CrunchOctober 28, 2011
Note: Big assist on this post from Reinman’s younger-er brother, the Hermit (a.k.a. BB2, a.k.a. Manny Ramir-Andrew Bank One Ball-Andrew).
I love The Empire Strikes Back. Obviously. But there is one moment that doesn’t make a lick of sense.
So, following the Dumbest Battle in Movie History, Han Solo and company are fleeing from the Imperial fleet. With four TIE fighters and a Star Destroyer already hot on their tail, Han sees two more Star Destroyers heading straight toward them.
“Great. Well, I can still out maneuver them,” he says, throwing the Falcon into a twisting “dive.” (I love that in order to make the Falcon go “down” Han first has to pull a special lever, as though “up” and “down” aren’t mapped to the normal flight controls.)
What follows is a wonderful little sequence — the Falcon momentarily escaping, while the three Star Destroyers nearly collide. I love the chaos we see in the Star Destroyer bridge — the howling (distinctively Imperial) alarm, the grinding noise as shields slam against shields, the crew losing their balance from the impact — it all reinforces the immense size of these ships.
And then we cut from the chaotic to the ordered. From below, we see — for, really, the only time in the trilogy — the wedge-shaped Destroyers in their full geometrical glory. They crawl toward one another, looking not as though they’re accidentally ramming into each other, but rather as though they’re completing some grand, celestial puzzle — of course they’re supposed to fit together like that.
But here’s the nagging question — how did the Star Destroyers get that close to each other in the first place? Maybe the Destroyer captains simply forgot that ships can go “up” or “down” in space. Maybe they were using flat, table-top charts, having not yet invested in those fancy “three-dimensional” charts that the rebels use in Jedi. Slashes to military spending and all.
Even so, let’s take the engagement to its logical conclusion. Let’s say the Falcon did not suddenly dive down and continued on a straight course. If that were the case, the Star Destroyers…would STILL collide into one another.
Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that colliding into each other was the plan all along.
Here’s what I think happened. I think the captain of the middle Destroyer saw the other two ships coming toward him, and he saw a golden opportunity to not only take out the Falcon but to do it in style — he decided to physically “crunch” the Falcon in between the hulls of the Destroyers.
And his plan might’ve worked, too, if one of the Destroyers hadn’t chickened out at the last moment.
My theory isn’t as ridiculous as it seems. By this point, we’ve already seen the fingerprints of that renegade Imperial officer. As a young lieutenant on the Death Star, he was the one who decided to try to crunch Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie in the trash compacter rather than, say, posting three squads of stormtroopers outside the only escape hatch.
Piloting a walker during the battle of Hoth, he was the one who decided to take a half an hour to try to crunch Luke underfoot rather than, say, shooting him. Vader — who is obviously a fan of not only killing but killing with style — appreciated the attempted crunching and immediately promoted the officer to Star Destroyer captain.
(In the original cut of Empire — before Lucas started screwing with the film — you can see the pilot ejecting straight up into an awaiting shuttle right before the walker’s head explodes. And no, I don’t know why the head explodes when Luke throws the charge into the middle of the walker’s underbelly.)
So, the accidental, near-collision of the Star Destroyers wasn’t an accident at all — it was an inspired plan, a work of true genius. And so now only one question remains — what is the name of that daring young officer, that brilliant captain?
I won’t tell you his name, but if you search your heart, you’ll find you’ve known the answer all along.