Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Part V)
Good day, dear readers! Today here on Snark Wars, we continue our journey towards The Great Big Reveal here in Episode 5. We won’t quite be getting there yet, though, because we’ve got a few important things to take care of first.
Last time on Boy Is Obi-Wan Gonna Have Some Explaining To Do, Yoda’d had his tiny green hands full dealing with Luke “Everything Is Hard And I Just Wanna Go Shopping With My Friends” Skywalker over on Dagobah, listening to Luke complain ceaselessly about how being a Jedi was too hard. I’m inclined to give Luke crap about this, except that given how Luke’s Jedi Life is going to ultimately play out I guess he was on to something after all. The Jedi are amazing and I love them but MAN, being one can really REALLY SUCK A LOT. Luke had also, Skywalkerishly, had some kind of Force Vision Attack about how Han and Leia are in trouble and maybe going to DIE and we all know how that goes with Luke’s people, so he found this Very Upsetting Indeed.
While all of that was playing out, Han and Leia had managed to escape the Empire (for now), and had ended up in Cloud City, where a be-caped Handsome pal of Han’s named Lando Calrissian is in charge. I’m sure they’re safe for good now!
Recurring Theme: Reunited and It Feels So Good
Lando walks the gang into the building on Bespin, and as he does he and Han are being a couple of total dorks about each other, because as we’ve all learned ad infinitum at this point, that is just how Star Wars rolls. Han is like “OMG I can’t get over what an Upstanding Responsible Citizen you are!” and Lando, wistfully, pauses and stares meaningfully at Han while telling him that “seeing him brings back a lot of memories” (while, amusingly, Leia makes an “oh brother” face behind them.)
Recurring Theme: Separation of Arm and Owner
Threepio is lagging behind the group and, standing in front of a doorway, hears a sound that sounds just like Artoo! Since he, like everyone in this universe, is eager to reunite with his BFF, he’s like “hey that sounds like my guy!” and heads into the room to find out more — only to discover that whoever’s in there is decidedly not Artoo, and he ends up getting blasted into pieces.
Chewie, noticing Threepio’s no longer trailing behind them, loops back and seems concerned:
Recurring Theme: Skywalker Syndrome
Back on Dagobah, Luke is suited up and getting his X-wing ready to depart ahead of schedule. Yoda, standing on the ground next to it, is wearily exhorting him not to leave because his training’s not complete yet. Luke frets back that he just “can’t get the vision out of [his] head”, and OH GEE OBSESSING OVER VISIONS OF DEATH ALWAYS WORKS OUT WELL FOR THIS FAMILY. It is a testimony to Yoda’s self-control that he is not using the Force to beat Luke over the head with his stick right now all “NOT. PAID. ENOUGH. I. AM. TO. KEEP. DEALING. WITH. YOU. PEOPLE.”
Yoda keeps trying to convince him not to leave, and I laughed out loud rewatching this because Luke, looking frantic, says that “Han and Leia will die if I don’t!” and it is at this exact moment that Obi-Wan’s voice pops up from the afterlife and says, in an almost exhausted tone of voice, “You don’t know that.” HOW. HOW ARE OBES AND YODA HOLDING IT TOGETHER SO WELL HERE. Can you even imagine it? Obes just hanging out in the Force and then suddenly getting wind that Luke’s about to do something rash because of a vision he had about someone dying and being like “OH, for fuck’s sake, all right, I’m on my way.“
Highway to the Danger Zone
Obi-Wan appears in full now, and he’s like “look here, dummy: even Yoda doesn’t know for sure what’s going to happen to your friends.” Luke, frustrated, shoots back that he KNOWS he can help them! He feels the Force! LOL, oh right: because THAT’S always made everything turn out OK.
Obi-Wan, looking unimpressed, tells Luke that the key thing here is that Luke still can’t control the Force. This is true: really, no one can control that crazy thing. It just does whatever the hell it wants, which most of the time appears to involve ruining the lives of everyone in its path.
Obi-Wan goes on with deep concern, telling Luke that “this is a dangerous time” for him, when he’ll be tempted by the Dark Side. I know he means that Luke’s especially vulnerable because of where he is on the Jedi Path and because his emotions are running high right now, but given what happened to Anakin and to Kylo I’m dying at the idea that there’s some Skywalker-Dude-specific Danger Zone when they hit their early 20s where they become extra dumb and more likely to end up killing large amounts of people because some evil overlord promises them the Force-power equivalent of magic beans.
