A Single C-3PO Script Change In 'Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker' Would Fix A Lot Of Problems
It's been two years since Rise of Skywalker achieved the impossible when it inspired the fractured Star Wars fandom to unite with a resounding "meh." The final episode of the Skywalker Saga was met with about the same enthusiasm with which Oscar Isaac delivered his now-classic line "Somehow, Palpatine returned." The most frustrating thing about this movie is how close it came to delivering an emotional pay off for the entire saga via a simple change to silly plotline: C-3PO's memory problems.
As a refresher, at one point in Rise of Skywalker C-3PO agrees to have his memory wiped for the second time in these movies in order to translate a message in the language of the ancient Sith, which is banned by his programming (probably because the filthiest pornos in the galaxy are spoken in Sith).
The first time he had his memory wiped in the movies, of course, was at the end of the prequels, in order to provide a convenient explanation for why C-3PO didn't remember Obi-Wan and other stuff during the original trilogy. Presumably the Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series will provide a companion sequence where Obi goes on a devastating three-day spice bender with some Jawas and is left with permanent brain damage, thus explaining why he didn't remember C-3PO either.
Anyway, near the end of Rise of Skywalker, after some scenes where C-3PO's virginal memory chips serve as comic relief, we get a short moment where R2-D2 restores his memory using his internal backups and 3PO just goes back to normal. That's it. That's the end of the storyline.
You probably see where we're going this. As seen in the scene from the prequels up there, R2 didn't have his memory wiped. It's been long assumed by fans that R2 remembers the events of the entire saga and might even be the one "narrating" it -- if he ever seems like he doesn't recognize someone it's either because he's playing dumb or because no one asked him. That makes R2 one of the most tragic characters in the series: he has seen his human friends die, be corrupted, or turn into senile swamp trolls and can only verbalize his sadness via "beeps" and "bops."
So picture this: R2 restores the amnesiac 3PO's memory in Rise of Skywalker, and instead of not even noticing it happened, the protocol droid stays still for a second and says, "I remember. All of it." Like, all of it all of it.
Just letting C-3PO remember the events of the prequels would have helped bring the nine-part Skywalker Saga full circle. Besides, his memory was only wiped out of plot convenience, to explain his portrayal in the original trilogy -- there's no reason for him not to remember that stuff anymore. But Rise of Skywalker could have taken this idea further by, say, having 3PO deliver some key information or insight from his newly restored memory banks that lets the good guys defeat the returned Palpatine. Instead of having Rey talk to a random passerby in Tatooine, the movie could have ended with an emotional 3PO showing her around Anakin's little slave home, where he was built and where this whole mess started. (And then she can deliver the "Rey Skywalker" line, if she must.)
The Rise of Skywalker junior novelization briefly implies that 3PO now remembers the prequels, and there are some cool fan edits on YouTube based on this idea ...
... but all of these efforts are undercut by his nonchalant reaction to having nine movies' worth of memories dumped in his head. Still, we guess that's better than "Somehow, C-3PO's memory returned."
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Top image: Lucasfilm