-"Search your feelings. You know it to be true."-

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...


Before we begin, I should point out that The Empire Strikes Back is easily one of my top five favorite movies of all time.
It may be my absolute favorite (the Gaean Trilogy has yet to be made into movies, so we'll see ;).
I understand why many say that Star Wars (A New Hope) is better - it was first, it was the original and should get the credit for such daring and majestic beauty.
Personally, I feel that Empire surpasses it's predecessor - more story, bigger battles, intense character growth, more fantastic landscapes and environments.
For me it still stands as the best sci-fi movie of all time, and the best sequel of all time.

I've watched and re-watched these movies.
Many things have come to light under this scrutiny.
That being said, let's dig in and rip it apart (8<|

Remember, there is no Easter Bunny, there is no Santa Clause, capitalism is inherently flawed and Obi Wan Kenobi is a big fat liar-pants.

It is a dark time for the
Rebellion. Although the Death
Star has been destroyed,
Imperial troops have driven the
Rebel forces from their hidden
base and pursued them across
the galaxy.

Evading the dreaded
Imperial Starfleet, a group of
freedom fighters led by Luke
Skywalker has established a
new secret base on the remote
ice world of Hoth.

The evil lord Darth Vader,
obsessed with finding young
Skywalker, has dispatched
thousands of remote probes into
the far reaches of space...

"ALTHOUGH the Death Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the Rebel forces from their hidden base"?!
How about BECAUSE the Death Star has been destroyed.
Did they really think that was the center of Imperial power?
No, they didn't.
These opening scrolls are meant to set the tone and mood for the movies, and they are filled with propagandistic ploys and twistings of the truth.

Case in point; LED by Luke Skywalker.
He seems to lead the fighter pilots' squadron, sure.
There's a whole helluva lot of other people at the command center and they never so much as ask Luke's opinion.
Princess Leia and general Rieekan, for instance.
Luke is never seen in the command center room where Leia and Rieekan, well, LEAD their forces.

As discussed earlier, it's important to keep in mind that this is not a rebellion.
The rebellion already happened, the Old Republic was deposed and the Jedi ousted.
Leia would be conducting a counter-rebellion IF it has anything at all to do with the overthrow of the Jedi two decades earlier,
and I don't think the struggle portrayed in ESB has anything to do with the Clone Wars.
This is not a continuation of Leia fighting Vader - Leia was not fighting Vader in A New Hope, she was collaborating with him.
The 'Rebels' seem to be Leia's troops or bodyguard.
Is the 'Rebellion' that of Leia against her dad?
A gender-based struggle for power in the house Amidala-Skywalker?

The propagandists slip in the third paragraph and a little too much is given away.
We're told that Vader's obsessed with finding Luke.
Not the 'Rebels', just Luke.

Re-examining everything about these movies led me to question whether Luke was Vader's kid at all.
Was it some elaborate scheme of Luke's or Kenobi's?
Or Vader's?
Well, Vader tracks down the Rebels, but then focuses pursuit on Solo's ship.
He could just be trying to track down the Princess, y'know, leader of the Rebellion and all.
However, Lando tells us that Vader is after Luke.
Vader himself discusses finding Luke with his generals.
The Emperor refers to Luke as the "son of Skywalker".
everybody seems pretty hip to the fact that Vader is looking for LUKE (no one mentions Vader is looking for Leia - that's because he isn't).
So, it seems agreed upon by all factions that Luke is the son of Annakin Skywalker, Lord Darth Vader.

But at this stage in the game the Rebels (forget, for the moment, the deleted scene in ANH where Red Leader mentions he flew with Luke's father) should have no inkling that Vader's true quary is Luke.
Unless of course Leia DOES know who Luke really is.
She does.
She'll give herself away near the end of this movie.

Again we get the term "evil", this time directed at Darth Vader.
He is referred to here as "lord", but no mention of the Sith of course.
The word 'Sith' is never uttered or displayed in the entire original trilogy and I maintain it is pure bullshit.
'Lord' is a title then.
An appropriate title, for the man who married the queen.
That's not revealed in the original trilogy.
Lucas went out of his way in Attack of the Clones to make sure the audience understood this.

Obsessed is the right word for Vader's behavior.
He's searching the remote regions of the galaxy (with "thousands of remote probes"), spreading the fleet thin.
We'll see later that he is hiding his true intent from the Emperor.

Where the hell are we, anyway?

A common misconception is that the ice world where the Rebels are hiding is named Hoth.
Hoth is actually this SOLAR SYSTEM'S name.
The Imperials identify it as the "sixth planet of the HOTH SYSTEM".
The opening scroll calls it "the remote ice world of Hoth", as in an icy planet in the Hoth solar system.
Often in the Star Wars Universe the term 'system' is used for planetary (rather than star) systems.
We're specifically told however that this is a planet in the solar system of Hoth.

This seems like mere semantics until later, when first the asteroid field and then the Bespin 'system' are visited WITHOUT THE USE OF HYPERDRIVE.
This would mean they are clearly in the same solar system as this ice world.

Much of the technology in the Star Wars universe is incredibly resilient and reliable.
Artificial gravity for instance.
The AG systems never fail once in all the movies.
Force fields as well are pretty stable.
In Phantom Menace the power systems of a submersible craft completely fail and shut down, yet the force field windows remain intact.

Noteable as one of the few robots we see the Imperials using, probe droids are another robust technology apparently.
We see them launched, and watch one as it slams like a meteor into the frozen landscape of the Rebels icy hideaway.
Within moments it's hovering up out the crater it made (another example of anti-gravity tech's durability) and heads out over the snow, presumably collecting and sending data.
NASA, are you paying attention?
A good spy droid, it later self-destructs when the gig is up.

Snow Lizards and Yeti

The first we see of the Rebels this time out is Luke riding a snow lizard (don't blame me, that's what they're called in the screenplay).
Stormtroopers rode dewbacks in the last movie, so you might think that was to show them as, yknow, evil.
So what does it mean that the Rebels ride tauntauns here?
Theoretically the tauntauns are local beasties.
The Rebels could have imported them, but no mention is made about the troubles of transporting them aboard space vessels.
Local or imported, they're still enslaved animals.
Both the Alliance and the Empire have a real fetish for giant lizards and can't resist enslaving the local fauna.
For people who can make machines and vehicles that can go anywhere and do anything, why do they harness critters that would otherwise live a peaceful, unshackled life?

Immediately after radioing Han that he'll be heading in a little later, Luke and his trusty steed are jumped by a snow-beast.
So much for the Force granting heightened senses.
Luke later shows up with tell-tale wounds, so it's plausible he really was attacked by some giant predator.
What we've got here, essentially, is a polar/grizzly bear attack scenario.

This abominable snowman creature is called a wampa.
At least that's what the script calls these beasts - they're never named in the movie.
There had been several scenes with wampas, but they were cut from the movie for some reason.
There are cut scenes dealing with the wampas breaking into the base, a battle with them in the halls, and a couple of scenes involving trapped wampas.
For a good rundown of those scenes, visit

This scene (and its follow-up in the beast's cave) is a departure from the typical cinematography in these movies.
Suddenly, we can't get a full view of a beast that is RIGHT THERE.
We're shown quick cuts of severe close ups, obscuring most of the action.
For a time I was suspicious these wampa scenes are actually re-enactments of Luke's survival ordeal.
What recording equipment Luke had with him could easily have been lost during the attack, buried in the snow or forever trampled under frozen wampa shit in the creature's cave.
Why is this point relevant?
Because what makes this whole scenario doubtful is the appearance of seeming telekinetic ability.

The things that happen to Luke while he's alone (here in the wampa cave or later with the unverifiable 'Yoda') are, quite literally, unbelievable.

What's with Han?

Han is an important character in the Paradigm.
He acts as a shield between Leia and Luke.
Leia seems to 'end up' relying on criminals.
She has to - the only people consistently immune to Jedi mind tricks are those on the dodge, the criminal set.
Later Han and Lando are BOTH promoted to high ranking positions.
I suppose the idea is that when the time comes, she will have enough criminals around to keep the Jedi in line.
Good luck.

