Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Part IV)
Hello, nerds! Welcome back to Star Wars, Episode V: It’s Only Gonna Get Weirder From Here On Out. Previously, Leia and Han escaped one of those giant worms from Beetlejuice while yell-flirting with each other, and Luke paid a visit to his elderly grandfather’s swamp hut. Joining him on this adventure, apart from Artoo, was the disembodied voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who basically popped in to encourage Yoda to go through with training Luke, something he understandably was not sold on. Left out was the part where Obes surely was like “ha ha, sorry, I’d have trained the kid for you Yoda but OOPS I DIED GUESS I’LL JUST GO BACK TO DRINKING THIS MARGARITA ANYWAYS HAVE FUN LOVE YOU BYEEEE.”
At the conclusion of our last recap, Luke had started Star Wars’ proud tradition of going into a cave to move the story along. Caves, in the years since have, among other things, served the following purposes:
- Gateway to a giant droid factory/underground evil guy lair
- Place to chat with your dead space dad who still only wants to talk about Anakin Skywalker
- Place to be told by your own future self that you’re pretty much fucked if you keep hanging around Anakin Skywalker
- Home of the Galaxy’s most complicated fitting-room mirror/least-clear Ancestry DNA results
- Place with giant monsters
- Place for someone to face off against an evil version of themselves while being egged on by Force Nuns in order to learn how to become a ghost and live forever
So, then, it should be no surprise that Luke’s inaugural Weirdass Cave Visit is no simple stroll on a clearly-lit walking path. Leave your weapons behind, and let’s hit the trail!
Recurring Theme: The Cave of Wonders
Luke sets off into the cave, and I laugh because John Williams decides to throw in some Whimsical Jaunty Tatooine Music in here just for kicks. Yes, this cave visit will surely just be a lighthearted romp!
DUN DUN DUUUUN! Not so fast! Moments into his walk, rounding the corner is none other than our friend Anakin, who lumbers over to Luke and like…I think he was supposed to look Menacing or whatever but his GAIT is so slow and with the way they dropped frames from this part to make it look more dreamlike or whatever he just looks like he’s really moseying through.
Recurring Theme: Skywalker vs Self
Oh, what a very huge surprise, the Skywalkers are at it again. Vader draws his weapon, and Luke draws, uh, Vader’s OLD weapon (RIP, my blue friend) and the two have one of those slow-motion lightsaber duels that Star Wars used to have before they figured out how to make people flip around in the air.
After a brief back-and-forth, Luke lops off Vader’s head, which fittingly flies off in like, the MOST dramatic way possible:
Would…would this have happened? I mean I know the guy’s got a lot of robo-parts, but I saw him in that bacta tank! I saw him go into that suit! Was Anakin carrying a bunch of fireworks in his helmet? (YES I KNOW THIS IS A VISION SEQUENCE AND I AM READING TOO MUCH INTO THIS; I’m just being an idiot. Welcome to my blog!)
Aaaaanyways, Vader’s head goes rolling away and Luke looks down at it. Then yet another explosion occurs and — gasp! — Luke sees that which he is most afraid of:
I appreciate that Luke’s fear is that he’ll become Vader, and that in Episode 7, Kylo’s was evidently that he wouldn’t. This family has so, so many issues.
As if I wasn’t already entertained, this scene ends with Yoda, sitting outside the cave looking SO EXTREMELY TIRED, while Artoo beeps worriedly at him. I just…I love that Yoda and Obi-Wan both look like they have Seen Some Shit and Would Really Just Like To Go To Sleep Now through the ENTIRE OT. Like, I know that we already know they fought for the galaxy in another life and all of that, but we didn’t REALLY know any of the details. And now that we do know the details, I’m just like WELL SHIT, I’d be tired and bored and annoyed too, guys.
Recurring Theme: Unclear On the Concept
Back at EvilCo, Anakin has rounded up a bunch of bounty hunters, much to Piett’s chagrin. He’s putting out an assignment to all of them: go find the Millennium Falcon and bring back the crew!
He then steps over to Boba Fett and, pointing a finger at him, stresses that he wants them alive: no disintegrations!
Um, OK: isn’t the point of hiring a bounty hunter almost always to bring back a living person? I mean, otherwise you’re just hiring an assassin, yes? ALSO: even if Vader DID want them killed, a disintegration seems like the absolute WORST FUCKING WAY FOR AN ASSASSIN/BOUNTY HUNTER TO GO ABOUT IT, because HOW WOULD YOU EVER BE ABLE TO PROVE YOU KILLED THE RIGHT PERSON? I’m…I’m sorry. I’m trying to apply reason to Star Wars again, and we all know there’s no there there.
