Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Part II)
We now return to our in-progress recappery for Episode 5! (And yes, I pinky-promise I haven’t forgotten about Rogue One. We’ll get there!)
Last time, on Bet Luke Didn’t See That One Coming, Luke and Han had almost died (and in Luke’s case, he nearly died more than once, and please keep in mind that I have only covered like the first 20 minutes of this film so far.) Fortunately for us (but possibly not for them, given how the rest of their lives have played out,) Han and Luke made it through this round — which allowed Leia to get in some “angry” yelling at Han and also traumatize us all by romantically kissing what will later turn out to be her twin brother. (Well, at least she can still say it’s not even remotely the most shameful thing someone in her family has ever done, ANAKIN.)
Also, Obi-Wan briefly swung by from the afterlife (where he is hopefully getting in a lot of naps before Anakin’s ghost joins him in the next movie) to tell Luke to go to Dagobah and find Yoda. Luke was about 87% dead when this happened, but nothing’s going to keep Luke from listening to Obi-Wan (unlike SOME PEOPLE.) (ANAKIN.) When we wrapped things up in the last entry, the Empire had just been tipped off by a probe droid as to the location of the kids’ Rebel Hideout, and it looked like we were in for a Dramatic Battle Sequence and probably a comically over-the-top entrance or two. I can’t imagine from whom. (ANAKIN.)
Recurring Theme: Dreaming My Evil Dreams
OH HEY: speaking of someone, there he is now! We start on Vader’s star destroyer, and Anakin thoughtfully makes sure to blast his theme song for us on the way in so that we can be appropriately prepared for his appearance.
I would like you all to know that the script for-real notes that “Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, enters like a chill wind.” Anakin wrote this; I am certain of it. I love that the scripts for the original trilogy are always like “terrifying Sith Lord Darth Vader appears and everyone is really really scared of him” and yet my reaction to seeing Vader after lo these many years of fandom is almost always to laugh. Or cry.
So Anakin’s just standing there, staring out a gigantic window with his hands behind his back and probably thinking about robots — something he has done for what must be, by my calculations, actual YEARS of his life at this point — as Captain Piett and Admiral Ozzel start discussing the life reading that probe droid has picked up in the Hoth system.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Doesn’t Need a Group Consensus
They’re blahblahblahing about how Hoth maybe seems like a genuine lead, but they can’t be SURE, and Ozzel is all “we need proof”, etc etc, and Vader, stepping away from the window, comes sashaying over. As he walks past various assembled groups of Imperials, I die at how all of them are like “AHHHHHHH I HOPE HE’S NOT COMING OVER HERE.” Anakin was not the most popular Jedi, but he is REALLY not the most popular Imperial.
So anyways Vader is like “you guys found something?
IS IT OBI-WAN I MEAN UH THE REBELS?” They show him a screen with the Original Trilogy’s trademark Very Advanced Technology, and at this, Vader is like YEP IT’S THEM BINGO OH WHAT A DAY.
Ozzel tries to talk him out of going to Hoth, saying the reading could just be smugglers (LOL, I honestly cannot believe he didn’t say “bounty hunters” or “space mining” given Star Wars’ penchant for both, but smugglers is a close third I guess), but Vader is certain: they’re there, and Luke is with them and he can FINALLY do that father-son three-legged race at the Empire company picnic this year. Pack your bags and put your snowpants on, evil henchmen: we’re going to Hoth!
Recurring Theme: Kiss Your Boyfriend Goodbye
So now we’re back on Hoth, and Chewie and Han are getting the Falcon ready to leave, because Han Solo is pretty much ALWAYS “planning to leave”. I’m starting to think this is just a cry for attention, Solo, really. THEY CAN’T MISS YOU IF YOU NEVER ACTUALLY STAY GONE.
Luke, meanwhile, is suiting up in his cute little pilot outfit. Traffic-cone orange is not the kind of color just anyone can wear, but our little sunshine is pulling it off because his veins run rich with the blood of the galaxy’s greatest fashionista.
Now ready to hit the road, Luke goes bounding past the Falcon and tells Chewie to take care of himself, earning himself an adorably affectionate Wookiee hug:
I need these two to see each other again. HUG LUKE BACK TO HAPPINESS, CHEWIE.
LOL — OK, then Han is standing there looking down on all of this and I can’t even with this part. ALL LUKE AND HAN DO IS GAZE LOVINGLY AT EACH OTHER. You GUYS. THE SCRIPT:
This is the most romantic thing between two dudes that’s ever happened in Star Wars since that part in the Revenge of the Sith novelization where Obi-Wan and Anakin more or less pledge eternal faithfulness to each other and there’s a line about how it feels like “a promise from the Force itself” or something and Obi-Wan softly touches Anakin’s arm and the only thing missing is a passionate dip-kiss while an orchestra plays. I’m DYING. Look, you all can say I’m reaching here, but really: I have been watching these movies for a LONG TIME now, and I am no longer convinced ANYBODY in Star Wars is completely heterosexual. And Star Wars doesn’t exactly seem like it wants to disavow me of that notion. ALL I’M SAYING.