We learn that Han has not yet paid off Jabba the Hutt.
Why not, exactly?
He got his payment near the end of the last movie, right?
In the Expanded Universe the payment was part money, part spice (remember the "spice mines of Kessel"?) because Han is a spice smuggler.
Spice is a drug, according to every source in the Expanded Universe, so Han is a drug smuggler.
This is interesting not only as an indication of the company the princess keeps, but because the Rebels are able to pay the drug smuggler with the drug he smuggles.

(Note that the word spice is never capitalized in the Star Wars universe.
Presumably because a certain Frank Herbert's estate would be able to collect royalties.
If you doubt then check Star Wars Origins' Dune page.
Either Lucas 'borrowed' extensively from Herbert, Lucas is Herbert, or perhaps Star Wars and Dune are different descriptions of the same thing - your choice, it's fun!)

We're next treated to the grade-school level scene of Han Solo throwing a tantrum because Leia doesn't give him a steamy send-off.
The fact that this drug smuggler can't figure out why the Rebel leader/princess isn't over-eager to jump his bones is testament to his naivete.
While refreshingly innocent considering the blood-hungry, despot-wannabes he's hangin' with, it makes Solo an unwitting pawn in the galactic power struggle.

Soon after, while trying to depart we find that Chewie has dismantled part of the Falcon, performing some sort of maintenance or repair (or stalling?).
Han berates and shouts at his friend and longtime companion, presumably still miffed at Leia's rebuff.
This is the first of a series of scenes that illustrate Chewbacca has little or no technical prowess

What's that, you say?
Wookiees are good mechanics? And that's why Wookiees were enslaved by the Empire to build all their machines?
You DO realize that's Expanded Universe bullshit, right?
Even in the new trilogy we never see the wookiees enslaved, and we never see any besides Chewie on any Imperial ship.
Not so much as a furball drifting in the hallways (maybe that's what that little droid Chewie barks at was for, wookiee hair clean-up?)
If wookiees are supposed to be good mechanics, Chewbacca is NOT an example of this.
Chewbacca is the WORST mechanic we see in these movies, and I suspect he's more of a pet than a co-pilot.

Threepio tells Han of Luke's absence.
This Jedi-programmed 'protocol' droid always fails to pursuade criminals, but this time Threepio can barely get a word in.
Han finally slaps his hand over Threepio's mouth hole while he accosts the deck officer.
Lighten up, Han - ain't nobody else gettin' laid in this movie.

When Han finds out Luke has not checked in he's ready to charge out to find him (good friend he).
Speeder's haven't been adapted to the cold yet so he jumps on a tauntaun.
Told by one of the handlers that "Your tauntaun will freeze before you reach the first marker", Han replies "Then I'll see you in hell!".
Jesus H Christ Solo, fucking relax.
What space bug crawled up your butt and died, asshole?


You'll never believe what happened to me...

So after smacking Luke in the face and choking his lizard (excuse me?), the wampa drags him through the snow to his ice lair.
Okay, so what's the story here, Luke?
You were attacked by some sort of snow creature?
And this snow creature somehow managed to FREEZE your FEET into the CEILING of its cave, correct?

This feet-frozen-into-the-ceiling business is another reason I'm skeptical about Luke's 'recollections'.
Or, perhaps it points to something sinister about the omission of the rest of the wampa footage (see
Maybe the Rebels are an unwanted occupying force and the wampas (a proud indigenous people?) are engaging in guerilla warfare against the Alliance interlopers.

Are the wampas a technological society?
Nothing shown of them in either the original release or the Special Edition would indicate they have some kind of natural flash-freezing ability.
Ralph Maronay IV was quick to point out that 'The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide' sites saliva as the agent used to freeze and suspend things from a ceiling.
The same source shows wampas being largely quadrupedal while the movie clearly shows the beast as bipedal (with the Special Edition making an even better case for this)...

While the particulars are highly questionable, what seems certain is that Luke was indeed attacked by a fierce beast (indicated mostly by his wounds).
He presumably did mortally wound or slay his attacker as it's unlikely that such a tender morsel would be left alone without some hefty inducement - the kid does have a lightsaber after all.

So why question the veracity of this particular scene so intensely?
One word: telekinesis.
While a hostage of the ice creature, with no witnesses around, Luke apparently pulls his lightsaber into his hand WITH HIS MIND.
Telekinetic ability that he DOESN'T TELL ANYBODY ABOUT.
New-found telekinetic ability that he only demostrates when he's alone.
uh huh.
I've met people who claimed to be telekinetic.
They couldn't do it with people watching, either.
Maybe they were Jedi as well.

I think we're just misinterpreting the action here.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have a cord that goes around their neck and attaches to their firearm.
This is to prevent them from losing their gun or having it taken from them.
The level of technology in the Star Wars universe would make it fairly easy to have some sort of small, tractor-beam device that specifically pulls the lightsaber back into the user's hand.
Unlikely, you say?
More unlikely than TELEKINESIS?!

Seriously, Kenobi never mentioned that Jedi could move objects with their minds.
Not once. Not ever.
In the first movie (A New Hope) Vader and Kenobi both were shown effecting others' minds but never manipulating inanimate objects.
When Kenobi needed to throw a couple of switches on the Death Star he didn't do it with his mind.
Nope, he had to shimmy out over a deadly drop and physically adjust the controls.

Vader isn't seen exhibiting supposed telekinetic abilities except on Bespin.
Rather than telekinesis, Vader's ability is more credibly ascribed to field manipulators in his armature.
Or in the tech-filled walls of the FLOATING CITY!
telekinesis is no more prevelant in the Star Wars universe than it is in mine.
Use of the Force seems to be limited to self-hypnosis and charismatic control of others.
Hypnosis, yes.
Spoon bending, no.

Han saves Luke's ass ... again

He's not a telekinetic, but check out Luke's reflexes here.
He flash melts his feet free and swings his saber-wielding hand down in time to break his fall!

Leaving the relative comfort of the ice cave, Luke stumbles out into drifting snow and falling temperature.
Good idea, farmboy.
Yet another good reason to question if he was ever even in a bloody ice cave, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt here.
Shock and bewilderment are enough to account for such a bad descision.

This is a busy day for Luke.
While lost in the wilderness he becomes apparently telekinetic AND he's contacted by his SPIRIT GUIDE Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Uh huh.
Is Luke being set up to be a religious leader?

So now we hear about Yoda, and his secret location.
Secret because if the Empire knew they'd hunt his bony ass down and use his leathery hide as a doormat.

So who the hell is Yoda, anyway?
Upon first seeing ESB we have no idea, except that Ben here says Yoda's the Jedi master who trained him.
And that's... all he says about him.
However, the new trilogy gives us a lot of extra (and suspicious) information.
Such as Yoda is the head of the JEDI COUNCIL?! We also learn in Revenge of the Sith that Kenobi himself is eventually on the counsil as well.
Really? REALLY?! Two little bits of info that are, of-fucking-course, NEVER even hinted at in the original trilogy.
So Luke is directed to the former head of the Jedi council, and he's given Yoda's secret location by a ghost?
Are you still buying this?

Kenobi turns up three times in this movie, each time with escalating interactivity.
Here in the snow we are seeing the equivalent of a phone message.
A recording, no interactivity at all.
This 'ghost' gets progressively chatty as we go.

Once again Luke's bacon is saved by Han Solo, who comes heroically charging up on his noble steed (who, for the purposes of consistency, we'll assume is named Dan).
Noble Dan proptly freezes to death.
Way to go, Han.
But Han is a survivor, through and through.
Without hesitating, he drags Luke to the dead tauntaun, slices its' belly open, stuffs Luke inside and starts building a shelter.
Damn, son.
We can all only hope to have such a competent friend rush to our rescue in our hour of need.

Luke is deleriously babbling about Ben and Dagobah, making Solo the only non-robotic witness to Luke ever mentioning that planet before they all split up.

