7 reasons why 'The Empire Strikes Back' makes no senseEveryone 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…”.
…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?
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