Monday, May 14, 2012

The Lesser-Known EU: The Dark Empire Radio Drama Review

The following was submitted by Claire1976 as a guest review of the Dark Empire radio drama.  Thanks so much for doing this for us!

A lot of you are probably somewhat familiar with the Dark Empire comics series, but
maybe not many of you are familiar with this full cast, all singing, all dancing (not literally)
audio drama that I think outshines the comic, with it's loathsome artwork, by lightyears.
Yes, it really is rather good, and for Han and Leia fans it's worth checking out.
I'll comment on the voices and the production at the end, but first lets cover the story and
pick out some stand out quotes. Bear with me, this could take a while, I'm going to give
you a fairly detailed plot summary.

The action begins six years after Endor, so it's the year following the Thrawn Trilogy. Since
the demise of Thrawn Coruscant has become a battle ground after the Imperial remnant
took control of the planet. The New Republic (which is annoyingly referred to throughout
this as still being the Rebel Alliance) has relocated to Pinnacle Base, on some planet that
no one has ever heard of.

We begin with Han, Leia, Chewie and Threepio on board the Millennium Falcon
approaching the remains of the Imperial City. They are hoping to find Luke, Artoo and
Lando who are in trouble after crash landing a captured Star Destroyer. Meanwhile Luke
and Artoo have discovered a secret passage underneath the old Imperial Palace, which
leads to what was once the Emperor's home. Luke's Jedi senses are a tingling as he feels
something dark and dangerous. Artoo then presents him with a hologram recording of
Palpatine himself musing over how he has been trying to create a Jedi Holocron. How this
recording got inside Artoo is a bit of a mystery. Anyway, Luke is interested, and wants to
hear more.

Meanwhile back on the Falcon they hit a magnetic storm, and we get this exchange from
Han and Leia.

LEIA - Han, I love you, but this ship is still a pile of junk.

HAN - Yeah, well this pile of junk just saved us from becoming one more piece of
space garbage.

LEIA - Maybe, but I'm getting pretty shaken up by this magnetic storm.

HAN - That's because you prefer my kinda magnetism.

Yes Han, no doubt she does! Han then comments on the fighting that's going on below.

HAN - All this infighting amongst the Imperials has given the Alliance chance to get
organised, not to mention giving us time for a honeymoon.

Excuse me? You mean, they've either only just had their honeymoon, or they haven't even
had it yet? Give me a break. Oh and its good to hear the rebels are still totally
disorganised, don't you think?

As the Falcon nears the Imperial City they take out an Imperial Walker, with Leia manning
the turret gun, and Han in the belly gun. Han points out that together he and Leia are "the
greatest husband and wife gunner team in the galaxy". Despite Leia musing that it's only
the second time she's done this, she uses the Force to help get a perfect shot. It should
be noted that Leia is very much embroiled in all manner of Jedi crapness in this story.

She's really into it, in contrast to how she's portrayed in other stories in this era, where she
doesn't really give it too much thought. Personally, I am not a huge fan of Leia as a Jedi, I
think that's Luke's domain and just don't see her expressing any interest to follow that
path, especially with the huge issues she's had accepting her Father. No, leave the Jedi
stuff to Luke.

The Falcon lands amidst a ground battle lead by Lando and Wedge. Lando is excited to
see them and says this.

LANDO - What took you so long? Another honeymoon?

Um, ok, so they've actually had more than one honeymoon? Yeah, I can see that. Why
the hell not, eh? So, turns out Lando hasn't seen Luke for six days! He also says lots of
junk traders have arrived on the planet and are taking their pickings of all the wreckage.

Then we have a scene of two of them spotting the Falcon, thinking its another pile of junk
and heading over to start ripping it up. Which I suppose is actually pretty funny. Han soon
puts a stop to it! Soon after who should show up but Luke, who takes on a bunch of battle
droids and deflects blaster fire back at an Imperial Walker with his lightsaber. Lando is
amazed that Luke can take on something so big, and we then get Luke explaining that
"Size matters not" and all that stuff. Lando then tells Han and Leia that from what he's
seen of Luke lately he's grown exceptionally powerful in the Force. Even as strong as
Vader. Oohhh. Despite Han and Leia's best efforts to get him to safety, Luke wants to stay
put, because "a vast evil is approaching" and "it knows I'm here" and blah blah blah.."it is
my destiny". Whatever! Luke explains how he has become more powerful since Endor,
but he still longs to learn exactly why his father chose the dark side. He wants to find out
what it was that made him turn.

