Hi all, please indulge my inner geek as I take a little break from the normal discussion and have some fun re-imagining Star Wars.
If you’re like me, you’ve been thinking a lot about Star Wars as the new film debuts this weekend. Perhaps you even sat down and started watching the old films in preparation for the next installment.
Did you feel Lucas and Co. called it in with Return of the Jedi?
While not the galactic-scale train wreck of the Prequels, ROTJ always felt like a poor way to wrap up the Skywalker family tragedy.
Here’s my take on what was wrong and how I’d fix Return of the Jedi…and I’m not talking cosmetic fixes. I think to really do justice to Episodes IV and V, a new story line with whole new reveals and twists would have been in order.
What needs fixing
- Leia should not have been Luke’s sister. We all agree: the suggestions (and actual acts) of romantic intrigue between Luke and Leia should have disqualified this plot twist from the start.
- Ewoks were some of the least interesting, and one of the most annoying alien species of the entire story line.
- The Han Rescue Mission was overly complicated, took up too much of the film and did nothing to move the story along
- A New Death Star was a boring setting. Seriously, they couldn’t think of anything else?
There are two cliff hangers that need resolving in ROTJ left over from Empire:
1. Han needs rescuing
2. Luke needs to verify if Vader is truly his father or not
But before we handle Han’s rescue, since this obviously needs to get resolved so we can get back to the Skywalker family story, we need to set up the finale of the film with an opening scene. In the new opening crawl, we learn that Vader has been granted his wish to pursue his son, while the Emperor focuses on a new super weapon that will spell certain peril for the Rebellion. We also learn about how the Rebellion plans to retrieve Solo so that they can get back to fighting the Empire.
The story opens with the Emperor arriving on his personal Star Destroyer, scaring the crap out of everyone on board. He announces to the captain, “We have a new weapon that will be housed aboard this ship. Your crew will be expected to follow strict protocols of secrecy. Any deviation from them will call for extreme disciplinary action, captain.”
“As you command, my Lord.” Gulp!
We then transition to Luke back on Dagobah confronting Yoda and Obi Wan over the reveal from Empire that Vader is his father. As in the original, Yoda will be dying and confirm Vader is Luke’s father and finishes his last breath with: “There is another Skywalker.” Only this time, he adds: “Heed the lesson in the cave…” Also as in the original film Obi Wan’s ghost explains the reasons for withholding the information and explains that the other Skywalker was Luke’s twin sister. But Obi Wan does not know who she is or where she is since, for security reasons, that information was not provided to him, but he felt that she was likely raised on Alderaan. So she may be dead.
After Yoda passes, Luke darkly departs for the Han Rescue operation.
And now on to Han’s rescue. First off, if you’re Leia and in command of a kickass Rebel Alliance who owes much to Han Solo, you certainly aren’t going to waste time with a ragtag, risky, undersized rescue effort. You’re gonna use an army to get your man.
And, of course, the Empire is gonna know this is what you’re going to do. Ah, the plot thickens.
So, in my revision, the rescue effort quickly returns us to the Rebel vs. Empire battle but also shows off how far Luke has come in his training (and then some). The plan goes as follows: Luke, Lando and Chewbacca will lead a ninja-like raid into Jabba’s palace with massive backup led by Leia poised to support him if things go south. Luke leads the stealth incursion into the palace, past a sleeping Jabba, neutralizes Jabba’s palace guard and locates Solo (who is no longer encased in carbonite but in prison and perfectly ready to fight his way out with Luke’s help). Solo quips something incredulous like: “Kid, this ain’t no Imperial base. You think you can just waltz in and waltz out?” Luke: “I’ve learned a few new tricks.”
Luke, Lando and Chewie nearly free Han, but then at the last minute as they’re nearing the exit, out walks Vader, Boba Fett and a battalion of storm troopers. Vader is holding Jabba’s head in his hands and flings it into the room: “You forgot to bid farewell to your host.”
Outside, Leia is realizing something is wrong just as Imperial troops engage the rebel position outside the palace.
Back inside, Luke and Vader duel while they continue their conversation about that little Father thingy Vader dropped last time they met.
Meanwhile, Chewie is badly wounded by Boba Fett. Lando and Han do a good job fighting back against the storm troopers but Lando is cut off from Han and Luke when Han blasts the door blocking off the storm troopers. “Sorry, old buddy,” Han says comically. Han then goes after Boba Fett. The two tussle hand-to-hand with Boba pulling out all kinds of nasty surprises from his suit. But Han anticipates them all: “Boba, don’t you have nothin’ I didn’t teach you first?” Eventually, Han kills Boba and then checks on Chewie who is bad off but alive. They call Leia and let her know Vader is inside the palace.
The Rebels are now aware that they have an opportunity to kill Vader and move aggressively to cut off the palace.
Back in the fight, Vader then shows us the power of the Dark Side once more and uses his strangulation technique on Han with one hand, while fighting off Luke with the other. “Only through the Dark Side can you save him,” Vader insists. Luke is enraged as Chewie cries out for Han. Vader snaps Han’s neck and lets his body fall to the floor. Luke begins to let his anger take control.
Leia’s forces sweep into Jabba’s palace, but are quickly matched by the Imperial forces hiding within. It’s a pitched battle and in the end, Leia is also captured and Vader threatens to kill her too if Luke does not surrender to him.
Defeatedly: “Very well, but I will never turn,” he says to Vader.
“Perhaps you already have,” Vader asserts.
There is a tense standoff as Luke and Vader leave the planet, leaving Chewie and Leia to mourn over Han’s body.
