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.

Naked Yoda

This could have been one more “Unanswered Question from The Empire Strikes Back,” but let’s be honest. I couldn’t walk away from that title.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go too weird with this. Well, not “sexual weird” at least. It’s weird I’m even thinking about the root question. I’m not the one on trial. Your objections are overruled.

Thinking About This, As Pertains to Climate, I Was

Even after acclimating to a stifling climate, a brisk walk will make you break a sweat on a hot day. Summertime in such a clime is absolutely draining.

I know this because I take brisk walks in a stifling climate on a fairly regular basis. I live in such a climate. Recently I was taking a brisk walk in a different portion of my new home state where it was even hotter and muggier. As I walked, I regretted wearing a heavy cotton shirt.

Naturally, I thought of Dagobah. I thought of…Yoda in exile.

Yoda in Return of the Jedi which is a Star Wars movie featuring Yoda that's the sixth episode in the Star Wars Saga, and the fifth to feature Yoda in chronological order, even though it's third in the release schedule. He wasn't in the original Star Wars that is now known as A New Hope even though it was Star Wars in 1977. SEO Text Gaming!
“Notice you will, Luke…my clothes. Itchy, they are.”

Change of Clothes, He Doesn’t Have?

What puzzles me most about Yoda’s exile in Dagobah is that he doesn’t appear to have taken a change of clothes with him. He’s in the same outfit we saw him wearing in the prequels. Even before the prequels, we saw no extra stash of clothing.

He knew he was headed to Dagobah. He didn’t crash land there, he chose his place of exile as Obi-Wan chose his. As The Clone Wars established, he’d been there before. He knew full well what type of place Dagobah was.

An alternative read is that he took changes of clothes, where every change of clothes is the same outfit. He did, after all, think to travel with a blanket – he has one on the bed. I won’t get into the practical aspect of where he would have kept these things in the

I’m aware that Obi-Wan also wore the same outfit, but they’re more practical for where he was. A desert environment is arid; there’s not a mildew-inducing moisture everywhere. Covering from the sun would also make sense; plenty of cultures in desert locales on Earth cover to help deflect the sun. As for the lack of a change of clothing, I guess without the moisture, the clothes aren’t going to retain the same sort of…bouquet that wool does in moist places.

The Only Solution, There Is

The only solution to this question I see, and the one which would have preserved his clothing the best, would be if Yoda walked around naked. Communing with nature, watching his step, and otherwise enjoying any breezes he might encounter.

Once Obi-Wan died, he would be able to communicate with him even more easily. He would have been given a heads up, and been able to run and put something on before Luke arrived.

Once Luke was gone, he was sad and wondered what path this young Skywalker would take. Then he would have ditched his clothes and meditated.

Feel free to send me thank you notes for this mental image in the comments below. You’ll never forget it.

I can’t.

A Random Unanswered Question from Return of the Jedi

I was pondering some questions recently, and wanted to share a quick one that crossed my mind. Oh, I’ve gone down this road before, and I’m happy to do so again.

A lot of debates can be had about the Rebel strike team’s plan, or the Empire’s, for the moon called Endor in Return of the Jedi, One that I see consistently overlooked, and I look forward to someone now adopting and working into their Twitter conversation without crediting this blog, has to do with C-3PO.

Why Didn’t They Camouflage C-3PO?

I do not understand why they didn’t camouflage C-3PO when they went to Endor. He’s a big, shiny, golden humanoid form wandering through the forest. Artoo at least has the advantage of being as short as a tall plant, and so he’s a bit harder to notice when standing still. Threepio reflects light like a beacon.

For goodness’ sake, he can’t even blend into the desert as evidenced by Star Wars (yes, yes, A New Hope). He actually had a better chance of escaping notice in the moments before the jawas find him because his finish was dulled from his recent ordeals and all that.

But again, he’s in a lush environment full of greens and browns, some subdued reds, and…not known for blindingly shiny golden objects.

I’m aware that Threepio’s golden hue wins them the adoration and devotion and help of the Ewok tribe they meet, so the camouflage would have worked against them. I’m sure you could construct head canon where they were getting ready to paint Threepio and Luke got a faraway look and murmured, “No…the Force wants him…gold.”

Considering Luke can waltz in and bust up Rebel command meetings at whim, I’d guess he has the pull to stop the camouflage paint from being applied. Han likely didn’t care if Threepio got shot.

