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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you have not yet had the opportunity to see the film we would recommend clicking away to another one of our wonderful articles (including our 100% spoiler-free review!)
The ending of Star Wars: The Force Awakens has left us asking many questions, but one has stood out among the rest: exactly why did R2-D2 wake up? After being reintroduced as being in a coma-like state (or "low power mode"), the beloved droid comes back to life in the final minutes of the film and delivers the rest of the map leading to Luke Skywalker. So why did he wake up? Apparently it was because of a poke from BB-8.
Entertainment Weekly recently had the chance for an extended, spoiler-y conversation with J.J. Abrams about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and it was during their conversation that the filmmaker explained exactly why it is that R2-D2 seems to magically come back to life at the end of the movie. Asked about what audiences are really seeing in that moment, Abrams said,
BB-8 comes up and says something to him, which is basically, ‘I’ve got this piece of a map, do you happen to have the rest?' The idea was, R2 who has been all over the galaxy, is still in his coma, but he hears this. And it triggers something that would ultimately wake him up.
If we're being real, this isn't much of an explanation. Sure, BB-8 may have given the ol' droid a poke, but why did it take him so long for the blue and white astromech unit to respond? While it doesn't really help things, J.J. Abrams is apparently aware that this moment comes across as a bit dues ex machina-y and coincidental, but adds that it was really necessary to have that kind of moment in the wake of the death of Han Solo. He explained,
While it may seem, you know, completely lucky and an easy way out, at that point in the movie, when you’ve lost a person, desperately, and somebody you hopefully care about is unconscious, you want someone to return.
It's worth pointing out that Luke Skywalker also returns just a few moments later, which kind of hurts Abrams' point - so I guess we'll just have to live with it as one of Star Wars: The Force Awakens' flaws.
Not only am I personally still curious as to why R2-D2 woke up at that precise moment, but I'm also still wondering exactly why a map to Luke Skywalker existed when the guy really didn't want to be found. Hopefully these are both conundrums that writer/director Rian Johnson can find some way to explain in Star Wars: Episode VIII.