7 reasons why 'The Empire Strikes Back' makes no sense 

Everyone agrees that the one impossible to criticise entry in the Star Wars canon is The Empire Strikes Back. It’s the dark one, man, with the cliffhanger ending and Boba Fett and Yoda and, er, Luke and Leia kissing. It’s the one that everyone agrees proves that the less George Lucas is directly involved with a Star Wars film, the better it is. (He was by far the most hands off on Empire, which was directed by Irwin Kershner. Lucas was reportedly not even on set very often). You can bitch and moan about the prequels and how shit the Ewoks were in Return of the Jedi all you want, but Empire is untouchable. Right? 


Well, after some heavy research (or, I watched it again over the weekend while I was lying on the couch with the flu), I’ve noticed one or two things that have made me go “hold on, a second…”.

Things like: 

…what are the Rebels doing in another goddamn base?

 

(Image via starwars.wikia.com)

You might recall the final act of the previous Star Wars film, in which the Rebels were going to be wiped out in one swift stroke by the Empire because they had decided to stick their entire fleet, leadership, ground troops and intelligence-gathering operations in the one handy location, making a convenient planet-sized target for the planet-sized battle station that destroys planet to hit. So, after losing most of their pilots in a desperate attack on the Death Star, did the Rebel’s top brass go “hey, you know what’d be a better system? Discrete cells, spread out all over the galaxy and able to be activated either together or separately?”, or did they go “let’s just stick everyone in the one easy-to-destroy spot again, for some reason”? Even the most inexperienced terrorist organisation is smarter than that. 

…where was the air support for the Imperial attack on Echo Base?

(Image via sci-fi.stackexchange.com)

I’m no military tactician, as my chequered history on Sid Meyer’s Civilisation makes clear. But even I know that if you’re sending in ground troops against an enemy consisting principally of dudes in trenches, a few well-placed bombing runs can move things along nicely. Maybe those legions of TIE Fighters couldn’t operate in the cold, or maybe they were all being serviced at the same time. But you’d think maybe allocating one of those several Star Destroyers Vader had in his fleet to hang about in low orbit and blast merry hell out of the Rebel lines while the AT-ATs lumbered in might have been a nifty idea. Especially since the Ion Cannon was busy providing cover for the escaping ships. Instead they just hang around in space to give second-rate actors the chance to give weird line readings. “Good: our first CATCH of the day.” Seriously, Irwin, didn’t think you could spare a retake of that one? 

…how long is it from Hoth to Bespin in flight time?

This has been a recurring question among even the most devoted ESB fans: are we talking days, weeks, months or years? It’s a serious issue, since the entire middle act of the film has two parallel stories: Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO in the hyperdrive-free Millenium Falcon, attempting to evade the Imperial blockade and get to the ostensibly safe harbour of Cloud City on Bespin, and Luke and R2-D2 heading to Dagobah and meeting Yoda.

Leaving aside the obvious problem of space travel below the speed of light (it’s established that Hoth and Bespin are separate systems, orbiting their own stars – for comparison, a ship travelling at the speed of light would take 4.24 years to reach Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun) it’s not clear how long a period of time it is between leaving Hoth and Luke arriving to save his friends on Bespin. Both stories appear to have wildly different timelines: either it’s a few days travel to get to Bespin, in which case Luke’s Jedi training lasts about as long as a McDonalds orientation, or Luke gets some serious training from Yoda in the ways of the Force – in which case those on the Falcon are trapped for months and it’s a wonder they didn’t end up eating each other (mind you, that might have settled questions about the accuracy of Chewie’s name). Then again, there’s another question that might at least partially settle the issue… 

…how long did Vader wait before going “fuck it, bounty hunters”?

(Image via myconfinedspace.com)

In the film it appears that Vader searches for the Falcon for about a quarter of an hour before outsourcing the job from trained military professionals using billions of dollars of equipment, to a bunch of random dudes. Presumably it took a bit longer, but how much longer? Also, how exactly was the call put out? Did he take out ads? Hoth is meant to be pretty remote, hence the Rebels putting their idiotic base there in the first place. So presumably the bounty hunters had to travel from more populated, bounty-rich areas of the galaxy – or do they follow Imperial fleets around the place like hyenas hoping for a taste of the kill?

The problem with assuming that it took more than a few hours is that it means that the Falcon was in the belly of the mighty space worm for implausibly long without incident. What, those mynocks were going to hold off chewing on those tasty, tasty power cables in case a more delicious spaceship happened to turn up? 

(Continued next page)

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11 comments so far..

  • HisLordship's avatar
    Commenter
    HisLordship
    Date and time
    Friday 03 May 2013 - 7:10 PM
    Well, I can't help you with most of these, but:

    1) we know from RotJ that the rebel fleet spends most of its time scattered sbout the place. Every fleet needs secure bases to operate from. Hoth presumably was going to be one of those bases, as Yavin 4 was. Only one such, mind. There was no Mon Mothma, no Ackbar on Hoth, and no rebel cruisers in orbit. Presumably Tarkin's expectation in ANH was that the rebellion would fall over when the Death Star showed itself to its potential.