It's here that we should dispose of another interesting 'legend' that has grown over the years; that only Jedi can weild lightsabers.
Or, more generally perhaps, Force-sensitive individuals.
It's never suggested that Han is Force-sensitive at all.
For all his skill as a pilot (arguably the best in the galaxy), he is just a lowly commoner, not to be admitted to the ranks of the Jedi.
When it's hinted there is another potential Jedi (a suggestion that arrises from a conversation between a supposed ghost and a mushroom gnome), many thought Han was the new(er) hope. Because of his handling of the lightsaber, you see.
But, no.
Just not in his blood(line), I guess.
Far from being some magickal weapon yeilding its mysteries only to the initiated, the lightsaber is merely a piece of technology, a tool.

Speaking of tools, R2-D2 shows off yet another of his hidden devices while searching for our lost 'heroes'.
Do all astromechs have this much gear?
This particular droid has been with the royal family for about three decades at this point.
(Luke and Leia are in their mid-twenties, Amidala met Annakin about ten years before she started boinkin him...)

Actually, these Rebels have access to a lot of excellent tech.
Like the 'shelter' Han apparently puts up.
We'll assume the Star Wars version of a cold weather shelter is somewhat better than a pup tent.

Cut scene kissin'

Empire brought cinematic science fiction to a new level.
Luke isn't just on some operating table, he's suspended in liquid inside a sci-fi tank.
Shit yeah!
Did I mention I love this movie?

I try not to discuss the scenes that were cut from the movies before their theatrical release.
However, the cut scenes are more canonical than anything besides the movies themselves.
Often they have very relevant information.

Like now, for instance.

After Luke gets out of the tank, there are a few sequences cut out;
Luke getting a bandage mask peeled off his face, Luke's emotional revelation to Leia, and Luke and Leia nearly kissing!

Though cut, this scene was included in the theatrical release trailer (the voice over says "It's an epic of romance" just before to emphasize it).
You can see it for yourself on the extras disk from the first DVD release of the original trilogy.
The near-kiss also made it into the comic book adaptation and a coloring book.

--------------The Deleted Kiss--------------

The script excerpt and the images below are from these two sites - T'bone's Star Wars Universe and

Even though cut from the movie, the material still found it's way into the comic adaptation and into a coloring book. Luke and Leia's attraction is palpable. This has to be down-played because Luke later hypnotizes Leia into believing she's his sister.

There's also a tidbit from the deleted wampa subplot in here.


Luke is out of the chamber, lying on the bed previously occupied by Han. Leia is at his side. She brushes the hair out of his eyes and runs her fingers along the scar on his face.

The Bacta are growing well.
The scars should be gone in a day or so.
Does it still hurt?

I'm fine. Really. Leia...
when I was out there and it looked pretty bad...
well, it made me think about things.

Me too. I was afraid.

Their eyes meet. Luke touches her cheek with his hand.

I don't really know how to say this...
I never have before... Leia,
you know how I feel about you...

She does and it's confusing. Their lips are very close. About to kiss. The door opens noisily and Threepio enters with Artoo. Leia pulls back, startled. Luke realizes the moment has been lost. His mind races for a way to regain it as Leia takes on her more formal manner. The droids are a bothersome distraction; Luke's concentration is on Leia. Artoo beeps a cheerful greeting.

Master Luke, it's so good to
see you functional again.

Thanks, Threepio. Leia...

Artoo beeps and whistles.

Artoo expresses his relief also.

Good. Thanks, Artoo.

(about to leave)
You rest now.

So much has happened during the
period of your indisposition, sir.

I'll be back later.

(anxious to keep her)
Leia... What would you think
if I went away for a while?

What did you say?!

Leia's reaction is so much bigger and more vociferous than Luke expected, it starts what is to become a growing snowball of confusion for him.

Where are you going?

I have this... feeling.
I'm not sure, really...

That's just great. Why doesn't
everyone just take off?

What are you talking about?

First Han, now you. When am I going to
learn not to count on anyone but myself?...

Han's leaving?

... I was getting along just fine
before I met you two moon jockeys.

Calm down, will ya?
Tell me about Han.

He wants to pay off that
criminal he's in hock to.

Jabba the Hutt?

(back to her tirade)
I could get more loyalty if I went down
the hall and recruited some of
those snow creatures.

Snow creatures... they're here?!

Yes, sir. But they're being
trapped quite cleverly.

Artoo beeps and whistles proudly.

(to Artoo)
What do you mean, you took care of that?
I would hardly call your part in that matter great...

Luke's head is spinning as Han and Chewie make a vigorous entrance. The Wookiee GROWLS a greeting.


-------------- - --------------

It's okay to feel shocked and amazed.
You should.
I myself only found this out by visiting these two sites: T'bone's Star Wars Universe and

Why was it cut?
Because of the later 'revelation' by Luke that Leia is his sister?
In that light, any additional material dealing with an attraction between Luke and Leia seems, well ...icky.
(to most people, anyway - I imagine it's not quite such an alien thought to royals)
Luke is starting to think of power, that ol' Skywalker lust for power, so he's a little frisky for Leia.
Only later, after his confrontation with his father, does this change.
Oh, he still wants power, don't worry, he just changes his plan to get it.

When I finally saw the cut kiss, it made Luke's body language during Han and Leia's bickering make sense - he's jealous, pure and simple.
He gets super pissed and fumes through the scene until Leia plants a kiss on him.
Emotionally, Leia is at least ten years older than either of these two clods, but she's stuck with them.

She needs Luke close, he's the only weapon she has against Vader.
And she needs Han close if Luke is around - as a Royal she knows the Jedi have spooky mind control powers and Han, as a criminal, is immune to such trickery.
She seems to be playing a dicey game of enticing both of them with sex.

So if Leia knows who Luke is (and she does), what IS she doing?
I don't know.
As discussed previously, she and Vader know each other and are very much know of their relation to one another.
Luke is out of their loop, still under the hypnotic suggestions of Kenobi.
Once the Death Star was destroyed the princess may have wanted to seize what power she could.
Or maybe this is a high-level gender dispute in house Amidala-Skywalker.
Maybe the princess is claiming sovereignty, disputing Vader as heir to the throne, and the 'Alliance' are her loyal army?.
As the audience, we have very little idea what she intends to do or why it should matter to us.

Probe droid - part 2

The Rebels spot the probe droid.
Upon hearing that it's made of metal, Leia states that "it couldn't be one of those creatures".
um ... thanks, princess.

Han, Leia, and General Rieekan agree it's time to beat feet.
You might think that they're a bit hasty, but with Vader on their ass it turns out they are already too late.

While preparing for evacuation, Luke stops to say goodbye to Chewbacca and Han.
Han is far from through pouting about the princess and glowers at Luke, eliciting a grumbled question from Chrewbacca.
Don't think about it, Han.
That kid's crazy.
And he's got a lightsaber.

Watch Han's interaction with a droid here.
He tells it to "wait a second".
The droid is no simple literalist, so it waits a short period of time.
When it's obvious that Han is occupied with something else, the droid leaves to go about its work.
Yet another interaction suggesting droid sentience.

Perhaps this is the root of the Rebel's affection for robot companions.
It may also help explain the droid faction's backing of the Imperials in Attack of the Clones.
The Imperials may acknowledge droid independece and right to freedom, while the royals insist on keeping them enslaved (Threepio and R2 certainly act like a couple of 'house droids').
It could very well be appropriate to grant them equal status with organics.
I myself value my computer more than I do most humans.
What it can do makes me feel inadequate (especially at night, in the dark, when I'm naked...).

Vader looks for Luke some more

Vader, meanwhile has good and bad staff members to deal with.

Ever notice that while all the Imperial officers speak with British accents, Vader speaks with an American accent?
Like, y'know, the heroes of these movies?

Checking the data for himself, Vader once again comes to the exact right decision.
He's sharp, but he seems to have slipped a bit and let his men know that he is searching for Luke Skywalker specifically.
This little piece of info gets back to the Emperor later.

We're informed here that the Rebel base is located on "the sixth planet of the Hoth system".
Once again, just take note that this is the Hoth solar system and this icy planet has not been named in the movie.

Check out Vader's private office.
When he says he wants to be alone, I guess he means it.
It's called his 'meditation cubicle' in the screenplay, and he is indeed described as meditating.
This is something else we don't see Kenobi ever doing.

