Geek Couples: R2-D2 & C-3PO - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Geek Couples: R2-D2 & C-3PO

Alexander Wallace knows better than to trust a strange computer.
One of the best parts of Star Wars is all the technology; George Lucas, and then so many other people over the decades who have contributed to the sprawling Galaxy Far, Far Away, have succeeded in building a world where the technology works in ways beyond our wildest dreams. Technology in Star Wars blows up planets, captures water from the air, and shields entire planets from a bombardment of flaming debris. But it can also come off to us viewers as every bit as human as Luke and Leia and Han.

More human than any other droid in the franchise are its two stalwarts, the first two characters to ever speak in Star Wars (using real world dating): R2-D2 and C-3PO. It is these two characters who wait there in agony aboard the Tantive IV as they hear the thunder of Imperial guns and the crackle of blasters as they continue their fight for a glorious cause.

Those of us who have followed the franchise for a while have seen just all the madness they have been through together. They met on Tatooine, as the placid planet of Naboo was under a cruel blockade by a greedy conglomerate. The protocol droid was scavenged from spare parts and cobbled together in the hut of a slave child and his mother. The astromech droid came from luxury, in the service of the diplomatic corps that served a reigning princess, until the galaxy was convulsed in a cruel, awful war that ended with betrayal and dictatorship and liberty dying with thunderous applause.
The two have not always gotten along; one is snarky and irreverent, and one is obsequiously polite (the original plan was to play him as a used car salesman, but Anthony Daniels turned him into the butler we love today). Indeed, for a time they were separated as the astromech continued his service with the Naboo diplomatic corps and the protocol droid worked on moisture vaporators. But then his creator came back, and the protocol droid joined the astromech in serving with dignity his creator’s beloved, as she herself served in the halls of power as an evil genius destroyed so many lives for his own dominion.

Over their service in the war, R2-D2 and C-3PO had many adventures together, bickering and cajoling one another. But I have always read them as being friends, if ones that had a tempestuous relationship. They are the Greek chorus of Star Wars, commenting on the tragedy and comedy of the actions of great heroes. They serve a purpose similar to Han Solo by being a mouthpiece for the ‘normal’ people, even if at the time of their inception in the late 1970s, talking robots were nowhere near normal.

It is at the end of Revenge of the Sith a great tragedy takes place for these two, one that is overshadowed by the tragedies of the death of democracy, the death of Padme, the death of freedom, and the death of Anakin Skywalker (in the force, at least). Aboard the Tantive IV, Bail Organa ordered the protocol droid’s mind wiped to hide the identity of Bail’s new adopted daughter, one of the hero children whose fate defines the entire franchise. In doing this, one half of a friendship smithed in carnage is thrown down the memory hole forever. As one of those big DK picture books said, the astromech droid from that point on was the only steward of some of their most impactful memories.
It is from then they served in two more blazing infernos and saw the death of their new homeworld (after Naboo and Tatooine). They saw an empire fall and an emperor die twice. They saw an old friend go into exile, and the astromech shut down until they could bring him back.

They are the only two characters who have appeared in every single movie of the Skywalker saga. They are the two in the background who assist in the good fight as much as they can for the good of the galaxy. Not all of us can be Luke or Leia or even Han, but we can all be R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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