The Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back Source Guide is in development.
It is now three years after the events of A New Hope. The Rebel Alliance has been forced to flee its base on Yavin 4 and establish a new one on the ice planet of Hoth.
An Imperial Star Destroyer, dispatched by the Sith Lord Darth Vader, continuing his quest for Luke Skywalker, launches thousands of probe droids across the galaxy, one of which lands on Hoth and begins its survey of the planet. Luke Skywalker, on patrol astride his tauntaun, discovers the probe, which he mistakes for a meteorite. After reporting to comrade Han Solo that he’ll investigate the site, Luke is knocked unconscious by a deadly wampa.
When Luke fails to report in at Echo Base, Han Solo goes out on his tauntaun to search for him in an encroaching storm. Upon waking up, Luke finds himself hanging upside down in a cave; his eyes opening to the sight of a wampa eating his tauntaun. Using the power of the Force, Luke is able to pull his lightsaber out of the snow and towards himself. After he ignites it, he cuts himself free and cuts off the attacking wampa’s arm just in time, running out of the cave and escaping into the cold night of Hoth.
Luke tries to make his way to Echo Base on foot, but he finds himself lost in the blizzard and collapses in the snow. Suddenly, he sees the Force spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi appear before him. Ben tells Luke to go to Dagobah to undergo training under Yoda, a Jedi Grand Master. After the spirit disappears, Han arrives to find an almost unconscious Luke, who is mumbling indistinctly about Ben, Yoda and Dagobah. At this point, the tauntaun that Han was riding on collapses in the extreme cold. To keep Luke from freezing to death during the blizzard, Han uses Luke’s lightsaber to cut open the dead tauntaun and places Luke in it. Han then sets about erecting a shelter that he and Luke will stay in during the night. They are forced to stay out during the night as the aircraft (snowspeeders) that the Rebels use for atmospheric flight had not yet been adapted for the extremely low temperatures of the Hoth night and are therefore unable to mount a rescue operation to retrieve Han and Luke.
The next morning, Rebel Pilots flying the snowspeeders set out from Echo Base to search for the missing men. Zev Senesca, one of the pilots in Rogue Group, makes contact with Han over comlink and the pair are rescued. When they are taken back to base, Luke is put in a bacta tank for healing under the care of medical droid, 2-1B.
Princess Leia Organa tries to urge Han to stay with the rebels, and when Han assumes it is because she has feelings for him, Leia loses her temper and calls him a “stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder.”
Meanwhile, the probe droid has spotted signs that indicate Hoth is occupied and sends a signal to the Imperial fleet, shortly before being destroyed by Han Solo and Chewbacca. Aboard the Executor, Admiral Kendal Ozzel dismisses the information as evidence of smugglers, nothing more. However, Darth Vader knows better and orders the fleet to Hoth. General Rieekan, realizing the Empire is probably aware of their location, orders the evacuation of Echo Base to begin.
Darth Vader and the Imperial forces set course for the Hoth system to set up the attack. The rebels load whatever equipment they can onto transports and plan a rear-guard action to secure their escape. Luke, now fully recovered from the Wampa attack and subsequent exposure, says farewell to Chewbacca and Solo, who have decided to leave the Alliance to resolve their debt to Jabba the Hutt. As the Imperial forces enter the Hoth system, General Rieekan orders full power to the energy shield that is protecting the base from orbital bombardment.
Aboard the Executor, General Maximilian Veers notifies Vader that Admiral Ozzel has emerged from lightspeed too close to Hoth. Ozzel intended to catch the Rebels unaware before they could set up their defenses. However, Vader realizes that the Rebels have been alerted to the fleet’s arrival. Via video communication, Vader Force chokes Ozzel to death for his incompetence, then appoints Captain Firmus Piett the new Admiral on the spot. As Vader previously ordered, the Imperial ground forces, commanded by General Veers, land outside the Rebels’ shield and march overland to destroy the power generator.
Princess Leia gives the Rebel fighters instructions on the evacuation to leave Hoth two to three ships at a time past the energy shield to a rendezvous point, which is beyond the outer rim. Rieekan lowers the shields to fire the Ion cannon at one of the Imperial Star Destroyers allowing the first transports to escape. The Rebel pilots assigned to hold off the Imperial ground assault depart the Hoth base for the oncoming battle against heavily equipped Imperial forces, who are armed with agile AT-STs (All Terrain Scout Transports) and monstrous AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) walkers, led by General Veers.
