Another Unanswered Question from Return of the Jedi

I made available again a post that had stayed locked when my blog went active again recently. I hadn’t realized it was locked down still until I referred to it in a conversation with a pal. I think I made a joke in there somewhere but…whatever. The important point is, it’s called Luke Skywalker: Crisis Manager, and it was an attempt to put down the inane nonsense talking point that “Luke’s plan at the beginning of Return of the Jedi was sooooo convoluted.

In short, the plan wasn’t convoluted. The opening of Return of the Jedi is a masterful display of crisis management as plan after plan (after plan) fails. Go on, read the post. I’ve said my peace.

As I revisited it, I realized there’s an unanswered question from Return of the Jedi to which I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer.

Was Luke Really Going to Assassinate Jabba?

When Luke appears in front of Jabba and things start to go sideways, then straight down into the Rancor pit, Luke calls a guard’s gun to his hand. A struggle ensues, a shot from the gun goes into the ceiling, and Luke drops into the pit. A Gamorrean follows suit, and action ensues.

Rancor in Return of the Jedi which is a Star Wars movie called Return of the Jedi a Star Wars movie with a Rancor in Return of the Jedi which is a Star Wars movie.
Honestly, can you imagine what this smelled like?

But I’ve wrestled from time to time with the idea of that shot. We all know that Lucas revisited Star Wars (fine, FINE, “A New Hope”) to get the showdown between Greedo and Han as close to a shootout as the footage could support (and the BluRay version works pretty damn good FWIW).

So why would Luke’s attempted cold-blooded assassination of a recalcitrant mob lord stand up to scrutiny? You could make the argument that Luke had reached the end of his tether and knew that Jabba wasn’t going to go for a deal no matter what.

But it seems so non-Jedi-like to just shoot him in the face. Aside from that, he’s still surrounded by a cadre of Jabba’s flunkies. Among them is even the most overrated Bounty Hunter of all time!

My one answer to this is that Luke wasn’t intending to fire in that moment, but to intimidate.  Had things escalated he may have fired still, but that precise moment was intended to show Jabba that he wasn’t screwing around. He wanted to get the mob boss to back down and talk it out.

Sure, we know that play still wouldn’t have worked, but it seems more “Jedi like” for Luke to try one last time to get Jabba to listen, before going for the literal kill shot.

In this explanation, the gun goes off incidentally as a result of the struggle. It wasn’t Luke’s best moment for thinking things through, but he also wasn’t trying to blast off Jabba’s face right off the bat.

Alternatively, Luke was trying to kill Jabba in that moment. It simply was the only way he knew how to handle things beyond that point, and then had to deal with the consequences of his own dark choice in a moment intended to be heroic. Like father, like son, as they say.

What do you think? Am I the only person who’s thinking about it this much?

The next thing you’ll be saying that I’m the only one who finds a fascinating parallel between Return of the Jedi and The Dark Knight Rises in the choice of music at a pivotal early moment when the hero is tested in darkness. The same music appears later when the hero is tested in different circumstances to complement the fact that the hero passes the test.

Boba Fett in Return of the Jedi which is a Star Wars movie called Return of the Jedi a Star Wars movie with Boba Fett in Return of the Jedi which is a Star Wars movie.
Let’s also not overlook that I took a jab at Boba Fett from a lingering desire to troll Star Wars fans who elevated him to a deified status based on armor, and his story got so mangled that I’m grateful Lucas rehabbed it in Attack of the Clones.

2 thoughts on “Another Unanswered Question from Return of the Jedi

  1. Huh. In the 24 years that I’ve been a Star Wars fan, I’ve actually never asked that question. It’s definitely something that seems like it could go either way. Believing it’s a bluff is most certainly the most charitable “hero” answer. But at the same time, it was only mere moments before that Luke was doing a Force choke of folks just to get into the building. And even though killing the rancor was an obvious case of survival, there’s something about including the shot of the caretaker weeping over it that really hammers home that Luke just took a life that *someone* cared about. It wasn’t just nameless, faceless storm troopers getting blasted and falling off ledges. And since it was completely a moment that didn’t have to be there, now that I think about it, it could be a foreshadowing of the darkness that nearly overcomes him in the Emperor’s throne room before casting it off and declaring himself a Jedi (not *quite* like his child-killing father before him).

    Also, I never read any of the supplementary Boba Fett material, but I loved him in the original Empire Strikes Back. Not for his armor, but solely for — what I remember as — his utterly disappointed “As you wish…” after Vader’s pointed “NO DISINTIGRATIONS!” To me that was the sort of guy who’d be like “Yeah, I just got paid a ton of credits to bring you this slab of Han, but why don’t I hang around and party at your expense for awhile now, too?” The change to match the Jango Fett actor’s voice remains a great disappointment for me.

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  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment! It’s fascinating, isn’t it, how little moments can blossom into threads like this. It’s almost obligatory to heap praise on the work as lending itself to this type of thing.

    As for Fett, my beef is a vestigial remnant to two specific moments in time that set me down a path of trollery forever after. I loved Fett, too, and just enjoy poking fun. But he *did* miss Luke with a dead shot at his back (!) in Return of the Jedi, so hey now. As for the voice, I totally get where you’re coming from. I miss the original voice, too, but the change doesn’t bother me now that I’ve adjusted.

    Thanks again for the comment!

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