Echo Base

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

In my previous two posts about protocol droids I focused on two from the TC-series of droids: TC-14 and TC-70. In this post, I decided to switch things up once again and go back to the 3PO-series by offering some details about R-3PO, the red protocol droid. 

R-3PO, like its counterpart K-3PO, only appears in The Empire Strikes Back. Specifically, the protocol droid can be found in two distinct scenes in the film, both times in the Echo Base hanger. The first scene is in the opening minutes of the film when Han Solo returns from his tauntaun patrol of Hoth. As Solo walks around an X-Wing and heads towards the Millennium Falcon, which is in the background, one will catch a quick glimpse of R-3PO walking by in the foreground. But to see the droid you have to look closely because the foreground is dark and it is slightly difficult to see R-3PO.

Later in the film, when the Rebels are scrambling to evacuate Echo Base, R-3PO shows up once again. Following the death of Admiral Ozzel, and Captain Piett’s promotion to Admiral, the very next scene takes us back to the Echo Base hanger. Now, we see Rebel pilots running to join Princess Leia’s briefing where she is discussing the evacuation and defense of the base. As the pilots run to the assembly of pilots, R-3PO is clearly visible on the right side of the screen, standing near an X-Wing and watching the commotion unfolding around it. 

And, yeah, that is it. As I said, R-3PO pops up briefly in two scenes. Ultimately, like so many other droids in the saga, R-3PO’s role in The Empire Strikes Back is straight-forward: populating the background in the Star Wars universe. Never-the-less, even though R-3PO is an extremely minor character doing very little on-screen, it has been given a sliver of backstory. As the canonical reference book Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know notes, R-3PO is a “moody, red protocol droid on the lookout for spies” (pg. 164). This counterespionage role for R-3PO is, in fact, a carry over from the Expanded Universe where R-3PO was first presented as being tasked with weeding out spies among the droid pool in Echo Base. And considering this aspect of R-3PO’s background has been maintained in the Star Wars canon, it is probably safe to assume that the droid was also abandoned by its master, a smuggler who “accidentally” left the moody R-3PO in the hands of the Rebel Alliance. 


Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

K-3PO: The Dead Protocol Droid

E-3PO: The Rude Protocol Droid

TC-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

K-3PO: The Dead Protocol Droid

I recently wrote a short piece about U-3PO, the other protocol droid on that Tantive IV at the beginning of A New Hope. I did so because a friend had asked me about the protocol droid, wondering if I had any information about it. After writing that post, I got this crazy idea to write some more posts about protocol droids which appear off to the side or in the background of scenes throughout the Star Wars saga. And so, in this post, I want to jump into The Empire Strikes Back and offer some brief background, along with my unsolicited thoughts, on K-3PO, the dead protocol droid in the Rebel base on Hoth.

K-3PO behind Toryn Farr
K-3PO stands behind Toryn Farr.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Easily identified by its white-plating and two red dots on the right side of its chest, K-3PO is a protocol droid that works in the Echo Base command center. The first time K-3PO appears in The Empire Strikes Back is when Han Solo enters the command center to tell General Rieekan that he is planning to leave the Alliance. In that scene, K-3PO is working at a tactical screen as Solo walks by. Later, when the fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers arrive in orbit above Hoth, the protocol droid can be found once again in the command center, just before the ion cannon is fired, standing behind Toryn Farr, the woman who is speaking in this particular scene.

After the Battle of Hoth commences, with the Rebels fighting desperately to hold off the advancing Imperial Walkers, we once again return to the Rebel commander center with Han Solo. Questioned by Princess Leia about why he is still in the base, Solo comments that he heard that “the command center had been hit” by the Empire. The scene suggests as much, with the twisted wreckage of screens and computers strewn about the icy room. And there, among the wreckage, is the “lifeless” form of K-3PO, right arm missing and a massive scorch mark emblazoned on its white chest.

To be honest, I have always appreciated that K-3PO is laying among the wreckage in the command center. I admit this seems a bit strange, an odd expression of enthusiasm over K-3PO’s demise. But this is not to say I wanted the droid to die. Far from it. No, what I appreciate is that the protocol droid’s “death” adds an extra layer, even a small one, to the dire situation the Rebels find themselves in at this moment in the film. While K-3PO is not the focus of the scene, its prominent place in the foreground as Han Solo climbs over debris forces the audience to take notice, to recognize that this Rebel droid is a casualty of the Imperial attack. Every time I watch The Empire Strikes Back I cannot help but look at the dead protocol droid, a droid I have seen, albeit briefly, actively working in this very command center in those two previous scenes. I may not have known this protocol droid, not in the way I know R2-D2 or C-3PO, but a tiny amount of sympathy never-the-less takes hold when I see its broken, inactive form among the mangled screens, wires, and debris of the Rebel base.


Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

E-3PO: The Rude Protocol Droid

TC-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

Trooping Through the Snow

This month’s Star Wars ComLINKS topic is Favorite Trooper and I have to say, when it was announced I got really excited but also knew that it was gonna end up being hard to narrow down which type of trooper I love. In fact, right after I read the topic on Anakin and His Angel, I jokingly told Jenmarie (who runs the site) that my choice was “all of them.” For a hot minute, I actually thought about writing about all of the troopers in Star Wars, explaining my love for each one, but I decided to nix that idea because 1) I don’t have the time and 2) the topic is singular, not plural. So, I buckled down and spent some time doing reflecting and it hit me:

My Favorite Trooper in Star Wars is the Cold Weather Assault Stormtrooper, otherwise known as the Imperial Snowtrooper.

I feel like I have said this about a hundred thousand times in other posts, but my favorite Star Wars movie has always been The Empire Strikes Back. A while ago, I wrote about how my favorite creature, the Wampa, is introduced in the film, and I have also written posts on my love of the Imperial Walkers and another on my fascination with General Veers. It should really come as no surprise, then, that my favorite type of trooper in Star Wars are the unique-looking soldiers who storm into the Rebel base on the ice planet Hoth. That said, I should note that my fascination with the Snowtrooper is not superficial, a mere by-product of my enduring love of The Empire Strikes Back. Rather, it is really the other way around – the various facets that make up the film provide all of the reasons I love it, especially those facets dealing with the Empire. 

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A Snowtrooper fires at the Millenium Falcon.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

You see, like Senator Ransolm Casterfo in Claudia Gray’s novel Bloodline, I too have always had a fascination with the Empire. This is not to suggest I support or admire the unjust, dictatorial and genocidal tendencies of Imperial rule, but rather that I have always found myself wanting to know more about the “bad guys” in Star Wars in hopes of coming to a deeper understanding of how it operates on every level. In this regard, I have always felt that of all three films in the Original Trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back provides the most fascinating look at the Empire, although this hardly means I dislike what we learn in the other two films. Rather, The Empire Strikes Back takes the monolithic Empire from A New Hope and adds a dynamic new way of thinking about it while also maintaining its terrifying essence.

The most obvious way the film does this (though not the only way) is by utilizing elements of the Imperial military first introduced in A New Hope – Star Destroyers, TIE Fighters, and Stormtroopers – while also adding to the Empire’s arsenal of soldiers and weapons. Thus, we are introduced to a handful of new military assets in the film: Probe Droids, a Super Star Destroyer, TIE Bombers, All-Terrain Armored Transports (AT-AT), All-Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST), and of course, the Snowtrooper. On the surface, these new elements visually represent the breadth of the Imperial military, showing that the Empire has far more at its disposal than previously thought. However, these assets also add incredible depth to Imperial power, depth that I continue to uncover in new ways each time I watch The Empire Strikes Back.

At this point, I could very well go into detail about the depth I am speaking of as it relates to each military asset introduced in the film. However, since the focus of this piece is my favorite trooper in Star Wars, I will end with some thoughts on the introduction of the Snowtrooper in The Empire Strikes Back and how, as a kid, their appearance added a dynamic dimension to my understanding of the Empire.

Into the Cold

The first thing that should be said about the Snowtroopers is perhaps the most obvious: their appearance in The Empire Strikes Back is very brief. The first Snowtrooper we meet is in a short scene with General Veers, the Imperial officer leading the assault on Hoth in an AT-AT. Speaking to the soldier – presumably a commander of some type – Veers states that “All troops will debark for ground assault.” Otherwise, the bulk of scenes involving the Snowtroopers take place inside the Rebel Base, the men and women racing through the halls along with Darth Vader. In turn, as the Millenium Falcon attempts to escape, we see the troopers set up their weapons and begin firing at the ship, with return fire from the Falcon killing a handful of the white clad soldiers.

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A screenshot of a Snowtrooper in Star Wars Battlefront.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Battlefront (EA Dice)

Like I said, their appearance in the film is very brief. And yet, even in their brevity, the Snowtroopers left an indelible mark on me, an enduring fascination that I have never been able to shake (not that I want to). On the surface, this mark is purely aesthetic, an interest in the outfit these soldiers wear into battle. In all honesty, I have always felt that the Snowtrooper uniform is quite beautiful, an admittedly odd sentiment but one I can no more explain than the beauty I see in a flower.

But passing beyond the aesthetic, what the Snowtrooper taught me about the Empire is something far more pointed. It showed me that the Empire utilizes Stormtrooper units that are trained and equipped for certain contingencies, in this case warfare on a icy planets. Granted, we do see different types of Stormtroopers in A New Hope – Sandtroopers and Spacetroopers – but these are all variations on the standard armor that most of these soldiers wear. The Snowtrooper, on the other hand, stands out because its armor is fundamentally different from these other Stormtrooper units. And it is this very reason, this difference in armor, that helped pry open the door to the my Imperial imagination and made me realize these were not just ordinary Stormtroopers with different armor, but an elite type of Stormtrooper with a singular military purpose.

And with that said, I leave you with a thought that has rattled around in my brain for as long as I can remember: while I absolutely love the Imperial Walkers introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, a small part of me wishes, instead, that we could have witnessed the specially trained Snowtroopers methodically capturing the Rebel trenches on Hoth as a blizzard rages around them…that would have been a hell of a sight.


