other than R2-D2“.
According to Reddit user toaddodger, R2-D2 has been narrating the story this whole time in the opening captions. This is his argument: “All the movies in the main Star Wars saga begin with A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It’s a signature introduction that George Lucas developed in the early 1970s as an homage to his childhood sci-fi series. Traditionally, that kind of mythic storytelling was shared verbally, which is why fans have wondered, for years, who might be telling the Star Wars story. R2-D2″. Lucas himself wrote in Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays: “Originally, I was trying to get someone else to tell the story; there was someone watching the whole story and recording it, someone probably wiser than the mortal players in the actual events. I eventually abandoned this idea, and the concept behind the Whills became in the Force. But the Whills became part of this mass of notes, quotes, background information that I used for the scripts; the stories were actually taken from ‘The Journal of the Whills’.” That someone was R2-D2.
In the phantom menace (1999), R2-D2 helps Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) avoid persecution by the Trade Federation. R2-D2 remains with Anakin throughout the original film trilogy and in Star Wars: The Clone Wars until the moment he turns to the Dark Side.
In A new hope (1977) entrusted with the plans for the Death Star. The holographic image of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) being projected from R2-D2 onto Obi-Wan Kenobi’s (Alex Guinness) home is the defining moment of the original trilogy. In that same movie, she disabled the trash compactor, in the same way that now (there goes the tribute), R5 disables the energy barriers so that Mando can kill Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) in episode 3×08 of The Mandalorian. Disabling the trash compactor became a pattern for the Star Wars movies, which had R2-D2 sticking out his antenna at crucial moments to rescue his friends. And in The Force Awakens (2015), the droid guarded the missing piece of the map that would lead to Luke Skywalker’s hiding place. He is with Leia in the rise of skywalker when he dies (he was also when he was born). Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau know exactly what to do with the material in their hands.