The trailer for The Book of Boba Fett opens with a major Star Wars Easter egg as a spider-like BT-16 perimeter droid makes its way across the desert near the palace of Jabba the Hutt. It’s a deep cut, which has been typical for latter-day Star Wars projects. The droid previously appeared for scant seconds onscreen, though, like so many Star Wars denizens, its backstory goes much deeper than that. Its inclusion here may allow The Book of Boba Fett to separate canon from Legends content in a big way.
Over 35 years passed between Boba Fett's apparent demise in Return of the Jedi and his surprise reappearance in Season 2 of The Mandalorian. In the interim, several Legends projects took up the question of what happened to Jabba the Hutt's servants following the death of the crime lord. One of them depicts a dire fate for an important figure, which runs counter to subsequent in-canon developments.
The BT-16 was first mentioned in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Two stormtroopers discussed the new model as Obi-Wan Kenobi slipped past them to turn off the tractor beam to the Death Star. Their first (and until now only) on-screen appearance wasn't until Return of the Jedi when one of them slipped out past R2-D2 and C-3P0 as they entered Jabba’s Palace. The giant mechanical spider had what appeared to be a brain suspended in a clear globe beneath their bodies, a sign of the horrors to come deeper in the crime lord's lair.
Canonically, BT-16s never appeared again, at least until the new trailer for The Book of Boba Fett. However subtle clues appear throughout both Star Wars canon and Legends to account for their appearance. In Legends, the BT-16s don't work for Jabba. Instead, they belong to the B’omarr Order, a band of monks who believe in total separation from the material world. They remove the brains of their most enlightened members and place them in the BT-16s to fully divorce themselves from reality. Jabba’s Palace was originally their monastery and they have remained there for centuries despite numerous other “owners” who have come and gone in the meantime.
The BT-16s – still housing the monks’ brains – could come and go as they pleased when Jabba was running the palace. Their appearance in the new trailer suggests that both Bib Fortuna and now Boba Fett are happy to continue that policy. But that runs against another piece of Legends content that has already been undone by canon. The paperback anthology Tales of Jabba’s Palace contains a story called “Of the Day’s Annoyances: Bib Fortuna’s Tale,” which recounts an alternate version of the majordomo's fate. Having used the BT-16s as spies and informants, the monks had Fortuna's own brain placed in a BT-16 body against his will. He spent some time in this tormented state before finally convincing the monks to transplant his brain into the body of another Twi'lek.
That runs counter to his appearance in The Mandalorian, which finds him ruling Jabba's empire and gone to seed in the ensuing years. Boba Fett kills him and takes his throne, presumably kickstarting the events of The Book of Boba Fett. The BT-16's appearance suggests the new show won't ignore their presence, only that they're not going to use every component found in Legends. Fans don't yet know how much or how little of that will appear in the new series, but presumably, the showrunners found enough interesting things in the BT-16 to justify their appearance in the story despite Bib Fortuna's new fate.
The BT-16's appearance puts Fortuna's fate at Fett’s hands in context, granting him a comparatively quick and painless death after several years of indulging his appetites. That stands in contrast to the mad scientist horror show inflicted on him in “Bib Fortuna's Tale,” where he screamed for days before finally coming to terms with his new existence. It doesn't end well for him either way – criminals tend to meet messy ends in the Star Wars universe – but considering that the showrunners intend to use the BT-16s without including what they did to him, Fortuna gets off relatively easy in the newly established canon.
Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett premieres Dec. 29 on Disney+.
KEEP READING: Book of Boba Fett's First Trailer Explores Tatooine's Post-Jabba Underworld
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