Star Wars: Episode VI, Part I: The Beginning of the End (of the Middle)

Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (Part I)

I AM SO FULL OF EMOTIONS ABOUT STARTING THIS ENTRY. I have been recapping the Lucas-era Star Wars saga since 2016 (!), and now here I am in the home stretch. And once this is done…it’s done! That’s it! There aren’t more, and there won’t BE more, ever. Oh sure: I have plenty of animated episodes to occupy myself with, and God knows the Star Wars literary library always has more to give, but for the films? It just won’t be the same. Yeah, someday I might talk myself into recapping Kylo Ren’s Bullshit (Author’s Note: I don’t really think you guys want me doing this), but nevertheless: I feel ways about this, I tell you: WAYS.

But a wise fictional woman once told me that I can’t stop the change any more than I can stop the suns from setting, and so onward I must go on this path that has been placed before me. Let’s take a quick look back at where all of our friends and family are at right now:

  • Luke Skywalker, Self-Declared Jedi, got his hand lopped off by Darth Vader in the last movie (yes, surprisingly, it wasn’t Obi-Wan who hacked off a part of somebody for once.) Vader had also made sure to dump the results of Luke’s paternity test on him at the same time, because Anakin Skywalker has never done anything low-key or like a normal person ever in his life. Luke had taken this in the usual Skywalker fashion: namely, by screaming and freaking out and hurling himself into a void.
  • Vader, OF COURSE, had brought up Obi-Wan Kenobi at every possible fucking opportunity, including one notable stretch where he mentions his name FOUR TIMES IN FIFTEEN MINUTES because Anakin Skywalker is even more hopeless than I am in this regard. He had also failed to convince Luke to join him on the Dark Side (honestly, Anakin, you could have tried to sweeten the deal a little more than just traumatizing the hell out of Luke emotionally and physically), which leaves him now in the awkward position of kiiiinda sorta having promised his boss that he’d kill his own son. Will he be able to follow through on this assignment? Killing someone has never been a dealbreaker before, but you just never know when a Last-Minute Lightside Conversion is in the works!
  • Leia and Han did a lot of obnoxious bickering, then probably had hate sex on the Falcon at least once, and then, as happens in all great love stories, Leia’s semi-cybernetic biological father showed up and froze Han in carbonite and shipped him off to a criminal cabal of giant space slugs.
  • Lando Calrissian joined the crew, rocked an amazing cape, looked handsome and hit on absolutely everyone. I guess someone had to fill the void left in the galaxy by Obi-Wan’s death.
  • Yoda got roped into teaching Luke how to be a Jedi, even though Yoda had already told Obi-Wan earlier in the supplementary materials that he didn’t want to — which was already a very understandable position given the Skywalker Jedi History but became even more so once Luke actually showed up to be trained and complained THE ENTIRE FUCKING TIME, then left halfway through against Yoda’s explicit advice.
  • Obi-Wan, who I might remind you all HAS BEEN DEAD FOR MULTIPLE YEARS BY THIS POINT BUT SOMEHOW STILL KEEPS SHOWING UP FOR WORK, tried to talk a Skywalker out of doing something stupid. It didn’t take. COLOR ME SURPRISED.
  • Some other stuff happened. Oh yeah, Boba Fett was there.

All right, so by the end of the previous chapter of George Lucas’ Insane Fantastical Bullshit Circus, the Good Guy Gang was in dire straits indeed: the Empire was winning, Luke had just found out some Seriously Heavy Shit that could threaten and/or bolster his ability to Do What He Must, and Han Solo was being installed as a nice wall hanging in Jabba the Hutt’s living room. Might as well just call it a day, eh rebels?

No! We have to press ahead! We have to believe in Hope and Love and Goodness so that we can get to the HAPPY ENDING THE KIDS DESERVE. It’s, it’s not like we’re going to go through everything we’ve just been through — Little Baby Anakin’s incredible day-saving, all of Obi-Wan’s hard work training Anakin to be a Jedi, the trauma of the fall of the Republic, the hard work and sacrifice of the Death Star Plan Retrieval that resulted in so many deaths, Luke’s One-In-A-Million-Shot that ended Death Star I, on and on and on until we at last get to the point where Anakin Skywalker at last fulfills his destiny — you don’t think we’d do all that and then have it all be totally pointless within, say, Luke Skywalker’s lifetime, do you? BOY WOULD THAT BE OBNOXIOUS AND VERY DEPRESSING. (In fairness, the whole “Nazis wouldn’t have any actual power again THAT quickly” line of argument seemed a lot more reasonable when The Force Awakens came out than it does now just a mere handful of years later. NEVERTHELESS: I don’t come to Star Wars for its Very Accurate Representation of Reality, OK? THANKS.)

