Study Guide

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Summary

The Star Wars saga's familiar text crawl tells us that Luke Skywalker's on his way to Tatooine to rescue Han Solo from the slimy clutches of Jabba the Hutt. Also, the Galactic Empire is building a new and improved Death Star. 

Their plan? Destroy the Rebel Alliance once and for all.

Darth Vader drops by the Death Star to see how the construction's going. The project is behind schedule and understaffed. Vader tells Moff Jerjerrod that they better get their butts in gear; The Emperor's coming, and he's not nearly as warm and fuzzy as Vader is.

On Tatooine, C-3PO and R2-D2 deliver a message from Luke to Jabba: Luke wants to strike a deal for Han's release, and he's giving the droids to Jabba as a gift to establish good will. Jabba laughs off Luke's attempt at bargaining, but takes C-3PO as his new translator droid and gives R2-D2 a gig serving cocktails on his sail barge.

A bounty hunter shows up at Jabba's palace with Chewbacca, demanding payment, and makes a deal with Jabba. Later that night, the bounty hunter frees Han and reveals herself to be Princess Leia Organa. Before Han and Leia can escape, they're captured by Jabba. Leia's made Jabba's slave; Han's tossed in a cell with Chewbacca.

Here comes Luke. 

He tries one last time to make a deal with Jabba for the release of his pals, but Jabba isn't having it. Luke is thrown to the rancor, a nasty dungeon monster, but ultimately defeats the toothy beast. Jabba's not happy. He sentences Luke, Han, and Chewbacca to death by sarlacc—another nasty monster—at the Pit of Carkoon. Meanwhile, Lando Calrissian hangs out undercover as one of Jabba's goons.

The whole entourage heads for The Pit of Carkoon on Jabba's sail barge. Just as Luke's about to walk the plank, pirate style, into the pit, he starts a mutiny. Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and Lando fight back against Jabba and his henchmen, ultimately blowing up the sail barge and escaping.

The Emperor makes his grand entrance on the Death Star. He senses that Darth Vader is antsy and wants to get back to hunting down his son, Luke. The Emperor tells Vader he needs to chill; Luke will come to him, and it's going to take both of them to turn young Skywalker to the Dark Side.

Luke makes a pit stop in Dagobah on his way to join the Rebels. He visits Yoda, who confirms that Darth Vader is his deadbeat dad. Then Yoda tells Luke that Leia is his twin sister, and Luke has to face Vader in order to become a full-fledged, card-carrying Jedi knight. 

Then Yoda dies.

Sorry.

Mind thoroughly blown, Luke heads outside and is visited by the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke tells Obi-Wan that he thinks there's still some good left in his dad, and Obi-Wan repeats what Yoda said: Luke has to confront Vader.

The Rebels hatch a plan to take down the Death Star: Han will lead a team whose job is to knock out the Death Star's defense shield on Endor. Then Lando will lead the Rebel fleet to destroy the Death Star's main reactor. When Han lands his squad on Endor, Darth Vader senses something fishy is going on, but says he'll take care of it later.

On Endor, Luke and Leia fend off Imperial stormtroopers on speeder bikes. Leia is momentarily MIA after falling off her speeder bike in the forest. Then Luke, Han, Leia and their whole motley crew meet the locals, the Ewoks, a furry race of primitive creatures who look like teddy bears and think C-3PO is a god. The Rebels and the Ewoks join forces.

Luke tells Leia that they're twins, and then he surrenders to Darth Vader. Luke tells Vader that he knows there's still good in his dear old dad, but Vader still delivers Luke to The Emperor. The Emperor tells Luke that it's his destiny to turn to the Dark Side; Luke disagrees. Back on Endor, the Imperial army captures Han and his team. It was a trap. Then the Ewoks show up to save the day, launching a surprise attack on the Empire.

Luke and Darth Vader engage in an epic lightsaber battle that culminates in Luke chopping off Vader's robotic right hand. The Emperor congratulates Luke on finally embracing his hatred. Luke says he'll never, ever join the Dark Side, and The Emperor's super ticked off. Meanwhile, on Endor, the Rebel-Ewok alliance takes down the Imperial forces. Then they blow up the Death Star's defense shield.

The Emperor and Luke go toe to toe. The Emperor repeatedly zaps Luke with Force Lightning like a demented wizard. Darth Vader just watches at first, as Luke writhes in pain, but finally Vader has enough. He picks up The Emperor, who electrocutes him, too, and chucks The Emperor into a nearby reactor shaft. 