Back among the main Rebel fleet, Leia interrogates captured Imperial officers from the fight on Tattoine and learns about some ominous new weapon the Emperor is prepping in orbit above Couroscant. They fear a new Death Star is in the works and decide that an all out attack on the Emperor is their only hope. Leia is accused of letting her anger cloud her judgement and that perhaps she is putting her personal friendships before wise strategy. But in the end, she convinces the rebels that it’s all or nothing.
Aboard Vader’s Star Destroyer, Luke communes with Obi Wan and Yoda. They warn him that the Emperor should not be underestimated. Luke must remember his training and resist. Luke says: “The Dark Side seems impossible to resist,” To this Yoda says: “Your friends. Remember the strength of the bonds you have to them. You will not find such bonds on the Dark Side. Only servitude and sorrow. Remember this, you must!”
The rebel fleet prepares for their final assault. A wounded Chewbacca with a robotic leg growls angrily as Leia details the plan. The Rebels have learned that the Emperor himself is overseeing the construction of the super weapon, which their intelligence tells them is housed on a specially outfitted Star Destroyer to avoid detection. They have also learned that Luke Skywalker is being held aboard that ship.
The goal is to attack the Emperor’s palace on the Capital to divert Imperial forces from their real target: the super weapon on the Star Destroyer. Leia and a smaller force will take two large cruisers, one attached to the other piggyback fashion. The lower cruiser will collide into the Star Destroyer and begin driving it into the atmosphere. X-wing fighters will take out any escape pods that might hold the Emperor. When the Star Destroyer is hopelessly falling into the atmosphere, the reard Rebel Cruiser will detach from the other and take the rebel crew to safety. During this, Leia has a secret mission with the droids, Chewbacca, Lando and herself to get Luke. If they fail in time, they will perish with the Star Destroyer.
The Emperor finally makes an appearance as Vader brings Luke to the throne room of the Star Destroyer. We are treated to much the same dialogue of the original script. But this is interrupted when it is announced that a Rebel fleet has just come out of hyperspace above the Capital.
The rebel fleet bursts just above the atmosphere and begins firing large ion cannon weapons onto the surface while also engaging Star Destroyers and (what the hell) orbital battle stations that look like miniature Death Stars intended for taking out large spacecraft.
The Emperor mocks the attack as “pitiful” (with a little spittle shooting out of his maw) and cackles in delight. “Soon, you will turn and join us in executing the final destruction of the Rebel Alliance.”
Luke replies: “The only thing I will destroy is you, your Highness!” and uses the Force to retrieve his light saber from the Emperor’s chair. As in the original film, Vader and Luke then go at it. I really liked this part of the film and I wouldn’t change much here. Except as Luke grows angrier and angrier and ultimately defeats Vader, he turns on the Emperor.
The Emperor: “You foolish boy. Nothing can stop the inevitable rise of the Dark Side over the Galaxy. Your friends’ assault on the capital is misguided as is your faith in them. And yourself.” The Emperor rises from his chair menacingly. “The Empire is now in possession of the ultimate power in the Universe and I intend to use it to wipe out the Rebel Alliance in short order.” A door opens and out walks a young woman in black Sith clothes.
“Darth Tera, meet your brother.”
The two fight in a dead even match with the Emperor clearly enjoying the fight. Luke does his best to convince Tera to join him and destroy the Emperor, talking about how the Dark Side nearly seduced him too. But that it doesn’t have to be that way. “There is good in our family. I can feel it.”
Tera is clearly troubled by this, but these mixed feelings just make her go wild with rage.
Vader, at the Emperor’s feet is clearly surprised. “You never told me there was another.”
“You have failed, Lord Vader. Now observe the true power of the Dark Side as it conquers the Light.”
Suddenly, an alarm sounds and the ship rocks as Leia’s ship strikes dead center into the Star Destroyer, it’s engine blasting the ship into the atmosphere.
Leia, Lando, Chewie and the droids blast their way between the ships and begin their rescue mission of Luke.
Luke senses this and begins using telepathy with Leia like he did on Cloud City in Episode V. She follows his directions, fighting their way against impossible odds. Fortunately, most of the crew are abandoning ship in life pods and shuttles which are picked off by the Rebel fighters.
Now knowing that Leia and the others are on the way, Luke’s confidence grows. “I can save you,” he says to Tera. And then to Vader: “I can save both of you. You can be free of the Emperor. You can return as Jedi.” This clearly has an effect on the Sith Skywalkers.
The ship growns as it begins hitting the atmosphere. The Emperor has had enough.
“You are both pathetic,” he scorns. Then, he goes after Luke with his lightning power lecturing all of them on the power of the Dark Side.
Vader is the first to rise up to Luke’s defense. At first Tera tries to stop her father, but Vader pushes her aside and she hesitates. The emperor blasts Vader and they tumble together over the precipice in a more revealing struggle that is terribly violent and makes you sympathetic for Vader. We do see them crash on the floor of the tunnel, with Luke and Tera looking over the side at their bodies.
Leia and company blast their way into the room with Luke and Tera standing over the precipice. “Luke!” she screams. “There’s still time to escape! Come on!”
Luke looks at Tera. “Come with me.”
“It’s too late for me.”
“That is the Dark Side speaking. But the Light offers hope.”
The heroes all run out of the room and make their escape to the rebel ship, which detaches from the front cruiser and joins the rebel forces at their rendezvous point. There is discussion about the victory over the Emperor and hints that Planets are putting their fear aside to join the alliance. “We will build a New Republic,” Luke says.
“It is time for the Galaxy to heal,” he adds, turning to his sister, now in white robes.