The Rogue Squadron snowspeeder group led by Luke commences the attack. Luke quickly realizes the AT-AT’s armor is far too strong for blasters and decides to use attached harpoons and tow cables to tangle the walker’s legs. Luke’s gunner Dak Ralter is hit and killed during the first approach. This leaves Wedge Antilles and his gunner Wes Janson to make the first pass. They manage to topple one of the AT-ATs, which is destroyed as Rebel troops storm it. The main AT-AT, commanded by General Veers, prepares to take their aim at the Rebel base’s main power generator. Suddenly, Luke’s speeder is shot down by the Imperials, and crash-lands in the snow. Luke escapes before an AT-AT can step on and crush his ship.
The Rebel base is now under direct attack and Imperial snowtroopers have entered the base, forcing Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO to escape. Leia gives the evacuation command for the base as they leave.
Luke, meanwhile, manages to destroy another AT-AT by using his hoist cable and lightsaber to get into the belly of the transport, tossing in a thermal detonator, and then detaching himself from the cable as a series of explosions neutralize the AT-AT. The Rebels suffer major casualties as the result of the battle. The main AT-AT, being driven by General Veers, gets within firing range of the power generator, then successfully blasts and destroys it.
Han, Leia, and company, now realizing they are being followed by Vader (who has arrived personally on Hoth), make their way to the Millennium Falcon in time to escape. As the Falcon flies off, Luke reaches R2-D2 and his X-wing starfighter and finally departs Hoth. Changing course from the rendezvous point, he sets his coordinates for Dagobah.
Han and company are pursued by Imperial TIE fighters. Flipping the switch to take them to lightspeed, Han realizes (with reluctant help from 3PO) that the hyperdrive has been damaged. While trying to fix the hyperdrive system, Han enters an asteroid field to hamper pursuit. He manages to land his ship inside a cavern on one of the larger asteroids to rest and find a way to fix the ship.
Luke lands on the marshy planet Dagobah, swamping his X-wing in the process. There, he discovers a diminutive and eccentric figure who fiddles around with Luke’s gear. After Luke tells him that he is looking for a Jedi Master, the being offers to take Luke to Yoda.
Back on the Falcon, while Leia tries to make repairs, Han makes his move on the Princess, drawing himself closer to her before both end up in a passionate kiss. When Threepio arrives, Leia withdraws and walks away.
Vader orders the entirety of Death Squadron to begin sweeping the asteroid field to find the Millennium Falcon As the search continues, the dangers of the field begin to take their toll: an asteroid smashes into the bridge tower of a Star Destroyer, presumably killing all aboard. On the Executor, Vader communicates with the captains of the other ships (the captain of the demolished star destroyer throws his arms up in horror, and the transmission fades). One officer, Captain Lorth Needa, tells Vader that they should consider their damage. Vader firmly replies that they will continue the search. Shortly afterward, Admiral Piett informs Vader that Emperor Sheev Palpatine commands he make contact immediately. Vader orders his ship out of the asteroid field for a clear transmission.
In his private quarters, Vader receives a holographic message from Palpatine, alias Darth Sidious, who alerts the Dark Lord to a “new enemy who could destroy” the Empire – Luke Skywalker. Vader suggests that if Luke could be turned, he would be a “powerful ally”. Lord Sidious agrees, saying that Luke would be a “great asset” and asks his apprentice if it could be done. Vader declares Luke will join the Empire “or die”.
Instead of going straight to Yoda, Luke is brought to the creature’s hut. Luke insists on going to find Yoda immediately, but the small creature only responds with “Not far. Yoda not far.” The diminutive figure then declares the boy lacks patience, but the voice of Kenobi tells the figure that the boy will learn patience if he is to be trained. Only then does Luke realize that the small green figure is Yoda. Yoda asks Kenobi if he will finish whatever training he begins, then suspects that Luke will someday succumb to fear.
The next day, while cleaning parasitic creatures called Mynocks off the Falcon, Solo and his companions are forced to escape what turns out to be a titanic space slug (which resided in the asteroid the Falcon landed on). Meanwhile, Luke begins a rigorous training regime from Yoda which includes moral lessons about the dangers of the dark side of the Force. That particular lesson is driven home when he is told to enter a cave that is strong with the Dark Side’s power. Ignoring Yoda’s counsel to leave his weapons, Luke enters the cavern armed. Once inside, he has a vision of himself angrily confronting Darth Vader and beheading him. However, the severed head’s mask bursts apart and reveals Luke’s face with a scared look underneath; it is a warning that if Luke battles Vader with no emotional control, he will become Vader himself, seduced by the Dark Side.
