Protocol Droid

M-3PO: The Rogue Protocol Droid

Introduced in Rogue Squadron, the first novel in Michael A. Stackpole’s fantastic X-Wing series, I have always held a special place in my Star Wars heart for M-3PO. A modified 3PO-series military protocol droid with the unique clamshell head of a spaceport control droid, M-3PO is more commonly known by the nickname “Emtrey.” Introduced in the book by Commander Wedge Antilles, Emtrey is the squadron quartermaster (hence why I have dubbed it “the rogue protocol droid”) and is tasked with using its “scrounging protocol” to find the necessary parts to maintain the squadron’s X-Wings. Additionally, Emtrey is responsible for creating pilot duty assignments and caring for other administrative tasks that are required to keep the famed squadron functioning at peak performance.

While Emtrey’s base programming makes it an integral part of Rogue Squadron’s operations it is a hidden program within Emtrey that makes the protocol droid an oddity. Discovered by squadron executive officer Captain Tycho Celchu while ferrying himself and Emtrey to the planet Talasea, Celchu stumbles upon a “wait-state” when he tells the droid to “shut up” three times in a row which allows one to access the entirety of Emtrey’s database and memory banks. As the Captain explains to the smuggler Mirax Terrik, “we were in combat and he [Emtrey} wouldn’t stop nattering. I ended up yelling at him to shut up and after the third time, this happened.” An obvious homage to the nattering of C-3PO and the penchant of those around the golden droid to tell him to shut up, the funny “little trick” that Celchu discovers leads Terrik to an important observation: “That’s dangerous for a droid doing military work.

Captain Celchu confirms that “there are a number of things odd about this droid…” which, in his role as executive officer working closely with the squadron quartermaster, he discovers. But this wait-state is the oddest, and while there is some obvious humor in someone deactivating a nattering protocol droid by telling it to shut up, Terrik is also correct, this function is dangerous. Even though Celchu and Terrik are able to utilize the wait-state to help Rogue Squadron, in the hands of the enemy Emtrey’s databanks would otherwise be ripe for the picking. Valuable information about the internal workings of the New Republic’s military would be readily available once Imperial operatives told the droid to “shut up” three times.

Except, this IS the point of Emtrey’s odd programming, having been intentionally installed by New Republic Intelligence. This is a fact we do not learn in Rogue Squadron but never-the-less makes perfect sense once it is revealed in a novel later in the X-Wing series. I dare not spoil the reason, though. While these books have been around for 20+ years if you’ve never read them, and this is the first time you have even heard of Emtrey, I would hate to ruin the reason for this “little trick.” And, if you have read the series, and you DO know why Emtrey shut’s down when told to shut up, you can just keep that to yourself 😉


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

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

TC-326: The Military Protocol Droid

4-A7: The Caretaker Protocol Droid

4-A7: The Caretaker Protocol Droid

It has been a while since I added a new post to my Protocol Droid series so I thought I would return to it once again. For this piece I decided to highlight another droid from The Clone Wars movie, in large part because the film is often overshadowed by the The Clone Wars animated series. Personally, I have always really liked the film, even believing (rightly, in my humble opinion) that it should be listed/ranked with the other Star Wars films. Just because it is animated does not make it any less of a Star Wars movie, but I will save that conversation for another occasion.

Previously, I brought attention to TC-70, Jabba the Hutt’s protocol droid which plays a small role as a translator in The Clone Wars movie. This time, I wanted to go from the TC-series to an RA-7 series protocol droid that also plays a minor but significant role in the film.

Masquerading as the caretaker protocol droid in the B’omarr Monastery on the planet Teth, 4-A7 is actually a spy working for the Separatist Alliance. When Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his padawan Ahsoka Tano, along with the clone troopers of Torrent Company, defeat the battle droids garrisoned in the monastery 4-A7 greets them with a grateful attitude. “You have liberated me from those dreadful battle bots,” 4-A7 humbly states, deflecting any suspicions that may be raised. With the Jedi inquiring about the location of Jabba the Hutt’s infant son Rotta, 4-A7 points them towards the “detention level” where the child is being held captive by the Separatist droids.

Unbeknownst to Skywalker or Tano, rescuing the child is precisely what the Separatist’s want. With Rotta in the possession of the Jedi, 4-A7 performs his true task: recording the Jedi with the Huttlet so Count Dooku can show Jabba that it was the Jedi Order who kidnapped his son. His act as caretaker completed, 4-A7 plays one final and small part in the film a short time later.

