May 25, 2023 marked the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, an iconic film that captivated audiences with its vibrant characters, thrilling space battles, and, of course, the final resolution of the Galactic Empire’s conflict with the Rebel Alliance. In honor of this momentous occasion, StarWars.com has brought to light several deleted scenes from the film, shedding new light on a character we barely got to see on the big screen: Moff Jerjerrod.
While Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine are instantly recognizable as primary antagonists, Moff Jerjerrod’s role might have faded in some viewers’ memories. This Imperial officer, tasked with overseeing the construction of the Death Star II, is perhaps best known for his tense interactions with Vader and his fear upon learning of the Emperor’s impending visit to the space station.
However, these newly released deleted scenes provide a richer understanding of this character’s role in the film. Played by Michael Pennington, Jerjerrod emerges as more than just a man who falls prey to Vader’s intimidation tactics. Instead, he is revealed to be a savvy operator attempting to preserve his career amidst the strained dynamics between the Emperor and his apprentice. One particularly poignant deleted scene, aptly titled “Jerjerrod’s Conflict,” showcases the Moff defying Vader by refusing him entry to Palpatine’s quarters, a bold move that nearly results in his being Force Choked by the Sith Lord1.
In another sequence of deleted scenes, Jerjerrod grapples with the Emperor’s orders concerning Endor, the moon where the Rebel Alliance is attempting to disable the Death Star’s deflector shield. In a troubling directive, the Emperor commands Jerjerrod to obliterate the Sanctuary Moon with the Death Star’s superweapon should the Rebels succeed. This presents a moral dilemma for Jerjerrod, as carrying out the order would mean the deaths of his own men stationed on Endor. Ultimately, however, he acquiesces, watching in dismay as the Death Star prepares to fire on the moon.
These scenes align with Jerjerrod’s canonical backstory outside of Return of the Jedi, portraying him as a pragmatic bureaucrat more invested in his career than in the Empire’s ideologies. Known for his architectural genius, Jerjerrod was instrumental in designing the original Death Star, a fact that places him in an intriguing parallel with Galen Erso, the prime architect in Rogue One. Despite feeling conflicted about the destructive power of the Death Star, Jerjerrod justified his involvement by convincing himself that the mere threat of the weapon would suffice to maintain peace and order in the galaxy.
The exploration of characters like Jerjerrod has become a significant theme in recent Star Wars narratives. These ‘company men,’ symbolized by figures such as Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope and Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian, serve as the backbone of the Empire. They represent a different face of evil, one not hidden beneath a dark helmet or hood, but rather visible in the guise of a seemingly ordinary bureaucrat “just doing his job”.
By revisiting these deleted scenes, we gain a deeper understanding of Moff Jerjerrod and the crucial roles such characters play in the Star Wars universe. As the saga continues to expand and evolve, it is fascinating to see how these seemingly secondary figures can offer fresh perspectives on the galaxy’s complex web of power dynamics and personal allegiances.