Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Four: Exposition is Exciting (From a Certain Point of View)

15minuteAckbar

00:45:01 – 01:00:00

We are now past the 45-minute mark of the Jedi Edition of 15-Minute Force.

As we rejoin our hero, Luke Skywalker, we are still on Dagobah. Luke’s Jedi mentor Yoda is now dead, and as this chapter begins, his body fades away to nothingness. There’s nothing keeping Luke in the swamp any longer. He doesn’t even have a body to bury. But, as he tells Artoo, he can’t do it; he can’t go on alone.

Force-ghost Ben interrupts the private conversation between Luke and his astromech droid.

Yoda will always be with you,” Ben says.

Obi-Wan,” Luke says, and we see the ghost of Obi-Wan “Old Ben” Kenobi approaching Luke from the swamp. He’s not blue this time. Instead, his image seems to be filtered through white gauze.

Why didn’t you tell me?” Luke asks his old mentor. “You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father.”

Your father was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true . . . from a certain point of view.”

This “certain point of view” is never a good defense. Don’t try this at home.

Obi-Wan goes on to say that, when he first knew him, Luke’s father was already a great pilot. I guess that is true also . . .from a certain point of view. Lil’ Anakin was a pilot, and he did win the Boonta Eve Race on Tatooine, if memory serves. Obi-Wan says he failed in training Anakin to be a Jedi. When Luke says that there’s still good in him, Obi-Wan says that he’s more machine than man now. Twisted and evil.

When Luke says, again, that he can’t do it, Obi-Wan says, “You can’t escape your destiny. You must face Darth Vader again.”

I can’t kill my own father, “ Luke says.

Then the Emperor has already won. You were our only hope.”

Here’s Obi-Wan telling lies again. Didn’t he agree with Yoda that there was another?

Luke remembers. “Yoda spoke of another.”

The other he spoke of is your twin sister.”

But I have no sister.”

To protect you both from the Emperor, you were hidden from your father when you were born. The Emperor knew, as I did, if Anakin were to have any offspring, they would be a threat to him. That is the reason why your sister remains safely anonymous.”

Leia! Leia’s my sister!”

Your insight serves you well. Bury your feelings deep down, Luke. They do you credit, but they could be made to serve the Emperor.”

This is a nice piece of exposition. But, it already feels like the Star Wars universe is getting a retcon. Just from a logical perspective—also a certain point of view—this doesn’t make complete sense. Luke was “hidden” with his real Aunt and Uncle, with Obi-Wan nearby to keep an eye on the youth. Leia was better hidden, but not by much. Senator Bail Organa was a known associate of Senator Amidala, as well as of Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The plan was sketchy, at best.

At least now we can stop feeling jealous because Leia obviously prefers Han Solo over Luke Skywalker. It’s just a shame they couldn’t have discovered that they were related before they started kissing each other.

The original script goes on to drop more exposition bombs on us that completely contradict the prequel trilogy. Since Ben’s dialogue didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie, it’s not canon. But, Ben says that Luke’s father never knew that Luke’s mother was pregnant, which we know is untrue. And Owen was Ben’s brother, instead of Anakin’s stepbrother. From a hiding-Luke standpoint, this is marginally better, but also untrue now. Plus, Luke’s mother survived childbirth. She was the one who took Leia to live as the daughter of Senator Organa. This is a completely different story.

One screenwipe later, and we’ve rejoined the Rebel fleet. The rebels are all gathered in a white war room on one of the ships. Han Solo congratulates Lando Calrissian for becoming a general in the Alliance.

The ever-suave Lando says, “Someone must have told them about my little maneuver at the Battle of Tanaab.” I wonder if this is the Star Wars equivalent of the Battle of Bataan, of which Tanaab is an anagram? I’m not going to look this one up.

Leia Organa and Chewbacca the Wookiee are there as well, and we get a glimpse of the Mon Calamari in the elevated control room. One of these is Admiral Ackbar. I think we’re on the Mon Calamari spaceship. It’s the really lumpy one.

Mon Mothma, the leader of the rebellion, steps forward and addresses the assemblage. It seems that the Emperor has made a critical error and the time for their attack has come. Bothan spies have brought them data that tells the rebels where their new battle station is located. And, bonus, the weapon systems of this new Death Star are not yet operational and the Imperial fleet is spread across the galaxy. And, double-bonus, the Emperor himself is on board the new Death Star, overseeing the final stages of the battle station’s construction.

Mon Mothma says this famous potent-quotable line next: “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”

I kept waiting for Bothans to appear in Rogue One: a Star Wars story, but they never did, because that was about the first Death Star, not its sequel. Here’s where the dead Bothans come into play.

Admiral Ackbar then takes over and tells us that the new Death Star is orbiting the forest moon of Endor. Ackbar says that even though the weapon systems are not yet operational, it has a powerful defense mechanism. It is protected by a strong energy field which is generated from the nearby forest moon of Endor.

They always say “forest moon of Endor.” Does this mean the moon is named Endor, or is the planet it orbits (I assume there is one for it to be a moon) named Endor? I’m not sure that this question ever gets answered. For now, like Admiral Ackbar, never say “Endor.” Always say “forest moon of Endor.”

So, the strategy is to take down the defensive energy shield before beginning their attack. Why does the energy shield have to be projected from the forest moon of Endor? Maybe the shield is generated using geothermic energy or photosynthesis or something. After the shield is down, the cruisers will create a perimeter while the rebel fighters fly into the partially constructed Death Star to knock out the main reactor.

General Calrissian has volunteered to lead the fighter attack. This is showing a lot of faith in a man who betrayed several high-ranking rebels to the Empire just a year ago.