This post is part of the Star Wars ComLINKS series. Check out more Star Wars ComLINKS over at Anakin and His Angel.

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Imperial Walkers on the North Ridge

With the one year anniversary of The Imperial Talker coming up, I thought it’d be appropriate to do a post on Imperial Walkers (I think you know why). What follows are some general thoughts and impressions on the use of the Walkers in The Empire Strikes Back


Echo Station 3-T-8. We have spotted Imperial walkers.” – Rebel soldier

A few minutes before the Imperial Walkers make their first appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, we watch as Rebel infantry prepare for the oncoming ground assault. The musical score that plays hints at the tension these soldiers are feeling as they make their preparations and scan the distant horizon for Imperial forces. But all that can be seen in the distance are cloudy billows of snow, made, we can presume, by Imperial ships landing forces on the glacial Moorsh Moraine.

When the enemy is spotted minutes later, shortly after the first transport safely evacuates Echo Base, the tension is cut for viewer and soldier alike. Now, as we look off at the horizon, small black objects can be seen, and a strange mechanical sound, albeit faint, can be heard. In a flash, the infantry prepare their weapons, taking aim while one soldier, a sergeant, places electrobinoculars up to his eyes. Transported into his eye’s, we now get our first glimpse of an Imperial Walker…or rather, of a Walker’s massive foot slamming down to the ground.

Walker Foot
The foot of an Imperial Walker slams to the ground.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

I have always loved this shot, the fact that the first time we see the All-Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) – the technical name for the Imperial Walker – we only see a solitary foot. To me, this shot of an Imperial Walker’s foot is one of the most brilliant shots in all of Star Wars. The image serves as a momentary metaphor, a visual statement informing us of what the Empire plans to do to the Rebels on Hoth: crush them. 

Having zoomed in too closely, the Rebel soldier begins to zoom out and pan up, giving us a full profile of the towering war machine the foot belongs too. In turn, as he continues to zoom out, two more Imperial Walkers come into view. Just from looking at them, one can easily tell that these massive, mechanical beasts are perfectly Imperial, each one serving as a visual reminder of the power the Empire possesses, even after the loss of the Death Star.

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The Rebel soldier zooms out and a number of Imperial Walkers come into view.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Added to this visual reminder of the Empire’s power, though, is also the fact that these slow, cumbersome war machines are marching across an open and barren tundra. In short, General Veers, the commander of the Imperial ground assault, has opted for a frontal assault against a well-fortified position, a position that has received no aerial or artillery bombardment. Logic would suggest that the Imperial force will be cut to shreds, and yet, that is far from what happens…

As the battle opens, it quickly becomes apparent the AT-AT is formidable beyond compare. As Rebel soldiers fire weapons of all types at the advancing machines, nothing happens. Luke Skywalker himself, leading a squadron of T-47 Airspeeders in the battle, exclaims the obvious early in the battle: the armor on the Walkers is too strong for blasters. Some other tactic must be used to slow the advance of these mechanical beasts.

Well, another tactic does work when the Airspeeder flown by Wedge Antilles and  his gunner Wes Janson, trip a Walker with a tow cable. However, it is also the ONLY time this particular tactic will work. Surely, other Airspeeder pilots and gunners followed suit and attempted to destroy the Walkers with tow cables, but it is clear that none were successful. And so, the Walkers continue their march towards the Rebel position, and in the process even knock Skywalker out of the fight when his Airspeeder is hit and crashes. It certainly is telling that the hero of the Rebellion, the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, is shot down during the Battle of Hoth, a clear indication that even he cannot defeat the Empire alone.

What his crash also signifies, though, is the turning point in the Battle of Hoth. Even if his crash is not the tactical turning point, the collapse of Rebel defenses, in the film at least, begins after Luke is knocked out of the fight. We witness this collapse first-hand as the Rebel infantry, whom we earlier watched preparing for battle, now flee their trenches, shouts of “retreat” and “fall back” echoing down the line. In what I would consider to be one of the most iconic shots in all of Star Wars, we see the Imperial Walkers in the background towering over the panicked Rebel soldiers who are in the foreground (the picture is below). The image helps to give us a clear understanding of just how massive these Walkers are compared to the average human, another visual reminder of the size and power of the Empire, and a clear sign that the Rebellion is much smaller and far weaker than its enemy. In a sense, we already know this to be true, but it is fascinating, and chilling, to see it expressed so poignantly in this particular scene.

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An iconic Star Wars image: Imperial Walkers tower over the retreating Rebel infantry. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Interestingly, immediately following this iconic scene, Luke Skywalker reappears and uses some creative heroics to destroy another Imperial Walker. While his action is not enough to stem the tide of the Imperial assault, we can certainly assume that some of the retreating Rebels would have been emboldened by the sudden destruction of an AT-AT. Still, the deed is far too little, too late. Only after Luke’s small victory, General Veers, commanding the attack from his own Walker, will destroy the shield generator that protects the Rebel base, and the Battle of Hoth comes to an end.