The Falcon returns to base where Mon Mothma calls an emergency meeting. Leia
explains that Luke has been imprisoned by the dark side, and "he let it happen". Threepio
is worried they will make "hydro spanners" out of Artoo. Mon Mothma says that strange
energy storms are occurring all over the galaxy, and fleets of starships are gathering. Of
course the Rebels didn't notice because of all the waring factions that keep distracting
everything. Mon Mothma fears a dark side genius is at work, creating new technologies.

We then have a holo from Ackbar's home world, Mon Calamari which shows huge ships
called World Devastators, which are supposedly more powerful than the Death Star. These
huge ships are gathering near various planets who are sympathetic to the Rebellion. Mon
Mothma orders Rogue Squadron to help evacuate and defend Mon Calamari, and asks
Lando to pilot a captured Star Destroyer to help out. Lando has serious doubts about this,
and asks Han if he would like to accompany him since he's "the best pilot in the galaxy".
Han says he can't as he has his hands full "wet nursing" trainee pilots. So is this what Han
does with most of his time? Training new pilots is actually something I can see Han doing
after Return of the Jedi, and something I think he would enjoy.

Ok, now we have a nice little scene with just Han and Leia. Leia is in their quarters
watching a holo of Jacen and Jaina. She says she misses them so much. I'm sure she
does. Han then comes into the room and makes it sound as though Leia watches these
holos a lot. That's not a bad thing though is it? Leia says they are "so far away". But Han
says "it's better this way". Really Han, is it? Would he honestly think its a good idea to
have his infant children thousands of lightyears away? Somehow I imagine Han not to be
quite so accepting of this. Also worth a mention is that he says they are on "New Alderaan"
which is home to the Alderaanian refugees, but doesn't the Jedi Academy series say the
children were kept on a planet called Anoth? Anyway, we then have this little exchange.

LEIA - Look, Han, she has your hair, and he has your eyes.

HAN - Yeah, and if they're lucky they'll have your smarts. With my looks and your
brains they'll be the stars of the galaxy.

Followed by this.

Han chuckles to himself.

LEIA - What?

HAN - Oh me, this life. I got a beautiful wife, a nice soft bed, pictures on the walls.
Yeah, just what I always wanted.

I like how he has to mention the bed! Leia is surprised that Han turned down the chance
to accompany Lando. Han says he did so because he thought him and Leia needed some
time together. Too right, Han. He says it seems like "we've only spent five minutes alone
since we got married". So once again, we get the obligatory reference to them never
being together. You know, I really get tired of this. Of course Leia then ruins everything by
starting on about Luke. Han isn't amused. He's hoping to get lucky, and she's worried
about her brother. So then we have this

HAN - For once in my life I'm trying to be sensitive and romantic and see where it
gets me? Luke can take care of himself. We need some time to ourselves, for you
and me. Besides, you have enough to worry about right here.

Sounds as though at this point they have moved a lot closer to each other.
Leia gives an amused little laugh.

LEIA (playfully) - Do I?

HAN - Uh-huh. After all, a beautiful Princess alone with a notorious scoundrel. Who
knows what could happen.

I think we all know exactly what could happen, don't we? This scene could be implying
something very important, as we will see in a bit. And that's probably a good missing
moment too!