With the Separatists launching an assault on the Monastery, this time to liberate Rotta from the Jedi and the clones, Skywalker and Tano flee with the Hutt to a landing pad on a nearby plateau. There, it is Ahsoka who discovers 4-A7 as she heads towards the nearby ship. “Hey, you’re that caretaker droid, I wondered what happened to you,” she states, the droid clearly caught off-guard by her presence. As the masculine-sounding 4-A7 explains “his” desire to get away from the fight, a few battle droids walk into view and tell the “caretaker” that they are ready to leave. “His” cover blown, 4-A7 orders the battle droids to attack but Ahsoka is up to the challenge, dispatching them with ease. “Don’t you dare,” 4-A7 indignantly declares as the young Jedi turns her green blade towards the droid. But Ahsoka is not swayed. With a swipe of her lightsaber, the disembodied head of 4-A7 bounces and rolls down the ramp of the ship, the phrase “don’t you dare” slowly fading away as the caretaker’s system shuts down.


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

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

TC-326: The Military Protocol Droid

TC-326: The Military Protocol Droid

Making its only appearance in “Brain Invaders,” a Season Two episode of The Clone Wars, TC-326 is the military protocol droid which assists Anakin Skywalker when the Jedi interrogates the Geonosian Archduke Poggle the Lesser. Demanding to know how to stop an infestation of parasitic brain worms on-board his Padawan’s starship, Anakin relies on the TC-series protocol droid with masculine programing to translate what Poggle says. His attempt at a mind probe of the Archduke failing, Anakin then turns to violence and torture, Force choking the Geonosian while TC-326 stands in the corner.

TC-326

TC-326
Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 8: “Brain Invaders”

Truthfully, there is not a great deal more to say about TC-326 beyond just a handful of points. The protocol droid never shows up in another episode of The Clone Wars so far as I can tell, and even in “Brain Invaders” it only appears in the scene described above and, briefly, in an earlier scene at the beginning of the episode. What I can offer, though, is a question I have often wondered regarding the protocol droids involvement in the interrogation of Poggle: did Anakin wipe TC-326’s memory?

Moments after Anakin tortures the Archduke, we see him explain to the other Jedi present on the Venator-class Star Destroyer that he was able to extract the information from Poggle they needed. Surprised, the gathered Jedi Masters – Luminara Unduli, Ki-Adi Mundi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi – question how he was able to do this, wanting to know how he was able to get Poggle to cooperate. Unsurprisingly, Anakin ignores their questions, instead declaring that “there wasn’t time to get the rest of you” and “all that matters is he [Poggle] told me how to stop the worms.”

While this exchange is brief, with Anakin otherwise blowing off their inquiries, there is also an obvious concern among the Jedi Masters, particularly Unduli and Mundi. They know something is amiss and one can easily presume their concern was heightened by Anakin’s dismissive tone. This, then, is why I have oftened wondered whether Skywalker wiped TC-326’s memory, to ensure that the protocol droid could not be interrogated by the other Jedi about the technique(s) he used to extract information from Poggle.

This is not to suggest an answer needs to be provided regarding the memory wipe, or whether the Jedi Master’s ever investigated the matter. Some things are better left to the imagination, not needing any type of “official” explanation. For my part, I like to imagine that Anakin did not wipe TC-326’s memory. Instead, so caught up in trying to save Ahsoka Tano, his Padawan, as she fought the brain worms lightyears away, the Jedi Knight simply forgot. In turn, I also like to imagine that Unduli and Mundi did investigate, wanting to know precisely how Anakin convinced Poggle to assist them. And since TC-326 was the only witness available to them, I like to imagine TC-326 describing Skywalker’s dark actions with an emotional less, matter-of-fact tone as the two Jedi Masters listen in silent horror.

What happened after that? Well, I will leave that to your imagination.


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

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

4-A7: The Caretaker Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

In the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, author Donald F. Glut offers a paragraph detailing the bounty hunters Darth Vader assembles to hunt down the Millennium Falcon. Bossk, Zuckuss, Dengar, IG-88, and Boba Fett, each are named and briefly described, with Fett receiving the lions share of the attention. But what really stands out in the description of these “amoral money-grubbers” is that 4-LOM, the bounty hunting protocol droid, is not mentioned. Even though 4-LOM appears in The Empire Strikes Back alongside the other hunters named above, the droid was, for some reason, left out of the novelization.

