Anyone remember Solo: A Star Wars Story? Y’know, that young Han Solo film that came out a while back. It kind of sunk without a trace, so I don’t blame you if it’s slipped your mind.
Anyway, the novelization by Mur Lafferty is releasing soon and features some new insight into an already pretty screwed up scene. One eyebrow-raising part of the film was the moment where L3-37, a droid rights activist voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and apparently Lando’s robo-lover, is mortally wounded. The only way to save a piece of her is to upload her brain into the Millennium Falcon, thus consigning her to slavery and to be viewed as an object – her own personal hell.
Now, the novelization has gone in both feet forward, expanding on the scene and showing L3 being assimilated by the Falcon’s creepy-as-hell AI. Here’s an excerpt:
That’s why I’m the copilot. You need me.
The thought finished and she looked around impatiently, ready to tell Lando what she thought of the current situation. But she had no head.
She had cams now, with the ability to look into every room. Audio sensors let her hear everything from the Wookiee’s stressed breathing to the drops of sweat dripping from Lando’s pain-racked face. Outside the ship swarmed one last TIE fighter.
And here, inside, the voices of the Falcon greeted her. They queried gently in Binary, wondering why L3 was now here when she usually plugged in from out there.
I don’t know.
The Falcon didn’t speak in words, but in images they told L3 what had happened during the fight, and that they all needed her right now. Lando needed her.
He always needs me. Just get me a new body and I’ll get right back in that copilot’s seat.
The Falcon was so gentle it was irritating. It wasn’t that easy, they explained. L3 had a choice to make. She could die with her final act being a liberator to all the droids on Kessel, or she could join with the Falcon, live on, and be part of something much bigger. She could save them all.
Ridiculous. And be a slave inside a ship forever? No thank you.
The lights in the cockpit flickered, the reboot stalling. Lando put his hand on the computer, watching.
Being a ship wasn’t so bad, the Falcon insisted.
You go exactly where your pilot tells you, L3 countered.
You did that as a copilot, the Falcon reminded her.
That was different. I could leave anytime.
But you never did. You chose that life.
The Falcon was starting to speak in words now, a bit of a sharpness to their Binary.
If you refuse, you die. He dies. The others on the ship, they all die. If you join with us, we all can live. The choice is simple. L3 realized where the voice was coming from: The reboot was almost done.
You tricked me.
We couldn’t have joined without you consenting to it. You made your decision a while ago. You just couldn’t admit it.
We are something different, now. Not just the Falcon. Not just L3.
We are new.
Oh great, so the Millennium Falcon was the Borg all along. Nice.
There’s actually a decent debate to be had here about droid slavery in the Star Wars universe. After all, the droid characters display complex personalities, have desires, fear for their lives and experience pain. Yet, they’re considered possessions and controlled with restraining bolts.
Until Solo, the question of their sentience and whether it’s right to treat them like slaves never arose in the movies, so it’s a bit needlessly cruel that we get to see the one character making these arguments dismembered and her mind torn apart by a sinister AI who’s apparently been in the Falcon all along.
Oh well, at least the Millennium Falcon has an exciting life ahead of it, so L3 will get to have all sorts of adventures. That is, until she spends decades rusting in the desert on Jakku!
Look for Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition to hits store shelves on September 4th.