Recurring Theme: The Confused Dudes of Star Wars
Vader is then informed, immediately after handing out this assignment, that the Empire’s found the Falcon — and back on the Falcon, the gang is getting ready to jump to lightspeed. One little problem, though: yet again, it’s not working. The Falcon is the single most unreliable thing in the entire galaxy, I swear to God. HOW IS IT STILL OPERATIONAL?
And Han? He has that face that Anakin and Luke specialize in:
Gosh, no wonder Kylo was really working the Super Confused Doofus Face in The Last Jedi. I’m surprised he knows what’s going on as much as he does, considering THESE GUYS are his family.
So as the bad guys start in on them, Han decides to throw the Falcon into an attack position. The Empire barely has time to react and get shields up before the Falcon mysteeeeeriously disappears out of sight — and off the Empire’s radar.
That? Is bad news for Captain Needa, and BOY DOES HE KNOW IT:
Recurring Theme: Master Yoda, Life Coach
We’re back at the bog, and LOL: well, here’s one for the family scrapbook!
God, I hope Yoda has an entire photo album of every one of his kids doing this with him. I hope it was a Jedi Temple rite of passage.
Luke is stacking rocks with the Force while upside down AND balancing Yoda ON HIS FEET (hahahaha, WHAT EVEN ARE THE JEDI YOU GUYS, God I love them,) and he momentarily gets distracted by his X-wing, still submerged in the swamp. With that, he sends himself and Yoda tumbling to the ground.
Luke whines: they’ll never get the X-wing out of the bog! We should probably all just give up and go home and OH WELL SO MUCH FOR THE JEDI AND THE UNIVERSE! So, just so I’m clear here: in this trilogy, Han is a smuggler, Leia is trying to lead a ragtag Rebellion against Ultimate Evil, and Luke is complaining to Yoda that being a Jedi is too hard so he should just give up. Well then. I’m really looking forward to the many new adventures they’re sure to be having in 30 years after they make all sorts of progress! Oh.
AHEM. Yoda chides Luke: would you PLEASE listen to a goddamn thing I say, doofus? You’re always saying things can’t be done. Luke complains: lifting an X-wing is TOTALLY NOT THE SAME AS LIFTING ROCKS. Yoda persists: it’s only different in your mind!
Luke, sounding totally unconvinced, warily agrees to “try” — to which Yoda counters that he doesn’t want him to try. He wants him to DO IT.
Recurring Theme: Luke Skywalker, Thinks All That Sand Maybe Wasn’t So Bad After All
Luke attempts to life the X-wing again, but his effort is short-lived. He walks back over to Yoda and flops down: it’s too big. He can’t lift it he’ll never it FORGET IT.
Yoda throws down a whole bunch of Forcery in response: you shouldn’t judge anything by its size — not even Yoda! He has the Force on his side, and the Force? Is frickin’ RAD.
Luke stands up and sulks away: what Yoda is asking for is IMPOSSIBLE! LOL. I had sort of forgotten how negative Luke is in this bit. No wonder Yoda couldn’t resist smacking him on the head in Episode 8. I’d have had enough, too.
Yoda, tired of this bullshit, decides to show Luke how wrong he is:
Luke, astonished, walks over to Yoda and declares: I don’t believe it!
That, Yoda says solemnly, is why you fail. And I’m not even going to be a snarky asshole about any of this, because I fucking LOVED this line when I was a kid. I loved this entire scene, and I still do. The Force, ladies and gentlemen! HELL. YES.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan’s Apprentice
Back on Vader’s star destroyer, Captain Needa is, uh, handing in his resignation:
And I know everyone KNOWS he says this, but again, lest you all forget: Vader says, ALOUD, TO NO ONE, “Apology accepted, Captain Needa.” Did Obi-Wan make Anakin attend a multi-week seminar devoted to making SHITTY JOKES TO YOURSELF at some point? I’m cracking up because I feel like even though this joke is in the wake of Anakin having committed a largely unnecessary murder, Obi-Wan still kiiiiinda would have smirked at it. Like, he’d be unhappy with what’s going on here but still would have to high-five the effort.
Piett comes in and tells Vader that they still can’t find the Falcon — and if it went into lightspeed, it could be halfway across the galaxy by now. Vader tells them to keep looking, and I’m sorry but sometimes just the visual of all these fairly normally-attired military guys working alongside DARTH VADER makes me laugh so, so much.
As we watch the various ships pull away, we spot the Falcon, clinging to the side of the Avenger. Um. Look, I’m not saying the Empire is kind of incompetent if they didn’t notice this, but…I am.
Recurring Theme: Leia Organa, Heir to the Throne of Snark
Speaking of people whose gift for withering put-downs runs in their veins, aboard the Falcon Leia is asking Han for details on his next move. He tells her he plans to wait until the Empire dumps their garbage out before they jump to lightspeed — and when they do that, the Falcon will float away with it to conceal their escape. Leia snarks that they’ll float away “with the rest of the garbage”, and Han, for the briefest moment, looks wounded. Ha!