Cut to Luke and Artoo who have mysteriously found themselves on an Imperial Dungeon
Ship, approaching a planet that Luke describes as feeling "dark". It's the planet Byss.
Some guards escort them to a huge palace where they encounter.....The Emperor himself.
Thought he was dead, huh? Luke is pretty surprised to see him too. The Emperor explains
that his demise aboard the second Death Star was not the first time he had died. He then
talks about how he is made of energy and he moves from body to body. But we are talking
about the same body, because he's using clones of himself to extend his life. Then
Palpatine says that since Vader is dead then it's only right that Luke, his son, take his
place. Luke draws his lightsaber and lashes out, but misses his target by mere inches,
which Palpatine thinks he did purposely. He promises to teach Luke all the secrets of the
darkside, and Luke is fighting with evil voices in his head telling him to do it. He ultimately
decides that he maybe able to conquer the darkside from within, by learning it's most
intimate secrets. He then agrees to take his Father's place at the Emperor's side.

Back at Alliance headquarters, Han is with a group of trainees trying out a new E Wing
fighter. He's busy telling them about the new ships when Threepio interrupts, informing him
that Leia has locked herself in her chamber, refusing to speak to anyone. Naturally then,
those trainees can wait, it's Han to the rescue!! He finds Leia alone, sat in the dark, and
you've guessed it, she's in a tizz about Luke. She knows something bad has happened to
him. At this point we get the first of many occasions when Leia talks down to Han, because
he's not a Jedi and doesn't get all the Jedi crap. She calls him "a fool" and says she
shouldn't have listened to him, because he just doesn't understand how important it is to
save Luke. The lives of their children and the whole galaxy depend on it. Leia worries
about her brother way too much don't you think? If he's such a great Jedi then he can
surely take care of himself. I also dislike Leia's sudden superior attitude because she's
now some bad ass Jedi. Han reluctantly agrees to help her find Luke. Poor guy, wouldn't it
be nice to just have a normal life once in a while?

After more space battles with Lando and Wedge we cut to a very groggy sounding Leia
being woken up by a call from Threepio. She's clearly not been feeling too well and
Threepio is rather concerned and says he's going to drop by. Leia thinks out loud and says
she must pull herself together for Luke's sake. Oh, don't worry about Han then! She then
also reveals to us that she's pregnant! With Anakin, of course. See, I told you that scene
earlier may have been significant. We also get a little running joke here, Threepio has
clearly worked out that she's pregnant, and he keeps trying to blurt it out, but Leia talks
over him, or changes the subject each time. I kind of liked that. Leia then receives a vision
of what she thinks is Vader, but yup, you've guessed it, it's Luke, being all dark and
menacing. He warns her not to come looking for him, and she eventually passes out just
as Threepio arrives. She wakes up in the infirmary surrounded by Han, Threepio and Mon
Mothma. Again, Threepio is eager to tell everyone about the pregnancy.

THREEPIO - (sounding excited) I thought you had short circuited, but medical
scans indicate that you are simply...

LEIA - Fine, Threepio. I said I was fine.

Leia tells Han they have to find Luke. She doesn't know where he is, but the Force will
guide her to him. Han is not convinced, and doesn't think Leia is in any fit state to be flying
round the galaxy looking for him. It should be noted at this point Han doesn't know about
the pregnancy. Then Mon Mothma sticks her beak in and says she agrees with Leia, it's
vital that they find Luke, because the rebuilding of the Jedi Order will significantly help their
cause. Interfering old hag.

The rescue mission begins with Han, Leia and Threepio on board the Falcon. Han is
plotting a course for Nal Hutta, Jabba's home world. Leia asks why they are going there
since her Force sense tells her that Luke is somewhere in the Core Worlds. Han explains
that the Core has been closed off to outsiders for decades, and they need a ship that
would be authorised to land there, and he thinks they'll find one on Nal Hutta. Anyway, we
then have a scene where Han decides they should have some lunch, and interestingly we
learn that the Falcon appears to have some kind of huge, super vending machine that
throws out entire cooked meals. On the menu today we have Spinefish, some kind of
blood worm and a stew. Nice! Han suggests Leia have the Spinefish, as it's fresh. Han
asks for a "super salad", whatever that maybe. Although I don't picture Han as a salad
kinda guy! They talk about Nal Hutta being the home of the Hutts and centre of the
galaxy's smuggling operations. Han says they are headed for Nar Shaddaa, one of the
planet's moons. Leia expresses concerns over the fact that there could be bounty hunters
in the area, and that they would surely be on the most wanted list after what she did to
Jabba. They are soon interrupted by a comm from Han's old pal, Mako, who spotted their
approach and confirms Leia's fears that every bounty hunter in the galaxy is looking for
them. As they descend towards the planet they are greeted by three bounty hunter ships.