Recurring Theme: The Ridiculous Habitats of Anakin Skywalker
So with yet another Bromantic Farewell behind us, the Rebels become alerted to the fact that oh yes, the Empire did indeed find them, and they’re on their way. Prepare for a ground assault!
Back on the star destroyer, GUESS WHO’S BEING RIDICULOUS:
Oh, the Vader Pod. Like Dramatic Bullshit Manor, or the abandoned broom closet full of sadness he slept in at the Jedi Temple, it’s one of the places Anakin Skywalker has called home that I have long wished to cover here on Snark Wars. It’s…kind of amazing? And I get that it maybe was partially a necessity, what with him being basically on life support at all times (and hey, the guy’s gotta plug in and get a firmware upgrade every once in a while, surely,) but also…does it NEED to be this dramatic? The rotating chair, the stark black and white color scheme…oh my God. Star Wars IS THE BEST.
Recurring Theme: Imperial Performance Review
General Veers kind of tiptoes into the room and is like uhhhh sir, we’ve come out of lightspeed now and and and — and Vader cuts him off, pissed off that they’ve come out of lightspeed far too close to the Rebels, meaning that they’ll know the Empire’s coming. Um, Anakin? For the fourteen-billionth time, your coworkers are not mindreaders. If you want something done a certain way, or if you haven’t slept in a week because you got your secret wife pregnant and you’re a little concerned you’re in over your head — YOU ARE GOING TO NEED TO TALK TO PEOPLE AND GIVE THEM DETAILS. “Go get the Rebels”, or “I’m afraid of someone dying and I don’t want them to” IS NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION TO GO ON IN THESE SITUATIONS.
Veers stammers that Ozzel thought it would be best to take the Rebels by surprise, and Vader hilariously declares that that guy is “as clumsy as he is stupid”. Well, you WOULD know stupid, wouldn’t you Anakin? Vader’s eternal exhaustion with, and hatred for, his Imperial coworkers is my favorite. He tells Veers to get ready for battle, and then his chair rotates back around and he regular-Skypes with Ozzel and Piett:
I love that the Vader pod has a big-screen TV. LOL. Gotta have something to watch podracing on after a long day of murdering, yes?
Vader skips the small talk, and starts choking the crap out of Ozzel, who’s “failed him for the last time”. (Well, you’d know a failure when you saw one, wouldn’t you Anakin?) (OK FINE I’M SORRY I’m done now.) So, Vader can Force-choke people via videoconference? Would a regular phone call suffice? How far away does someone have to be before he can’t reach them to choke them? Couldn’t he just Force-choke at least a few of the Rebels from here?
Ozzel sheds this mortal coil, and Piett earns himself a promotion thanks to his predecessor’s untimely demise. With that, Vader tells him to get ready to rumble.
Recurring Theme: Skywalker vs Skywalker
Chief Badass Leia Organa barks out some orders to the crew as they prepare for the Empire’s arrival…
…Luke saddles up…
…and the battle’s underway!
As per usual, I will not force you to sit through a beat-by-beat dissection of Space Battle Part 1,452,344,120, so here’s some highlights:
AT-ATs make an appearance:
Vader does a mini-holo-Skype and just LOOK AT HIM:
Wedge is there, because Star Wars is legally required to have him or his nephew appear in every saga movie or the universe won’t work anymore:
There is an abundance of explosions and Heroics:
…and ultimately Echo Base ends up getting hit, and Leia is stuck taking her only available ride outta town on the Falcon with that guy she totally hates. HOW CONVIENENT.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Brought His Smoke Machine
I would also like you all to know that Anakin shows up to Echo Base — just as Leia, Han, Chewie and Threepio are piling into the Falcon — with a giant cloud of smoke behind him. BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DID.
He gets treated to watching one of his kids fly away once again. I’m really, really sad they didn’t have him shake his fist at the ship.
As all this happens, Luke gets his own ride off this frigid hellhole by jumping into his X-wing, where Artoo is already waiting for him. Artoo’s nervous: where are they going? Aren’t they going to meet up with the others? Luke reveals that he’s got a new Kenobi Assignment, and by gosh-golly, that means they’re going to Dagobah. (TCW viewers will recall that this is now the SECOND time Artoo’s basically been kidnapped and taken to Dagobah by a Jedi. He didn’t like it then, and he’s still not gonna like it now.)
Recurring Theme: The Millennium Falcon Sucks
Team Organa-Solo is making their way further away from the Empire, but they’re still being aggressively pursued by TIE fighters. Han is like “CHECK THIS SHIT OUT LEIA” and…nothing happens. LOL. Leia is…not amused?
He tries to fling the ship into hyperspace yet again, and yet again it fails. Han, starting to panic, notes that they might be in trouble. Threepio stutters that, uh, he DID just notice that the hyperdrive appears to be damaged? Aaaand now they’re about to fly into an asteroid belt. This…is not Han’s best day.
