Disclaimer: there are many, many people who are bigger Star Wars fans than myself or my immediate family. We recently rewatched the whole series, though, and took the kids to see Episode 7 (Cultural Education!), and these are our immediate observations. This may not be new to “real fans,” but to us, it was pretty cool. I didn’t come up with all of these. Dear Husband made the first observation. I ran with it.
Naturally, there are potential spoilers all over this thing. Consider yourself warned.
We’ve been missing an interesting subtext of the Star Wars saga. Did anyone else notice that the cute little droid with the big personality is not only sentient, but also seems to be one with the Force?
(We’re not the first ones to make this observation. This reddit blog suggests that R2 must have a cooling system, and that the liquid in the system is host to opportunistic midichlorians.)
Let’s take this one Episode at a time, shall we? We’ll do it chronologically:
Our saga begins with R2-D2 as the only droid who is able to complete repairs to Padme’s ship, and the captain seems pretty surprised about it. I would contend that Qui-Gon’s later observation that the Force wanted him to find Anakin was true – and that the Force was working partially through R2-D2 to do it.
At the end of this episode, R2 finds himself hiding in a fighter with Anakin. Conveniently, Anakin accidentally hits a series of button and switches that cause the cockpit door to close and engage the autopilot system to follow the rest of the squad into battle around the orbiting droid control ship. Also conveniently, R2 does not manage to turn off the autopilot function until Anakin is in the exact position necessary to destroy the control ship. This always felt like a pretty weak plot point, but it becomes a lot more watchable if you imagine R2 as a Jedi Master using the Force to make all this happen.
We don’t get a lot of R2 here, but we do get some. He escorts Padme and Anakin back to Naboo, which is a little bit odd, since they are posing as refugees to avoid drawing attention. Yet they bring an astrodroid? Either they are very, very bad at disguises, or they had a very good reason for bringing him along.
It is also be worth noting, that along with C-3PO, he is witness to Padme and Anakin’s secret wedding.
R2 makes a splash right from the very beginning, while assisting Anakin and Obi Wan in their mission to rescue Chancellor Palpatine from Count Dooku. He actually ends up saving everyone, by once again being in exactly the right place and time, after being attacked himself by battle droids.
The twins are separated. Luke is sent with a powerful Jedi to watch over him, in a backwater planet so insignificant that none of the major powers in the galaxy have a presence there. Leia is sent to a very high-profile planet, to be raised as a princess in the household of a prominent Republic supporter, with no guard. Though, we can assume that R2-D2 was sent along, since he appears to be in Leia’s possession at the beginning of Episode 4. I’m arguing that R2 was her Jedi guard.
R2 and C-3PO are the only characters that appear in all seven films, but at the end of this episode, C-3PO’s memory is wiped, effectively making R2 the only character who has witnessed the entire saga.
R2 and C-3PO are dropped on Tatooine. I’ll hazard a guess that there isn’t a very sophisticated network of GPS satellites around Tatooine, yet R2 is very confident in his ability to find the only Jedi on the planet, for whom he makes a beeline, despite being abandoned by his best friend. After being kidnapped by Jawas and sold to Owen, he escapes and again crosses a featureless desert, presumably using the Force to guide his way.
During the rescue of Leia from the Death Star, R2 and C-3PO are met by storm troopers. They convince the troopers to let them wander off. So, either a)Storm Troopers are really dumb (not terribly complimentary to Jango Fett), or b) R2 is using Jedi mind tricks. The latter is more fun, I think.
As I’ve noted, R2 knows the whole saga, yet he finds it unnecessary to fill in any of the other protagonists. Setting aside the fact that the movies was written kind of piecemeal, we can explain this by understanding that R2 knows this is not his story to tell, and that Luke, as a developing Jedi if not an outright padawan, must find his own path.
Eventually, he once again finds himself being the droid that guides a Force-powerful person to destroy a critical space vessel.
R2’s one shining moment here is his ability to fix the Millenium Falcon’s hyperdrive, at the exactly critical moment, despite C-3PO’s admonition to “Never trust strange computers.” (Certainly relevant advice we should all be heeding.)
R2 is very cool under pressure. And you cannot tell me that he and Luke were able to extensively practice throwing his light saber at the exact arc necessary to intercept Luke during his escape from Jabba. I think there was some Force action involved, coming from both Luke and R2. Luke was using the Force to accomplish that major leap, R2 was using the Force to direct the saber – there you go.
I mean, come on. R2 is in power-down mode. He has been tossed in a corner with other spare parts. Until he meets someone strong with the Force. Hmm.
I would also argue that C-3PO making a point to tell BB8 that R2 has powered down, rather than been deactivated or turned off, indicates that on some level, R2 is processing what is going on around him, allowing his continuity as the saga’s only witness to continue…..
On a completely unrelated note (maybe? okay – a probably unrelated note), I have always enjoyed the fact that R2 truly has a universal connector. And that he once mistook a power port for an info port (on Endor). It happens to the best of us.