C-3PO’s storyline in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was not one of the most well-received elements of the movie, to put it lightly. The trailers made a big deal of Threepio apparently making a noble sacrifice, but in the film itself the droid simply loses his memories for a bit and then is fine again when R2-D2 re-downloads them back into his head. Problem solved.
This would’ve been a whole lot more satisfying if the full repercussions of Artoo giving Threepio his memories back were explored. For instance, the former has always retained his experiences from the prequels, whereas Threepio hasn’t. But TROS left it unexplained if the protocol droid finally remembers everything that’s happened to him across the Skywalker saga.
The Rise of Skywalker junior novelization by Michael Kogge has now cleared things up a bit though as it features some narration from Threepio’s point-of-view once Artoo restores his memories, revealing that he can now access his very first memory from The Phantom Menace.
“This caused a memory file that R2-D2 had restored to be accessed and read. It was a record of the moment when C-3P0’s maker had fitted a photoreceptor into his eye socket and he had experienced the visual spectrum for the first time. The initial image his photoreceptors had captured was of a blue-and-white astromech.”
The novelization doesn’t spell it out, but as we all know, “C-3PO’s maker” is young Anakin Skywalker, something that the droid has forgotten ever since Bail Organa ordered his mind to be wiped at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Again, we still don’t know if Threepio has put the whole story together in his head yet, but at least this passage does reveal the very sweet detail that Artoo is the first thing he saw.
Funnily enough, the question of why R2-D2 didn’t do anything with his memories in the Original Trilogy – like tell Luke who his dad was, for example – has just been raised on social media, with even Mark Hamill unable to say why. Maybe off-screen post-Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, now that he’s got his memories back, Threepio will ask Artoo the same question.