Vader does not tolerate incompetence.
I will admit he's a bit strict.
He's already irritated with Ozzel for attempting to block crucial information about the Hoth base.
When he bungles the surprise attack by coming out of lightspeed too soon, Vader executes the man.
Take a moment to consider that he is killing Ozzel with his mind, over a telecomm.
That's more impressive mind control than we see Kenobi or Luke ever pull off.
When Vader tells you to find his kid, best try and find the brat.

Vader is responsible for many battlefield deaths, so is princess Leia.
Vader personally kills eleven people in all three movies.
One of them is the Emperor (unless Luke actually killed the Emperor, but more on that later).
Two of them are his own officers.
There's the Rebel officer on the Blockade Runner and six Rebel pilots on the Death Star trench run (wow).
And of course his arch nemesis Kenobi (okay, maybe ten - Kenobi, we shall see, is almost certainly alive and well).
Eleven murders is pretty bad, I admit.
How about our plucky heroes?
Can't keep count?
Me neither, but it's a few more than eleven isn't it?

Who are we supposed to be rooting for again?
The murderous royal and the gun-toting drug smuggler who kidnapped the farmboy?


Hoth Battle 1 - ground assault

In preparation for the evacuation we see Luke giving priortizing instructions to his medical robot.
I can't decypher this cryptic conversation fragment.
The robot seems to be telling him about evacuating the snowspeeders (T-47's), and Luke says to load the smaller modules first.
So what the fuck are the smaller modules?
And why is he telling this to the medical droid?
Is this actually a set of instructions about his personal baggage?

While Luke sorts out his luggage with the med-bot, Leia gives last minute combat instructions to the transport escort pilots.
These two scenes are a good comparison for Leia's and Luke's command authority.
Further evidence that it is not Luke who is leading the Rebels, despite the opening scroll.

Luke's gunner is Dak (spelled DACK in the screenplay but DAK in the movie credits).
Now, let's all take a moment here for Dak.
He said he felt like he could take on the whole Empire himself.
Well son, do you feel like you can throw your life away for the Rebels?
Cuz that's what the poor slob does.
Dak's big mistake is flying with Luke.
Luke is fueled by an aspiring despot's frenzied mania and Kenobi's hypnotic suggestions.
A dangerous man to be around.
Sorry, Dak.
You aren't the first person to die because of Luke.
Nor, sadly, are you the last.

Soon the Imperial Walkers show up.
Bar none, the best mechs on screen yet (Voltron's lions come in a close second).
They look good.
They look damn good.
No, they don't look like they'd be worth a shit, except as a scare tactic, but they pack a punch.
And they're supposed to be troop carriers.
I don't think I would've ever figured that out without those great Star Wars cross sections books.
We never get to see inside the body, just the cockpit.
Nor do we get to see just how the troops are supposed to disembark - do the bloody Walkers kneel down like circus elephants?

This giant sprawling climatic battle happens near the very begining of the film, further evidence that these are historical documents.
Normal movie structure couldn't support such a contrivance ;)

This is a spectacular battle, too.
Decades and millions of dollars have been spent trying to re-play this battle in video games.

Hoth Battle 2 - Oh Hobbie, Where Art Thou?

Being the sole reason there is still a Rebel fighting force, Luke has been promoted to "Rogue Leader".
He apparently commands at least some of the fighter pilots.
He's certainly in charge of the delaying assault on the Walkers.

Twice during this battle, Luke calls out to "Hobbie".
Neither time does he receive an answer, neither time are we shown anybody who might be Hobbie.
So who the hell is he talking to?
We know Luke thinks he hears and sees a ghost (possibly Kenobi transmitting through commlink, fucking with this kids head).
Maybe this is further indication of his declining mental state and hallucinatory madness.
There is a "Hobbie (Rouge 4)" listed in the credits, but no such pilot is shown.
Is this entry in the credits an attept to cover up Luke's growing inability to distinguish fantasy from reality?

Maybe Luke is seeing into an alternate reality where he flew fighter missions with a Kilrathi wingman named Hobbes.
(a little something for all us Wing Commander fans :)

The Speeders are no match for the Walkers.
Luke comes up with a plan on the spot, though.
Use the Speeders' tow cables to trip up the Walkers.
("What the fuck, over? Not sure I heard you right, Rogue Leader").
I wouldn't have thought of that.
Would you?
Don't even pretend.

Luke is the first one to try this suicidal scheme.
Check out his face as Dak tells him that there's a "malfunction in fire control".
Luke apparently knows that this is fairly critical as he looks seriously worried.
He doesn't inform his gunner of his worries though, and you can actually see him arrive at the courageous decision to risk Dak's life.
What a hero.

Dak is dead about TEN SECONDS later, wholely attributable to Luke's negligence.
Is all this loss of life worth it?
I mean, reinstating rule by heredity is a worthwhile cause, right?
Is Luke really the hero of this story?

Luke may not be big on keeping people alive, but he's an incredible pilot.
As he's turning his head around to check on the now-dead Dak, he's also flying THROUGH AN AT-AT'S LEGS.
He flies through the legs blind.
I mean ... damn.

Okay, Luke managed to get his gunner killed off, and now can't try his own goofy plan.
So he leads Wedge (the second most amazing pilot in the Rebel fleet) down the same improbable run.
Wedge once again proves able to stick close to Luke without getting killed.

And it works (good shot, Janson).
It fucking works.

Gaea's tits, it worked?
Must be easy, huh?
Think again.
Wedge and Janson did it with Luke guiding them in.
We only see one more attempt, and it fails miserably.
No other Walker is downed this way so we can assume that any other attempts were unsucessful.
Not surprising because it looks damned difficult.
By all indications Wedge should be considered Jedi material.
Why doesn't Luke ever approach him about developing other Force skills?
Too bad about that not-being-born-in-the-right-family thing, huh Wedge?

Only one other Walker is taken out in this battle.
Guess who does it.

Hoth Battle 3 - Luke IS the Heart of the Tiger

Flying in for another run, Luke leads Zev down the same death strewn path he led Wedge.
Zev is no Wedge however, and is soon shot out of the sky.
Luke gets shot down as well (hmm, guess those Walker pilots got hip to that routine quick).
It's here he calls out, "Hobbie, I've been hit!" (apparently to no one), and manages a crash landing that he can walk away from.

Crash landing on a battlefield filled with walking tanks.
Bad trip.
Best you can do is lay low or shag ass out of their way.
That's what I'd do.
But thanks to Kenobi, Luke is convinced he's a super-soldier.
The Force is indeed strong with him so if he thinks he's a super-soldier then he bloody well is a super-soldier.
And he acts on this conviction, clambering into the rear cockpit.
Is he checking Dak for life signs?
Retrieving Dak's body for a proper pyre-burnin'?
He's shoving Dak's lifeless corpse aside to DISMANTLE THE TOW CABLE ASSEMBLY.

I don't really hold this against Luke.
If I were Dak, I probably wouldn't be so circumspect, however.
It's cold and brutal, sure, but so is war.
He responds in a refreshingly realistic manner.
This is not the time for tender hearted displays.
Being a dedicated soldier/warrior, Luke also has the presence of mind to still try and do harm to the enemy.
While a Walker is bearing down on him.
Give that crazy young man a medal!

After almost being stepped on by a building-sized robot, he picks himself up starts truckin' after it.
What exactly does he think he's going to do with - - oh great gods of the depthless void!
He uses the tow-cable firing mechanism as a GRAPPLING DEVICE!
He's climbing the Imperial Walker!
He hooks the cable to his belt and rides up (what? 50 or 60 feet?) to the underbelly of this giant lumbering war machine.
You do NOT want this kid comin' after you!

A quick swipe with the lightsaber (damn those things are handy!) and a hatch pops open.
He chucks in a grenade and then releases the cable to DROP FIVE OR SIX STORIES into the snow.
I wouldn't want to try it, but our boy doesn't give it a second thought.
The snow breaks his fall, and while he's face down in it explosions set off by his grenade end the lives above him in fire.
The Walker topples over.

