That Time Someone Tried to Tell Me Wedge Died in The Empire Strikes Back

Imagine, if you will, a bookstore. It wasn’t a Barnes & Noble or Borders, though. I’m pretty sure it was a Waldenbooks, based on the color scheme of the carpets and nature of the shelves that I remember.

waldenbooks a bookstore called waldenbooks that sold books in a book store environment at a place called waldenbooks but never carried the biography of Craigula

Anyhow, I was having a discussion with a friend today where we were discussing the phenomenon where mass hallucinations occur about pop culture or historical events. Naturally, I used an event related to Star Wars for an example.

I remember being in this bookstore – again, I am fairly certain it was a Waldenbooks – with a friend of mine as I looked for any new Star Wars titles to procure. In the days before the Internet, it was easy to overlook some of the mass market paperback releases. Even if there was no new release to discover, though, I still loved to window shop. Books have always been a weakness of mine for impulse purchases, but that’s a story for another time on this seemingly-endless writing streak.

While I can’t be positive about who the friend was with me, given the time period of which I’m thinking, it was most likely one of my dearest friends of long-standing. I’m also certain that the person was just bored senseless as we crossed paths with a girl also among the shelves, to whom I inevitably started talking about Star Wars.

It was a pleasant conversation, as I recall, until she said something that made me stop dead in my mental tracks.

“Wedge died in The Empire Strikes Back.”

There was a solid, awkward moment of silence as my brain processed whether I heard those words in the correct order. Alas I had, and I was extremely puzzled.

I protested and assured her that no, Wedge did not die in The Empire Strikes Back. Things escalated quickly as she insisted that yes, he did.

Her assurance was founded in the fact that Rogue Two died. Therefore, in her mind, Wedge had died because she believed that he was Rogue Two. She smiled as she pointed out what a huge continuity error it was for Return of the Jedi.

No matter how much I insisted that Wedge was Rogue Three, and definitely did not die onscreen in The Empire Strikes Back, she was not to be swayed. She was sure of it because she was sure that Wedge was Rogue Two.

It never became a full-blown argument, but I refused to back down from my position. I said that when she watched the movie again, she would discover her error. Rogue Two was Zev. Wedge was Rogue Three in The Empire Strikes Back.

I remember that while we parted on fine terms, I’m sure she thought I was a massive jackass. While I don’t recall doing so, I’m sure I made some comment to my friend that this fool didn’t know their Star Wars.

Wedge who was Rogue Three in The Empire Strikes Back, a Star Wars movie where Wedge was Rogue Three in a Star Wars movie, called The Empire Strikes Back, which is a Star Wars movie where Wedge was Rogue Three. It definitely wasn't Craigula.
Rogue Three.

No, He Didn’t…And Why I Kept Thinking about This Today

It’s entirely possible that when I recommended she watch the movie again, I’d have said she needed to watch it again. In my typical clumsy fashion, I’d have missed the opportunity to build a bridge on our common bond and instead hammer home the fact that I was correct.

It’s only relatively recently that I’ve learned to stop caring whether someone else was wrong. With the preponderance of social media, the number of times per day you run across a stranger with an incorrect recollection has risen exponentially.

I’m also sure that as polite as I was, my incredulity showed through; I don’t always have the best poker face in those situations. I know my flaws fairly well, and I also know my natural tendency to debate my positions very strongly.

I still don’t prefer to concede the point just to keep the peace, either. I might defer, but I’ll let the other person know I’m deferring for the sake of amity.

For that reason, I can’t help but look back on memories like this through the prism of modern times and sensibilities. Because it seems that sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you’re right, wrong, or earnest, but in how the other person wants to portray you to the world.

How would this have been portrayed in a Twitter thread in the current world? Would someone out there relay the story of how a man was “gatekeeping” them in a harmless discussion? Would I have found my picture floating out online somewhere, as evidence of a monstrous Mansplainer? After all, there’s no way I could present what was at the core of the discussion. I’d not have even known it was out there.

I guess it’s always been that way. I just wish it wasn’t so unnerving now. I wish it wasn’t so insidious as to make me revisit a random memory from years ago.

And for the skeptics, how can I be sure that I’m remembering it correctly? Because this isn’t the first time I’ve recalled it, and I tend to remember Star Wars-related incidents through my life. Memories about The Doors are pretty strong too.

The rest can get fuzzy, sure, but that stuff sticks with you.


Yet Another Unanswered Question from #StarWars: #TheEmpireStrikesBack

In my on-again-off-again series of “unanswered questions,” I have a gem of one that’s got about a million explanations, but all of them require “head canon” to work it out.