The absence of 4-LOM from the book is certainly odd but luckily the bounty hunter has received other opportunities to shine, particularly in the Expanded Universe. But rather than list all of those stories, or try to paint some all-encompassing picture of the protocol droid’s endeavors, I thought I would highlight one tale from the Expanded Universe that I have always enjoyed, a tale that is specifically about 4-LOM and his partnership with the Gand bounty hunter Zuckuss.

Tales of the Bounty Hunters
The cover of Tales of the Bounty Hunters. 4-LOM is in the bottom left-hand corner.
Photo Credit – Random House

“Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM” can be found in Tales of the Bounty Hunters, an anthology offering short stories about the six fortune seekers from The Empire Strikes Back. Written by M. Shayne Bell, “Of Possible Futures” takes place during and immediately after the events of The Empire Strikes Back. It depicts 4-LOM and Zuckuss traveling to meet with Darth Vader and subsequently determining how they will go about capturing Han Solo and the crew of the Millennium Falcon.

Now, I do not want to spend the rest of this post detailing everything that happens in the short story, as I would rather encourage you to go (re)read it for yourself. The entire narrative seamlessly fits into the larger context of the film, and even adds a bonus storyline about Toryn Farr (she is the woman from the film who says “Stand by Ion Control…Fire”). But while I absolutely love how the plot unfolds, and the fact that 4-LOM and Zuckuss each receive extended backstories, what I find truly fascinating about the tale is that 4-LOM spends a large chunk of the story attempting to gain intuition.

As a droid, 4-LOM is governed by logic, rationalizing actions and outcomes based on the processes running on his operating system. With his reasoning skills leading him from serving others to the life of a bounty hunter, which his backstory details, we come to learn early in the tale that 4-LOM is studying his partner Zuckuss to discover how to become intuitive. With his Gand partner spending countless hours meditating, “feeling” his way to knowledge, 4-LOM observes, collects and analyzes the raw data to discern how to unlock a process that is beyond reason.

Does this work? Is 4-LOM able to accomplish his goal of gaining intuition? Well, like I said, you will have to (re)read “Of Possible Futures” to find out. Or, perhaps you will just have to wait for me to write a post about “The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM,” something I am considering because it really is a good story with a lot to explore. Instead of telling you what happens, whether 4-LOM figures out how to be intuitive like his partner, I will instead close this piece by offering you these four random facts about the bounty hunting protocol droid:

  1. 4-LOM is a LOM-series protocol droid. Produced by Industrial Automaton to serve insectoid species in the Star Wars galaxy, the LOM-series droids are unique for their insect-like head and notable compound eyes.
  2. The ship 4-LOM and Zuckuss own is named the Mist Hunter. It is a modified G-1A starfighter.
  3.  4-LOM is included as a minifigure, along with IG-88, Dengar and Bossk, in the LEGO Star Wars set Bounty Hunter Speeder Bike Battle Pack. Sadly, Zuckuss was not included in this set, but the Gand, along with 4-LOM and Boba Fett, are included in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Slave I. 
  4. A few years ago I was asked to join a team for a Star Wars trivia night at a local bar and our team name was 4-LOM for the Win. We came in second. I am still bitter.

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

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

Given the ubiquity of droids in the Star Wars universe it should come as no surprise that some of these robots would be members of notable pirate gangs. An RA-7 series protocol droid with distinct green and white plating, 4A-R2 has the esteemed distinction of belonging to the infamous Ohnaka Gang.

Led by the fan-favorite Hondo Ohnaka, the Ohnaka Gang was first introduced along with its namesake Captain in the The Clone Wars Season 1, Episode 11: “Dooku Captured.” When we first meet Ohnaka and his predominately Weequay crew they are rummaging through the wreckage of two ships on the planet Vanqor. Count Dooku, having slipped past his Jedi pursuers, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, happens upon the pirates as they plunder his crashed solar sailer and the shuttle which the Jedi had piloted. Seeing Count Dooku approaching, Hondo is surrounded by a handful of Weequay pirates. But look even more closely and you will notice that a droid is also present when Hondo and Dooku begin speaking (see featured image).

Admittedly, it was a number of years after “Dooku Captured” originally aired that I even noticed this pirate protocol droid, 4A-R2, standing with the group. Intrigued, I scoured the remainder of the episode for signs of this green and white plated droid but could not find it hiding in the background of anymore scenes. Nor, to my knowledge, does 4A-R2 appear in the next episode, “The Gungan General,” which continues the story of Ohnaka’s gang at their base of operations on the planet Floruum.

