I haven’t written much about Lando Calrissian…mostly because I don’t like him. I don’t like that he turned Han over to the Empire and even though he redeemed himself pretty fast, I still never had strong feelings for him. I don’t know – I just got scumbag vibes from Lando and could never relate to him.
But this past weekend’s painting in my 365 day calendar made me rethink some of what I previously thought.
When Vader is revealed to the Rebels at Cloud City, Lando says to Han, “I had no choice. They arrived right before you did. I’m sorry.” I always got so angry at him when he said that because, in my naïve way of thinking, I thought that everyone always has a choice. Which, essentially, is true but it’s not that simple.
I realize now that sometimes your choice is life or you-better-do-what-they-want-or-you-might-be-killed. What kind of choice is that? How hard is it to stand up for what you believe is right? Would I have the guts to do it? Would you have the guts to do it? Look at Malala. Someone so young stood up for something she believes in, even after the local Taliban Leader (the Empire) said all female education had to cease. Youth may make you invincible, but I still think that if I was threatened at that age, I would shut the hell up and not say a word.
I admire people like Malala, the Luke Skywalker’s in real life…and it’s probably because I may not have that heroic streak in me. I’m a very by-the-books person and I’m beginning to relate to Lando.
Looking at this picture, I see that maybe he didn’t have a choice. Vader wants Luke and Fett wants Han. Vader agreed that in getting Luke, he would leave Cloud City and the Tibanna operations alone forever. Is that such a hard deal to agree to? Even when someone is strangling you?
On top of that, Lando had slowly begun to give up his scoundrel ways and had become a somewhat respected administrator of Cloud City. He also had to think about his people when making a large decision and keeping the Empire out of their hair was probably the best choice for everyone.
Further, were Han and Lando really that close? The movies lead us to believe that there is little trust between them to begin with and they know each other from their shady, dishonest pasts. So there would be little love lost in turning him into the Empire. Sure, he was a friend once, but a close one? Maybe not.
Yes, his feelings could have changed a little once he saw he had a girlfriend and Chewie was still with him, but he probably thought Vader would stick to his deal. And the deal was worth it to him.
The funny thing about all this is that what angers Lando is not so much how they treat Han, even though that is a byproduct, but the fact that the Empire “alters” the deal they had with him. “This deal’s getting worse all the time,” is one of his famous lines.
At what point did Lando crack? At what point did his anger and frustration with the Empire make him realize that even the original deal had not been worth it? He contacts Lobot when Luke appears – but was it building up and that was a good time to turn coat? Or did the appearance of Luke make him question the deal?
If we look closer at Lando’s transition into the Rebellion, we notice he never agreed to join the Rebellion right away. He agrees to help save Han from Jabba the Hutt. (By the way, does anyone else think it’s weird how easily Han accepts him in ROTJ? Dude, last time you saw him, he had betrayed you and frozen you in carbonite!) Then after saving Han, he transitions into becoming a General in Rebellion.
In the end, Lando plays a crucial role in helping the Rebellion defeat the Empire but I’m much more sympathetic to his character now than I was a week ago. I still have hesitations and disbeliefs in terms of how quickly the Rebellion accepted him, but I understand why he turned over Han to Boba and the Empire. And, it almost saddens me to say this, I’m not sure I would have done anything differently.