Recurring Theme: The Skywalkers, Bad At Taking Good Advice
Yoda then says one of the wisest things anyone in Star Wars has ever said, and emphatically encourages Luke to listen to Obi-Wan. Sigh. Someday a Skywalker will listen. I have to keep believing that. Before I go on, please also enjoy this screengrab I got of Luke looking super high:
Yoda reminds Luke of what happened to him in the cave, to which Luke snaps back that he’s learned so much since then! How long is Luke supposed to have been here? I presume we’re meant to think it’s been a little while, but the way it plays out on screen it feels like Luke’s been here for maybe a day and a half, and I’m cracking up that Luke thinks that’s about all the training he needs to go take on the Evillest Dude in the Universe and his Murder Cyborg. Whatever, he’ll be fine! He wrote some notes down on his hand that he can refer back to if he gets in trouble! (“Dark Side = bad“, “don’t point lightsaber at face,” etc.) The Skywalkers are…not the most patient people in the galaxy.
Luke pinky-promises Yoda that as soon as he’s done saving his friends and also maybe the galaxy, he’ll be right back to finish whatever else he needs to in order to get his Jedi merit badge and the giant robe you probably get on your graduation day.
Obi-Wan, sounding WAY more calm about this than I would be (but what else is new?) tells Luke that it’s Luke’s Force Powah that the Emperor wants — that’s why Han and Leia are in danger. Luke insists that that’s precisely why he needs to leave, and at this, Obi-Wan says flat-out that he doesn’t want to lose Luke the way he lost Vader, and I am absolutely and totally fine with everything that is happening right now. Luke swears that he won’t, and I do everything in my power to not think about what’s going on in Obi-Wan’s head right now. Lucasfilm, if you’re out there, I am BEGGING you to give me some Canon Even Partially-Happy Obi-Wan Content. A comic about a day when he had fun. A movie about him taking a nap with Anakin’s Force Ghost. A book about that time he totally did it with the Duchess of Mandalore. ANYTHING that doesn’t involve someone dying tragically or him having to ruminate on someone’s tragic death and/or betrayal. Just let him have one thing. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but he tried so hard and he was so good and handsome.
Recurring Theme: The Backstory Makes It Funnier
Yoda tells Luke in no uncertain terms that only a Jedi Knight who actually knows what he’s doing and has had more than one 5-day bootcamp can take down Sheev and Vader. I am dying because Luke obviously doesn’t completely believe this and I am cracking up that, in part because the backstory wasn’t there yet, Obi-Wan and Yoda leave out the fact that they BOTH were Jedi MASTERS when they EACH tried to take down ONE of those guys and yet HERE WE ALL ARE, but they leave out these possibly-important details. I would have loved for Yoda to be like “well OK, I mean, I was head of the Jedi Order and I had literally hundreds of years of experience but sure, honey: you’ve managed to handle rock-lifting and sassy pouting so obviously you’ve got this.”
Yoda insists that Luke must be patient, and not choose the easy way out like Vader did. I love that Anakin attempting to take the easy way out of things required him to murder literally hundreds if not thousands of people in a single day.
Luke is incredulous: stay patient?! And let them DIE?! Yoda nods: yes, maybe, if you care about the cause they’re fighting for!
Obi-Wan, apparently cluing into the fact that that Skywalker Stubborn Streak doesn’t lose potency with successive generations, is like “Fine, but you? Are on your own if you do this ill-advised thing.” The only difference between this scene and Obi-Wan trying to talk Anakin out of something is that as a ghost, Obi-Wan is unable to end up showing up to help Luke anyways like we all know he totally would have if he could. “Do what you want but I’m absolutely definitely not helping you with your insane plan” is one of Obi-Wan’s favorite Skywalker-related lies.
Recurring Theme: The Very Tired Dads of Star Wars
Luke acknowledges that he knows he’s going solo if he leaves, and tells Artoo to get a move on.
At this, Obi-Wan and Yoda go Full Concerned Grandparents and start just yelling stuff out at him once they realize he’s really going to go: reject the Dark Side! Make sure you have on clean underwear! Hate leads to suffering! Keep your hair game on point! Remember your training! Don’t forget to pose majestically in front of a wind machine if you get the chance! Snark at your boyfriend when you see him! Snark at Obi-Wan’s boyfriend if you see him, too! Watch out for a Dathomirian Zabrak with robot legs, because even though Maul’s probably still dead you just never really know!
Both of them look so, so done as Luke departs: Obi-Wan is watching Luke’s ship with a sort of “well shit” expression on his face, and Yoda just looks crestfallen, pointing out to Obi-Wan that he had told him that kid was reckless! NOW look what’s happened; that idiot is going to go and get himself killed and now we’re really screwed. Obi-Wan doesn’t disagree, just sighs that Luke is their last hope, to which Yoda replies, somewhat ominously, that there is another. DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!