Ohnaka with his Gang
4A-R2: pirate protocol droid and dog walker. Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 22: “Lethal Trackdown”

In fact, it is not until the final episode in the second season of The Clone Wars, “Lethal Trackdown,” that this protocol droid appears again and, so far as I can tell, for the final time. Late in the episode, Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano runs by Hondo and a handful of his gang as she chases the bounty hunter Aurra Sing. As Ahsoka passes the group, one of the Weequay pirates raises a rifle to shoot at her but Hondo intervenes, forcing the weapon to be lowered. With this action being the focus of the scene it is easy to miss 4A-R2 standing on the edge of the group. Look closely, though, and you may notice that the protocol droid is also passively active in the scene, holding the leash that is attached to one of Ohnaka’s pet massifs.

And yeah, that is it. 4A-R2 appears in The Clone Wars on two separate and equally brief occasions. Is it possible that this pirate protocol droid is hidden somewhere else in the The Clone Wars and I just haven’t found it? Perhaps. I suppose I will just have to keep re-watching episodes of the show Hondo and his gang to see if 4A-R2 is up to some really important pirate stuff like pillaging and/or dog walking.


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

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

An RA-7 Series Protocol Droid drifts through the vast darkness of space, unafraid but “strangely calm” in “the silence” and “solitude.” Overcome by the euphoria of be-ing in this moment, “in a world all my own,” the droid, AP-5, begins to sing. As he does, a herd of baby neebray flock surround him. With their vibrant colors and dancelike movement, the neebray accentuate AP-5’s song, adding to the tranquility of the moment.

Admittedly, this scene from “Double Agent Droid, the 19th episode of Star Wars: Rebels third season, is entirely unexpected. With the obvious exception of those characters who are already musicians, it is strange for anyone in Star Wars to break into song. What makes this even more random is that the character doing the singing is AP-5, a protocol droid with the same languid tone and delivery as the late Alan Rickman. Coupled with the droids grumpy personality and dry sense of humor, that AP-5 is the one to sing about the beauty and wonder of the universe is an absurd juxtaposition that immediately catches one off-guard.

For many, the song was undoubtedly funny, a moment of welcome levity in an episode of Rebels. After-all, as showrunner Dave Filoni points out, the intention of the song, random as it may be, was meant to inject humor into the seriousness of show. For some, the song may have been off-putting, an absurdity that is annoying, adding nothing but pointless filler to the animated show. And still for others, the song very well may have been forgettable, overshadowed by the more exciting bits of the episode in particular and the series in general.

What did I think of it? Well, the fact that the languid and grumpy AP-5 is caught-up in the moment, singing how he “finds it easy to see” that he “fits into” beauty surrounding him, is certainly funny. But while I can appreciate the levity, I would also describe the song, and the scene as a whole, as utterly delightful. In a way, it serves as a reminder that every character, even those playing a minor or background role, belongs in the Star Wars universe. Facing his own mortality, AP-5 recognizes and affirms that there is no reason to be afraid as he drifts through space precisely because his existence has always had meaning. He has always fit into, and helped make, this universe more spectacular, more beautiful, more wonderful.

And the same is true for each one of us. Like AP-5 and all of the characters in the Star Wars universe, you and I perfectly fit into this universe. Honestly, what better way to capture this euphoric sense of belonging than through song?


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

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

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

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

With the release of the seventh and final season of The Clone Wars animated show upon us I thought it would be appropriate, as part of my protocol droid series, to recognize a protocol droid that made its debut in the The Clone Wars. To that end, I could think of no better droid to highlight than TC-70, a TC-series protocol droid with feminine programming which as Jabba the Hutt’s translator.

As you undoubtedly already know, before The Clone Wars show debuted in October 2008 it was preceded by The Clone Wars film which was released in August 2008. And it was in this film where TC-70 was first introduced to the Star Wars canon, standing next to Jabba the Hutt in a hologram (see featured image) and ensuring listeners – in the movie and in theaters – could understand what the crime lord was saying as he spoke in his native Huttese. Moreover, what makes TC-70 all the more special – and I guarantee 99.9% of you are unaware of this – is that “she” is the very first character to speak in the The Clone Wars franchise following the introductory narration. Feel free to share this unnecessarily specific bit of Star Wars trivia with others, and/or use it to establish yourself as the dominant Star Wars fan in your group of friends. 

