Two days ago, on Halloween, TBS aired all three of the original Star Wars Trilogy because they’re awesome and decided to show something that wasn’t Hocus Pocus (no offense to all you HP fans.) While watching The Empire Strikes Back, which, as we all know, is the superior entry of the trilogy, I noticed that there was a HUGE missing piece of the story. Not a plot hole necessarily, but a scene missing that could have been far more compelling to watch than Luke Skywalker walking into a goddamn cave.
In order to escape the Galactic Empire from blowing them to hell and having to hide in the belly of a giant asteroid worm, Han Solo gets the brilliant idea to seek refuge at the Bespin Mining Facility in Cloud City, run by his estranged friend and malt liquor afficianado, Lando Calrissian. Not long into their visit, Han and the gang are sold out by Lando and handed over to Darth Vader and the Empire in order for the Dark Lord to know the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker.
Did anyone catch that? We were cheated out of maybe the most unlikely and compelling scenes in the entire Star Wars canon. How did Vader know to go to Cloud City? Did they use the tracking device the put on the Falcon in A New Hope? Did Vader intuitively know where they’d go? Were Vader and Lando old acquaintances? We asked these and countless other questions yesterday, which is odd, since we’ve watched Empire literally dozens of times and this had yet to occur this to us before. So we decided to paint a fictional, albeit completely plausable, portrait of the meeting and conversation between the Dark Lord of the Sith and Scoundrel number two, played with cool poise by Mr. Billy Dee Williams (or, as his mother named him, William Dee Williams,) prior to our Rebel friends’ landing at Bespin.
Stage directions have been provided for your convenience. You’re welcome.
In a conference room in Cloud City, Facility Administrator Lando Calrissian sits at the head of a long, rectangular table, with twelve others seated around it. A large, oval window at the other end of the room peers out onto a vast and busy skyline, populated by towers and flying vehicles. In the middle of a boring conversation, an aide walks in and whispers into Calrissian’s ear, informing him that he has a sudden, unannounced visitor and that his presence is required immediately. With a scowl on his face, Calrissian pauses and then excuses himself from the meeting, which continues without him. The aide briefs the Administrator and they briskly walk down a long, busy corridor, teeming with staff, informing him of the guest that showed up out of nowhere, demanding to be seen at once and without question. Armed Imperial Storm Troopers flank either side of a door at the end of the labyrinthine hallway, through which Calrissian and his staff member enter slowly, as if knowing what awaits them isn’t exactly pleasant. He looks upon his guest and instantly feels a sense of foreboding, but approaches to greet him nonetheless.
Vader: No need for pleasantries, Mr. Calrissian. Please…have a seat.
Calrissian: Thank you, Lord Vader. To what do I owe this visit?
Vader: I come in need of assistance, actually. In a matter in which I think you would be more than willing to agree.
Calrissian: I’ll do whatever I can to assist the Empire. You’ve been all too kind in ensuring this facility runs smoothly and without too much…interference.
DV: Yes. And if would be unfortunate if this relationship would suddenly become uncomfortable for you and your people here.
LC: (pauses, then swallows nervously) Can I get you so-
DV: You have a small freighter en route to your facility, arriving shortly. It carries a small group of Rebels that narrowly slipped our radars flying through an asteroid field. They know the whereabouts of a young Luke Skywalker. It is very important that I find out where he is, and these Rebels will lead me to him.
LC: What do you need from ME?
DV: I KNOW that you and the ship’s captain have a…history. You will grant the ship permission to land and have full access to this facility. Once they have had a chance to rest and lower the guards, you will bring them directly to me. From there, they will no longer be of your concern.
LC: Are you going to kill them?
DV: It should not come to that, however…
LC: Because even though I’m neutral in your fight, I want no part in murder.
DV: You’re not being tasked to be part in murder. I am telling you to simply bring them to me.
LC: And why should I agree to sell out an old friend?
DV: Quite the charitable term for someone who’s stolen from you. Even more generous for someone who is still substantially in your debt…in more ways than one.
LC: Maybe. But it’s one thing to hold a grudge against Solo. It’s another to–
DV: You WILL bring Captain Solo and the others to me, or you and your facility’s well-being may be…short-lived.