Han isn't too worried and decides to outrun them. Upon landing, by way of a secret
smugglers entrance, Han meets up with old friend Shug Ninx and former girlfriend, Salla
Zend. Salla, you will recall featured in Crispin's Bria Tharen trilogy, um sorry, Han Solo
Trilogy. She sounds rather odd here, almost like she has a kind of robotic voice, yet she's
supposedly human. She also makes noises resembling a cat purring at various times. It's
decided that Salla's ship the Starlight Intruder will be used to get them inside the deep
core but there's still some work to be done on it. Salla's introduction to Leia provides one
of my fav exchanges.

SALLA - By the way, who's the lady?

HAN - Oh, this is uh...

LEIA - Leia. My name is Leia. Han and I are married.

SALLA - My condolences dear. Han's great fun, but he's a scoundrel, and he'll break
your heart.

HAN - She LIKES scoundrels, Salla. Now come on, how long until the Starlight
Intruder is ship shape. We're in a big hurry.

SALLA - Not long. If Ninx will let me salvage a hyperdrive off one of these other

NINX - Sure, why not. But we still need top of the line power couplings to get the
Intruder up to maximum specs for a deep core run. Now Han, as I recall...

HAN - Yeah yeah, I still got stuff stashed in my old digs.

SALLA - Of course the equipment stays on the ship. Even if you don't.

LEIA - What?? That's robbery!!

HAN - It's alright, Leia. This is how we do business around here.

SALLA - Besides its a chance I just can't pass up. Han Solo's got the best
equipment in the galaxy.

LEIA - (obviously riled up) Hey, just a minute, you!

HAN - Ok you got a deal, Salla. Chewie, help them prep the ships. We're going after
some power couplings.

SALLA - (purring seductively) Mmm, coupling, now there's a thought. Hurry back.

I love that. It's better if you hear it, but the innuendo there is pretty obvious. I like how Leia
really gets riled at mention of Han's "equipment". I don't blame her, she doesn't want to
share the goodies with anyone else.

Han and Leia take a walk through the streets of Nar Shaddaa to Han's old bachelor pad
from his smuggling days. On the way there they encounter a dishevelled old woman who
seems to know that Leia is a Jedi. She's Vima Da Boda who you may recall as the old
crone who told Han his future in the Hutt Gambit. Leia can feel the Force in her and Vima
explains how for 200 years she was a Jedi, but at some point betrayed them, and
managed to escape the great purge. Vima tells Leia that she is destined to be a great Jedi
and wishes to give her a gift, and hands her an old box. Vima then disappears. On arrival
at Han's apartment he's surprised to see his old house keeping droid still on the job. Wait,
Han actually owned a droid? He hates droids, right? Anyway, the apartment is a bit of a

LEIA - (rather sarcastically) Oh, lovely place you've got here, Han. Why didn't you
bring me here on a honeymoon?

HAN - Yeah, what a mess!

That's what, the third honeymoon reference? We definitely need to read more about all
these honeymoons.

There's a sudden interruption when who should appear? Boba Fett, who explains that the
Sarlacc found him somewhat indigestible. Turns out the Hutts have a very high bounty on
their heads, but want them alive so they can enjoy watching them die. Han and Leia make
a break for it.

LEIA - How romantic! We're both wanted by the Hutts.

HAN - Husband and wife marked for death. Turn left down this alleyway, I know this
city like the back of my hand.

LEIA - Turn here?

HAN - No here, here. Down this alley....oh. Oops.

LEIA - Did the back of your hand tell you there'd be a big slimy Hutt on his hoversled
surrounded by bodyguards down here?

Yes, they run slap bang into big Hutt shaped trouble. Dodging a crossfire they end up on a
hover-sled after Fett accidentally hits the occupying Hutt off.

HAN - I never thought a Hutt's slime tracks would smell so sweet.

LEIA - Ok, I'm on, let's go.