Back on the Star Destroyer, Vader enlists the bounty hunters, Boba Fett, Dengar, IG-88, Bossk, 4-LOM and Zuckuss to find the Millennium Falcon for a “substantial reward”. One of the Imperial commanders finally spots the Falcon, leading to another pursuit which results in the Falcon eluding the Empire by making the insanely counter intuitive move of attacking the lead Star Destroyer. However, at the last moment, the ship veers off and secretly attaches itself to the rear of the cruiser’s command tower, which is not extensively covered by sensors, making it appear to have vanished from the Destroyer’s point of view.
Days later, while training, Luke becomes distracted when he finds that his X-wing fighter has almost completely submerged into the swamp. Luke declares he will never be able to get the ship out, seeing that it is too big for him to extract from the water. Yoda says it is “no different, only different in your mind.” Luke says he’ll “try” to lift the ship, but Yoda says “No! Do or do not, there is no try.” Luke tries to use the Force, but to no avail. Yoda reminds him that “size matters not” and gives him wisdom about the Force. Luke denies all of this, then Yoda decides to use the Force to lift the ship out himself. Luke is dumbfounded and incredulous. Yoda senses the youngster’s failures within his mind.
When the fleet disperses to search for the Falcon, the Rebels wait for the ship to do its standard dump of refuse before jumping, then detach to float away with it. The Falcon’s hyperdrive needs repairs, so Han decides to make their way to Cloud City, a gas-mining colony run by his “old friend” Lando Calrissian. Unfortunately, the bounty hunter Boba Fett had deduced the Falcon’s escape method and had his ship jettisoned with the waste to stealthily follow the fugitives.
The next day, Yoda reminds Luke of the things the young Jedi will see in his mind, the future, the past, and of friends he recognizes. Luke loses concentration again and has a vision of his friends in danger. He wants to leave Dagobah to rescue them, but Yoda reminds him that if he leaves now, everything his friends fought and suffered for will be destroyed.
Upon arrival at Cloud City, Han’s party is welcomed by an old friend of his who goes by the name Lando Calrissian. However, there are numerous elements that make the Rebels suspicious, not the least of which being C-3PO being found deactivated, dismembered, and almost recycled.
That evening, Luke and R2-D2 prepare themselves to leave Dagobah, but are warned by both Yoda and the spirit form of Kenobi not to end training so soon for a fight Luke is not ready for. Ben declares that should Luke decide to face Vader, he will have to face him alone without interference. Luke understands this, and his ship takes off from Dagobah. Yoda is disappointed, declaring Luke is reckless. Ben tells Yoda “That boy is our last hope”, however, Yoda answers back, “No… there is another…”
A day later, Han and company find themselves betrayed by Calrissian who was approached by the Empire just before the Rebels’ arrival and threatened him and the city unless he cooperated. They became the captives of Darth Vader, who proceeds to torture Han and Leia to create a disturbance in the Force for Luke to detect.
Meanwhile, Chewbacca makes an attempt to rebuild C-3PO only to accidentally put the latter’s head on backwards. After being tortured, the rebels are informed by Lando that Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO would be confined to Cloud City and Han would be given to Boba Fett. Leia believes Vader wants them all dead, but Lando tells her and the rebels otherwise and that he is after someone called “Skywalker.” The rebels immediately realize that Vader wants Luke and has set a trap for him, using them as bait. After Lando announces that Luke was on his way, Han attacks his “friend,” only to be restrained by Calrissian’s security detail.
That afternoon, Vader enters a carbon-freezing chamber intending to freeze Luke Skywalker once he arrives. The Dark Lord uses the opportunity for Boba Fett to deliver Solo to Jabba the Hutt (to whom Han owed a debt) by testing the device on Solo himself. Han and company enter the chamber for the experiment. At first, Chewbacca resists the stormtroopers, but Han restrains him, saving his strength for another time. Han says goodbye to Leia with a passionate kiss before he is escalated into the carbon freezing chamber. When he is successfully entombed in carbonite in a state of suspended animation, Vader hands over Han to bounty hunter Boba Fett for transportation to Tatooine to receive a bounty from Jabba. One of the Imperial commanders informs Vader that Luke’s starfighter has arrived on Bespin. The Dark Lord orders Lando to take Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO to his Star Destroyer, reneging on a deal he made with Calrissian. However, the Cloud City administrator has other plans.