Why Didn’t the Empire Completely Disconnect or Remove the Hyperdrive from The Millenium Falcon While it Was at Bespin?

In the film, we see that they’re turned it to the “off” position. It worked well enough to fool the heroes. But it was resolved with Artoo flipping a switch, supporting Lucas’ own assertion that Artoo was a real hero of the series. (I agree with this assertion, and have spoken several times about the fact that there’s a moment with Artoo during the escape on Bespin that actually makes me tear up any time I watch it because it’s so beautifully done.)

R2D2 who's known as Artoo Detoo in Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back which is Star Wars Episode V which is a Star Wars movie called The Empire Strikes back which features R2D2 who's known as Artoo Detoo.
Every time. The music, the moment, the pacing…all perfect.

Anyway, when the’re in the Falcon and trying to fly away to freedom (spoilers), they discover they can’t jump to hyperspace. Chewie and Lando start looking for errors to fix, only to come up empty…and fortunately not crippling the ship any further.

Lando exclaims that they told him they (The Imperial techs, presumably) had fixed it, and emphasizes this by saying they promised to fix it. We’ll table Lando’s naivete for the moment, as it’s not the particular point I’m after in this conversation.

The thing that really stands out is that the Imperial techs simply switched the hyperdrive to “off.” Artoo rolls over to the access panel and turns it “on.” We see a flashing red light turn green, in a beautifully simple visual cue.

But there is the question. Why didn’t they disconnect it completely? Simply turning it “off” means it can be turned “on” again…and easily.

Potential Answers

I have a lot of potential answers in my head, but I’d love it if anyone offered a perspective in the comments. You can even tell me if one of these answers works for you, or if I’m just crazy for thinking it works as an explanation.

  1. It was simply in the “off” position so that the techs could work on it. They didn’t count on Lando escaping, and so there was no need to disconnect the hyperdrive. Lando was a collaborator, and they considered him either a low-to-no risk for pulling a stunt, or counted on him to try it afterward, in which case the “off” switch would delay him long enough for them to blow him out of the sky.
  2. It was disconnected, but only an astromech could get to the spot necessary to reconnect it. This would be even better, because then Artoo just keeps being the gift from Vader’s haunted past that keeps on giving.
  3. That’s what was wrong with it the whole time. Chewie and Han never find what was specifically wrong with everything as they’re going around during the asteroid belt chase. Chewie displays a thinking process error we’ve all experienced from time to time, and why IT asks that annoying question all the time: “Are you sure it’s turned on?” Maybe the breaker tripped during the shots they were taking – say, a fuse overloaded when they took some shots while escaping Hoth – and they never thought that was the issue. They could have avoided the whole mess on Bespin if they had checked.
    1. Also, it’s possible the breaker tripped when Han entered the cockpit. Do you remember the power surge where he had to hit the panel to get the ship to power back up? Maybe it tripped then.
  4. Han forgot to reactivate it when before they left Hoth. They didn’t have time for a pre-flight check, Han and Chewie had been working on things, and they simply forgot to check. I dislike this one most of all because it makes Han seem dumb.

So…what do you think? Do you have any thoughts on the issue? Do you think someone from Lucasfilm should hire me for these sorts of pieces so I can get an official stamp on my ideas?

Share your thoughts below!

The Millenium Falcon from Star Wars is a Star Wars ship called the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars.
Yeah, I love this iteration of the design a whole lot, too. It’s like the whole thing I have with the second Death Star. It’s just ever so slightly cooler.

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.

What If Darth Vader Didn’t Go Back to the Emperor After the End of Star Wars?

Usual disclaimer: Star Wars in this context means Episode IV: A New Hope

A number of things I’ve written lately about Star Wars have come back to the same question of how much time passes between the chapters of the original Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Usually I harp on the idea that the films seem to work best if you allow the least amount of time between them, or at least a minimal duration.

One was spurred from a Words With Nerds listener who made the poor choice to taunt me with a question on Twitter. He was concerned why there was a wait between Luke’s Death Star victory and his departure to Dagobah.

I helped him out with that, but then I got to thinking.

If I’m willing to compress the timelines as I see fit as an audience member (as any audience member should), then I have to entertain the thought that Darth Vader went straight from the defeat at the Death Star to his fleet.

Incidentally, Vader’s fleet is accepted to have been named the Death Squadron, which seems silly since Death Fleet would indicate a fleet. In all honesty, Death Fleet is a scarier name. When I think of “Death Squad,” I think of a crack troop command sent out to depose rival governments; when I think “Death Fleet” I think “end of Carthage.” Maybe that’s just me.

