Most of you Star Wars fans out there have seen Return of the Jedi dozens of times. You can quote your favorite lines, you know the action scenes beat-for-beat, and you can explain exactly what happens to all your friends who haven’t seen it. But have you ever stopped to consider how the plan to rescue Han Solo at the beginning of the movie actually worked?
Recently, die hard Star Wars fan, Uproxx writer, and friend of the site Mike Ryan posed a challenge online to anyone who could explain how the plan to rescue Han Solo was supposed to work. Ryan and some other Star Wars lovers, including The Last Jedi novelization author Jason Fry, couldn’t come up with a reasonable explanation for how this plan would have been executed if it went off without a hitch. But Star Wars novelist Chuck Wendig, the writer of the Aftermath trilogy, has tried to make sense of it.
The Problems with the Han Solo Rescue
First up, to lay the groundwork, let’s just run through the basics of the rescue of Han Solo.
First, it’s R2-D2 and C-3PO on the scene. Unknown to the protocol droid, Luke Skywalker is offering them up as a gift to Jabba the Hutt as a way to bargain for Han Solo. Of course he doesn’t accept, but if he did, you have to wonder what Luke would have done after that. Because sure, they get back Han Solo, but now his two favorite droids are in the possession of Jabba the Hutt, and one of them has his lightsaber stowed away inside it. Yeah, don’t forget, R2 has Luke’s lightsaber inside him this whole time.
Let’s not forget that Lando Calrissian is already in place at Jabba’s palace, in disguise as a skiff guard, even though we don’t really have any idea what he’s doing except waiting to come in handy during an execution that no one could even be sure would be necessary.
On top of that, Leia comes in with a plan to rescue Han Solo by being in disguise as the bounty hunter Boushh, but apparently doesn’t account for rescuing R2 and C-3PO at the same time. Plus, let’s not forget that part of this plan also puts Chewbacca into the custody of Jabba the Hutt as well. So then it’s up to Luke (and maybe Lando?) to save everyone, and even that fails, though it apparently all ends up going according to plan when they’re about to be thrown into the Sarlaac.
Mike Ryan does a much better job of running through the “logistics” of this plan and explaining why it’s an absolute mess over in his full article at Uproxx. It’s there that he challenged anyone to come up with an explanation. But he posited that the best explanation might be that Luke, Leia and Lando each executed their own plans after they couldn’t get approval from the Rebel Alliance for a rescue operation. Instead of talking to each other, they did their own thing for fear of getting anyone else into trouble.
A Possible Explanation for Han Solo’s Rescue
As we said, Star Wars novelist Chuck Wendig has accepted Mike Ryan’s challenge to explain how the rescue of Han Solo makes sense. It requires a decent amount of reading, but we’ll let Wendig set the stage for you before you go off and read his whole explanation yourself. Wendig says:
“Before we begin, this is what you need to understand about this Skywalker Six heist — it’s not just a single-serving plan, but rather, a series of failsafe sub-plans that culminate in the kind of extraction and result you’d get if you were all sitting around a roleplaying game table trying to get your characters to perform any complicated task (robbing a bank, invading a country, scheduling and hosting a galactic orgy). It’s less a “finely-tuned machine” of a plan and more the “Millennium Falcon” plan — it’s a ship, once designed for a purpose and since re-purposed with spare parts and swaddling tape and lots and lots of hope.”
From there he dives into explaining how the plan was supposed to be executed, but how it failed step-by-step. It doesn’t really help make the plan any more convoluted, and it relies on a lot of coincidences and things that the characters probably didn’t know would happen. Then again, maybe there’s a chance that Luke could have foreseen how some of this plan would have gone and did put in a bunch of failsafes to ensure they could make it out if things went south.
However, even if that was the case, we’re still wondering just how long Jabba and his gang of cronies were hanging out in that little side room waiting for Leia to come in and rescue Han and laugh in her face. That Jabba is a rascal. And he’s dead now.
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