The Emperor explodes.

With the Death Star in total chaos, Lando and his team begin their attack. Meanwhile, Luke removes Darth Vader's mask, and Vader tells Luke he was right: He's still a good guy, and he wants Luke to make sure he tells Leia that, too. 

Then Vader dies. Yeah, it's kinda dramatic.

Luke gets on a ship and skedaddles just before Lando's fleet blows up the Death Star. While Luke lays his father to rest, the entire galaxy celebrates. Luke joins the party on Endor with Han, Leia, Chewbacca, the droids, the Ewoks, and assorted Rebels. He steps away for a moment and spots the smiling spirits of Yoda, Obi-Wan, and his dad. 

He smiles back, then returns to the party.

  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • If we're looking at a star field and listening to John Williams as credits scroll away, this must be a Star Wars joint.
    • A quick intro tells us via text that this is Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and brings us up to speed with where we left off in the Star Wars saga. Luke Skywalker's gone back to his home planet, Tatooine, to try to rescue his old pal Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt. Meanwhile, the Galactic Empire's started building a new armored space station that, when it's done, will spell certain doom for Luke and his fellow Rebels. Now that that's sorted, let's jump into the movie.
    • A massive star destroyer slides into view. It's the Empire. The destroyer sends a shuttle inside the nearby Death Star—that would be the new armored space station the credits were just talking about. The Death Star is still under construction.
    • Who's on the shuttle? Darth Vader. Dressed in black from head to toe, he looks like an intergalactic Johnny Cash. Everybody on board the Death Star looks nervous.
    • Vader's here to make sure the construction of the Death Star gets back on schedule. He's basically the scariest contractor ever, and suggests that he has ways to motivate the men to work faster. We're pretty sure he doesn't mean a pizza party.
    • Moff Jerjerrod, the guy in charge, assures Vader that they'll get the Death Star done on time. Vader says The Emperor disagrees, and Jerjerrod can tell him in person.
    • Jerjerrod looks like he might wet himself. "The Emperor's coming here?" he gulps.
    • Jerjerrod tells Vader they'll double their efforts, and Vader says that's a rad idea.
    • The Emperor isn't as forgiving as he is. We sense a lot of overtime in these guys' future. Unpaid.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • C-3PO and R2-D2 walk through the desert on Tatooine. Technically, R2-D2 is rolling, but you know what we mean. The droids are headed toward Jabba the Hutt's palace, and they're scared.
    • They arrive at a monstrous metal door, and C-3PO knocks. He gives it about a second-and-a-half, and then tells R2-D2 nobody's home, so they should leave.
    • A robotic arm emerges from the door and interrogates C-3PO in a foreign language. C-3PO tells R2-D2 that it doesn't sound like they're going to be let in, so they should probably skedaddle.
    • Can you tell that C-3PO really wants to get the heck out of there?
    • The door opens, and the droids head inside. The door closes behind them, and they meet some seriously creepy looking dudes.
    • One, Bib Fortuna, has a giant tentacle coming out of his head, red eyes, and super-sharp teeth.
    • C-3PO says they have a message from Luke Skywalker that they must deliver only to the big "man" himself, Jabba.
    • Cut to Jabba's lair. He looks like a gigantic slug, and a menagerie of equally creepy creatures surrounds him. C-3PO and R2-D2 are ushered inside.
    • R2-D2 plays the message. It's a hologram of Luke. He wants to meet with Jabba and strike a deal for Han Solo's release.
    • Oh, and as a demonstration of good will, he's going to give Jabba a gift: C-3PO and R2-D2 (who are pretty shocked with this bit of info).
    • Jabba, through subtitles, says there will be no deal. He's not giving up his favorite piece of home décor: Han Solo, frozen in carbonite, hanging on his wall like a demented dorm room poster.
    • C-3PO and R2-D2 are led away through Jabba's house of horrors to the droid acquisition room.
    • C-3PO will be Jabba's new translator droid. R2-D2? He'll be sent to Jabba's sail barge.
    • Back in Jabba's lair, a dance party's going down. There's a live band and everything. It's as weird as you'd expect from a house party thrown by a massive, drooling slug.
