The Star Wars universe has seen countless iconic droids, but R2-D2’s reign as the best droid in the universe is over with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s BD-1.
You could debate a fellow Star Wars fan for days about who the greatest droid in the universe is, and no matter who you’d settle on, whether it be Chopper or K-2SO or C3PO or (God help you) IG-88, you’d both be able to hug it out over R2-D2, the classic incumbent who no one should question. That is, until BD-1 joined the spectrum in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
Skipping past the easy one-uppers that BD-1 has on R2, such as the overwhelming number of doors that he’s helped Cal Kestis get through (R2 only opened like… four doors), and the fact that his name literally means buddy droid, and his completely adorable facial expressions and clackity scamper, we can condense this completely friendly debate down to one moment. A moment they both had to face that, while not identical, is quite similar.
That situation being the loss of a master—R2-D2’s loss of Luke Skywalker and BD-1’s loss of Eno Cordova.
When R2-D2 lost his master and pal Luke Skywalker, he shut down. He went into a mechanical coma that only ended in The Force Awakens. This shows a depth of emotion that is undoubtedly charming and heart-wrenching, but it also shows a degree of—and I really don’t want to say this—quitting.
R2 quit. After such a long track record of bravery in the face of danger, and seeing his mission through to completion, he quit when he lost his friend and master.
Now, that’s a hard situation to assess, because again, it does show a profound depth of emotion that the poor old droid just couldn’t handle. And he is older, as far as droid birthdays go, so maybe you could make a case that after all the galaxy saving he did, there just wasn’t enough left to go find his pal and keep hope.
And yes, I can hear you out there saying, “But when the opportunity was there, he did wake up.” Fair enough. I can’t argue that, and I still feel the slightest bit icky over arguing against the indelible R2 at all. As an original trilogy aficionado, I will always advocate for the strength of his character and the part he played in the successful rebellion, I will always be saddened by this episode in his character trajectory.
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BD-1 handled a similar situation quite differently.
When BD-1 lost Eno Cordova, he didn’t go into an existential crisis. He went to work making sure that everything his master stood for, everything that he wanted to do to essentially save the universe, fell to someone as capable.
BD-1 therefore chose Cal Kestis. He was entrusted with a massive task from Eno Cordova, to preserve the future of the Jedi Order, and in order to that, it was up to BD-1 to see this task to completion. One little droid.
That’s a lot of pressure. Sorry R2, but it’s either as much pressure—or a little bit more pressure—than delivering that message to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Not to mention the sheer size of the message that BD-1 carried was far greater, as he continued to guide Cal all the way through. They weren’t master and droid anymore. They were buddies. Buddies who believe in each other.
In that way, BD-1 had to overcome loss and focus on the plot of saving the entire world by preserving the Fallen Order. I suppose you could make the argument that he was “ordered” to do so by his former master, and therefore his programming was set, but I don’t get that sense at all. The same way that Dobby had clear distaste for Lucius Malfoy, then reverence for Harry Potter, BD-1 would have had clear distaste for Cordova if he hadn’t been a good master, or if he had given him no say in the matter.
Plus, in terms of bravery, I have to say that BD-1 pulled off the greatest single act of bravery of any droid ever to grace the Star Wars universe. And that’s saying something.
BD-1 may never make it into a live-action part in a Star Wars film, which would rob some fans from ever knowing him, but that doesn’t diminish what he did. And if you care to disagree, you know where the comment section is. Bring on the R2-D2 apologists.