    2) We know from Piett's comment to Vader that the shield surrounding the base was strong enough to "deflect any bombardment" which is why the walkers were sent in. Why no atmospheric air support, I couldn't say.

    5) Luke's plan. See under A for arrogance. Yoda tried to tell him he was not ready, but he was headstrong (no patience) and over cocky about his abilities ("you'll find I'm full of surprises")

    How is that for a start?
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  • Kick's avatar
    Commenter
    Kick
    Date and time
    Friday 03 May 2013 - 10:49 PM
    As to the bounty hunters, I guess whats left out is that they are far more effective than the entirety of the Imperial military or indeed Vaders use of the force, in the job they do. And to Fett's credit he works it out in a hurry (although arguably Solo was already on his hit list from the Hutt's).

    And the Rebels are as you hint a terrorist organisation. It is more or less intimated that they are spread throughout the galaxy, but there are core elements of it that do from time to time end up in the same place (cue the Afghanistan war *cough*). If they are to be considered a genuine threat rather than simply meddling kids you will find them establishing prominent bases here or there... (Hoth, Dantooine etc).

    Let's not get too carried away with the fiction that is Star Wars, you might as well start pondering the realities of the Force after that. Or better yet get stuck into Trek. Thanks for an entertaining read....
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  • HisLordship's avatar
    Commenter
    HisLordship
    Date and time
    Saturday 04 May 2013 - 6:29 PM
    Actuallt, now that I think about it, the biggest nonsensical moment in all three films is the decision by the officer in charge of the shield generator garrison on Endor to parade his prisoners outside the base, rather than just stuff them in a cell inside somewhere or execute them as soon as he caught them.

    For someone leading a legion of elite troops, that officer certainly did the only thing that could have brought down the empire at that time. Must have been a deep Rebel mole in the system.
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  • dpatern's avatar
    Commenter
    dpatern
    Date and time
    Tuesday 07 May 2013 - 10:41 AM
    Its a movie....taking it a bit to seriously!!!!
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  • zen911's avatar
    Commenter
    zen911
    Date and time
    Wednesday 08 May 2013 - 1:14 AM
    It was a cowboy movie set in space... part of the fun of cowboy movies was pondering the preposterous. Same thing here... good read chrz.
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  • SimoLeJone's avatar
    Commenter
    SimoLeJone
    Date and time
    Thursday 09 May 2013 - 12:00 AM
    is your first point for serious? it's explained exactly why in the first paragraph of the opening crawl.

    "Although the Death Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the Rebel forces from their hidden base and pursued them across the galaxy"

    great work
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  • Bainf's avatar
    Commenter
    Bainf
    Date and time
    Thursday 16 May 2013 - 11:33 AM
    You got me thinking how preposterous that is Star Wars.
    Thanks a lot, grrr
    I did read some one broke down Darth Vaders terrible battle plan for crushing the rebels.
    The whole point of the attack was to remove the Shield so they could bomb the bejesus out of them. Which doesnt work if you then stride into the base so your massive integalactic ships can't do anything, oops. Plus what was the time frame from shield down to Darth arriving , again weird.
    Still can't understand why the rebels put everything underground except the whole point of their defence. If it is such a great defence why were walkers and that probe droid able to slip straight through.
    And yes I am sure Jabba didnt just dress Princess Leia in "that" costume and chain her up. She did seem to relish strangling him as any victim may do. Terrible plan that would be
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  • littledogg's avatar
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    littledogg
    Date and time
    Friday 17 May 2013 - 10:17 PM
    what i dont get is that Chewie went from 2nd in command of a whole planet, respected by all who come across him and was harder than a T200 on steroids and then 15years later he's a smuggling bum fixing a decaying space ship being pushed around by a self obsessed womaniser like he's a sex slave!!
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  • TonyE's avatar
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    TonyE
    Date and time
    Sunday 19 May 2013 - 3:28 PM
    For real military stupidity - Starship Troopers. No artillery, no air support against massed hordes. There is really good military sci-fi out there. John Ringo, David Drake, David Weber (even our own John Birmingham) have all written good stuff but we get basic crap llike Battlefield los Angeles.
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  • McFez's avatar
    Commenter
    McFez
    Date and time
    Thursday 23 May 2013 - 12:16 PM
    When the Empire rose to power they plundered Kashyyyk, most of the wookies especially the men and young men were taken to imperial slave labor camps, in fact the Death Star was mostly construed by Wookiee slave labor. When Chewiie was taken to his transport cruiser he caused quite a fuss and actually killed 3 or 4 Stormtrooper. Han was a Leuitenet in the Imperial Navy then and when he was ordered to kill Chewiie Han went AWOL with him and thus Chewiie owed Han a life debt. They both then became smugglers.
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