Every few years, some people realize that Luke Skywalker’s plan to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt in the opening act of Return of the Jedi doesn’t seem to make much sense. This year, however, this realization spawned a bunch of articles and videos about the “revelation” that Han Solo’s rescue was actually a shitshow. On the surface, they appear to be right. It would be a stretch to say that how the events unfolded was Luke’s plan all along, so it’s a huge writing screw-up, right? Wrong.
In the video below, Jessica Chobot of Nerdist lays out the case that this was all just haphazard nonsense, but below I will explain both what Luke’s plan seemed to be at the onset, why it went wrong, and how these events served the story. Even though Han was rescued, Luke’s “plan” was an utter failure. Yet, without it, he would have never actually been a Jedi.
Before I get into all that, though, I will admit it is possible that Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas did just try to write up a caper where the gang rescues Han and everything just goes to shit. From a writer’s perspective, things going wrong for our heroes is the best way to create drama. It is possible their intention all along was for this plan to be garbage and/or by the third movie in the trilogy both were exhausted and just kind of phoning it in.
Whether that’s true or not, it doesn’t matter. When it comes literature — and I think of the Star Wars films as literature — author’s intent rarely matters in analysis. All that matters is that there is evidence in the “text” to support your argument. When it comes to how Luke saw his plan unfolding, that is a matter of mostly speculation, but how these events serve Luke’s story are an essential stop on his journey to becoming a Jedi.
Another “plot hole” people complain about is how in Empire Yoda says Luke’s training is incomplete, but when he returns to him on Dagobah the little green wizard says that Luke’s training is complete. Yoda has nothing left to teach him, so…