TC-70
TC-70 stands next to Jabba the Hutt.
Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 3, Episode 4: “Sphere of Influence”

Following “her” role in The Clone Wars movie, TC-70 also went on to appear in a handful of episodes in Season 3 of The Clone Wars show. While these episodes, and the film, are the only instances where TC-70 shows up in The Clone Wars, “she” does make a rather minor appearance in another Star Wars story. In Marvel’s Star Wars 15, TC-70 pops-up in a few panels, again translating for Jabba, this time as the crime lord speaks with the Wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan. Considering Star Wars 15 takes place in the year 10 BBY, and TC-70 made “her” in-universe debut in 22 BBY, it is comforting to know that the protocol droid was able to stay in Jabba’s good graces for at least twelve years. Then again, given what we know about Jabba the Hutt and his temper, it is safe to assume that at some point after her appearance in Star Wars 15, TC-70 found herself on the wrong end of Jabba’s rage. 


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

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

TC-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

While the 3PO-series protocol droid is the most common and recognizable protocol droid in Star Wars, thanks in no small part to C-3PO, other series of protocol droids do exist. The TC-series protocol droid is one such example, although you would be forgiven if you confused a TC unit with a 3PO unit because they look nearly identical. Having the same manufacturer, Cybot Galactica, the TC-series can basically be thought of as an upgraded version of the 3PO-series.

We meet a TC-series protocol droid for the first time in The Phantom Menace. A Trade Federation protocol droid with silver plating and feminine programing serving aboard the Lucrehulk-cargo freighter Saak’ak, TC-14 greets Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi when the two Jedi arrive to negotiate with the Federation. Leading them to a conference room, TC-14 promptly leaves to inform Viceroy Nute Gunray, leader of the Trade Federation, that the two Republic ambassadors are Jedi Knights. Shocked by this news, Gunray and the captain of the Saak’ak, Daultay Dofine, decide to send TC-14 back into the room with refreshments while they figure out what to do. Moments later, after the conference room is filled with dioxin gas, TC-14 will walk out of the room and encounter waiting battle droids, “excusing” itself and exiting before the two Jedi go on the offensive. 

And, yeah, that is it. TC-14 is only on-screen for a handful of moments at the outset of Episode I. What happens to “her” after leaving the conference room is a mystery, your guess being as good as mine (although she isn’t destroyed during the Battle of Naboo as the Saak’ak is NOT the Droid Control Ship). Never-the-less, TC-14’s introduction and brief role in The Phantom Menace set the stage for more TC-series protocol droids to appear in other Star Wars stories, and I will discuss some of those droids in future posts. 


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-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

E-3PO: The Rude Protocol Droid

The moment in The Empire Strikes Back is brief but memorable, a short exchange between protocol droids. Having just landed on Cloud City, and meeting Lando Calrissian for the first time, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO follow Calrissian through the halls of the atmospheric metropolis. As they all turn a corner, a door on the right opens and standing before C-3PO is a droid that looks similar to him, another protocol droid: E-3PO (first identified by name in the Star Wars Customizable Card Game). Their conversation goes like this…

C-3PO: “Oh, nice to see a familiar face.”
E-3PO: “E chu ta.”
C-3PO: “How rude!”

And, yeah, that’s it. Like I said, the moment is brief, and as E-3PO walks-off, C-3PO goes on to get himself shot by stormtroopers. Where E-3PO goes once exiting the scene is unknown, this short appearance and one-liner being it’s singular moment to shine in the film, doing so by jumping on the C-3PO insult wagon. It is worth remembering that up to this point in The Empire Strikes Back, our favorite protocol droid has been the butt of a number of jokes in the movie, primarily due to his penchant for annoying those around him…especially Han Solo. I won’t list these moments as you should be familiar with them (if not, go watch the movie?), but with these moments in mind we can all pretty easily understand why C-3PO, when he literally comes face-to-face with another protocol droid, would say it is “nice to see a familiar face.” That E-3PO instead reacts by being rude is just fantaaaaaaaastic, a sign that C-3PO doesn’t just annoy his human allies, but instantaneously annoys other droids just by speaking. 

But what does this Huttese phrase which E-3PO levels, “E chu ta“, actually mean? More importantly, does it even matter? The basic fact is that it is clearly an insult, a form of Huttese curse, and it works even better without knowing what it “officially” means. The imagination is more than capable of filling in the blank. And since that’s the case, I will just offer what I like to believe the “rude” E-3PO is saying…

C-3PO: “Oh, nice to see a familiar face.”
E-3PO: “Eat shit.”
C-3PO: “How rude!”

You gotta admit that “E chu ta” does kinda sound like “Eat shit.” 😉


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

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

K-3PO: The Dead Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid