ODE TO LANDO CALRISSIAN
Dear Star Wars fans,
There's something I've needed to get off of my chest for years now... something that even when pointed out and shown in plain sight may shock people. The true hero of the Rebel cause and destroyer of the Galactic Empire is not Luke Skywalker.
I'm talking about Lando Calrissian.
Luke, Leia and Han, while important characters, showed nowhere near the bravery or cunning of Lando. He's just a misunderstood character, appearing as this Galaxy's Judas to some. But rest assured nothing could be further from the truth. Allow me to elucidate...
When we first meet Lando, we know little of him other than Han's brief, vague references to their "friendship," which may or may not be intact. At first glance Lando appears to be a slick individual - at once canny with his business affairs, but also possessing a flair for the dramatic.
Case in point: his first encounter on Cloud City with Han. Almost immediately, we find Lando has supposedly betrayed Han and the gang by handing them over to the Empire. Han is to be turned over to the bounty hunter, Boba Fett and in turn to Jabba the Hutt. Leia, Chewbacca and the Droids are to remain on Cloud City indefinitely.
In the meantime, Darth Vader, apparently having become obsessed with young Skywalker after their brief flying encounter around the original Death Star, is laying a trap for Luke. His plan is to encase Luke in frozen carbonite, however since he's unsure whether or not this process will kill Luke - and therefore ruin the Emperor's prize - Vader freezes Han instead.
All the while Lando, realizing how the deal has changed, endeavors to free Leia, Chewy and the droids from the Empire but is too late to save Han as his friend is whisked away by the Fett-man.
And it's precisely this moment in which many find Lando to be two-faced. A hasty assumption. Had Lando not made a deal with the Empire, he surely would have been killed and the Empire would have simpl taken Cloud City. Since Luke and his Jedi powers were busy galavanting about on an overgrown Chia Pet planet with a backwards-speaking green troll, no one would have "sensed" any danger on the Cloud City. The trap would have been laid no matter what. Lando made a wise decision for everyone by saving lives to fight in the future as opposed to taking a stand against the Empire and their armada of Star Destroyers. Let's not forget Lando's command to his cyborg Chief of Security to free them from the Empire's clutches. In the final minutes of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke is saved by telepathically calling to Leia aboard the Millennium Falcon. Lando turns the ship around against his better judgement and saves Luke, whom he's never even met. Lando shows true grace in this act seeing as how Chewy nearly killed him on Cloud City after Lando freed the walking fuzzball and Leia. Another unsung deed by Mr. Calrissian.
We pick up in Return of the Jedi with Lando going undercover in Jabba's lair while attempting to rescue his friend Han from the carbonite casing.
Han is freed from the carbonite, Luke fights the Rancor and then we're all on hovering ships where everyone's going to be fed to the Sarlacc. Once again, who signals and programs R2D2 to throw Luke his lightsabre and starts the fight? Lando! That's f&ckin' who! Han does play an important role here where he actually saves Lando for a change from being eaten by the Sarlacc. (Props to Solo on that one... I guess.)
Skipping along to the film's climactic battle, Lando has volunteered to directly attack the Empire. Take note here: Lando will be coming out of hyperspace directly in front of the Death Star... and with the Empire's entire fleet directly behind his ass. He volunteer knowing he'll have to rely on Han, Luke and Leia to take down the Death Star's shield on the forrest moon of Endor.
Let's analyze what happened happens next. Han, Luke and the gang are on a small Empire transport ship with an old access code. They land on the surface after Luke, by his own admission, has put the mission at risk simply by being there and having Vader sense him. Way to go, Luke. While on the surface of the forest moon they are captured by Ewoks, the native inhabitants and, as many have speculated, possibly cousins of the Wookies. Now by this point after a cutesy display by Luke and C3PO, they are ready to assault the shield generator facility. They fail miserably, are captured by storm troopers and are completely screwed. The Ewoks save the day on the moon by leading a massive assault against the storm troopers. This can only be explained by a loyalty to their God, C3PO. So, we can thank the droids and Luke for this one. Han and Leia essentially do very little. Next we move on to Luke. Pointless. A battle of wits with the Emperor and some lightsaber hack and slash with Vader add to nothing. As we'll soon see, Vader and the Emperor would have been destroyed no matter what. So who cares?
This brings us to our savior, Lando. During this entire procession of mishaps and poor planning that's befallen Luke, Han and Leia, Lando has bee fighting the entire Empire armada of star destroyers and TIE fighters. To add to the Rebels' poor intelligence, the Death Star is fully operational. Lando has an indestructible globe of death on one side, 20 star destroyers and 1000 TIE fighters on the other.
I'm guessing most readers know where this is going. Who flew into the Death Star? Who was being chased by a zillion TIE fighters? Who flew into a device capable of destroying an entire planet with one laser shot? Who had very little to gain by joining the rebels? Who lost everything due to his friend involving him in a rebel plot? Who saved the rebel cause? Who do you want to drink a Colt 45 with? And who works... every time...?
Lando Calrissian. That's f&ckin' who.