I DIGRESS. At any rate: welcome, friends, to Return of the Jedi. This silly, sweet, and charming Former Finale to Star Wars is chock full of moving moments, thrilling conclusions, and, truly, some of the BEST GODDAMN LINES DARTH SIDIOUS HAS EVER BEEN GIVEN AND THAT IS REALLY REALLY SAYING SOMETHING. I honestly cannot wait to talk about them. However, we can’t get there until we get there, so with that, I invite you to join me as we head back to the place where it all began (…again.)

Recurring Theme: Planet-Killing Superweapon

First, as is Tradition, we must sit through a blaring fanfare and the Famous Opening Crawl to set the stage a bit more: Luke Skywalker is predictably back on Tatooine (“Sad Hermit Hut Available for Rent”), and also predictably it’s because he and his sister are working on the Daring Rescue of some guy they like who has great hair. Sure sounds like a couple of Skywalkers to me!

LOL. You guys, I can’t even fully express to you how hilarious the fact that “Bad Guys Building a Death Star” is in and of itself a recurring theme around here is to me. I’m never sure which is funnier: the fact that the Empire was like “OK, sure the first one blew up, and we spent decades and Force knows how much money on that only to lose it in spectacular fashion along with a significant chunk of our senior staff, but it was a good idea in theory, so let’s just tweak a few things and go for a do-over now that Galen Erso’s not here to ruin things”, or the fact that the fucking First Order, having witnessed not one BUT TWO Planet-Killing Superweapon Destructions within the last 40 years, was like “…OK but like, what if it was the same, but bigger?” I guess this is consistent with the fact that the galaxy at large only seems to ever be able to recall about 2-3 weeks of history at a time. I can’t wait to find out what stupid plan Kylo’s come up with in Episode 9. Based on what I know about both the Bad Guys of Star Wars, and the Skywalker Men in general, I’m expecting a disaster. (“It’s called the Death Cube,” Supreme Leader Kylo says dramatically. “And it’s FOUR TIMES the size of Starkiller Base.”)

Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Entrance-Maker

A bunch of ships are approaching the under-construction Death Star II (“Definitely Just a Small Moon, Opening This Summer”), and they are allowed to dock:

The crew are told that Lord Vader’s shuttle has arrived. LOL. LORD VADER. I can’t…like, Anakin Skywalker just took that title and went with it. Anakin. That absolute dork that we saw running around in a meadow with space cows and floating pears around and yelling at robots about fruitcake is for-real stomping around the galaxy expecting people to address him as “Lord Vader”. I love him, and I love Star Wars, and this is just one of the reasons why.

So, please enjoy the scene at Vader’s arrival:

He’s got a damn RECEIVING LINE OF PEOPLE waiting for him. Good grief. My favorite thing is that everyone always looks like they’re understandably preparing themselves for an onslaught of Dramatics every time he walks into a room:

 

God, I hope he doesn’t make us listen to his poetry again this time…

Anakin appears, obviously with smoke around him as he debarks his ship, and Moff Jerjerrod, Death Star Guy in Charge, is like “Ha! What a pleasant and wonderful surprise Lord Vader! We are definitely very honored and OK with seeing you!” Dude, Anakin was not born yesterday; he knows that only like four people in Galactic History have ever been happy to see him anywhere, and all of them are either dead and/or in alternate dimensions at the moment. Save your faux-enthusiasm.

Vader’s like “pfft: I’m not here for an office birthday party or anything, idiots: I’m here because someone’s gotta keep this project on schedule”. I…kind of love that so much of Vader’s life has been sitting in boring meetings and shit like this, which is just project manager work. Also it’s even funnier considering that this is not even the only scene in Star Wars Canon where he has to go threaten someone about this project. (I’m only sad this time there’s less Pun Action.)

Jerjerrod is like “hey dude, don’t sweat it, we’re totally gonna get this crap done on time”. Vader counters that he thinks he might need to do some motivating around here, if you know what he means, and Jerjerrod is like “NO, that’s fine, we definitely don’t need you to murder anyone!” Vader notes that Palpatine is concerned that the project won’t be done on schedule. Jerjerrod stammers — the Emperor’s project plan is insane! If he wants it done on that schedule, he’ll need to give them more workers!

Vader, pleasantly as always, is like “HUH. Well maybe you can tell him that when he gets here.”

Jerjerrod is obviously not especially delighted with the idea of that horrible demon coming to his workplace (I can only assume because he hasn’t read the script and thus doesn’t know how FUNNY AND GREAT IT WILL BE WHEN HE’S HERE,) and so he’s like “OK then! We’ll work extra extra extra hard!” Vader, probably smirking in his helmet, agrees that this is a good idea: the Emperor, you see, is not as “forgiving” as Vader. This from a man who is probably still mad that Obi-Wan forgot to DVR something for him once 25 years ago. Be worried, Imperials: be worried.

