Reconsidering Star Wars - The R2D2 Theory
A New Sith, or Revenge of the Hope
Reconsidering Star Wars IV in the light of I-III
If we accept all the Star Wars films as the same canon, then a lot that happens in the original films has to be reinterpreted in the light of the prequels. As we now know, the rebel Alliance was founded by Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa. What can readily be deduced is that their first recruit, who soon became their top field agent, was R2-D2.
Consider: at the end of RotS, Bail Organan orders 3PO's memory wiped but not R2's. He wouldn't make the distinction casually. Both droids know that Yoda and Obi-Wan are alive and are plotting sedition with the Senator from Alderaan. They know that Amidala survived long enough to have twins and could easily deduce where they went. However, R2 must make an impassioned speech to the effect that he is far more use to them with his mind intact: he has observed Palpatine and Anakin at close quarters for many years, knows much that is useful and is one of the galaxy's top experts at hacking into other people's systems. Also he can lie through his teeth with a straight face. Organa, in immediate need of espionage resources, agrees.
For the next 20 years, as far as 3PO knows, he is the property of Captain Antilles, doing protocol duties on a diplomatic transport. He is vaguely aware of the existence of the princess but doesn't know much about her. Wherever 3PO goes, being as loud and obvious as he always is, his unobtrusive little counterpart goes with him. 3PO is R2's front man. Wherever they land, R2 is passing messages between rebel sympathisers and sizing up governments as potential rebel recruits - both by personal contact and by hacking into their networks. He passes his recommendations on to Organa.
Yoda is out of the picture by this stage, using the Force-infused swamps of Dagobah to hide himself from Vader and the Emperor. Or something. He is meditating on the future and keeping in touch with Obi-Wan via the ghost of Qui-Gon Jin, which as comm systems go has the virtue of being untappable. Obi-Wan, on Tattoine, keeps in touch with Bail Organa and the other Rebel leaders by courier, of which more later.
As Star Wars opens, R2 is rushing the Death Star plans to the Rebellion. R2, not Leia. The plans are always in R2. What Leia puts into him in the early scene is only her own holographic message to Kenobi. Leia's own mission, as she says in the holographic message, is to pick up Obi-Wan and take him to Alderaan - or so she thinks. Actually, her father just wants her to meet Kenobi, which up to this point she never has. There's a reason for that.
Obi-Wan has spent the last 20 years in the Tattoine desert, keeping watch over Luke Skywalker and trying to decide on one of the three available options:
A) If Luke shows no significant access to the Force, then leave him alone in obscurity
B) If Luke shows real Force ability, then consider recruiting him as a Jedi. The rebellion needs Jedi. Now.
But, if Luke shows any signs of turning out like his father, then C) sneak into his house one fine night and chop his head off. With great regret but it'll save a lot of trouble later on.
Knowing this to be the case, Bail Organa (perhaps at the insistence of his wife) has found excuses not to send Leia to Ben for assessment of Jedi potential, largely for fear of option C.
To be fair to all concerned, Leia has shown no overt signs of a link to the Force. Luke on the other hand has. In his home-built hotrod aircraft, with no formal fighter pilot training and no decent instrumentation, Luke can regularly score centre-hits on 2-metre targets in complicated zero-altitude maneouvres. Until he attends the briefing on Yavin, Luke has no way of knowing that hardened combat pilots would consider that nearly impossible. To him it's easy. Obi-Wan, who saw Anakin's performance in the Pod Race, is nervous.
Much of Obi-Wan's behaviour in this film, and Yoda's in the next, can best be understood if they are frankly scared to death of what Luke might become. (Ben is also scared that he himself will make all the same mistakes he made with Anakin.)
Now, with the existence of the rebellion at stake, Bail Organa has finally told Leia to go see Obi-Wan and has sent her along with R2. The original plan would then be for Obi-Wan (with optional Luke and/or Leia in tow) to leave his exile and take the Death Star plans to Yavin, where they can be put to use. R2 (with Leia if Ben doesn't want to take her) would then carry on to Alderaan to maintain the cover story. The original plan does not survive contact with a large Imperial Star Destroyer.
R2 and 3PO bail out in an escape pod, landing in vaguely the right area of Tattoine, where R2's first priority is transport. He arranges to be captured by a group of Jawas and, once on board their transport, he makes a deal with them (possibly using emergency funds stored about his person) to take him where he wants to go. The Jawas refuse to go directly to Kenobi for fear of marauding Sandpeople but they agree to R2's second request : transport to the Skywalker farm. They even get to keep the purchase price if they can sell R2 and 3PO there. The Jawas shake on it and go through with the plan.
Seeing 3PO fail to recognise the farm where he worked for 10 years gives r2 a moment's amusement but, as soon as possible, he gets away and heads for Kenobi. Luke and 3PO follow, which may or may not have been part of the plan.
On first seeing R2, Obi-Wan has a twinkle in his eye and calls him "my little friend". Well, he is. However, when Luke wakes up and says that R2 claimed to be owned by an Obi-Wan Kenobi, he blandly says "I don't seem to remember ever owning a droid." Ben has in fact owned several but the remark is aimed at R2 and translates as "You keep quiet. I'm not about to tell him everything just yet." Obi-Wan thinks fast and tells Luke a version of his past that does not involve a father who became a dark lord of the Sith. He wants to examine Luke a lot more closely before he risks telling him the real truth.
Although the Death Star plans need to get to Yavin as soon as possible, Obi-Wan needs to make one more diversion first. If the Empire knows that Leia is a Rebel leader, then they also know about her father and the whole Organa family may need immediate evacuation. Fortunately, before coming to Tattoine, R2 had already arranged transport, which is waiting at Mos Eisley, under the command of the Rebellion's other chief field agent and espionage asset. Chewbacca.
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