Luke makes his way to Bespin safely. He quietly walks down the corridors of Cloud City. He spots Boba Fett who is taking the now-frozen Solo back to his ship. He attempts to follow but is thwarted when the bounty hunter notices and opens fire. Luke narrowly escapes and runs down farther into the corridor. He finally meets up with Leia, Chewie, and Lando, who have been captured by stormtroopers. Luke tries to ambush the group of Imperials, but is unsuccessful. Leia yells at him and tells him that “it’s a trap!” Luke runs after his captured friends, hoping to save them, but wanders into the carbon-freezing chamber. There, he meets with Vader and the two fight in an epic lightsaber duel, where Luke’s undeveloped Jedi skills are no match for Vader’s experience.
The Imperials (escorting the Rebel prisoners out of Bespin) are overpowered by Cloud City security, setting Lando and company free. Chewbacca turns against Lando for betraying Han and chokes him, but he manages to tell the Wookiee there’s still a chance to rescue Han at the East Platform. C-3PO is reunited with his companion R2-D2. Lando and company arrive too late as Fett’s ship takes off, then engage in a fierce battle with stormtroopers.
Luke and Vader continue the duel in the darkened rooms of the Cloud City. Luke didn’t follow Han’s sad fate when he fell into the freezing mine, but he manages to jump out of it with the help of the Force a moment before Vader activates the freezing system. The fight continues. Vader uses the Dark Side of the Force, hurling everything that comes to hand at Luke: equipment, construction elements and furniture. One of the items breaks the window, creating a vacuum. Luke is quickly pulled out and the fight moves to the emergency platform.
As the gunfight continues, Lando orders an evacuation of Cloud City before the arrival of the main forces of the Empire, then the rebel company manages to find their last hope of escape…the Millennium Falcon.
On the emergency platform of the Cloud City, Luke and Vader continue the duel. Vader knocks Luke off his feet and invites him to surrender so that he won’t let himself be killed, like Obi-Wan. However, the young man is not yet defeated and continues to fight. During the duel over the abyss, Luke beats Vader with his saber in his right shoulder, slightly damaging his dark armor. Vader is furious and cuts Luke’s right hand holding a lightsaber (the hand and the saber fall into the abyss). Then he reveals to Luke the fatal truth that he is his father.
Luke does not want to believe what he heard, and accuses Vader of lying, but he advises the young man to listen to his own heart, and thus understand that this is pure truth. Shocked and frightened by the cruel truth, Luke falls into despair, still not wanting to believe what he heard. Vader invites the young man to reunite with him in order to destroy the Emperor together and rule the galaxy as a father and son. However, Luke chooses suicide over being corrupted and throws himself down a deep shaft.
Luke is sucked into an air vent, exits the underbelly of the city and catches an antenna beneath Cloud City. Facing clear death, Luke calls out to Ben Kenobi in vain (Kenobi had warned Luke that he would not be able to help Luke once he faced Vader). Then, he calls out to the only other one who could help… Leia.
Leia mysteriously senses Luke’s telepathic distress signal. The Falcon turns around and comes back to Cloud City. Using an escape hatch, Lando manages to catch Luke and rescue him before the wounded Jedi falls helplessly to the planet as TIE Fighters race toward them. The Falcon finally leaves Bespin’s gravitational field and is about to escape into hyperspace when the hyperdrive system again fails (as it turns out – this is the work of the imperial specialists, as reported by the city computer R2-D2). Vader asks for confirmation that the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive system was deactivated to prevent their escape, then orders weapons be set to stun.
As the Imperials pursue the Falcon, the injured Luke telepathically hears the voice of Vader calling to him. He answers, “Father…”, while Vader telepathically calls, “Son, come with me”. Luke senses it is Vader, then cries, “Ben, why didn’t you tell me?”
C-3PO commands that R2-D2 finish reconstructing him after his ordeal in Cloud City. However, with quick ingenuity, R2 manages to re-activate the Falcon’s hyperdrive system just in time for the ship to flee to hyperspace. Vader is disappointed and retreats to his secret quarters in his Star Destroyer, ignoring Piett’s failure.
The film ends on a EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate at the Rebel fleet’s rendezvous point, where Luke under the care of 2-1B again which includes the implantation of a prosthetic hand. Lando and Chewbacca begin their parts of a most dangerous mission…rescuing Han. Lando promises to Leia they’ll bring her back the man she loves. Luke, Leia, and the droids look on as the Falcon departs for unknown territories.