Anakin’s Big Scary Theme Song plays, and he strides off to…I don’t know where. Probably to go cry or clench his fists in rage somewhere.

Recurring Theme: It’s Rough, Coarse and Irritating

At last we are back yet again on Tatooine (“As Seen on Hondo Ohnaka’s Travel Channel Special“) and there’s our little droid buddies Artoo and Threepio trekking their way over to the, uh, Hutt Hut:

Threepio is complaining (of course) to Artoo about how YES he’s worried! He always is!

I need you all to know that the script during this entire bit, which requires extensive chunks of Huttese, is weapons-grade Star Wars Silliness. They approach Jabba’s front door and are eventually escorted in, after which Threepio launches into his spiel about how they have a Special Message for Jabba the Hutt, and blahblahblah etc etc etc, Bib Fortuna is there and agrees to walk them back to the Head Hutt himself:

Recurring Theme: Dramatic Holo-Message

So they get in front of Jabba, who’s doing the same thing Jabba is pretty much always doing (namely, nothing), and Threepio is like ARTOO PLAY THE DAMN MESSAGE FROM LUKE PLS, which Artoo now does:

Awww! It’s Luke, who is entertainingly apparently trying to make Space Catholic Priest Couture a thing. Please enjoy the transcript of his little speech here:

I know we’re a ways off from it yet, but can I just PLEASE scream at you all about how MUCH Anakin would be here for his kids HANDING JABBA THE HUTT HIS OWN SLIMY ASS? God. I love it. Also, I am loving that Luke just decided that, what the hell, he’s a Jedi Knight now. I guess with membership being way down, the criteria for admission is not what it used to be.

Anyways, while Threepio panics about the terms of Luke’s proposal here, Jabba is like “…nah dude: no deal! I like Captain Solo right where he is! He makes such a great conversation piece!”:

Threepio flips out further still, and everyone in Jabba’s palace laughs, possibly because the absurdity of this entire situation, this planet, this galaxy and these movies has hit them all at once (boy do I know the feeling.)

Recurring Theme: Droid Torture

So the droids get taken to Jabba’s basement or whatever and I just want to point out that yet again we see a scene with Robo-Torture:

WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS?! Isn’t this just wasting time and electricity?! If they need to get information off of a droid JUST POP IN A THUMB DRIVE AND TAKE IT FFS.

Aaaanyways. So the droids get interviewed and they confirm that Threepio is a protocol droid, which is handy because Jabba happens to need a new one. His last one got taken out of commission, you see!

Yeesh. Off to work, Threeps! Artoo yells and beeps and basically acts, y’know, in line with everyone else he’s ever worked with, and he’s told to simmer down: he’s got a new job, too! On Jabba’s sail barge, slinging drinks!

Recurring Theme: That Never-Fail Star Wars Humor

OH MY LORD. OK. God, these movies. Before I recap this next bit, let’s just briefly summarize where we’ve been in the, oh, APPROXIMATELY TEN MINUTES THAT THIS MOVIE HAS BEEN ON SO FAR:

  • The Empire is legit building the Death Star — like, basically the exact same Death Star that the Rebellion already destroyed just a few years back save for a couple of modifications — again;
  • Anakin showed up in a cloud of smoke for the 77-billionth time and somehow managed to avoid making a shitty dad joke while threatening someone;
  • Luke is dressed like a space priest and sent his robots to a giant gangster slug’s lair;
  • He did this because he’s trying to save his buddy, who has been frozen in a block of space ice and hung on the wall of said slug gangster’s lair for QUITE SOME TIME NOW;
  • We saw a robot torture chamber.

With this in mind, George Lucas and his merry band of dweebs that worked on this with him over the years clearly were like “…wow, we are REALLY not wasting any time here, are we? Guess the only logical thing left to do is bust out a musical number performed by Muppets, CG characters and humans in alien costumes!” And really: why the fuck not? By this point, even if you only consider Episodes 4 and 5, we’ve already seen — for example — a Muppet teach a human man about a made-up space religion, and watched an alien band play hot jazz while an old monk hacked off a guy’s arm with a laser sword AND one of his companions shot a different guy to death, so sure. Like, just for starters.