Recurring Theme: From a Long Line of Reckless Hotheads
Back in the clouds, Leia is pacing around a room that looks like it should have been in the Future World part of EPCOT in the 1980s as what people thought a living room would look like in the year 2000:
Han comes in and is like Good News, Baby! The ship’s almost done and we’ll be all set in a jif! Leia is like AHHHHH BUT THREEPIO AND SOMETHING’S NOT RIGHT HERE AND ALSO I DON’T TRUST LANDO and I’m very amused by the idea that Han “I’ll See You In Hell!” Solo is talking someone else down. You know you’re truly a Skywalker when the guy who’s recklessly cheated death like 17 times since this morning is your calm, collected better half.
Han hilariously says that he doesn’t trust Lando either, but Lando is his friend. I swear to God, friendships in this galaxy are SUCH a mixed bag. At any rate, he tries to calm Leia by assuring her they’ll be gone soon. Leia, sadly, notes that this means that Han will be gone soon then, too. Awww.
Recurring Theme: C-3PO, The Longest Robotics Project In Galactic History
Elsewhere, Chewie is attempting to get the pieces of Threepio back together again, because it had been a while since he got new parts or was otherwise under construction. He gathers them up after playing keep-away with some Ugnaughts, and brings them back to Leia’s room.
Leia despairs that he’s a mess, and asks Chewie if he’ll be able to fix him. Han says Lando has guys who can probably do it, and Leia is all “yeah no thanks,” and as if on cue, Lando appears in the doorway, and to be honest he’s being so saucy about the whole thing that I am surprised he didn’t literally pull out a Kenobi-esque “hello there”.
Lando then smoothly declares Leia to be a beauty that “truly belongs with us here among the clouds”. Wow.
And Han. HAN. I’m not sure if he’s embarrassed on Lando’s behalf, jealous that Lando’s hitting on Leia, or jealous that Lando’s NOT hitting on HIM, but either way his face is amazing:
Lando then offers up an arm and asks the group to join him for some refreshments that are totally not a trap or anything.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Galaxy’s Worst Dinner Date
As the group walk over to these, uh, refreshments, Lando explains a little bit about how Cloud City’s been able to steer clear of the Empire but it’s still a dicey situation and blahblahblah, but now he thinks he’s made a deal that will keep Team Sheev out of his hair for good. Ta da!
LOL. I’m sorry, I know this was supposed to be scary/surprising, but HAHAHA just LOOK AT THIS DOOFUS. I have officially spent way too much time recapping Star Wars overall, but especially recapping Anakin Skywalker content.
Han, proving that he’s going to fit RIGHT IN in this family, wastes no time in pulling out a blaster and shooting at Vader, as if that is going to do absolutely anything. Vader, in response, coolly uses the Force to yank the blaster itself into his own hands.
Anakin, because he is a dork, then says that he and Boba Fett would be “honored if you would join us” and I promise you all, he thought up this line well before the door even opened. He’s probably been in there brainstorming Villainous Proclamations for the last 3 hours and wishing he could ask Obi-Wan what he thinks of each one. This may be the first time I’ve felt truly bad for Boba Fett since his dad/older clone’s head got cut off by Mace Windu in that arena full of monsters and robots GOD WHY IS STAR WARS LIKE THIS EVERY SINGLE PART OF THIS STORY IS BANANAS.
Lando, awkwardly, explains to Han that he had no choice: the Empire arrived before the rest of them got there. Han says he’s sorry too, and the group walks in to sit down and have dinner with Leia’s dad. Anakin must be pretty excited. This is probably the first time anyone’s sat down to a dining table with him in like 20-some years. I hope they’re all hungry for some floating pears!
Recurring Theme: A Skywalker Takes the Bait
Luke has nearly arrived on Bespin, amusingly reassuring Artoo that Threepio is with Han and Leia and Chewie there.
Chewie’s in a jail cell, howling in pain at the sound of a very persistent, annoying alarm. He then walks over to the heap of parts that Threepio’s become. Um, so the bad guys moved Threepio into the jail cell with them? WHY? Why wouldn’t they have just thrown him in a scrap heap and used him for parts? I’m surprised Vader didn’t sense him and be all OH MY GOD WHAT DID YOU GUYS DO TO MY ROBOT and proceed to immediately repair him.
Over in another room, Anakin — having already long since claimed the titles of Galaxy’s Worst Jedi, Galaxy’s Worst Father (and, probably, Galaxy’s Worst Poet) — is now laying claim to the title of Galaxy’s Worst Father In-Law, as he holds Han down on some kind of torture platform. After this, he tells Boba that he can take Han to the Hutts as soon as Vader has Luke. He also informs Lando that Leia and Chewie have to stay here on Bespin forevermore now, and when Lando makes to protest, Anakin is all “we gonna have a problem here, Calrissian? Do I need to cut off your cape supply?” Lando, deeply frustrated, backs off.
Chewie is just getting part of Threepio reassembled (with the requisite comic relief of his head being put on improperly,) when Han gets dumped back into the room:
Chewie fusses over him, and then Leia arrives and fusses over him too. Han mumbles: Vader never even asked him any questions. ANAKIN WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS. You could be laying in a hammock on Naboo in between Padme and Obi-Wan right now BUT NOOOOOO.
Recurring Theme: It’s a Trap!
Lando walks in now and everyone is like OH WELL LOOK WHO IT IS MR. TRAITOR. Lando explains that Vader’s agreed to turn Leia and Chewie over to him, but he’s going to give Han over to the Hutts — he doesn’t even want Han, he’s after some guy called Skywalker! Leia deduces that they’re the bait to lure in Luke. I also laugh because this is again one of those scenes where everyone’s decided that Han’s named is pronounced like “hand” without the D, which seems to just…come and go throughout the entire saga. I love that Lucas, et al, were apparently all like “eh, it doesn’t even really matter if our characters’ names are consistently pronounced.” I mean, really: why sweat the small stuff? LOL.
This scene ends with Han leaping up and slugging Lando in the face, knocking his cape askew. Lando apologizes for not being able to do more, proclaiming that he’s “got his own problems”, and Han, bitterly, snipes that Lando’s a “real hero”. Well, their joyful bromantic reunion was short-lived, indeed.
Vader is now swooshily stalking around a room that appears to be lit by just a few red bulbs, and this is making me wonder exactly how well Anakin can see with that helmet on. He’s got those tinted shades on there, so in dark rooms can he see at all? Or is it like wearing sunglasses to the movies? I know the comics showed that he can change the tint a little bit, but I still think he needs to install a headlamp on that thing if he hasn’t already. That’s just a little good safety advice.
Vader declares this facility to be “crude”, but thinks it will serve its purpose. Lando, nervously, informs him that they only use this thing for carbon freezing — if he puts Luke in there it could kill him! That, Vader explains, is why he’s going to do a test run on Han first. I love that Vader doesn’t even appear to be sure it’ll work, given that as The Clone Wars later showed us, Anakin has not only seen it done before, HE FROZE HIS OWN DAMN SELF ONCE:
Recurring Theme: Well Since You’re About To Die I Guess I’ll Finally Tell You I Love You
As Luke makes his final approach to Bespin, the crew assembles in the carbonation freezing, uh, staging area?
Han asks Lando what’s going on, and Lando tells him what’s up. Chewie flips the HELL out, throwing some storm troopers to their doom and attempting to incite a ruckus. Han, again somehow in charge of calming someone down, tells Chewie to stop, because this won’t help him and Chewie needs to take care of Leia for him. Awwww, geez, Star Wars. *sniffle*
Leia and Han kiss, and are pulled apart by a trooper, who puts Han into the center of the chamber. Leia, making Meaningful Eye Contact with him, tells Han she loves him.
This is, by my count, at LEAST the third time I’ve recapped a scene in Star Wars where someone only just admits to loving someone out loud seconds before what is presumed to be their impending untimely demise, and I am laughing because TWO of those three times were people saying it to Anakin. It’s like no one really wants to admit it unless they feel like they may not ever have another chance and also they likely won’t have to deal with the consequences of telling him.
Han, of course, says the Famous “I Know” in response. I really, really, really hope Obi-Wan got to use that one on Anakin someday in the afterlife, especially considering that for all of the fandom’s collective hand-wringing about how Obi-Wan was so reticent and bad about expressing his feelings, it’s worth pointing out that Anakin never told Obi-Wan he loved him, either. Obi-Wan deserves to use this line.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Day-Ruiner
With that, Han is blasted with, uh, frozen…carbon? I guess? He really just gets hit with a military-grade smoke machine, and then pulled out, where it’s determined that he has, indeed, survived the freezing process. Vader’s like GREAT, here you go, Fett, enjoy! Oh and also get this thing ready to make a Luke-sicle!
Leia looks traumatized, and seriously: no WONDER we learn in Bloodline that this woman wasn’t all that sold on Luke’s stories about how Dad Really Came Around There At The End. She really ends up with ZERO positive encounters with Anakin, doesn’t she? Poor Leia. Just like Obi-Wan, her life is notably crappy even among her fellow Star Warsians.
Vader is informed that Luke is on his way, and he announces that, since their day was already irredeemably ruined anyways, why not throw Leia and Chewie onto his ship while we’re at it? Lando is aghast: Vader’d told him they could stay with him! Vader huffs that he’s altering the deal, again. What an asshole. ANAKIN SKYWALKER WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM.
With that, Luke’s queued up for his latest Date With Destiny, the Skywalker Saber prepares to head offstage for the next 30-odd years, and Han’s on his way to a place that’s full of rough, coarse, irritating sand. Join me next time for the thrilling, Dramatic-Backstory-Revealing conclusion of The Empire Strikes Back! See you then.