Well core out my rectum and call me a mysterious incident.
I was impressed the first time I saw it and I'm still impressed.
Two Imperial Walkers downed; one with Luke's plan and the other by Luke.
Jedi or no, Luke is a dangerous man to be around.
And an even more dangerous opponent to face in battle.
Later, on Bespin, Vader tries to freeze Luke in carbonite - a totally reasonable plan for dealing with this lunatic.

Hoth Battle 4 - Imperial troops have entered the base

This battle was over before it began.
The Rebel ground troops were only engaging in a delaying tactic to help with the evacuation.
The only reason they had any time to work with was Ozzel's clumsiness.
The only real damage done to the Imperials was inflicted by Vader's kidnapped and brainwashed son.

The Rebels are essentially beaten and on the run, Vader isn't really worried about them.
His main objective here is to find his son.
We find out at the end of the movie from Vader that Luke is his son.
Vader didn't find this out at the end of the movie, he's spent this entire movie looking for Luke specifically.
Vader knows Luke is his son from before this movie began.

Kenobi later states Luke was hidden from Vader, his father.
If the Rebels were hiding Luke, how did Vader find this out?
Did the Rebels tell him?
Was it a revelation via the Force?
Where is the scene where Vader says "I didn't even know I had a kid, until..."

Vader began searching for Luke after ANH, when he realized Luke was missing from Tatooine.
This is because it was Vader who was keeping Luke there, not the Rebels.
He wasn't 'hiding' Luke (Luke lives openly under Vader's surname), he was simply trying to keep him out of this mess of galactic intrique.
A big question for the Paradigm is wether Kenobi was the only Rebel who knew Luke was Vader's kid.
He isn't, the cut scene with Red Leader before the Battle of Yavin is clear indication of this.
The Emperor certainly knows who Luke is.
As discussed, Leia - the leader of the 'Rebels' - surely knew what Kenobi was doing watching Tatooine for nearly two decades.
This is why she keeps Luke close at hand.
Leia is good at hiding this little tidbit, but gives herself away on Bespin.

When the Imperial troops break into the ice compound, Vader is the THIRD one through the door!
Can you imagine Janet Reno being the third one into the Waco compound?
Or general Westmoreland being the third one into a Viet Cong command center?
This matter of stealing his son is obviously a very personal one to Anakin.
And he is pissed!
Pity the poor fool Rebel who doesn't get out in time.

The princess slips through Vader's fingers with the aid of Solo.
Han takes a moment to kill at least a few stormtroopers before leaving.
Just wouldn't be the same without a little murder, would it Captain Solo?
Vader is just in time to see the Falcon escape.
Easy to imagine he'd be frustrated with the ever-present and unmistakeable Millenium Falcon.

Solo's usual flair for narrow escapes eventually proves useless against Vader's machinations in this movie.
Han Solo's major talent in life is being able to get out of tight scrapes.
This 'life on the run' doesn't catch up with him so much as Vader catches up with him.
Han is transporting the princess, who in turn is hiding Vader's son.
Against Vader's personal ire there is no escape.

When Vader finally catches him, Han ends up tortured, frozen, and given to Jabba the Hutt as a decoration.
The only one who could get him out of that mess is Vader's OWN SON.
Really, Han, find new friends.

Manual control

After a hard day's killin', Luke gets ready to leave with the rest of the Rebel pilots.
Note that Luke does not answer Wedge's farewell, "See you at the rendezvous".
Wedge, and presumably everybody else, thinks Luke is heading to the "rendezvous" with the rest of the troops.
Actually, Luke is sneaking off on his own, disclosing neither his intentions nor his destination to anyone.
Later he doesn't share with his friends where he was or what he was doing.

Apparently Luke leaves the back way off the sixth planet because he doesn't run into any Imperial ships.
Maybe they're all busy chasing transports or the Millenium Falcon.
R2 is quick to spot Luke pulling some weird shit here:

Notice that the screenplay directly translates R2-D2's beeping here as the exclamation "What?!" when Luke says they won't be regrouping with the others.
R2 is Leia's personal spy droid, inherited from her mother.
It's no coincidence that R2 is always Luke's astromech, it's Leia's way of keeping tabs on Luke and that he remains as safe as possible in any space battle.
How much does R2 know about Luke's true identity?

R2 then asks Luke a question.
It's shown to us via one of the X-Wing's displays, but I've never found a clear enough image of it to decipher the message.

This interaction is really weird.
Is this what it sounds like?
Is R2-D2 trying to wrest control of the ship away from Luke to return him to the Rebels?
He seems to be, and he's trying to use a mind trick as well.
The screenplay states he uses a "soft, carefully phrased stream of whistles".
Luke's not as suggestable as he used to be, eh R2?
Luke laughs at R2's attempt and assures the droid in a confident and crazy tone that he'd "like to keep it on manual control for a while".
This is actually an oddly tense scene.

The X-Wing is shown zipping off, but we don't see it enter hyperspace.
We never see it come out of hyperspace when going to Bespin, either.
Just where the hell is Dagobah, anyway?
Don't you dare look at a star map from the Expanded Universe - what is the footage telling you?
It's implied that it's in another solar system.
So why not show us the hyperspace transition?
I suppose it's not fair to say it's 'implied'.
It's just easily misinterpreted because we're told about the "Dagobah system" and we naturally assume that "system" means solar system.
Luke later has no problem catching up with Leia and friends, who do not have access to hyperdrive until after they leave Bespin.

It's apparent that the events in this movie, up until leaving Bespin, all take place within the same solar system, the Hoth System.
This is not a big revalation, even to the Paradigm.
It's just another case of information that's in these movies but easily missed or misapplied.

Asteroid field

While it is fun to watch Han's flying abilities and all the beautiful scenery of the asteroid field, you might ask youself why the hell three star destroyers and a retinue of TIE fighters are pursuing this one little Rebel ship?
It's not because the princess is aboard - the Imperials have no indication that she'd be aboard at this point.
They're not after Solo for past smuggling charges, I'm guessing.

The Millenium Falcon is the only conclusive lead Vader has at this point.
It was the ship that shot it's way out of docking bay 94 in Mos Eisley.
The same ship brought Kenobi aboard the Death Star and trundled back off with the princess.
It's also the same ship that shot Vader's TIE fighter at the battle of Yavin IV.
And now it's here in the Hoth system when they track down the Rebels looking for Luke.
On second thought, I guess there's no mystery why Vader wants this ship that badly.

Han parks the Falcon inside an asteroid to lay low for a while.
Meanwhile Luke arrives in Dagobah orbit and and crashes soon after.
Let's start trying to keep track of elapsed time.
From leaving Hoth to the Falcon flying inside the asteroid - a half hour or so?
Luke's approach to Dagobah happens, apparently, shortly after.
Then the crew of the Falcon does some repair work for, what, a few hours?
Nobody goes to sleep.
Nobody changes clothes.
Nobody eats.
So, not much time at all.
We'll try to tally this as we go.
Luke meets up with everybody on Bespin.
How long was he supposed to be on Dagobah?
If you were fooled like I was, I'll bet you think it was a lot longer than it turns out to be.

Another busy day for Luke

This is the SECOND ship he's crashed today.
How strong is the Force with this one?
Luke only seems mildly annoyed at the situation of crashing his ship in a swamp.
Once he knows R2 isn't lost in the bog, he's not terribly worried about the droid.
Both of these reactions are completely warrented as the tech of the Star Wars universe is quite durable.

Being a farm kid from the desert world of Arak-- er... Tatooine, Luke thinks nothing of jumping neck-deep into alien swamp water.
I mean, how many leeches could there possibly be in fetid swamp water, right?
Hope nothin' swims up your pee-hole, kid.

And just in case you weren't impressed by R2's resilence to water, he's then engulfed by some watery beast and flies fifty feet through the air, crashing on the ground.
How much can your personal computer take?

For many years I assumed the swamp creature spit R2 out.
This is another misinterpretation of events and a resounding rebuttal to the oft-repeated accusation that R2 is falsely attributed the ablilty to fly in Attack of the Clones.
R2 is using his thruster jets here to escape the creature that tries to eat him.
Pay attention!

Luke then ponders aloud wondering if he's going crazy.

