There’s a scene from The Empire Strikes Back that has always intrigued and fascinated me. If you are my age or younger, you may know this part of the movie by heart. Han Solo, Leia and the gang have just arrived at Cloud City, and Lando Calrissian is playing the good host by taking them to dinner. They arrive at the dining room and the door slides open to reveal Darth Vader at the end of a long table. Han fires his blaster a couple of times at Vader, who deftly blocks the shots.
Vader says, “We would be honored if you would join us.” Lando gives Han and Leia some lame excuse about the Empire arriving in town just before they did. “I’m sorry,” he says.
“I’m sorry, too,” Han replies. Han, Leia, Chewbacca and Lando enter the dining room, Vader sits at the table, the bounty hunter Boba Fett walks in behind him, and the door closes.
I have always wondered what happened right after that door closed. Most likely, the Storm Troopers rounded Han, Leia and Chewie up and took them immediately to the detention center. But Vader’s remark haunts me: “We would be honored if you would join us.” Maybe the Dark Lord planned some chivalrous gesture by treating Han and his friends to a nice dinner before hauling him off to be frozen in carbonite. I know that would be out of character for Vader, but that is what I want to believe happened. I mean, they had food and drinks laid out on the table as if they were getting ready to entertain. You can’t let that much food go to waste.
And if they did, in fact, sit down for a last supper, as it were, this is how I imagine the dialogue:
VADER: This is a day that will be long remembered.
SOLO: (Not looking up.) Could someone please pass the rolls? (Boba Fett passes a basket of rolls and Han takes one.)
VADER: The Emperor will be most pleased.
LEIA: You really think this is the end, don’t you? You may have caught us, but there are thousands out there just like us. Hundreds of thousands. I may not live to see it, but your empire will crumble someday soon, Lord Vader.
SOLO: (Placing a hand on LEIA’s arm.) Honey, now is not the time.
VADER: (Leaning back in his chair.) No, please… Let her speak. I find her lack of tact amusing.
SOLO: Chewie, stop it!
FETT: (Checking his watch.) I say we end this charade and freeze him.
VADER: The Empire will compensate you for your time. Has everyone tried the green bean casserole? I obviously can’t eat it, but I sense that it is very tasty.
LANDO: (Taking the dish.) Thanks. Want some, Han?
SOLO: Sure, why don’t you hand that over? Just like you handed your friends over to the Empire.
LANDO: (Whispering.) I had no idea you were coming. I hadn’t seen you since, what, since the Kessel Run? Then you just show up. (Taking a sip from his wine glass.) Look, I did the best I could.
SOLO: Oh, I get it. You’re a real hero.
LEIA: (Leaning toward LANDO.) When Luke hears about this, he’s going to blast your little floating city out of the sky.
VADER: How is Luke anyway? Has anyone seen him lately? What’s he up to?
(Everyone stares silently at their food.)
VADER: I only ask because, well, I do have a certain fondness for the boy. He clearly has talent. The emperor and I are quite certain that he can be turned.
LEIA: (Almost spitting.) He’ll die before he joins you.
VADER: (Lifting a gloved finger.) We shall see about that, princess. We shall see.
SOLO: You might have fooled us, but Luke’s too smart to fall into one of your traps.
LEIA: (Picking at her lime fluff jello salad.) Can I have another roll? Please?
FETT: Solo ate the last one.
VADER: (Lifts his hand, and a roll rises from the basket and lands on LEIA’s plate.) No…there is another.
(LEIA nods to the Dark Lord and takes a bite from her roll.)
– END –