    • Suddenly, a trap door in the floor opens and one of the dancers is dropped through it. She looks terrified. Party foul.
    • Just then, a petite bounty hunter shows up with Chewbacca—although, to be fair, everybody looks petite next to Chewbacca. The bounty hunter wants to get paid for the wookiee.
    • When Jabba doesn't want to pony up the cash for Chewie, the bounty hunter produces a bomb and threatens to blow the joint up.
    • It works. They agree on a price, and the dance party resumes.
    • As Chewbacca gets led away, howling, a nearby guard lowers his mask. It's Lando Calrissian! If you've seen Empire Strikes Back, you'll know that he's one of the good guys—except for that whole temporarily betraying Han Solo thing.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • Tatooine's twin suns set, and we head back inside Jabba's palace. The petite bounty hunter approaches frozen Han and fiddles with a bunch of instruments on the wall.
    • The carbonite heats up, and Han is released. He falls to the ground, shaking. Being frozen in carbonite will do that to you.
    • The bounty hunter tells Han to relax and brings him up to speed: He's free of the carbonite, he's in Jabba's palace, he has hibernation sickness, and while he may be blind right now, his vision will return. That's everything.
    • Oh, yeah—Han wants to know who his mysterious liberator is. Off comes the bounty hunter's helmet: It's Princess Leia.
    • She's stoked to see Han, and she doesn't even have a nasty case of helmet hair. They get their smooch on.
    • Just as Han and Leia get ready to escape, a curtain behind them opens to reveal Jabba and his posse.
    • Han tries to tell Jabba that they can talk this out, but Jabba's not having it, and Han's led away.
    • Meanwhile, Jabba asks that Leia be brought to him. She tells him that he's going to regret this; they have powerful friends. Jabba says, "I'm sure." Who knew slugs could be smart-alecks?
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • Han's thrown in a cell with Chewbacca. Chewie tells him Luke's become a Jedi knight, but Han doesn't take it seriously.
    • The front gate of Jabba's palace opens and a hooded figure enters, dressed all in black. Yup, it's Luke.
    • Leia's been dressed up as a slave girl, complete with a pretty infamous gold metal bikini, and is chained to Jabba. Gross.
    • Luke enters Jabba's lair and says that he must be allowed to speak. He tells Jabba that Jabba will bring Han and Chewbacca to him.
    • Jabba issues a slimy chuckle, and says Luke's mind powers won't work on him.
    • Luke says they can do this the easy way or the hard way, but no matter what, he's leaving with his friends.
    • Jabba tells Luke he'll enjoy watching him die. Luke uses The Force to snag a nearby gun, but then the trap door in the floor opens again, and Luke falls through to the pit below along with one of Jabba's goons.
    • Meanwhile, Lando makes meaningful eye contact with Leia. Way to go, Lando.
    • Down in the pit, a gate opens, revealing a nasty monster called a rancor. It has tons of teeth and giant claws, and it's coming for Luke.
    • First, it makes a pit-stop to eat Jabba's henchman. Jabba and his crew watch from above with delight. Who needs an awesome home theatre set-up when you have a rancor, right?
    • Luke grabs a bone from the ground. Given that the rancor is about thirty feet tall, it doesn't look like a solid defense. The rancor scoops Luke up in his claw, and Luke wedges the bone in the rancor's mouth, giving Luke just enough time to scurry away under a rock.
    • The rancor chomps down the bone and tries to get at Luke under the rock. He can't, and Luke tries to escape. There's a slight problem: All of the doors and gates are locked or barred.
    • Luke grabs a rock and chucks it at a switch on the wall. It activates the gate and sends it crashing down on the rancor's head. Luke's spared, and Leia breathes a sigh of relief.
    • More of Jabba's henchmen flood in and apprehend Luke. Meanwhile, Jabba demands that Han and Chewbacca be delivered to him. He's going to make them pay.
    • Luke, Han, and Chewbacca are all brought before Jabba. C-3PO says that Jabba's going to have them all killed, and it's going to be painful. Like digested by a monster for a thousand years painful.
    • They're going to be thrown to the sarlacc in the Pit of Carkoon; we hear it's lovely this time of year.
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • Jabba's sail barge flies over the Tatooine desert. Inside, R2-D2 has been turned into a waiter, serving up cocktails to all of the creatures onboard. Luke, Han, and Chewbacca ride on a smaller ship beside the barge.
