Further Considerations Brought on by “Han Solo, The Tin Man, and Inception”

Super Death Panda at Hoth

Every good theory needs refinement. Every good boy deserves fudge, too, but that’s a topic for another time.*

A couple of comments (and thank you for comments!) asked for clarification on the impact to body processes. One of those centered on the explusion of biological waste/excrement and “where it would go,” which I answered with the idea that his physical processes are so slowed/suspended as to remove the need for such a function. Basically, my thought was that he was trapped in a mental expanse without need for menial body functions.

I mean, obviously, he doesn’t need to breathe. He wouldn’t need to poop.

Han Solo Needed to Poop on Endor
That thing I couldn’t do while I was in carbonite? I need to do that. NOW.

This apparently backed me into a corner, though. Someone then asked how Solo could, in fact, retain consciousness while expending no energy. The brain, after all, needs to expend energy to function.

It’s a good question, given the other detail considered. I started explaining in a comment and realized that it would be far better to let it breathe and be a follow-up post.

The easiest dodge would be to point out that midichlorians are in all living things, and so even Han would continue to have some sort of mental awareness by extension as they would still function within him. Remember, even though the Jedi became over-reliant on measuring midichlorians, all beings had them and so the Force would speak to, through, and with everyone regardless. But again, that seems like an easy – and potentially very contentious! – way out here.

The Solution

The solution here seems to be emphasizing that Lando state Han is in “perfect hibernation” in The Empire Strikes Back, not “suspended animation.” By examining those words — words carefully chosen by those producing the film — I think it’s fair to say that Han is perfectly capable of consciousness. Hibernation indicates a slowed process, not a suspended one.

However, since he’s not in “suspended animation,” his body is still functioning. It’s just functioning at a very, very slow pace.

I really like this, as it could add an even greater sense of urgency to Han’s rescue. While he’s not going to die in the immediate term as his processes are slowed to a crawl, he is going through an elongated starvation/dehydration process. His awareness of that is actually irrelevant as he’d still be experiencing a panoply of mental reactions that would keep him from focusing on things.

Another horrific thought is that while things are slowed, it would be a race against not just starvation and dehydration, but some form of sepsis from being unable to vent waste. While his slowed functions would make the timeline of any death a matter of (many?) years, it could still be a race to see which horrible death he slowly suffers first.

Gratned, I think that suffocation would be the first on the roster of death unless – unless! – there were some way to feed him oxygen while in there.

The Sarlacc's Sweet Embrace Takes In Yet Another of Jabba's Contract Authors
Like carbonite, only stinkier.

Closing Points

This all ties also into an old debate among fans – namely, how the Sarlacc can feed on you for a thousand years. I’ve always been of the position that it functions like a symbiont, where it keeps the “food” alive and in some sort of stasis so that it can slowly devour every succulent molecule.

This refinement continues to allow for some really fascinating opportunities for fiction that I doubt would ever be explored, and I’m out of the business of offering ideas people can pick up for free and exploit unless they’re listening to my podcast, Aggressive Negotiations, on The Nerd Party.

Maybe I’d write the fan fiction for it, but I am completely too lazy.

Or am I? (I am.)

* This is an old saying, and I just want to clarify that good girls deserve fudge, too. I advocate that any person who exhibits good behavior deserves fudge. **

** If the person in question has some sort of food allergy, I would of course not advocate giving them something that could trigger a reaction. Please check all appropriate records before giving anyone any treats. ***

*** As a final note, as someone who has struggled with weight issues in the past, I also advocate a healthy lifestyle and not to bestow or consume treats/desserts/sugary foods too frequently, though of course how you judge “frequently” is entirely up to you.

Luke n’ Carbonite

Recently, regular blog commenter and occasional influencer Tom (who really deserves a proxy vote at any meeting of the Convocation) asked the question, “Why does Luke need to be frozen in Carbonite?”

The stock answer is, so the lil’ scamp won’t cause problems on his way to the Emperor. You have to imagine that a Force-talented individual, who happens to be either the Son of the Chosen One or the Chosen One himself, depending on how you read the prophecy, and who doesn’t want to be delivered to the Emperor might cause some serious headaches.

But alas! I thought about it for a minute and there are more intriguing motivations. Taking hints from the text, there are  other possibilities at play, which I think can add real layers to the film. None of these stand alone as “reasons” but rather what my old acting teachers would have called “objectives in service of the super-objective.”