Portrait of a scarred hero

We're treated to a view of Vader's scarred and bald head.
This man has paid his dues fighting the Jedi menace.
It's here that we learn that Vader himself is fueling the pursuit of the Falcon.

Another quick transition takes us to the band aboard the Falcon for a quick update.
Threepio's concerned at the idea that he might be shut down.
Weren't so worried about it back at Kenobi's house, were ya?
I trust nothing Threepio says.

Enter the Mushroom Gnome

The creature presented to us as Yoda makes its presence known just 30 seconds after Luke says aloud that he's searching for "Yoda".
No doubt this creature heard this and so his sudden 'realization' a couple minutes later that Luke is searching for Yoda is far from incredible.

I simply do not believe this is Yoda.
For all we know, there may not even be a Yoda.
If there was a Yoda, he's likely twenty years dead.
Kenobi claims that Yoda is the Jedi master who trained him.
Oh wait, Kenobi never says this.
Kenobi's GHOST purportedly says this, right?
We also got Yoda's secret location from Kenobi's ghost, remember.
uh huh.
So is this Luke's delusion?
I'm stickin' with the phone-call-from-Kenobi proposal.

It's very possible that Luke has crash-landed on the homeworld of dangling modifiers.
(I thought that a dangling modifier was actually called a 'diphthong' - that's such a hilarious word that I almost kept the joke despite the inaccuracy. I know too many librarians and school marms to get away with that, though. A shame. I mean, 'diphthong homeworld' - fuck me that's funny:).

This could be the home planet of whatever species Yoda was.
Luke likely looked up references to Yoda on the Star Wars version of the internet and noticed he was, by chance, near Yoda's homeworld.
Being a simpleton, Luke chucks his X-Wing at Dagobah like a lawn dart and starts babbling about "Yoda" once he unpacks.
One of the natives over-hears him... and...

This theory wouldn't hold much water, except Luke says the name YODA OUT LOUD right before an individual he later claims is Yoda shows up.
Weird shit, especially considering what happens at this mushroom gnome's house later this same night.

We almost never see anybody eat in these movies.
We see a few animal species eat and we see the great and mighty Jabba the Hutt eat, but what the fuck does everybody else eat?
We saw the Lars family eat sparingly and drink Downey liquid detergent but nowhere else do we get to see the main characters eat except right here.
Take a good look at the metal tackle box full of ... food?
I have to assume these are some kind of raw superfoods and that these folks are on some high-end mineralization program so they need to eat very little.
(yes, I have to assume this :)

The little hippie with Marty Feldman eyes mentions "Yoda" and gets Luke really excited.
Being a mushroom gnome into high-powered psychedelics, the crazy old man tells the kid, "take you to him, I will".
On a magikal 'trip', he does take the farm boy.
Don't get me wrong, I do like this kooky old-timer.
He's got a lot of groovy philosophies.
But does that make him Yoda, former head of the Jedi Council?

In fact, it doesn't.

We get a little scene of more repair work going on aboard the Falcon.
Threepio mentions the ship's computer has a "most peculiar dialect", often cited as evidence of the Expanded Universe contention that the ship has three astromechs working in conjuction.
I don't buy this because we never get any other suggestion to this affect.
The ship is always refered to in a singular, and female, sense.
Han doesn't say, "c'mon folks, hold together".
He says, "ya hear me, baby? Hold together."

We also get another indication that Chewie is far from the master mechanic that he has come to be thought of as.
For some reason Chewbacca has come to be known as Han's trusty handyman who keeps the ship running.
Actually, Han directs Chewie's repairs, correcting him often.

Leia here gets frisky with her pirate bodyguard and is saved from getting really frisky by her trusty "protocol" droid.
Makes me wonder if this is one of Threepio's functions, like Dot Matrix's 'virgin alarm' in Spaceballs.

To: D.Vader, From: Emperor, Re: YOUR FUCKING KID

All of that's small potatoes, Paradigm-wise.
More importantly we then get to see the Emperor's video conference with Vader (after witnessing the sudden-death-by-asteroid of a Star Destroyer commander during another video conference - wow)

This is a tense scene.
A lot of careful wording on both sides.
The Emperor's figured out that the kid that Vader's been keeping on Tatoonine all this time is missing.
He's been sifting through the same reports Vader has (you can bet there were hearings and inquisitions regarding that whole blowing-up-a-battle-station thing).
He's figured out the kid is gone, and he doesn't ask Vader if he knows what's goin' on, he bloody well tells our boy 'I consider YOUR SON to be an enemy'!

Vader knows better than to try to lie to the Emperor.
He cops to it straight off.
He basically admits he knows the kid is now with the Rebels.
The fact that Kenobi was on the Death Star with Luke is what's saving Vader's ass at this point.
The Emperor is scared shitless of this kid.
Keeping Luke out of the action and damn well NOT trained in Jedi arts was likely a part of a long-standing deal between Vader and the Emperor.
Nobody wants TWO Skywalkers in the same place.

This exchange is even more tense because Vader pulls a Jedi mind trick on the Emperor!.
Palpatine's pissed (that's supposedly the Emperor's name - oh, you're right, it's never uttered in the movies themselves) and afraid that Luke could, in his own words, "destroy us".
Vader then suggests, "if he could be turned'...

Listen to the Emperor's voice at this point.
"Yes...Yes..." Oh shit!
Don't drop your guard when you're dealing with one of the most powerful Force users ever, dumb-ass!!
(I think that's actually IN the Evil Overlord list, right between 'never get into a land war with Asia' and 'never make a bet with a Sicilian when death is on the line')
As far as that goes, is the Emperor supposed to be a Force wielder?
Vader has been referred to twice in ANH as a Jedi, and the Emperor says here that "the son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi".
Are the Emperor and Vader on different sides of this whole Force bit?
Maybe we're seeing the Emperor's decline into madness, leading Vader to seek aide from his family to deal with this growing threat?

How long has Vader waited to spring this trap?
How intricate is his plan?
Was he going to use Luke all this time?
Vader constantly uses the ploy of letting his foes escape to lead him to bigger and bigger prizes.
Is he doing this now?
Somewhere along the line, a schism occurred between Palpatine and Vader.
I generally assume this was with the Death Star itself, mostly because of Vader's outspoken derision of it.
Vader now commands more and more of the galactic fleet.
He's a long way from headquarters defeating the only opposition to the Emperor, Vader's own daughter.
Palpatine better be worried.

But now he's foolishly agreed to allow Vader to bring the kid to him.
Two Skywalkers in the same room?!
You better hope they don't want anything you've got.

Fun with hallucinogens

I admit the Dagobah scenes took me a while to figure out.
At first I dismissed the lot of it.
As evidence it's pretty shaky already.
"I swear, when I was on that planet that I snuck off to with no verifiable witnesses except my trusty re-programmable robot, I could float shit off the ground and talk to a ghost!"
(Luke's story is NOT helped by the fact that the next time he claims to visit "Yoda", little green fucker apparently dies WITHOUT LEAVING A CORPSE)
What would be your receaction to such a story from one of your friends?
I've had friends who've said they could do such things, in the past, sometimes alone and sometimes with un-verifiable witnesses.
Generally, I have referred to these stories as "bullshit lies".

Now, I realize that's a bit harsh, and I do realize that this is a wide, wild world and that there is indeed more in heaven and earth than is encompassed in even my broad-sweeping and very general philosophies.


Luke's pedigree is exactly one half Jedi, and one half dirty royal.
He may well have mentalist Force-proclivaties.
He may well have other, far more disconcerting proclivaties.
Like bloody-handed despotism.
The first thing we see when we get back to Dagobah is R2 peeping in on Luke and "Yoda".
Luke told the little shit to stay at the camp.
But, we have Leia's little sneak to thank for recording this weird scene.
R2 is the most obvious source of Kenobi's 'ghost voice' in a couple minutes, as well.

Giggling to himself constantly, "Yoda" tells Luke over and over to eat his freaky food.
Isn't that one of the fucking 'Rules'?