So, yeah, this happens, and yes: it’s possible that Star Wars isn’t even real and we’ve all just been dosed or something:

This RIDICULOUS song culminates in poor Oola ending up getting tossed in a dungeon and meeting up with a Certain Danger, To Be Revealed Later:

Recurring Theme: Not Who You Think I Am
BONUS Recurring Theme: Chewbacca, Fake Prisoner

As some of the crowd grossly gathers to gawk at Oola’s fate, there’s a scuffle in the entryway and a bounty hunter (OR ARE THEY?!) appears with Chewie in tow:

Threepio steps in to translate: Jabba’s super grateful that someone’s finally nabbed Chewbacca! He’ll gladly pay you 25-thousand! (I love that they don’t specify of WHAT. I hope they’re bartering for like 25,000 sand snakes or something.)

The bounty hunter demands 50! Jabba is mad about this! Boba Fett is Standing Around!

WHY should Jabba pay 50, hmmmm?! Why, because — as Threepio translates — the bounty hunter is holding a thermal detonator! DUN DUN DUUUUN!

Everyone — including Salacious Crumb — hits the deck, except for Jabba, who A) probably can’t really move that fast anyways and B) thinks this is all DELIGHTFUL. This bounty hunter is his kinda scum! OK, fine: he’ll offer 35.

And hurrah: with the detonator deactivated, it looks like we’ve got ourselves a deal! Lando lurks in the shadows in disguise, Max Rebo kicks up the band again, and everyone gets to groovin’ to music that kinda sounds like department store Muzak from 1988: evidently this is the preferred jam for both hanging out in a den of depravity with a bunch of robots and monsters, and shopping with my grandma for some sensible slacks.

Recurring Theme: I’m Gonna Save My Boyfriend

Chewie gets hauled off to the slammer, and as night falls on Tatooine Boushh, our Mysterious Bounty Hunter, is sneaking around Jabba’s house under cover of night. I like how this scene hinges on the idea that we’d all buy that a place like Jabba’s palace would be completely devoid of partying or just general activity in the middle of the night. Yes, sure: it’s full of scoundrels and gangsters and drug dealers and like every single person there has a price on their head and is coming and going constantly, but I guess they still all turned in for a good night’s sleep at the same time. Even pirates need their beauty rest!

Boushh approaches the Shrine of the Holy Doofus here and takes in the sight of Frozen Solo:

Since we all obviously know what’s going on here (and if you don’t, for the love of God please don’t use my recaps as a stand-in for actually watching Star Wars, hahaha!), can I please just note that clearly Leia got SOME of her personality from her mother, because if this was Anakin, and Obi-Wan or Padme had been in carbonite I’m pretty sure Anakin would have like, tried to gnaw it open with his teeth or smash it open with his fists, then chipped a few teeth and broken his robot hand in the process and the mission would be ruined until whichever one of them wasn’t in carbonite came to help him.

Not so for our girl here: she deftly, uh, turns off the carbonite? Releases it? I don’t know, it’s made-up space BS. At any rate, there’s our little Solo-sicle after all:

He looks like he’s coming off a twelve-week bender that ended in a swimming pool here and, sweaty and terrified, asks where he is (Jabba’s) and why his eyes don’t work (carbonite hangover, which will go away on its own,) and who’s here with him.

Leia Dramatically Reveals herself and declares: it’s someone who loves Han! Awww. High-five, girl:

She helps Han to his feet and is like OK we gotta go NOW, but then they hear something. Uh oh…Han says he’d know THAT laugh anywhere:

LOL. I love that they were all behind this wall and popped out like it was a damn surprise party.

Han is like OK look here, J-Man, I was literally on my way to pay you back and everything, and I laugh because “Han Solo Needs to Pay Back Jabba” has basically been like, one of his primary storylines for the ENTIRE FUCKING ORIGINAL TRILOGY SO FAR. I’m not sure why Han couldn’t have just gotten his payment from the Rebellion and then wired Jabba the damn cash at some point and saved himself all this hassle but whatever. It gave him a reason to be constantly throwing passive-aggressive commentary around in Leia’s general direction about how HE GUESSES HE BETTER JUST LEAVE TO SEE JABBA NOW SINCE THERE’S NO ONE HERE WHO WANTS TO MAKE OUT WITH ME OR ANYTHING.

Jabba pulls Leia close, and she snarls that they have “powerful friends”, and Jabba will regret this. I love that she basically just pulled a “my brother’s going to beat you up!” on Jabba.

Yes, just as soon as Luke is finished saying Mass and maybe listening to a few confessions, he’ll be right there! But until then we’ll have to wait — that’s a wrap for this edition of Snark Wars! Join me next time, when Luke will arrive on the scene to once again follow in his parents’ footsteps and tangle with giant space monsters after trying to save his friends. I’ll have Artoo save you a drink — see you then, and thanks for reading!

Previously

You’re at the start of this recap series. 

Next

Star Wars, Episode VI, Part II: Solo Mission

You Might Also Enjoy