Even though part of Star Wars: The Last Jedi takes place on a casino planet, the galaxy’s most flashy gambler, Lando Calrissian, will not be in the movie. Director Rian Johnson explicitly confirmed as much in late November. If we’re not going to see Lando, is it too much to ask what happened to him? After all, Last Jedi has a lot of history it needs to fill in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. If we’re going to learn what happened to Lando, here’s what should happen.
The following speculates on what could happen in The Last Jedi, meaning, if any of this comes true, then everything below could be considered an intuitive spoiler.
Lando should’ve died long before The Force Awakens. How he died isn’t important. Frankly, it would be better if he didn’t go out in a heroic blaze of glory, the way so many Star Wars characters have died. Lando shouldn’t have been gunned-down by First Order stormtroopers, because a more mundane death like a starship crash or space cancer might actually what comes next more tragic:
What if Lando would’ve been able to keep Ben Solo from going to the Dark Side and becoming Kylo Ren? Or if he’d kept Han and Leia together?
We don’t know much about how, specifically, Ben fell to the Dark Side, nor do we really know how Han and Leia’s relationship fell apart. The novel Bloodline reveals that Leia saw the Dark Side potential in Ben, and sent him to train with Luke as part of his planned Jedi Knight revival. It didn’t work, and he slaughtered them all alongside the “Knights of Ren.” Based on comments Carrie Fisher made to Time,, realizing their child was a “naughty Hitler” led to Han and Leia’s split.
Where was Lando when any of this happened? Would Lando, the one-time con-man who tried to leave a life of crime and swindling behind, let his best friend go through all this alone? Would he have let his (probable) godson go down a dark path? I like to think he would’ve been a roguish but ultimately good influence on the kid, and more importantly, on Han. Lando’s tragic (but mundane) death could’ve had a cascading effect, as his heel-face turn ultimately made him a good role model.
But, I’ll admit that while Lando’s charming, he’s no match for the Force. If Ben was drawn to the Dark Side by larger forces, no amount of Lando’s swagger could’ve saved him. Maybe that’s a stretch, but I don’t see a way that Han and Leia split if Lando’s still there. Lando had Han’s interests at heart, and would’ve been a non-Wookie friend to talk to. Certainly, Han wouldn’t have gone back into smuggling if Lando, a former con-man who grew up and became a good, responsible member of society, had been around to stop him.
Star Wars is a thrilling, sci-fi adventure series, but at its core is a story about family. The tale of the Skywalker clan and their various loves and lives has been what’s pushed the movies forward. But, Lando offers Star Wars post-mortem way to explore the importance of another sort of family — not family by blood, but the family you make. The Force Awakens started to hint at the importance of these connections in the relationships between Finn and Rey and Poe. Making us feel Lando’s absence could continue that trend, and flesh out the previous generation.
There’s a reason why, for all their failings, one of the biggest emotional beats of the prequel trilogy comes when Obi-Wan says Anakin was like a brother. That’s still high-stakes Jedi and Skywalker drama, though. Lando is just a dear friend, and it would be great if The Last Jedi made us feel how the less flashy aspects of the Star Wars universe are still of monumental importance.
The Last Jedi doesn’t need a big glorious Lando cameo, with Billy Dee Williams, the most charismatic fucker alive,en, gliding across the screen. Nor should the plot come to a full stop as the characters recite a Wikipedia-like summary of what happened to Lando. But, The Force Awakens didn’t give Leia a lot of time to really reflect on what happened to Han, her Son, or her brother, frankly. Maybe The Last Jedi has a quiet moment where Leia, perhaps the strongest character in all of Star Wars, a woman who has fought for so much, reflects on what she’s lost. Lando, and what he represented, is too important to ignore.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens on December 15.