    • The barge arrives at the Pit of Carkoon, and the sarlacc looks hungry. A plank is extended for Luke, Han, and Chewbacca to walk, pirate style.
    • C-3PO tells his pals they have one last chance to beg Jabba for mercy. Han says nope, and Luke tells Jabba this is his last chance to free them; otherwise, he'll die.
    • Luke shoots R2-D2 a meaningful look, and then drops off the end of the plank. He quickly grabs the plank's edge and springs back up into the air just as R2-D2 shoots a lightsaber out his head. Luke catches it, and starts going to town on his captors like a space-age swashbuckler.
    • Everything's thrown into chaos. Lando gets in on the action, fighting back against Jabba's goons.
    • Han accidentally knocks Boba Fett, another bounty hunter, into the sarlacc pit. Luke gets shot in his robotic right hand.
    • Leia cuts the power in Jabba's inner sanctum, and chokes him out with her slave chain. Frankly, we're amazed it could wrap all the way around his massive, mucous-y neck.
    • Lando starts sliding toward the Pit of Carkoon. The sarlacc gets a tentacle wrapped around his leg. Chewbacca dangles Han off the barge—he can finally see again, phew!—and Han shoots the sarlacc, saving Lando.
    • Leia escapes from the barge and hops onboard the smaller ship, and Luke instructs her to aim its turret back at the barge.
    • She does, and then they blow up the barge. Don't worry; all of the good guys, girls, and droids escape.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • Luke flies his X-wing fighter to meet the rest of the Rebel Alliance, but first he has to make a pit stop on Dagobah.
    • Back on the Death Star, The Emperor arrives in grand, thoroughly evil fashion. He wears a black hooded robe and is super old—120 years old.
    • Vader tells The Emperor that the Death Star will be completed on time, and The Emperor's stoked. He also senses that Vader's anxious to get back to looking for Luke.
    • The Emperor tells Vader that he needs to be patient; Luke's going to come to them.
    • Also, Luke's gotten really strong, so strong, in fact that it's going to take both of their evil butts to turn the kid to the Dark Side. Then the Emperor cackles like a witch.
    • Cut to Luke at Yoda's swamp-side crib on Dagobah. Yoda's not looking so hot. He's old and sick, and he tells Luke to see how good he looks when he's 900 years old.
    • Luke tells Yoda he can't die, and Yoda says he totally can. He's strong with The Force, but not that strong. Nobody lives forever. That's the way things work.
    • Luke tucks Yoda into bed, stopping short of reading him a bedtime story. Then he says he still needs Yoda's help to complete his Jedi training.
    • Yoda tells Luke he doesn't need anymore training, and Luke assumes that means he's a full-fledged Jedi. Yoda corrects him: He's almost a Jedi, but he still has one little matter to take care of: Darth Vader. Then, and only then, will he be a Jedi.
    • Luke thinks on that for a hot second, and then asks Yoda if Darth Vader is really his dad. Yoda confirms that he is, and says it's a bummer that Luke rushed to face him already, when his training wasn't complete.
    • That's kind of confusing, given that Yoda just said Luke can't fully complete his training until he faces Darth Vader, but we'll allow it. (Dude is 900 years old, after all.)
    • Yoda reminds Luke that a Jedi's strength comes from The Force, and that anger and aggression are all on the Dark Side, and that if you go down that road, it's really, really, really hard to come back.
    • Then Yoda drops another truth bomb. When Yoda dies, Luke will be the last Jedi. The force is wicked strong in his family. Oh, and also? There's another Skywalker. Say what now??
    • Yoda passes out, and Luke's mind is blown. Then Yoda vanishes.
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • Back outside, by his X-wing, Luke tells R2-D2 that he can't do it alone. Suddenly, the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi comes strolling through the woods. Perfect timing!
    • Obi-Wan backs up what Yoda said: Darth Vader is Luke's dad. He used to be a good guy, but the Dark Side seduced him, and when that happened, his old self (Anakin Skywalker) was destroyed.
    • Luke tells Obi-Wan that he thinks there's still good in his dad; Obi-Wan says he's more machine than man at this point. Also, as Anakin's personal Jedi trainer, Obi-Wan kind of feels like a failure.