Ackbar hands off the presentation to General Madine. Madine tells everyone that they have stolen a small Imperial shuttle, which they’ve disguised as a cargo ship. Using a secret Imperial code, a strike team will land on the moon and deactivate the shield generator.

Guess who volunteered for this duty. Everyone’s favorite carbonite popsicle, General Han Solo. Yeah, that’s right. Han is a general now, too. Although this strike team news is a surprise to the others, Chewie and Leia quickly volunteer to be a part of the shuttle command crew. And then Luke makes his big entrance, also volunteering to help his friends.

Our Scooby Gang is back together and is going to deactivate the shield generator. Story Goal #1. Then, our JV squad, led by General Lando Calrissian in his dashing cape, will blow up the Death Star, ending the battle station’s inherent threat and, hopefully, also resulting in the death of Emperor Palpatine himself. Story Goal #2. I feel like I should mention something about Luke’s inevitable confrontation with Darth Vader here, but that doesn’t seem to be a part of the plan at the moment. This is all Big Picture stuff.

Act Two began somewhere near the beginning of this chapter, I think. So far, it’s been mostly an info dump with very little action. Lots of talking and sharing of information. It’s confirmed that Vader is Luke’s father. Also, Luke has a twin sister, and it’s Leia. The Rebel Alliance has lost many Bothans to discover the location of the Empire’s new Death Star and now plan to blow it, and the Emperor, up. Oh, and Luke is destined to face Vader again and he should probably kill him this time.

After Han loans the Millennium Falcon to his old buddy Lando, he and the gang pile into the repurposed Imperial shuttle and head off for the forest moon of Endor. Han tells Leia that he has a funny feeling that he’ll never see the Falcon again. He’s worried about his ship, not about Lando.

Back on the Death Star II, Darth Vader does his “what is thy bidding, my Master?” schtick again. Emperor Palpatine (Sheev, to his friends) orders Vader to move the fleet to the far side of Endor, to stay until called for. Vader asks about news of the rebel fleet massing near Sullust. The emperor says that’s of no concern. Soon, the Rebellion will be crushed and young Skywalker will be one of us. His intent to bring Luke over to the Dark Side is a bold statement of Palpatine’s story goal at this point. Understanding the Sith Rule of Two, this should cause Vader some concern. Why would a Sith Lord go along with this, unless his plan all along was to eliminate the emperor and rule in his stead, with his whiny son at his side?

At the end of this scene, the emperor orders Vader to return to the command ship and await further orders.

Next scene, we’re back with our heroes in the stolen Imperial shuttle. The scene drags a little as they’re using the stolen Imperial codes to bypass the energy shield. Meanwhile, Luke remarks that Vader is on the command ship they are approaching. One would assume that Vader senses Luke as well. They have that deep father-and-son connection.

Han tells Chewie to keep his distance from the command ship, but not to look like he’s keeping his distance. After Chewie growls a question that’s probably “What the Hell does that even mean?” Han responds, “I don’t know. Fly casual.”

On the bridge of the command ship, Vader is suspicious of the approaching shuttle. Admiral Piett admits that they’re using an older code, but he was about to pass them through. Vader tells the admiral that he will deal with this himself and to let the shuttle pass.

After what’s supposed to be a tense moment in which there is no longer any tension because we already heard Vader give the order to let them pass, the shuttle passes through the shield, heading towards the forest moon below. What’s Vader got planned for them?

In the next scene, the shuttle crew is on the forest moon humping through the trees. They come across two speeder bike scouts. Han attempts to get the jump on one of the scouts, but steps on a quite loud branch that gives him away. Proud work from the Foley artists. Han ends up struggling with one of the scouts while the other hops aboard his speeder bike and rockets off between the trees.

Chewie is able to take out the fleeing scout with his bowcaster.

Luke and Leia, running through the forest for some reason, maybe to help Han, see two other speeder bike scouts right before they jet away on their own bikes. Leia steals a third bike while Luke hops on to ride bitch behind her. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Meanwhile, Han still fights with the scout he failed to initially take out. He flips the biker with some advanced Star Wars Judo moves.

Zooming through the forest promised by “the forest moon of Endor,” Luke tells Leia to use the center switch to jam the other scouts’ comm links. The forward-facing POV shots of the bikes soaring through the forest still look great. The shots looking back on Luke and Leia, with the scenery scrolling behind them, don’t look as good as I remembered. Some of the perspectives look wonky. Like those old rear-projection driving shots in old movies, or on Conan.

Leia and Luke get alongside one of the biker scouts and begin ramming into him. Luke makes the leap to the other speeder bike and throws the scout off. The scout bounces off a tree with a wet crunch. He’s obviously dead.

Now Luke and Leia each have their own speeder bike. The plan seems to be to double-team the single speeder bike scout ahead of them, but then they suddenly pass a speed trap, and two additional bike scouts are behind them in pursuit.

Luke tells Leia to stay on the one ahead while he takes care of the other two.

Luke locks down his brakes so that he’s suddenly behind the pursuing scouts. Then he begins firing his bike weapon at them, causing one to crash in flames almost immediately.

Here, we’re going to be left hanging, because this chapter draws to a sudden, exciting close.

It was great to finally get some action after this nearly chapter-long information dump. I do like the speeder bike sequence a lot. I didn’t hate the obligatory rebels assembled in one spot to get the battle plan stuff either, though it seemed a little slow. We’re about halfway through the movie now, and we still haven’t reached the stuff that made this one my least favorite of the original trilogy. I wrote before that it wasn’t just the Ewoks that lowered my opinion of this movie, and I still believe that, but it is looking like they were a major reason. We’ll see what happens in our next chapter.

Until then . . . Remember This: When Someone Tells You That They’ve Told You the Truth, From a Certain Point of View, It Means They Lied . . . And May The 15-Minute Force Be With You.

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