One of the most emotional lines in the final The Rise of Skywalker trailer came from C-3PO. The loyal, worrisome droid has been with Anakin Skywalker from the very beginning, so this story is as much his as anyone’s. He’s seen the Rebellion victoriious and the Resistance on the run. The final trailer shows C-3PO with wires spilling out of his head, undergoing some kind of operation that makes him fear for his life.
“What, ah, what are you doing there, Threepio?” Poe Dameron asks.
“Taking one last look, sir, at my friends,” C-3PO says.
So what exactly is happening here?
The Droid Mechanic Babu Frick
The little alien working on him is Babu Frik, who was first revealed as a toy during Triple Force Friday, the kick-off for The Rise of Skywalker toy promotions. He’s described as an Anzellan, a new species. As a droidsmith, he’s an expert in all things sapient and mechanical, and can crack through any droid programming. In the dimly-lit room behind C-3PO you can see the head of a Seperatist battle droid from the Prequel Trilogy. Babu Frik’s expertise clearly requires knowledge of droids of all makes, models, and ages.
The toy packaging also associates him with a group called the Spice Runners of Kijimi. In the Star Wars universe, spice is a drug that can fetch a good price for smugglers. Babu Frik clearly isn’t on the straight-and-narrow, but the Resistance is down to a handful of people on one ship by the end of The Last Jedi. They need anyone they can get, and smugglers have been an important part of the good guys’ side since Han Solo returned to save the day in A New Hope.
According to Variety, Kijimi is also where the gang meets Keri Russel’s masked character, Zorii Bliss.
Is this why C-3PO has red eyes?
In an earlier teaser trailer, C-3PO was shown with ominously glowing red eyes. On the movie poster, he’s holding a weapon—probably Chewbacca’s bowcaster, going by leaks. C-3PO isn’t exactly a stalwart warrior, even though he has been on the battlefield alongside his friends plenty of times. Could Babu Frik be re-writing him to make him the warrior the Resistance needs?
The teaser trailer also showed a Rey who had seemingly fallen to the dark side. Star Wars uses color symbolism very literally. Many fans joked that C-3PO had also gone to the dark side, some evoking another protocol droid. In the Doctor Aphra comics, the droid 0-0-0 or Triple Zero is a red-eyed protocol droid well-versed in torture.
Now, C-3PO is a very worried droid; if every situation was as dire as he supposed it is, Star Wars would be a very grim series indeed. He regularly assumes the worst, such as when he mistakes Luke, Han, and Leia’s shouts of relief in the trash compactor as screams of pain. But the red eyes and the weapon slung around him seem to indicate that 3PO is headed for the front lines in one capacity or another.
But this is also the last film in the Skywalker saga, and the last chance for Original Trilogy characters to perhaps meet their fates. His longing farewell to his friends resonates with fans who have seen their heroes die, and now face the end of the Skywalker saga.
In the end, a trailer is designed to intrigue, and C-3PO’s appearance and dialogue have certainly done that. Do you think Babu Frik is unlocking C-3PO’s secret dark side, or is the answer more benign? We’ll find out when The Rise of Skywalker opens on Dec. 20.