    • Regardless, Obi-Wan says Luke still has to face Darth Vader. Luke says he can't kill his own father.
    • Then Obi-Wan drops another truth bomb: Luke has a twin sister. They were kept apart to keep them safe. The Emperor would see them as a massive threat since they were Anakin's kids.
    • Luke puts two and two together and figures out Leia is his sister. We can practically see the light bulb go off over his head.
    • Obi-Wan gives Luke one last piece of advice, telling him to bury his feelings. He's an insightful guy, but those feelings could be used against him by The Emperor, because The Emperor is one seriously evil dude.
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • The Rebel Alliance is gathered. They've got the deets on the Death Star, and it's time to go to battle.
    • The Death Star is orbiting the forest moon of Endor, and it's protected by a shield down on Endor itself. The Rebels are going to take down the shield, and then attack the Death Star's main reactor. Lando, who's been made a general, is going to lead the fighter attack.
    • Wait, though—there's more. The Rebels have stolen an Imperial shuttle, and a secret confirmation code, and they're going to fly the shuttle onto Endor, pretending it's a cargo ship.
    • Then they'll deactivate the shield. Han's going to lead that team, and Chewbacca, Leia, and Luke—who shows up just in time—are all in.
    • Han tells Lando to take his beloved ship, the Millennium Falcon. Lando promises to return her without a scratch, but Han's still worried about his girl.
    • Back on the Imperial command ship, The Emperor tells Darth Vader to send the fleet to the far side of Endor to wait. Darth Vader asks him if they should be worried about the rumor that the Rebel fleet is closing ranks, getting ready to do something big. The Emperor's trying not to hear that. He says that soon the Rebellion will be crushed, including Luke. Well, okay then.
    • Cut to Han and his crew in the stolen shuttle, Tydirium. It's time for step one of their plan: giving the stolen clearance code to the Imperial command ship in order to get clearance to land on Endor.
    • Luke senses that Darth Vader's on the ship and starts wigging out, saying that he shouldn't have come because he's endangering the mission.
    • Han gives the Imperial command ship the code. The code checks out, but Vader smells something fishy. He tells his underlings to go ahead and let them land, but he'll deal with them himself. Guess we'll find out what that means later.
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • On the heavily forested ground of Endor, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, the droids, and the rest of their entourage sneak through the woods. They spot some Imperial stormtroopers and decide to split up. They need to take those guys out so they don't tell the whole army that they're there.
    • Han and Chewbacca head in to disarm the stormtroopers all stealth-like, but it doesn't go smoothly. Luke and Leia follow. When two of the stormtroopers race off on speeder bikes, Luke and Leia hop on another bike and follow them.
    • Leia steers, and Luke is a total backseat driver. They run one of the stormtroopers into a tree, knocking him off his bike, and Luke takes it. Then two more stormtroopers pull out like cops who just caught somebody doing 85 m.p.h. on their radar.
    • Luke and Leia take down all of the stormtroopers, but Leia is knocked off her bike in the process and lands on the forest floor.
    • Luke catches up with Han and Chewbacca's crew, but is bummed to find that Leia hasn't come back yet. They head out to search for her.
    • Meanwhile, an Ewok named Wicket stumbles across Leia and pokes her with a spear, waking her up.
    • Brain Snack: The warrior teddy bears, a.k.a., the Ewoks, are never actually referred to by name in the movie.
    • Wicket is suspicious of Leia. She gives him some food and they become buds. Then somebody starts shooting at them.
    • A pair of stormtroopers descends on Leia, but, with Wicket's help, she takes them out. They head off into the woods, Wicket leading the way.
    • Back on the Death Star, Darth Vader checks in with The Emperor. Vader tells him that a small rebel force has gotten past the shield and landed on Endor. Also, Luke's with them.
    • The Emperor tells Darth Vader to chill. Luke will come to him, and his compassion for Darth Vader will be his undoing.
    • This Emperor dude sure seems to think he has his gnarled old finger on the pulse when it comes to what's happening in the galaxy.
  • Scene 10