Han asks her if she’s got any ideas for a safe harbor they can hide out in, but Leia’s got nothing. Han notes they’re in the Anoat system, and then he has a lightbulb moment: waaaaaaait! Lando! He’s Some Fancy Guy Han knows, who is going to arrive on the scene to give even the Skywalkers a run for their money in Cape Dominance — but not yet. First they’ve gotta make their escape.
As the Falcon, sure enough, tumbles out with the rest of the garbage, Leia proudly tells Han that he “has [his] moments” and gives him a smooch on the cheek, and I need to point out that Han blushingly gives THE sweetest little half-smile in response to it. It is legitimately heartwarming and now I am feeling VERY SAD ABOUT LEIA AND HAN AGAIN THANK YOU.
Just as we watch the Falcon head off for Lando Country, though, we also see the Slave I in hot pursuit. My nerdgirl heart is filled with glee at the fact that Obi-Wan chases after it in Attack of the Clones and it chases after the good guys here in Empire.
Things on Dagobah are progressing, and Luke is STILL doing headstands and floating shit around with the Force while Yoda coaches him. It’s just as Yoda is telling him that the Force will allow him to see things — the past, the future, old friends long gone (oh!) — when Luke has a Skywalker Drama Attack:
Leia! Han! OH GOD THEY’RE IN TROUBLE I SHOULD PROBABLY FLIP OUT AND STOP LISTENING TO THE JEDI AND GO SEE IF THE EMPEROR KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT THIS PLAGUEIS GUY.
Yoda tells Luke that he is seeing the future. Luke, worried, asks Yoda the Million-Dollar Question: Are My Friends Gonna Die?
I…cannot even imagine what’s going through Yoda’s head right now. I love that he closes his eyes all “Oh God not this shit again”, and then tells Luke that it’s not possible to know for sure. The future, you see, is always in motion. I guess he figured this time around he’d skip telling Luke the very real truth that sometimes people do, in fact, die, because we all know how well that goes over with this crowd.
Luke insists that he’s got to go help his friends, and Yoda encourages him to consider the fact that if Luke leaves now, even if he helps his friends he may still not be helping the cause they’re all fighting for. Luke, chastened, nods. Well! I’m sure that will be the last of that.
Recurring Theme: Things Somehow Continue to Get Handsomer
Look, I’m not trying to say that we should be giving George Lucas and Co credit simply for filling these crazy-ass movies with handsome dudes as far as the eye can see, but also, I feel like we should at least be giving them all a subtle nod of appreciation for this. The Falcon arrives on Cloud City and, after a brief tense moment where it seems as though they won’t be able to land without incident, they’re given permission to do so.
Let us all take a moment to appreciate that this film gives us:
A) Young Handsome Harrison Ford with his hair waving in the wind
and B), Young Handsome Billy Dee Williams — whom the script literally refers to as “suave” and “dashing” — with both his hair AND A GLORIOUS RIDICULOUS CAPE waving in the wind:
Bless these movies.
Recurring Theme: Sweet Star Wars Bromance
Lando approaches Han semi-threateningly, telling him that he’s got a lot of guts to come here after what he’s done, leading to a truly silly Han Moment:
Solo, you are not 5 years old, FFS. You’re going to need a more convincing “who me?” face. Seconds later, though, it’s revealed that oh, Lando was just fooling around! Long live the love of yet another couple of Star Wars dudes:
Lando asks him what he’s doing here, and when Han explains the ship needs repairs they get into this whole goofy “what’d you do to MY ship”/”no it’s not YOUR ship I won it fair and square”, blahblahblah.
Lando also introduces himself to Leia, and I laugh for twelve-thousand years because after doing this whole “why HELLO THERE” hand-kissing routine with her, Han cuts in, declares Lando to be an “old smoothie”, and I swear to God Lando looks like he’s not even sure which one of them he’s going to seduce first. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY EVERY SINGLE GROUP OF PEOPLE IN STAR WARS IS LIKE THIS. God, just…everyone, get a room already. Making fun of the sexual tension in these movies is fun and all but this is getting ridiculous.
With Lando’s assurances that the Falcon will get the repairs it needs and everything will Definitely Totally Be Fine No Double-Crossing Or Anything, the gang heads inside, and that’s a wrap for this installment of Snark Wars! Join me next time, when Obi-Wan gets dragged out of the afterlife to deal with YET ANOTHER Skywalker Dramatics Attack, Leia gets a new outfit, and Anakin makes himself the guest of honor at the Galaxy’s Least-Successful Dinner Party. See you then!