Sympathy For The Baron: Lando Calrissian And The Bargain At Bespin


Lando Calrissian, Baron Administrator of Cloud City:  Smuggler, gambler, even a scoundrel – but a villain? No. When the Empire came to Cloud City, Lando had to decide between the lives of thousands of sentients or a couple of old gambling buddies and their Rebel allies. He chose the former, and while as a boy I hated him for it, now I understand that it was probably the right thing to do. Maybe the only thing.

Had Lando tried to warn Han Solo and company and failed in the process, Bespin would have been taken over by the Empire and its residents possibly imprisoned or maybe even killed. That is, if it would even have been possible to them at all. Vader had the Dark Side of the Force at his command, and was plenty clairvoyant. He might have been able to sense a betrayal from Lando before it even happened, and even if he couldn’t, Lando didn’t know that. A visit from a giant, robotic monster armed with a crackling lightsaber and a full retinue of Stormtroopers at his side would probably make anyone think twice about trying to pull any funny business, and Lando did what he could to protect his people.

Having Cloud City fall to the Empire have hurt the Rebellion, too. Before Darth Vader showed up on Calrissian’s doorstep, the Empire tolerated Cloud City’s neutrality, which allowed Lando to continue to supply the valuable tibanna gas harvested from the gas giant Bespin to the Rebellion. Tibanna is used in the manufacture of energy weapons, and Had Cloud City fallen to the Empire, the Rebellion would have had a harder time arming its troops.

That’s not to say that losing Han, Chewie, Luke, Leia and the droids would not have hurt the cause, but Lando had to work with what he knew rather than what we know, and it’s highly unlikely that his knowledge included the roles that these characters were to play in the future of the galaxy. The fact is that Lando really didn’t even have a choice about this: Does anyone really believe that Vader and the Empire would have taken “no” for an answer?

I’m not trying to make the case that Lando was a saint. He was just as quick to make a buck off of the Empire as he was the Rebellion (Why else do you think Cloud City’s neutrality was tolerated?), and certainly, betraying Han saved his own life as well, but the option he was given was to set up an old gambling buddy – not family, not a best friend, no one he sees every day – or hand over the lives of thousands of beings to the most evil force in the galaxy, plus lose his own in the process.

Can you honestly say that you wouldn’t have agreed to the same bargain?


Want more Lando?

Star Wars: The Adventures of Lando Calrissian by L. Neil Smith

For the price of one, you get three Lando Calrissian novels: LANDO CALRISSSIAN AND THE MINDHARP OF SHARU, LANDO CLARISSIAN AND THE FLAMEWIND OF OSEON, and LANDO CALRISSIAN AND THE STARCAVE OF THONBOKA. You know him as a gambler, rogue, and con-artist; Lando’s always on the frontier scanning his sensors for easy credits and looking for action in galaxies near and far.