    Scene 10

    • Luke and Han continue searching the woods for Leia. They find the wrecked speeder bikes and Leia's helmet. Then Chewbacca starts wailing. He's spotted a dead animal on a spike.
    • Turns out it's a trap set by the Ewoks, and Chewbacca, Luke, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are promptly scooped up in a net.
    • It also turns out that the Ewoks think C-3PO is a god. They all start chanting and bowing.
    • Han tells C-3PO to use his knew status as a deity to get them out of this mess, but C-3PO says it wouldn't be proper. What a straight arrow.
    • The Ewoks take C-3PO and their new prisoners back to their camp, which looks like a giant system of tree houses, and set C-3PO up in a throne.
    • Their plan? Throw a lavish banquet in C-3PO's honor. The main course? Han.
    • Leia emerges from a nearby hut and tries to explain to the Ewoks that Dinner—er, we mean Han—and the rest of the gang, are her friends. It doesn't work.
    • Luke tells C-3PO to tell the Ewoks to let them go or else he, being a god, will use his magic.
    • The Ewoks don't buy it, so Luke uses The Force to levitate C-3PO's throne. Now we're talking! The Ewoks let everybody go.
    • Later that night, C-3PO holds court, telling all of the Ewoks their story. The Ewoks are enthralled, and an alliance is formed between Luke's crew and their furry new friends.
    • While everybody celebrates, Luke and Leia have a heart-to-heart. Luke tells her that he knows Darth Vader is on Endor, and, if he can feel Vader's presence, Vader can feel his. He's worried about putting everybody in danger just by being there.
    • Second—and here's the big one—Luke tells Leia that she's his sister. Leia says that deep down she already knew. Why didn't she speak up then?
    • Leia tells Luke he should run away. Luke says he can't. He knows there's still a good guy buried deep inside Darth Vader, and he has to try to coax him out.
    • Han wanders over to see what's up. At first, Leia says she just wants to be alone. This ticks Han off, and he gets jealous of Luke.
    • Then Leia asks him to hold her, and he does. It's all very dramatic. We guess they don't call the Star Wars saga a space opera for nothing.
  • Scene 11

    Scene 11

    • Luke surrenders to Darth Vader. That was quick.
    • Luke tells Vader that he hasn't given up on him, and that he knows Anakin is still in there somewhere. Vader disagrees.
    • Luke says that's why Vader didn't kill him before when he had the chance, and that's why Vader won't turn him over to The Emperor now.
    • Luke persists, telling his dad to search his true feelings. Darth Vader says it's too late for him, and turns Luke over to a pack of stormtroopers so they can take him to The Emperor.
    • Whoops. Guess Luke misjudged that whole "Dad won't send me to The Emperor" thing.
    • Back on Endor, Han, Leia, and their gang get ready to infiltrate the control bunker for the Death Star's defensive shield. The Ewoks help plot their course.
    • Meanwhile, Lando prepares to attack the Death Star. He tells his co-pilot, Nien Nunb, not to worry; Han will have the shield down in time.
    • Cut back to Endor. The command bunker is guarded by stormtroopers. One of the Ewoks steals a nearby speeder bike, and three of the stormtroopers chase him, leaving a lone guard for Han and his crew to dispose of. They head inside the bunker.
    • Over on the Death Star, Darth Vader presents Luke to The Emperor. The Emperor starts talking. A lot. Because he's a villain.
    • First, he tells Luke that one day Luke will call him Master. Luke disagrees; he's not like his dad. The Emperor says he has a lot to learn.
    • Next, The Emperor tells Luke his faith in his friends is his weakness. This is after Luke tells The Emperor that his weakness is his overconfidence. Darth Vader hands Luke's lightsaber over to The Emperor.
    • Finally, The Emperor tells Luke that his friends are walking into a trap. He knew they were coming, and the deflector shield will be working a-okay.
    • Cut to Han and his gang infiltrating the shield's control bunker. It goes pretty well until the Imperial backup squad arrives. Han's busted.
    • Lando moves his fighters into attack position. They can't get a read on whether the shield is up or down because it's being jammed. "It's a trap!" shouts Admiral Ackbar.
    • The Imperial fleet attacks Lando's fleet. The Emperor makes Luke watch from inside the Death Star.
    • When he spots Luke eyeing his lightsaber, The Emperor tells Luke to take it, give in to his anger, and smack him up. Luke refuses. The Emperor tells Luke it's his destiny to turn into a ball of hate like his dad; he can't stop it.
    • Han and his posse are led out of the shield command bunker and find a massive collection of Imperial baddies waiting for them: so much for that mission.
    • Wait, though—here come the Ewoks. Aided by His Phony Holiness, C-3PO, they launch a surprise attack.
    • They may use Stone Age weaponry, but their offensive is on point. Sometimes literally. They really like arrows and spears.
  • Scene 12