But it sure seems like a glaring (get it?) oversight.

Have any thoughts to explain our way out of this one? Share them below!

Wicket the Ewok, Artoo Detoo R2 D2, See Threepio C-3PO, Return of the Jedi
“You’re right! A red arm would have hidden me better!”

Han Solo, The Tin Man and Inception

One of the kids was watching Wizard of Oz one day. I happened to pass through the room when Dorothy happened across the Tin Man.

I realized that the Tin Man was essentially in the same situation as Han Solo in carbon freeze. He was frozen in place, but conscious. I’m not going to bother citing all the sources supporting that Han was conscious during his time in carbon freeze, except to say they are there.

Are all the sources for Han’s continued awareness in carbon freeze “off-screen” and therefore subject to question or change? Sure, but it was a part of the original script and nothing has contradicted it so far; per the policy with which fans have been inculcated, if it hasn’t yet been contradicted it’s still valid.

But we’ll get back to all that in a moment.

The Madness Factor

The Tin Man yelps “Oil Can!” through frozen lips when Dorothy discovers him. We don’t know how long he’s been trapped in place, but we can surmise it’s for at least as long a period as when the storm brought Dorothy to Oz. This is fairly ambiguous since we have no real sense of how long it took Dorothy to get to that point on the Yellow Brick Road, nor whether the storm that rained him into imobility was the same that brought Dorothy to Oz.

Anyway, I won’t bother asking at this point why so few people walked the Yellow Brick Road that Dorothy was the first to discover him. If the Yellow Brick Road is indeed the highway to the Emerald City, where one can offer supplication to the Wizard, I would imagine more travellers would be on it to plead their cases to him.

More salient to my point, though, is that we can imagine what the Tin Man was experiencing. He was ultimately isolated yet able to observe the world around him. He was watching the world move, unable to interact with it in any way. The Tin Man was in a figurative Hell.

Han Solo in Carbonite

The Snap Factor

When in such a predicament, the mind will develop one way or the other. It can either snap into madness or, like the Buddha, reach ultimate enlightenment. Time and personal psychological makeup determine which way you go, though I’d think that on a long enough continuum you’d probably waver between both. Not to wax poetic, but some of the most enlightened people have been a little bit off their rocker, too.

So we have to ask the question of how mentally strong Han Solo was. We need to know if his was the type of mind that could surmount the trapped horrors of blank consciousness, an altered state known in our real world to produce dramatic results.

Certainly the early indications in Return of the Jedi are that he has emerged from his carbon freeze with a greater appreciation for life and his place in it. He develops into a hero and a leader in short order. When he believes that Leia is romantically attached to Luke, he does the mature thing and promises to stay out of their way. In short, he seems enlightened.

The Time Factor

However, as I’ve discussed previously, the time between the films in the context of the onscreen story is nebulous. The way they are constructed, Empire and Jedi work far better if they are in quick succession.

For the sake of argument, though, let’s look at the accepted timespan between the films. Fans now “acknowledge” that a year passes. The precise time span, of course, is never stated on-screen. It’s ultimately unimportant to the story.

However, if we accept one year as the timespan, it begs another question about Han’s mental state upon emergence from carbon freeze. In short, I have to wonder if it was in a state of flux.

After all, Han had just started his redemptive arc in Empire. His time in carbon freeze initially must have been horrific. He had just embraced love, and so far as he knew would spend the rest of existence in a permanently-torturous nothingness with only his mind to wander. Sleep means nothing; I imagine he would lose consciousness on occasion, only to awaken to the fresh horror that he’s still encased in his personal hell. That was probably worse.

The Dream State

Being in suspension for that long could easily have led to a sliding madness that masked itself at first. For all we know (so long as we disregard “Expanded Universe” works out there already), Han went more and more off the rails after the events of Return of the Jedi.

Coupled with the sliding madness, allow me to offer the option that he could have lost the full distinction between wakefulness and sleep. Perhaps he saw the events of Return of the Jedi with a modicum of doubt as to whether he was still in the carbonite; it could have taken time for him to recognize them as reality, creating an irresolvable tension with Leia.

In essence, he would devolve into Cobb from Inception, continually checking to see if his experiences were reality. It would take a long time for him to stop testing those boundaries, and those around him.

