Star Wars fans have argued over the idea of ‘droid rights’ for years. After all, they’re clearly sentient, intelligent beings with desires, fears and a wide spectrum of emotions. And yet, they’re treated as slaves by the Rebellion and Empire alike – to the point that they’re fitted with the ominous sounding ‘restraining bolts’ to ensure they don’t disobey their owner’s orders. With the character of L3-37 in Solo: A Star Wars Story though, the idea that droid slavery should be fought against finally got a figurehead in Lando’s navigator, partner and apparently, girlfriend.
She’s drastically different to pretty much every droid we’ve seen in the franchise to date and is burning with a powerful sense of injustice, recognizes her own self-worth and clearly has ambitions far beyond being Lando’s robotic pal. Which is what makes her eventual fate so incredibly screwed up.
Her pivotal scene comes when she incites a droid rebellion that allows Han and the team to steal unrefined coaxium, during which she’s shot and crippled. Lando runs to her and, with Chewie’s help, drags most of her broken body back to the Falcon, where she deactivates. Soon after they’re in need of her navigation data during the Kessel Run, and so Lando rips her brain out and uploads her personality to the Falcon’s systems.
Given her past behavior, reducing her to what amounts to a tool without any ability to directly communicate or decide her own fate sounds like L3-37’s personal hell. Her autonomy as a person has been wrenched away and by the time of A New Hope it seems that everyone has all but forgotten that there’s a soul screaming to get out of the Millennium Falcon. Well, nearly everyone, as when C-3PO interfaces with the ship during The Empire Strikes Back he says:
Sir, I don’t know where your ship learned to communicate, but it has the most peculiar dialect. I believe, sir, it says that the power coupling on the negative axis has been polarized. I’m afraid you’ll have to replace it.
So, we know that L3-37’s still cognizant and trapped inside the Falcon, which must have made the decades it spent rusting on Jakku a never ending nightmare for her. Even more cruelly, Solo: A Star Wars Story presents her thoughts on droid rights as a quirky punchline rather than as something that the franchise should probably have a think about. But it’s not like L3-37 is going to be doing much to advance the cause now anyways, as she’s a de-humanized object forever enslaved by whoever happens to own the Millennium Falcon. Great job, Lucasfilm.