Despite their venerated position in the Star Wars canon, the original trilogy of films are not without their faults. Episode VI—Return Of The Jedi is perhaps the most flawed. Uproxx’s Mike Ryan recalled one of Return Of The Jedi’s more perplexing sequences, asking a question that has plagued fans for decades: What exactly was Luke’s plan for rescuing Han from Jabba’s palace?
For those who haven’t rewatched the movie in awhile, the bungled rescue mission goes like this: C-3PO and R2-D2 show up to Jabba’s palace and are offered up in exchange for the release of Han Solo. Obviously, Jabba doesn’t take the deal, but keeps the droids anyway. Then, we find out that our old buddy Lando Calrissian has been hiding in plain sight as a skiff guard doing … something. Later, Leia arrives in the guise of a bounty hunter with Chewbacca in chains. She hands over Chewie and unfreezes Han, only to immediately be caught by Jabba and his cronies. Finally, Luke shows up, fails to mind trick Jabba, kills a rancor, gets taken prisoner, and ultimately retrieves his lightsaber from R2-D2 so he can save the day.
This series of missteps, failures, and dumb-luck coincidences forces us to wonder: What the hell was the plan here? What if Jabba had just accepted the droids as payment? Would Luke leave them there? How was Leia planning on freeing Chewie after she rescued Han? Was Luke’s only good idea to Jedi mind trick Jabba, and after that didn’t work he had to improvise? What the hell was Lando even doing?
The only reasonable solution Ryan could come up with is that, after the events of Empire Strikes Back, our band of heroes never once spoke about how they were going to rescue Han. Instead they each individually came up with their own brilliant scheme, all of which fail spectacularly.
Since the Uproxx article went up, people have been debating alternate theories on Twitter. The most thorough explanation we saw presupposes quite a bit of backstory involving Rebel commanders and force visions, but it certainly ties up some loose ends. Get ready for some embeds:
Still, even this Star Wars fan is willing to admit the rancor was definitely not part of Luke’s plan, and all he hoped to do in that moment was “not die.”
Regardless of whether it makes sense or if it ultimately makes our heroes look like a group of bumbling dumb-dumbs, the Jabba’s palace sequence provides a number of iconic set pieces and is, if anything, fun as hell to watch. Except that whole “Jedi Rocks” thing. We don’t talk about that.
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