    Scene 12

    • Lando and his fighters continue to wage war against the Imperial fleet, but some of the Imperial destroyers are just hanging out and not really doing anything. Lando wonders why.
    • Back in the Imperial command center, it's explained that that's The Emperor's plan. He doesn't want Lando and his squad to escape because he has something special planned for them.
    • Yeesh. That doesn't sound good at all.
    • Turns out that the surprise is that the Death Star is operational. It fires on the Rebels.
    • On Endor, the Ewoks continue their assault while R2-D2 helps Han and Leia get back into the shield bunker.
    • R2-D2 gets electrocuted trying to crack the bunker's lock, but he's fine.
    • Lando turns the Rebel fleet's attention toward the Imperial destroyers, figuring it's easier than attacking the Death Star, and at least they can knock out, well, somebody. Plus, it'll buy Han some time at the bunker.
    • Back to the Death Star. The Emperor continues taunting Luke, telling him all of his friends are going to die, and trying to goad him into getting angry. He once again tells Luke to take his lightsaber, and go full Dark Side on him.
    • Luke snags his lightsaber and swipes at The Emperor only to have his attack countered, and not by The Emperor. Could it be… Daddy Darth?
    • Everybody's still fighting on Endor, and it looks like the Ewoks are winning. They're small, but they're mighty.
    • As Han continues trying to pick the bunker's lock, Leia gets shot in the shoulder. Then they're seized upon by stormtroopers.
    • The stormtroopers don't see that Leia's packing heat, and she takes them out. An AT-AT ambles up, but it turns out it's Chewbacca inside, not another Imperial goon. Han tells Chewie he has an idea.
    • On the Death Star, Luke and Darth Vader battle with their lightsabers. The Emperor stays in his chair and acts like the worst cheerleader ever, encouraging Luke to use his aggression and let his hate flow through him.
    • Luke powers down his lightsaber, and Darth Vader tells Luke that Obi-Wan has taught him well. We're pretty sure that's a dig at Obi-Wan.
    • Luke tells Vader that he won't fight him. Vader tells Luke it was pretty dumb to lower his defenses. Then he starts attacking again. This father-son duo has serious issues.
    • Luke counters Darth Vader's attack, and they continue fighting. Luke tells his dad that he's all talk; he can feel the good in him, and he can sense that he's conflicted.
    • Vader says there is no conflict. Also, he thinks Luke totally underestimates the power of the Dark Side.
    • Darth Vader swings at the bridge Luke is standing on, bringing it, and his son, crashing down. The Emperor gets on his feet and starts chuckling.
  • Scene 13

    Scene 13

    • Lando and the Rebel fleet keep fighting—and hoping that Han comes through and deactivates the shield.
    • Inside the shield bunker, the Imperial dudes get a video message from a stormtrooper outside who reports that the Rebels on Endor have been successfully squashed, and now they need backup. Backup is sent.
    • Cut to outside the bunker. The giddy Imperial backup troops come bounding out, practically skipping. Suddenly, they're surrounded on all sides by Ewoks. Han looks at them, shrugs, and smiles.
    • Inside the bunker, Han starts setting up explosive charges.
    • Darth Vader looks for Luke on the Death Star. He's hiding.
    • Once again, Darth Vader tells Luke to give in to the Dark Side. He says it's the only way he can save his friends, and that he knows Luke's thinking about it.
    • Then he reads Luke's mind, and deduces that Luke has a twin sister. He says that Obi-Wan was smart to hide her from him. If he can't turn Luke, he'll turn Leia. Also, he notes that Obi-Wan's basically a total failure now. Ouch.
    • When Darth Vader threatens to turn Leia to the Dark Side, Luke screams, "Never!" and attacks Vader. It just got real, y'all.
    • Luke and Darth Vader continue battling. Luke herds Vader to a bridge, where he gets the upper hand. Literally. Luke hacks off Darth Vader's right hand.
    • The Emperor starts laughing and congratulates Luke. He says his hate has made him powerful. Now, he should finish off Darth Vader and take his dad's place at the Emperor's side.
    • Luke looks at his robotic right hand, and then down at where his father's robotic right hand used to be. You know, before he chopped it off. Is he really turning into his dad and embracing the Dark Side like a warm and totally evil cup of tea?
    • Nope, Luke turns off his lightsaber and informs The Emperor that he'll never turn to the Dark Side. Never ever. He's a Jedi. Just like his dad.
    • Predictably, this really cheeses The Emperor off.
  • Scene 14