Not recognizing the obvious indications that he's dealing with someone into powerful psychoactives, Luke slurps down what "Yoda" refers to as "rootleaf".
Oh mama jama, what the hell is "rootleaf"?
"Yoda" is really into this shit, whatever it is.
(Ayahuasca is made from a root and a leaf, and is often purported to facilitate contact with the spirit world... fyi)

Like a Dead-head before the show, "Yoda" talks to Luke during his 'coming up' period.
He tells Luke that Yoda is "not far" and that "Soon you will be with him".
Little green dude, you're like, so groovy...

This stuff is quite potent because the kid is hearing a ghost voice less than a minute after his first hit - bite, I meant bite!
Wowzer kadowzer.
People tell me that ketamine is that good.
Maybe I just didn't get enough when I tried it...
I did try a lot of other stuff as well
None of it left me so jazzed I was jumping around in the woods for the next three days!

Luke looks to the same direction "Yoda" does to listen to the ghost voice.
Is this little green man throwing his voice and fucking with the kid's drug-addled brain?
Of course, there might be a simpler explanation...
Did R2 make a quick phone call to Kenobi?
This 'ghost' is taking part in a fucking conversation!
Only with 'Yoda', though - not a word is addressed to Luke.

The kid is gonzo, man.
He now believes the crazy old man he just met is Yoda, former head of the Jedi Order.
I see.
So, he goes to what could be Yoda's home planet, meets a guy who looks like Yoda
(about as much as Mark Hamill looks like Harrison Ford...)
takes some powerful hallucinogens, and it just so happens that this crazy old man IS Yoda.

Don't buy it.
Remember, the first one is free.
This farmboy and this old hippy spend the next very long weekend dropping in every so often to see what condition their collective condition is in.
Ever seen the comic book renditions of "Yoda"?
Mushrooms are never far away

Hard core tripping can be rough.
The reason I couldn't do mushrooms for about ten months was due to what can only be deemed a 'bad' trip
(if by 'bad' we agree we're talking about being suddenly trapped in an alien's body in some demonic realm for so long you have nightmares every time you close your eyes for months afterward!!! Vishnu's blue balls, you have no idea...)

... anyway ...
this "Yoda" knows this well.
This kind of 'rough tripping' is what he's talking about when he glares at Luke insisting he WILL be afraid.
By Medusa's coiling pubes, he will be NOW, you fucking buzz kill.

In the belly of the space worm

There are literally dozens of little details in Empire that I usually use as 'proofs' that what we're watching are actually documentaries.
These are fun little details but they usually have nothing to do with the actual Paradigm.
They simply lend credibility to the basic idea that there is a lot in the movies that you are not noticing - even after dozens of viewings.

The space worm may not even fall into that peripheral catagory.
It's just fun :)
And it gives us another chance to see the amazing captain Solo escaping by the skin of his... well not HIS teeth, but teeth are definitely involved.
Big teeth.

Considering that none of these people ever again mention the giant space slug that almost ATE them, it's worth pondering just what it would take to crack their calm, cool, and collected reserve.
They don't try to sell photos of the beast to tabloids, they don't call the Galactic Zoological Institute (yes, the GZI, you've heard of it?) with an annonamous tip.
Apparently it's just not worth mentioning.

Aside from the sheer stunning beauty of this interlude, we have two distinct puzzles: the apparent 'gravity' on this small asteroid, and the lack of hard vacuum when outside the Falcon.
Well it ain't magick and no one seems to be suggesting that the Force is responsible.
So we look at the tech - not just to figure out what we're seeing here, but to give us a deeper understanding of just how technologically advanced the 'Star Wars' culture is.
The technology utilized by these people can indeed seem quite 'magickal', and if no obvious piece of hardware is around it can be very tempting to think that something supernatural is occurring.
That's how cargo cults get started, so you can knock that shit right off.

No one seems surpised that outside the Falcon they can get by with NO PROTECTIVE CLOTHING (to say nothing of no SPACESUITS).

Phil Rose points out that this is no asteroid field.
At least not the kind us lowly Earthers are familiar with.
He suggests that this is actually a planetary ring like Saturn's, and like Saturn's probably has an associated gas torus.
This should make it easier to support an ecology (hence, skyscraper-sized worms).
Phil first suggested these ideas right after 'Empire' came out in a letter to David Gerrold.

I agree that this is no ordinary asteroid field.
If it's not a ring, then what the hell is it?
Massive damage by the Rebels?
The remains of Alderaan? (seriously, where ARE we?)
Imperial mining operation residue?
If this is a shattered moon, is the poor space slug a terrestrial beastie dying in space?!

If it's a planetary ring I would expect to see the associated planet in at least some of the exterior shots.
Unless it circles the ice world far out, maybe it's a newish debris field.
This debris circling the sixth planet would explain all the meteor activity that Rieekan mentioned...

Back to the tech, it's the Falcon that has to be providing the gravity and the quasi-atmosphere.
If there was that much ambient oxygen or other gases, I would expect coloration or noticable cloud-like effects.
Though Phil also notes that may account for the 'sounds' in space.
Still doesn't explain the apparent Earth-normal gravity, so I'm stickin' with the Falcon.
It must be projecting artificial gravity and providing limited atmosphere.
These folks and their field generators...
what strange and awesome lives...

Lost Weekend

When the princess, the pirates, and Anakin's old droids escape the space worm, the scene cuts to Luke and 'Yoda' training already.
Now, how long have they been training?
Looks like a good many days, right?
Except when we join back up with Leia and pals they're being pursued by Star Destroyers before going to Bespin.
So this must be the very next morning that finds Luke swingin' through the trees like an ape ape man.
And from here the boy's only a few minutes away from having a major psychotic break and all around bad rootleaf trip.

So, what the fuck is 'Yoda' doing at this point?
Why the hell has he mounted Luke for a ride through the bucker brush?
Seriously, we didn't see him climb on anybody and tell them to do wind sprints in any of the new trilogy.
Why here?
I don't think this is Jedi training.
We're very carefully shown almost no official Jedi training in episodes I, II, or III.
This old green dude, who is NOT Yoda, is having a wee of a time with this kid's brain.
'Oh, you think you're a magickal warrior, eh? Here, eat this you will. hehehe...'

Ben Gitchel has suggested that rootleaf apparently scrambles the linear sequencer of the brain's linguistic center, explaining 'Yoda's' speach patterns.
Funny, that is.

When Luke asks if the Dark Side is stronger, 'Yoda' says "no" three times.
Atticus Finch will tell you that such repititious denials are often veiled affirmatives - the person is really saying "yes".

'Yoda' here expresses an idea, a philosophy, that we never here from Kenobi:
"A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack."
Watch the lightsaber duels in these movies.
It is always the supposed good guys, Kenobi and Luke, who strike first.
I guess the best defense is a good offense?

But you're thinking, 'So what? This isn't Yoda, right?'
Right - except Luke THINKS this is Yoda, and so he's taking everything this old man has to say to heart, mind, and soul (hook, line, and sinker).
In fact what this old green dude has to say about the Force is nothing like what any verifiable Force practioner says about it.
His definition of the Force is different, and more inclusive, than Kenobi's.

The only time in the trilogy that Vader strikes first is the hallucinogenic interlude where Luke is battling himself.
That's right, the only time Vader isn't actually Vader.

Vader out-sources the hunt for Solo

Delicious little exchange between an officer and his underling.
Like many officers who don't understand command-structure relationships, he confides in his underling, "Bounty hunters - we don't need their scum!"
The underling is a little more professional in his stock reply of "yes, sir!"

So why bring in the bounty hunters? (besides 'rule of cool')
Maybe Vader understands subtle guerrilla strategies.
Maybe he just can't trust the Imperial officers.
Whatever the case, he doesn't delegate dealing with this group of hard cases.
Lord Vader, the king himself, makes arrangements with these intense individuals.

Boba Fett is argueably the most intense of the lot, considering he's the one who ends up delivering Solo to Jabba.
And considering IG-88, the robot bounty hunter next to him, ends up in the Cloud City junk room.

Though Boba Fett seems to be quite the bad-ass, Vader directs the stern order "no disintigrations" to his face.

