While I am not claiming to tell you what George Lucas or anyone involved with the production of 1983’s Return of the Jedi intended, I am here to put to rest the debate about Luke’s plan to break Han Solo out of a carbonite prison in Jabba’s Palace.
Lately, there’s been a lot of debate about how exactly Luke and his friends were going to bust Han Solo out of Jabba’s palace. The film was released in 1983 and is memorized in many a Star Wars fan’s mind (including my own) so I find it hard to believe that the internet is losing their Bantha poodoo over a problem that’s easily solvable. The earliest evidence of people online debating this plot is a Reddit thread from February, 2014.
I’m going to break this down nice and simple with each part of the plan. I will not mention Shadows of the Empire or anything from the EU – only Return of the Jedi.
Lando was a spy, plain and simple. He was sent in to see where Solo was being kept and possibly to keep an eye on him in case Jabba decided to off him for some reason.
Note: We’ll most likely see Lando (or someone else perhaps) using this costume in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Trust me.
R2-D2 and C-3PO
R2-D2 and C3-PO were brought in to soften the blow of the rescue, an offering if you will. An offering of faith. Luke thought he would try to play nice and send in R2 and Threepio as gifts and the nicest way to get Han out. Luke knew a plan like that wouldn’t work, which is why Chewbacca and Leia went in next: to raise the stakes.
The lightsaber in R2 was a fail safe, in case Luke needed it in case he ended up in a jam, which he did.
CHEWBACCA and LEIA
As said above, Chewie and Leia were brought in to raise the stakes with the plan working out fine until Leia was caught after freeing Han from the carbonite.
So now that everyone has been captured by Jabba, Luke figures he needs to go in as the big gun and do what must be done. Luke confronts Jabba, demands his friends be freed and goes to blast Jabba with a thug’s blaster, only to be dropped into the Rancor pit.
So basically Lando went in to scope it out, the droids were a soft introduction, Leia and Chewie almost made it but got caught and Luke’s plan to come in and destroy Jabba failed, leading the story to continue the way it played out in the film – The death of the Rancor, the trip to the Sarlacc. “Get the gun! Point it at the deck!” and so on.
Basically, if one attempt didn’t work, the next attempt would raise the stakes of how Luke and company would rescue Han.