The Super-Objective

The Super-Objective for Vader, of course, is to fulfill his “Destiny” and become the Chosen One, the ruler of the galaxy, the final arbiter and executor of the Force’s will in the galaxy. Sure, his interpretation of it while he’s the Man in the Suit is skewed toward a darker interpretation of the prophecy, but were he to take his place as the true Lord of the Sith, he’d fulfill it “from a certain point of view.”

  1. It’s part of Vader’s mandatory Sith power play against the Emperor;
  2. It’s insurance against the Emperor betraying Vader (ties into #1);
  3. It prevents easy rescue attempts (obvious);
  4. Vader can exert some sort of mental influence on Luke while frozen in carbonite (I’ll get to where I got that whacky idea later);
  5. Vader could hide Luke and claim he was dead (ties into #1).

Tying Them Together

Luke, trapped in the carbonite, is no longer able to use the Force as he’s in a state of suspended animation. This keeps him unable to thwart Vader’s plans to (ostensibly) deliver him to the Emperor. All well and good, but why not just knock his punk ass out and put him in some of those awesome energy binders that incapacitated Obi-Wan in Episode II?

There’s likely another motivation Vader has. Yes, he says in front of a bunch of people that he’s taking Luke to the Emperor. But there is such a thing as subtext. I know that for me, if there’s no possibility of another reading of the text, there’s no need to come back to the book/film/show. And I like to think I return primarily to entertainment that offers something additional when I revisit.

Additional Points

Vader had other motivations. Going back to some of the thoughts I’ve postulated before, and of which I’ll likely post a further examination at the implicit behest of The Clone, Vader was ready for his “big moment” on the Death Star before a couple of torpedoes thwarted his ambitions.

It’s not like he no longer wanted what he wanted by the time Episode V rolls around. If anything, he wants it more.

So, he’s figured out he has a son. He’s smart enough to know that he’s got an even better shot at dicing up Old Man Palpatine with his son by his side. After all, Luke is the direct offspring of The Chosen One (or, again, possibly The Chosen One himself). The kid’s got power and skills.

He’s also smart enough to know Palpatine would love nothing more than to toss his crispy behind out and start fresh with an undamaged Skywalker. Return of the Jedi proves that point as Sidious is ready to toss Vader onto the trash heap when Luke drops him like a punk.

About Carbonite

We know that carbon-freeze is used to put things in suspended animation. Cloud City’s facilities are geared for industrial output, leading to the concerns that the “crude” facility would kill Luke. So they test on Han and then get everything set to drop Luke into the pit. We know Luke will live, and be unable to escape.

However, as was established in the novelizations and various adaptations based on the original script, Luke would still have been aware of things. Han characterizes his time in carbonite as a personal hell in a scene cut from the final film, the infamous “sandstorm scene” on Tatooine (and I believe the dialogue was in at least one official adaptation):

“No, I’m thinking a lot about it. That carbon freeze was the closest thing to dead there is. And it wasn’t just sleepin’. It was a big wide awake nothing!”

Luke, in stasis, can’t be found. He can be spirited away and hidden, where Vader can train him and turn him to the ways of the Sith. Think of it: Vader can have a telepathic “conversation” with Luke while he’s in a sort of living Hell. What better offer could Vader make, when Luke is ready to break, than to offer him release from this prison if only he would turn?

That’s where I came up with Number 4 in the list above. It’s an interesting possibility, at the very least, and far more thematically consistent with the the series than some of the horse-poop other “fans” put out there.

Hidden from Sidious

At a bare minimum, Vader can hide Luke in the literal sense. If Luke is in stasis, his “signal” in the Force becomes subdued. He’s harder to detect. For goodness’ sake, the Emperor and Vader didn’t even sense his coming when he was out and living free on Tatooine, while Vader was in orbit (this ties into another topic I’ll be touching on soon enough).

Conclusion & Conjecture

So upon this closer look, given that there are other ways for Vader to deliver Luke to the Emperor, freezing Luke in Carbonite is actually a step from Vader to put the balance of his relationship with Sidious back in his favor.

He failed to parlay the Death Star into a final advantage, but figures Luke gives him an insurmountable one. His plans for Luke in Empire therefore take on a greatly layered quality in this examination.

Is it authoritative? Not at all. It’s a guy on the Internet playing “English Major” with a story point in a film.

But you have to admit that it’s a more interesting way to look at it. More interesting than face value, that’s for sure.