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In Return of the Jedi, Luke eventually rescues Han from Jabba's clutches. Leia also attempts to save him but is captured.

The sequence of events is:

  • Luke sends the droids in and gifts them to Jabba in exchange for Han. Jabba refuses but keeps the droids anyway. R2 is presumably carrying Luke's light sabre at this point.

  • Leia and Lando sneak in. Leia frees Han but is immediately captured.

  • Luke enters using a Jedi mind trick. He tries to use the same thing on Jabba but it doesn't work. Plan B is apparently to shoot Jabba in the face and then somehow escape.

  • Luke survives the Rankor and is taken out on the barge to be executed, where he signals his friends and escapes with them. It's not clear if this is just an indication that he is about to make a move or a signal to enact some pre-determined plan.

On the face of it this doesn't seem like a plan. Surely endangering the droids and allowing Leia to be enslaved couldn't have been by design.

What was Luke's plan? Were Leia and Lando part of it?

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'You can either profit by this, or be destroyed'.

Luke's original message was to seek an audience with Jabba to erm, 'bargin' for Han's life. One would assume this would have probably involved reimbursing Jabba financially for the money he lost following the loss of cargo, plus what ever bounty was paid to Bobo Fett (and, following gifting them as a 'token of goodwill', I am sure the arrangement would have included replacements for the droids as they were the least of the issues). This is plausible due to the notion presented in Ep IV where, following Han's huge reward, money does not appear to be too much of an issue with the Rebellion.

After Jabba rejects this very reasonable offer outright, Leia then arrives and attempts to quickly break Han out of the palace (Lando is already embedded within his guard and is keeping track of what is happening) and when this fails, Luke, with possibly very little surprise on his part, goes to plan C which involves using force (pun intended) to break out all of the hero's, inevitably destroying Jabba and most of his entourage in the process (as Luke promised he would should Jabba refuse to treat with him).

If Jabba had been a more logical individual as opposed to being the arrogant warlord Luke had guessed that he probably was, he may have accepted payment and released Han at the outset (and even if the Droids were non - returnable, I am sure Lando could have got them out once things had calmed down) but that would not have made for an interesting first act would it?

'You can either profit by this, or be destroyed'. One would assume that Luke had the resources to cover the first offer but was more than prepared to take the second.

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    I don't think Luke would have given away the droids in exchange for Han. He seemed attached to them. Also, he gave R2 his brand new lightsabre so presumably intended to get it back at some point. Quite why he didn't just carry it in himself, like he carried the blaster in, is another mystery. – user Aug 6 '18 at 8:38
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    Also Luke's "shoot Jabba in the face" plan seems quite weak too, like he panicked rather than planned it. He was surrounded by minions and bounty hunters, his friends were locked up or chained to Jabba... And why didn't he signal to R2 to give him his lightsabre at that point? Perhaps his plan was for it to fail and lure everyone out on to the barge where he could more easily escape, but then we have to suppose that Leia being sexually assaulted was not part of that scheme. – user Aug 6 '18 at 8:41
  • As I tried to include within the answer - I do not think that Luke would have ever given up ob the Droids - whether he got them back straight away or not he knows they would have been resilient enough to have hung on until he had got everything else sorted. Ultimately though I am just looking for an in - universe explanation to what was ultimately a plot contrivance - Lucas himself openly admits on the commentary that the scene was ultimately front end padding to the real story (The Battle of Endor). – Stephen Francis Aug 6 '18 at 9:04
  • Perhaps Leia and Luke were acting independently for some reason. Leia's capture screwed up Luke's initial plan. But that still leaves many questions... – user Aug 6 '18 at 9:11

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