Recurring Theme: Nice Drive Through a Bunch of Giant Rocks
Oh good! It’s tiiiiiiime for some mirroring! This time, Han pulls the Obi-Wan card (or I guess, it was the other way around,) and gets to attempt to fly through what is basically a minefield. Leia is like AHHHHH NO STOP and Han announces that he’s going to fly closer to one of the big ones — in doing so, he draws in the TIEs that were after them, and a few of them blow up. That takes care of some of the bad guys, buuuuut they still have the small problem of being in the middle of a goddamn asteroid belt. Han frets that this might be the time Leia gets to be here to watch him make a mistake. Hahaha.
He ends up flying into a tunnel on one of the larger asteroids — shaking the TIE fighters once and for all and honestly, this really was some A+ piloting, Solo. Maybe you and Anakin are actually gonna be pals someday. (Or…maybe not.)
Recurring Theme: Luke Skywalker’s Neverending Personal Destiny Quest
We cut back to Luke, who’s made it all the way to Dagobah already. I was too lazy to look it up, but I have to assume it must not be that far from Hoth unless Luke REALLY hauled ass over here. Artoo is still very much not OK with being here, but Luke reassures him that it’ll be OK. He notes that he’s doesn’t see any signs of cities or technology, but he is picking up massive life-form readings. And probably a few hundred pieces of artwork Obi-Wan did as a child that Yoda has lovingly hung onto, and Qui-Gon’s poncho, but I digress.
Luke loses control of his ship on the way in, and he ends up crashing right into a swamp. Let me tell you, I love that this is how a Skywalker makes their entrance when encountering Yoda for the first time in over two decades. You just know that old Muppet heard a giant splash and confused whining and was just calmly like “Ahh. Anakin’s son is here.”
Recurring Theme: Lukes Loves Artoo
Now having, uh, landed, Artoo and Luke have some Hijinks as Artoo nearly gets eaten by a swamp monster. The best part of all of this is that Luke practically has a heart attack about this, and more or less acts like a terrified parent until Artoo is safely back in his arms:
I’ll never get over these two.
Luke then starts to fret: he’s not sure coming here was a good idea after all. What, Luke, you think acting on instructions given to you by the vision of a dead man that you saw when you were dying of hypothermia was maybe not the best idea you’ve ever had? Man, think about it: Luke must REALLY have a lot of faith in Obi-Wan to not even try to get a clarification on any of this once Luke was, you know, coherent again. Nope: Old Ben told him to do something, and he’s the best and gives the best advice (uh, usually,) and so here Luke is. LUKE HAS SO MUCH FAITH IN EVERYONE I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. MY SWEET LITTLE JEDI BOY I SWEAR TO GOD IF THEY RUIN YOU IN THE SEQUEL TRILOGY —
Ahem. Luke laments that this place feels like something out of a dream…or maybe he’s just gone crazy. GET USED TO THIS FEELING, LUKE. I think you’re gonna be experiencing this sensation for a LONG TIME TO COME.
Recurring Theme: The Tragedy of Darth Vader the Dumb
We end today’s recap with one last moment with our pal Anakin Skywalker, who is brooding in his Vader Pod once again as Admiral Piett comes to see him. Piett hovers around the periphery of the room for a moment and he looks…creeped out. Moreso than usual. Why?
…yep, I guess Anakin was airing out his face or something. So…he can breathe room air? Or was he hooked up to a tank or something? I guess he was still breathing (kinda) when he showed up to get Vaderized in Episode III. Maybe he can handle it in short spurts?
Anyways, this part was FASCINATING to me when I saw it for the first time as a kid. When watching the first film I’d been so curious to know what he looked like under there, and I remember being like WHOA OH MY GOD when they showed this. Of course, later in this film when they spilled the beans that this was Luke’s dad, this bit also just made me that much more curious about WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO HIM. Then many years later Star Wars spelled it all out for me and I was like NO TAKE IT BACK IT’S TOO SAD I LOVE IT I HATE IT NO OBI-WAN DON’T CRY OH MY GOD WHY MOVIE WHY WHAT HAVE YOU DONE. (I also appreciated Star Wars going back and informing me of what Vader looked like well before being set on fire, too. You know, just for completeness’ sake.)
I can never not feel just a little bit sad at this part because he’s so alone and everyone around him regards him like he’s a creature and not a person which is basically what he turned into but I’M STILL REALLY SAD FOR HIM. Oh, Anakin. You dumbass.
So Vader gets his helmet (with that whirring noise I LOVE YOU BEN BURTT) sealed back on and Piett is like “oh HEY BOSS uh sooooo the Falcon is…in an asteroid? And like, we can’t get to it?” Vader is like “oh don’t worry about it sweetie, the important part is that you tried your best and believed in yourself.”
…OK fine, no: he seethes that he doesn’t CARE about any fucking ASTEROIDS HE WANTS THAT SHIP NO EXCUSES SO HELP ME I’LL CHOKE EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU AND THEN MYSELF. Piett looks…a little concerned, and says he’ll get right on that.
And with that, he dramatically closes his pod. LOL. I want to end every single conversation I have with anyone with closing myself off in my Angst Pod. I guess I know what I’m asking for for Christmas!
That wraps it up for this outing — see you guys next time, when Leia and Han get back to doing what they do best, Yoda returns to work from a 20-year sabbatical, and Sheev once again has plans for a Skywalker. Thanks for reading!