    Scene 14

    • Han comes dashing out of the shield bunker. Then it promptly blows up, and so does the Death Star's defense shield.
    • Admiral Ackbar tells Lando that the shield is down, and Lando tells his fleet to make tracks toward the Death Star's main reactor. Also, he totally knew his friends would come through.
    • On the Death Star, The Emperor tells Luke that if he won't come to the Dark Side, he'll be destroyed. While he delivers a classic villain speech—I'm smarter than you, I'm stronger than you, you must pay, etc.—he repeatedly zaps Luke with Force Lightning from his fingers like an evil wizard.
    • Darth Vader stands behind The Emperor and watches it all unfold. Luke, writhing in pain on the floor, begs his pops to help while The Emperor continues shocking him.
    • All of that Force Lightning was just the appetizer. The Emperor tells Luke that now he's going to die. Then he smirks.
    • The Emperor resumes shocking Luke, and we get a close-up of Darth Vader. He continues watching his son thrash in agony, and then he says nope.
    • Darth Vader picks up The Emperor and carries him toward a nearby reactor shaft; all the while, The Emperor's Force Lightning shocks Vader. We see his skeleton and everything. Undeterred, Vader tosses The Emperor down the shaft.
    • The Emperor falls to his death. Just for good measure, he explodes.
    • Luke cradles Darth Vader in his arms. Papa Skywalker is in bad shape and wheezing even more than usual.
    • Outside, Lando and his Rebel fighters race toward the Death Star's reactor. Admiral Ackbar, meanwhile, issues an attack on an Imperial destroyer in an effort to buy Lando and his guys more time.
    • The destroyer comes down like a ton of intergalactic bricks.
    • Inside the Death Star, it's total chaos. Luke struggles to move Darth Vader and stops. His dad asks him to help take his mask off. "But you'll die," Luke says. Much like a honey badger, Vader don't care. He's going to die anyway, and he wants to look at Luke with his own eyes.
    • Luke takes off Darth Vader's mask and, well, it ain't pretty. Vader—or Anakin, we suppose, now that he's no longer evil—kind of looks like Humpty Dumpty after he falls off the wall. His head is wicked pale, and egg-shaped.
    • Anakin tells Luke he needs to run—in his own, less James Earl Jones-y, no-longer-mask-enhanced voice. Luke wants to stay and save him.
    • Anakin assures his teary-eyed son that it's okay; he's already saved him. Also, he says that Luke was right about him, and he should tell Leia that he was right about him, too.
    • Then Darth Vader dies.
  • Scene 15

    Scene 15

    • The Rebels continue their assault on the Death Star's reactor. Things are going well now that there's no shield in the way.
    • Meanwhile, we see Luke behind the controls of a ship.
    • The reactor blows, and Lando cheers. Then the Death Star blows up. It blows up real good.
    • The Ewoks watch the Death Star explode from Endor. They cheer, too. Ditto for C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca.
    • Han's patching up Leia's gunshot wound as the Death Star goes bye-bye. Han tries to reassure Leia, telling her that he's sure Luke wasn't on it when it blew. Leia says she knows; she can feel it.
    • Han asks Leia if she loves Luke, and when she says she does, he misunderstands. He'll step aside when Luke comes back. Womp womp.
    • Leia clues Han in: She's not in love with Luke. He's her brother. Han's super-duper relieved, and they kiss.
  • Scene 16

    Scene 16

    • It's nighttime. Luke watches as Darth Vader's corpse burns on a funeral pyre.
    • Overhead, above the forest, fireworks go off. The scene changes several times to show fireworks and celebrations in cities all over the galaxy. It's like New Year's Eve, but instead of the giant ball dropping in Times Square, a giant ball of evil blew up in space.
    • Then we head back to the Endor forest. The Ewoks are holding a massive dance party. Everybody's there: Leia, Han, Chewbacca, Lando, the droids, Rebel fighters—everybody. Some are betters dancers than others.
    • Luke shows up. Hugs and handshakes all around.
    • Luke wanders away and leans on a tree. Suddenly, the spirits of Obi-Wan and Yoda show up. Then the spirit of Anakin joins them—except it's young Anakin, not old, Humpty Dumpty Anakin.
    • Brain Snack! In the original version of the film, the ghost of old(er) Anakin joins Yoda and Obi-Wan. Young Anakin was subbed in for later editions, after Star Wars Episodes I-III were released.
    • While we're at it, the Ewoks' party music was changed, too. These are just two of many, many infamous changes made to Return of the Jedi.
    • Luke smiles at his dad and his mentors. Leia comes over and gives him a hug, and then they rejoin their friends at the party.