Han and Luke on the way to the Sarlacc Pit

Personally, I think that would be a really interesting angle that explains his reversion to old habits over time. It’s not that he was incompatable with Leia at a basic level, but that somewhere along the way he went nuts and had to go wandering to work things out. Chewie stayed with him because…well, he’s Chewie.

Conclusion

In short, I think that questions like this are so fun it often leads to my regrets about living in the time of “It’s All Connected.” Wouldn’t it be more fun to wander in our own heads and experience the in-between beats on our own?

Half the fun of a magic forest is getting lost in it, after all.

I wonder what others have wondered about Han’s post-carbonite disposition….

Why I Love the Original Return of the Jedi soundtrack LP so much

This is being shared on May the Fourth, Fake Star Wars Day, to prove I’m not a hard-hearted man. Also I promised to explain this to someone a while back, so the time is now.

This past Christmas, I purchased a vinyl edition of the Return of the Jedi soundtrack for my good friend @TheInsaneRobin. The album was carefully selected as a nod to a very important album in my personal history both as a Star Wars fan and a developing human being.

While he could horrifyingly have taken that to mean I sent him a sort of mixtape, nevertheless I persisted and sent it to him.

Return of the Jedi Teaser Poster
This poster is the shizz-NITE.

History of Return of the Jedi and Me

It’s no secret that Return of the Jedi is my favorite of the original three Star Wars films. I love it! It completely captivated me as a kid.

I drifted away from that as I got older, like so many of my contemporaries did, only to rediscover the love with the letterboxed collector’s set released in 1991 on VHS. It was amazing because after so long with pan-and-scan, Jedi is the most visually-improved of the series when the aspect ratio is corrected.

But that’s a discussion for another time. This is about the soundtrack.

The Return of the Jedi soundtrack was a single album, whereas the first two Star Wars soundtracks had been double LPs. This was disappointing even in 1983; in later source materials I discovered that Lucasfilm had cut back on things because soundtrack albums weren’t selling as well and so on. It’s a bummer that a financial decision drove that, but it is what it is. It doesn’t diminish the great music that’s on there.

In the era of uncut and expaned soundtrack scores, it’s hard to imagine what the world was like when such things were edited to the bone, produced to give tracks that served as a sort of highlight real. There’s a real concert feel to these things, and it produces stuff like the fanfare treatment that the Star Wars theme gets on its original soundtrack pressing.

Luke and Vader in Return of the Jedi
Now you will experience the power of the turntable.

So Why Jedi?

Aside from adoring the music, I remember laying on our living room floor listening to the LP on our stereo system. I remember the feel of the carpet and the television we had in there, which was so small I’d consider it an insult today. I remember looking at the gorgeous production shots when the cover was open, and the elegant simplicity of that iconic poster art.

The big, puffy headphones on my ears, I would crank up the track “Return of the Jedi” (the music from the Sail Barge fight, or at least an edited version of it). I would listen to “Han Solo Returns (At the Court of Jabba the Hutt)” and especially the track “The Emperor,” which was actually the music from the climactic moment he’s frying Luke with lightning.

I was moved by the track “Luke and Leia,” and still am. “Into the Trap,” the haunting entrancement of the opening crawl as ST-321 made its way to the second Death Star. I could go on! But I won’t.

In a way, Return of the Jedi was the setting sun of childhood. The original LP version of the soundtrack is the score to a time when the world was still young and fun.

There were frightening world events but I wasn’t completely aware of their import or impact. My parents were still infallible. All of my grandparents were alive. I hadn’t encountered the heavier questions of mortality.

It was the last summer my friends still wanted to play Star Wars with me. It was the last summer of overflowing toy aisles crammed with X-Wings and action figures, at least until they figured out some of us had ever stopped wanting them. There was no EU to bicker about. There were no fans dictating demands about what to see in their space fantasy.

When I listen to that original LP version of the Return of the Jedi score, I remember what it felt like when the world was less complicated in perception and choice. I can smell the summer air. I feel the carefree sensation of a summer without homework and playing until the sun was sliding away and the sweat dried. It’s one of those sacred, distant echoes of what it meant to be a kid.

And so, when I share the Return of the Jedi soundtrack – the one released in 1983 – even more than any other piece of Star Wars, it’s like sharing a piece of me.

Kesseljunie-Molten-cover-web
This album never existed, but man, it would’ve been great.