Droids You're Looking For
Matt Berry's 'Boba Fett' cameo highlights the biggest Star Wars problem
“You must project strength if you are to be accepted as a Daimyo.”
We really need a protocol droid! In The Book of Boba Fett, our titular bounty hunter has a lot of problems, but his biggest is perhaps the oldest problem in all of Star Wars. Without a droid translating for him, he has no idea what anyone is saying. Enter: Matt Berry.
The best cameo in the first episode of Book of Boba Fett also reveals one of the strangest conflicts in the faraway galaxy — information gaps. Here’s what Matt Berry’s bizarre droid reveals about the Star Wars canon in general.
Spoilers ahead for The Book of Boba Fett, Chapter 1, “Stranger In a Strange Land.”
Who does Matt Berry play in The Book of Boba Fett?
Fans of musician and actor Matt Berry (famous for The IT Crowd and What We Do in the Shadows) may have noticed him credited at the end of the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett, but who did he play?
When Boba is holding court early in the episode, we see a familiar droid last glimpsed in Return of the Jedi. While some sources are claiming this droid is not 8D8, but instead UK2-B, the captions clearly identify the Matt Berry-voiced droid as “8D8.”
In Star Wars canon, 8D8 was a droid glimpsed briefly in Return of the Jedi. You probably remember the scene, R2-D2 and C-3PO are led into a droid torture chamber and 8D8 is putting some searing hot metal onto the feet of another droid.
Until we’re told otherwise, Matt Berry is voicing this same exact droid, and if we’re lucky, we’ll see a lot more of him in The Book of Boba Fett.
Why does Boba Fett need a protocol droid?
From the very first Star Wars movie, the notion that various aliens, droids, and humans would have a hard time communicating was presented as a common, if somewhat surmountable, everyday problem. In fact, the only reason C-3PO and R2-D2 were purchased by Uncle Owen in A New Hope was that Owen desperately needed a droid that could translate two languages, a spacer language called “Bocce” and the binary language of the moisture vaporators.
Similarly, in Return of the Jedi, Jabba the Hutt employed C-3PO to translate for him while holding court, which is why Boba Fett mentions the need for a protocol droid in this episode. Neither he nor Fennec Shand can understand the Aqualish representative offering them tribute.
This is a long-running, and perhaps accidental commentary that Star Wars has been making for years. Although Han Solo can understand certain languages like Shyriiwook and Huttese, he, and many others, are limited when they don’t have a translator. In the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett, Boba himself is limited by not knowing three languages, the aforementioned language of the Aqualish, the native tongue of the Rodian prisoner he offers to free, and the language of the Tusken Raiders. Conversely, In The Mandalorian, Din Djarin was able to speak to the Tuskens, proving he was slightly more educated than Boba in at least one way.
The larger point is interesting though. Although most characters speak “Galactic Basic” (English to us) they’re very reliant on technology to communicate at all.
Why Star Wars loves information gaps
Boba Fett’s inability to understand nearly half the people he encounters in this episode is an interesting metaphor for the way most Star Wars storylines are constructed. With few exceptions, most characters in Star Wars are either motivated by misinformation or half-truths. Here are just a few examples
- The Senate is fed false information about a blockage on Naboo, despite eye witness testimony to the contrary.
- The Senate overwhelming believes that the Jedi tried to assassinate Palpatine, despite zero evidence being presented.
- Luke Skywalker believes all sorts of lies about his own family.
- The Jedi believe in a strange, vague prophecy about a “Chosen One.”
- Jyn Erso is fuzzy on what her dad really did for a living.
- Rey believes Luke Skywalker was a “myth” less than three decades after he changed history.
- The Jedi are regarded as an “ancient religion” less than two decades after they were basically an active branch of the Republic.
- Din Djarin is utterly ignorant of the Jedi, as well as several other sects of different Mandalorians, mostly because he was raised in a cult.
Many have written about this before (including me), but the scarcity of books, journalism, or any kind of objective conveyance of information at all is the source of nearly every major problem in Star Wars. And despite the presence of books in The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker still weaponizes the oral tradition of storytelling to send a message to the general populace of the galaxy.
In The Book of Boba Fett, this ongoing issue is presented on a smaller scale. Because Boba is saddled with relying on 8D8 to basically run his administration department at Jabba’s Palace, he’s losing all sorts of key pieces of information because 8D8 isn’t a translator. The flashbacks in The Book of Boba Fett are making it clear to us that Fett values a need to communicate with people he doesn’t understand, but with limited resources in the present, he’s stuck.
The Book of Boba Fett might not be trying to make this point on purpose. But nonetheless, it’s there. In a galaxy beset with constant wars, you really have to wonder why things are always so bad in the Star Wars status quo. We’ve been told that the balance of the Force is often out of wack, or that the Sith are just making things worse for everyone.
But if we look closely, there’s a more obvious truth: Everybody relies on droids to translate stuff for them, and most people have no idea what is really going on, ever. The real source of the wars in the stars is a lack of information. Maybe that’s why Boba Fett is writing a book?
The Book of Boba Fett airs new episodes on Wednesdays on Disney+.