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.
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.