Anyhow, if we do compress time so there’s at most a matter of months between Star Wars and Empire, I think that adds a lot of urgency to Vader’s search as well. He doesn’t need to know the name of the pilot who destroyed the Death Star at first; he only need to know that there is a pilot and he’s with the Rebel fleet.

Death Fleet on the Move

So he gets to the Death Fleet (I’m just calling it that now) and commandeers them, makes them hang a sharp turn, and goes to Yavin to pound the Rebels into dust only to find they were too quick and relocated already.

The establishing shot of the Executor Super Star Destroyer from The Empire Strikes Back
It is the brute squad!

If you want to add intrigue, make his commandeering of the Death Fleet be a source of irritation for Ozzel and an origin point for the obvious enmity between them. Ozzel was happily going about his mission when Vader, hot off the Death Star loss, shows up and turns what should be a quiet assignment before retirement into a hellacious goose chase.

Vader stays in contact with the Emperor finding out information as he goes. True to the Sith way, the two are racing to find out about this mysterious pilot and never know what the other knows, adding even more subtext to their conversation in Empire.

Tying It Together

So let’s pair this with my explanation about Luke’s delayed Dagobah journey, as it’s viewed by @roberthayjr. The Rebels are all too aware of this pursuit — as established at the beginning of Episode V — and so Luke never has the time to quiet his mind enough to hear/see Ben’s spirit clearly.

It takes a near-death experience to spur Luke into the next stage of his life. This pairs nicely with things, I think, and even serves as a nice symbolic fact about how people approach their own lives: they have to appreciate how fragile mortality is before they start living wisely.

What do you think?

Question from a Listener: “Why doesn’t Ghost Obi-Wan send Luke to Yoda right after he blows up the Death Star?”

Super Death Panda at Hoth

A listener of Words With Nerds (as you all should be) proposed a question to me on Twitter. To avoid misstating anything, here it is:

It’s a decent question. That is likely to be enough for @roberthayjr to feel happy; he’s a good egg who likes to challenge.

As I thought about the question, though, it’s one that I think is rooted in the “accepted timeline” between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. That is currently accepted to be 3 years.

The first and easiest way to disregard the question, then, is to say that there’s nothing in the text of the film that mandates a long time between the films. It could be as little as a month between films. The only length of time required is for it to be long enough that they run into a bounty hunter on Ord Mantell, per the dialogue from Han. You can tweak that a little further by saying that it would also need to be enough time for Vader to get back to the fleet, discover Luke’s identity, and set off searching for him without telling the Emperor. (This triggers a new and intriguing thought that I’ll write about later.)

That’s a little bit of a cheat, though. It’s a way of “lawyering around” the question. I don’t want to do that….

…this time.

Ghost Obi-Wan is Emphatic
Luke! Don’t give away the secret recipe. That leads to the dark…fried.

My Answer

The answer as I see it then, is two-fold:

  1. Luke wasn’t strong enough in the Force to see Obi-Wan until that near-death experience on Hoth; and/or
  2. Obi-Wan was waiting to step across the fabric of two realities until Luke was judged ready to take the next step; we’d heard him speak during the final act of Star Wars, he was likely waiting to appear until the right time.

I like both parts of this answer because they can, technically, function on their own.

The second point deserves a little more exploration, though. For if Obi-Wan could speak to Luke, why couldn’t he just tell him to go to Dagobah?

Refining the Answer

The refinement is that Obi-Wan was waiting to send Luke to Dagobah until Luke was could indicate a development and maturity in his Force abilities that was a clear sign that he was ready for the next, important step. After all, as soon as Luke goes to Yoda, it’s going to set off enough of a disturbance in the Force for the Emperor to sense it — hence him coming to Vader and talking about it in Empire.

Again, Luke had to be strong enough to see it, and Obi-Wan appeared when he saw that he was.

As a final “nitpicking interpretation,” who says that Obi-Wan didn’t speak to Luke between Empire and Jedi, dropping hints? Clearly Luke develops further skills like telekineses seen at the start of Empire.

He could have gotten there through meditation, too, but it’s equally valid to think that Obi-Wan spoke to him as Qui-Gon spoke to Obi-Wan while he was on Tatooine. This is, again, an accepted bit of knowledge, inferred from the text of Revenge of the Sith as much as anything else.

So, Bobby, how’d I do? Maybe it’s worth a discussion on Aggressive Negotiations….

Yoda is a many-colored being.
I also come from an era when we accepted both green AND purple (AND blue) Yodas.