Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of the Skywalker Saga, a nine-movie series that's spanned 42 years and three generations of characters to capture the imaginations and hearts of millions of fans around the world. While it's impossible to sum up everything we love about these films, we here at SYFY WIRE are going to try.
Leading up to The Rise of Skywalker, we're breaking down and celebrating our favorite scenes from the series. Today, we focus on C-3PO's rise to power among the Ewoks in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.
C-3PO holds a special place in the Star Wars universe as the only character to have a speaking role in every single film in the Skywalker Saga. No matter how small the role — and, yes, as the series has gone on, Threepio has been given fewer lines — Anthony Daniels’ posh, particular, dramatic, and wholly wholesome protocol droid C-3PO has seen it all. Whether he remembers it all is another story.
Despite having his memory wiped, his head removed, and his friends killed, C-3PO has persisted. I like to think that’s because, deep down, he knows he’s special. He was constructed from scraps by one of the most powerful Jedi to ever live, witnessed countless political machinations and historic incidents, and survived through seemingly sheer luck time and time again.
For all this, everyone’s favorite protocol droid spends a majority of the original Star Wars trilogy being interrupted, pushed aside, and generally abused — not just by the many Imperial forces he runs into, but by his friends as well. Han Solo takes every chance to brush him away, Leia Organa is regularly irritated by him, and even Good Boy Luke Skywalker rarely has the patience to put up with him.
Worst of all, R2-D2, Threepio’s closest and oldest friend, mocks him almost constantly. One of Artoo’s first actions in Star Wars: A New Hope is to call Threepio a “mindless philosopher.” Granted, Threepio launches back by calling Artoo an “overweight glob of grease,” but hey, a protocol droid can only take so much before he snaps!
Then, two and a half movies later in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, come the Ewoks. This tribe of Stone Age-dwelling teddy bears knows what’s up.
When Chewbacca falls for a simple bait-and-net trap and gets all his friends launched 10 feet into the air, Artoo may have been the one to free them, initially, but it’s Threepio who saves their skins. There’s a very good chance that the fearful, confused Ewoks would have impaled Han right then and there if C-3PO, gold plates and all, hadn’t sat up in time.
The Ewoks, struck by his beauty, fall to their knees, having mistaken him for a god.
Han is shocked that Threepio can understand them — which, for what it’s worth, might be Han’s dumbest moment in the original trilogy. Of course C-3PO, who has told his friends and compatriots for years that he is fluent in “over 6 million forms of communication,” would be able to communicate with the Ewoks.
Luke, to his credit, could not be more amused. He tells Han from the moment they encounter the Ewoks that “it’ll be okay,” seemingly guided to that conclusion by the Force. But the way Mark Hamill plays out his character’s reaction tells me Luke didn’t necessarily know how it would turn out all right, and the uppity golden droid he and his uncle bought from a bunch of Jawas on Tatooine years ago being mistaken for a god must have been the funniest damn thing Luke has ever seen.
Threepio takes to his new role as a god like mynocks to a ship’s hull. Luke helps him along the way (using the Force to make Threepio fly is genius), but Threepio’s years of political experience and the fact that his default nervous reaction is politeness (same) ultimately endears him and his compatriots to the Ewoks.
That night, as the Ewoks gather together, Threepio tells them the Skywalker Saga thus far (the parts that he remembers, at least). With his best friend Artoo filling in with carefully recorded audio from their adventures, Threepio weaves a tale of family and friendship, loss and hope. The Ewoks are captivated.
This cozy scene is what it all comes down to, really. This might be the first time the story of Luke Skywalker and the Rebellion was told, in-universe, as a grand fantasy; years from that evening, Luke Skywalker would be rendered as nothing more than a myth. But at that moment, it’s very real. These sweet, simple creatures, fascinated and terrified in equal measure by the images painted for them by Threepio and Artoo, are the perfect stand-ins for Star Wars fans.
How many times have you, a Star Wars fan, sat in a cozy room, surrounded by loved ones, and whisked away into a sci-fi fantasy by these characters?
In short, yes, C-3PO is a god. I welcome his fair, anxious rule into my life. I recommend you do the same.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.