Right after dealing with the bounty hunters the Falcon shows up again, it's hyperdrive fails (again) and it ends up hitchhiking on the back of a Star Destroyer.
I can't tell if Vader is fooled by this.
Either way, like so many things in this movie, I get a kick out of it :)

Lost Weekend... later that same day

Okay, back in the woods Luke is still ramped up on rootleaf and doing crazy callesthenics.
How long has he spent with 'Yoda' at this point?
The princess and the pirates are still in the asteroid field, remember.
This isn't weeks later.
This isn't DAYS later.
This is still the day after meeting the mushroom gnome.
This kid must be a fuckin' NATURAL Jedi.

This is where we're treated to a display of Luke's prestidigitation and apparent magical powers of levitation.
There is no telekinisis in the Star Wars universe.
We are a primative audience and it is easy to mistake applications of technology for magic.
Arthur C. Clarke was right

The only instance of levitation in the trilogy that is performed on a non-metal object is here, on a single stone.
Rather than view this one rock as evidence of mentalist magic, I offer it may be more appropriate to consider the rock has a high iron content.

What's with this "do or do not, there is no try" bullshit?
Fuck you, how about I go ahead and give it a 'try' and see if it even can be done.

And the X-Wing?
Are you as stoned as the farmboy and his trip buddy?
This craft is a single-occupant intersteller vehicle.
With a hyperdrive.
It can travel interchangeably between the vaccuum of space, planetary gravity wells, and atmospheres.
The technology level here is, quite literally, beyond our comprehension.
The water and mud didn't hurt R2 and this ship needs no help levitating.

Obviously the X-Wing's anti-grav is what's being manipulated here (along with your perceptions).
It's likely R2 is controlling the ship, hoisting it out of the water so druggie-Luke doesn't fucking forget about it.

Lando System?

After Vader kills another high-ranking officer we're treated to cartographical logistics.
Even Leia gets confused with all this 'system' talk.
It's easy to culturally mistranslate 'system' to mean 'solar system'.
'System' seems to be used interchangeably to refer to 'planetary' and 'solar' systems.
How do I know?
They can't be talking about trying to get to different solar systems!
The hyperdrive on the Millenium Falcon doesn't WORK!!
Remember? The plot point keeping them from successfully escaping untill the end of the movie?

As in the previous movie, our heroes are seldom moving without being tracked.
Boba Fett is TOP of them as soon as daddy jumps to hyperspace.

Han's knowledge of Imperial procedure here is sited by Expanded Universe enthusiasts as evidence he was in the Imperial academy or in some kind of Imperial training.
I would think Han would have some basic understanding of who Leia is and who her father is.
Or that Luke is the son of Anakin Skywalker.
On that note, is Han ever going to get it?

Back at the rave swamp, Luke says he "saw a city in the clouds..."
I'll bet you did, Purple Hazy.
Surely this is a reference to a vid-comm somewhere.
Unless Luke's mentalist prowess is increasing over this very long day in the woods with the strange old man.
'Yoda' responds 'always in motion is the future' - I always thought he said 'always emotion is the future
At any rate he dodges the question.

Why am I spending so much time talking about 'Yoda'?
'Yoda's words have come to define the whole Jedi mindset and ideology.
If this is the actual Jedi philosophy, what should we make of Luke not following it?
If this acid-headed hobbit isn't Yoda, why is Luke hopping around the woods with him?

Lando is another criminal who is not affected by Threepio's hypnotic Jedi-programmed mind tricks.

Who shoots Threepio?
If it were Stormtroopers, wouldn't it have been reported to Vader?
Actually, it doesn't match the behavior of the troopers - they don't wildly shoot at things.
Could it be the loosest gun in Cloud City, Boba Fett?
That's why Threepio ends up in the junk pile.
The troopers with him probably clued him in - 'dude! you just shot Vader's droid!'

The third time Kenobi's 'ghost' shows up it's to engage in a full on conversation.
This breaks with conventional story-telling tropes.
Hamlet did not have a conversation with his dad's ghost.
This is not a ghost.
It's a hologram.
That's why it looks like every hologram seen in the movies.

"This is a dangerous time for you, when you will be tempted by the dark side of the Force."
That's one way of putting it, I suppose.
Another way of putting it is Luke might find out all the bullshit lies Kenobi's been dishing out.
So, why not explain now, as Luke is going off to see Vader, that Vader is actually Luke's father.
Instead, Kenobi says, "Luke, I don't want to lose you to the Emperor the way I lost Vader."
Is that a threat?
Kenobi 'lost' Vader by chopping off as many limbs as he could and left him for dead.

To illustrate the delicate subtly of the storytelling in this movie I present the ex bounty hunter, IG-88, slumped next to the furnace in the junk room.
This is not a mistake or a misplaced prop.
Far from being a flaw in the story-craft, it is actually foreshadowing.
(unintentional foreshadowing if we continue to treat the movies as documentaries :)
This was the robot standing next to Boba Fett who was competing for the capture of captain Solo.
It lost that competition.

Since both IG-88 and C-3PO end up 'dis-integrated' in the junk room, Andy Smith suggests Boba Fett may be the one who blew Threepio to pieces.
(in ROTJ the term 'disintegrated' is illustrated with the dismanteling of a droid)

Why did Han shoot?
Is there any good reason?
Han is 100% in the wrong

Markedly different from any questioning the princess ever goes through, Han is actually tortured.
By Vader personally.
Afterward he remarks, "They never even asked me any questions."
I thought it might be some odd process to prepare him for carbon freezing, but Vader only decides later to try out the carbon freeze on Solo.
I think Vader's just had enough of this idiot fucking up his plans.
All thing considered, Han's lucky the princess likes him or daddy would've just offed him.

Leia knew

The only loose cannon in the room is Boba Fett.
Vader stands right next to him.
When Chewie goes wookiee-shit no trooper fires, they're clearly under orders.
Boba Fett is under no such orders and he does fire.
It's Vader who grabs his gun and keeps him from endangering his prisoners, namely his daughter.

Han is about the same height and build as Luke so he gets chosen to test out the carbon freeze.
Why freeze Luke?
Oh yeah, he's bull goose looney thanks to Kenobi and believes he's a magical super soldier.
And he was told by Kenobi that Vader killed his father.
Yeah, freezing the kid's ass actually sounds like a good idea.

Luke in Cloud City

Per Vader's orders Luke is allowed to land.
In fact, there is no cloud-car escort, no one meets him on the landing pad, the hallways are cleared.
Vader doesn't want anybody shooting at his kid, naturally.
More importantly, this kid is a danger to every citizen he might bump into.
The word is out - the kid is armed and dangerous and quite insane.
Doors open and close to lead Luke to the Vader.

At one point Boba Fett fires at Luke, possibly suggesting the bounty hunter has heightened senses.
Actually, EVERYBODY know exactly where Luke is!

'Yoda' told Luke that "a Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense. Never attack."
Ok, sounds cool, right?
So, when he's in front of Vader what happens?
Luke lights his saber first, and then Luke is the first to strike.
Is he that distraught about the deaths of Owen and Baru?
Ever wonder why we never see Luke accuse Vader of this crime?
Wasn't that the entire reason Luke went along with Kenobi?
One can only imagine Vader's confusion at such an accusation.

"My step-brother and his wife? Wha... no, they were murdered by some mystery hit-squad posing as Tusk-- KENOBI!!!!"

This saber duel is markedly different from the duel seen in A New Hope.
That's because this one is real - the only real lightsaber duel seen in the trilogy.
Here Vader has to defend himself from his crazed and delusional son who is very much trying to murder him.
Vader is nearly acrobatic, using his cyborg prosthetics to their fullest.

Luke gets in an amazing neck strike on Vader.
Were it not for the shielding of Vader's armature this would have been the deadly finishing blow Luke fantasized about while on drugs.
This is too much for Vader who immediately ends the fight by chopping off Luke's hand.
Cornered and weaponless, Luke can finally be talked to and hopefully reasoned with.

Note that while he manipulates metalic objects he doesn't levitate Luke to keep him from falling.
Luke isn't metal, so he can't Escape

I take it back what I said about nobody getting laid in this movie
R2 likes to stick it in any hole he can find