HAN - Hold on, Your Worship, I'm still trying to figure out these knobs and switches.

LEIA - Don't call me Your Worship!! Why is it you always get formal when you're
about to do something stupid?

And they zoom off at great speed leaving Boba Fett pretty pissed, but vowing they won't
get away that easily.

They arrive at Ninx's garage, where the Starlight Intruder is almost ready. They hide the
Falcon in one of the Intruder's cargo bays and blast off on Salla's ship. Ninx and Salla are
along for the ride. Leia then remembers the box that Vima gave her, and decides to open
it. Inside is an ancient looking lightsaber. Han says it looks like an antique, just like the
woman who gave it to her. Then we have another of Leia's annoying put downs.

LEIA - Han, will you ever understand? For better, for worse, you are married to a
Jedi now.

HAN - I understand the things that matter.

I hate how she just suddenly speaks to him like he's a child, and there are quite a few
examples of this here. I honestly don't believe she would be like that with him. But then in
my mind Leia would never be that interested in the Force and being a Jedi to even have
need for these conversations. Anyway, upon touching the lightsaber Leia has a frightening
vision of Luke, dressed like Vader, commanding the Imperial forces and ordering the World
Devastators to attack the Rebels. Things are looking bleak, and Leia thinks its too late for

After more space battle chaos with Lando and co we're back with the gang in the Starlight
Intruder. Han hates being a back seat driver and can't keep his hands off the controls,
much to Salla's annoyance. They arrive at the planet Byss but planetside security detects
the hidden Falcon on board and are rather suspicious. Han tells them they are a salvage
ship and that it's just a big piece of junk they picked up. Security then allows them to land.
On disembarking Leia senses Luke is nearby and asks Han if she can fly the Falcon to find
him. Han isn't sure, and says she doesn't have that much experience. But it's too late, Leia
is already on her way to the hunka junk, Han chases after her. Leia is now piloting the
Falcon, but Han is with her, and he's a very nervous passenger. Leia tries to reassure him.

LEIA - Han, stop being so protective. You taught me everything I know, darling. Just
trust me.

Leia senses Luke, and to Han's horror flies the Falcon right into the security zone. The
security droids pick them up and warn them that they will be vaporised if they proceed any
further. But Leia trusts in the Force, and says it will get them through. A security ship opens
fire, but Leia decides to try a little Jedi mind trick and with her mind tells the gunner to stop
firing. After landing there's a shoot out with some guards during which Salla and Ninx
escape on the Falcon, and which oddly Han doesn't seem too bothered about. When all is
clear a hologram of Luke appears instructing them to accompany his Imperial Sentinels for
an audience with the Emperor. They pass through a large chamber containing pods where
the various clones of Palpatine are growing, and at various stages of development. Han
comments that he was even "ugly as a baby". Eventually Luke appears, and Han tells him
he's really gone off the deep end this time. Then it's Luke's turn to be insulting to Han. It's
becoming something of a trend. Poor Han.

LUKE - Be quiet, Han. There are things beyond the mind and powers of a space
pirate. Things you will never understand.

HAN - Hey wait a minute. I can read a face, farmboy. You've come a long way from
the idealistic kid who couldn't wait to get off Tatooine and join the Rebellion. A long
way down!

Is it me, or is Han the only one here with even an iota of sense? Han pulls his blaster on
Luke who he now regards as a traitor, can't say I blame him, because Luke is certainly not
behaving normally. Luke pulls the blaster from his hand using the Force, and tells Han that
if he'd wanted to he could have pulled his entire arm out of its socket. Wow, Luke is being
a total dick. Mind you, Leia appears to come to her senses at this point and draws her
lightsaber on her brother, but just when you think she's going to shut him up once and for
all she decides she can't do it, not to her own brother. Sigh.

The Emperor appears, impressed with Leia's anger. He claims she holds the key to the
future of the Jedi and that he will teach her things she could never imagine. Leia uses the
Force to hurl a power generator the "size of a Bantha" at Palpatine. When did Leia get this
powerful? It just doesn't fit with the timeline. Anyway he deflects it, and appears to choke
her or something, which enrages Han, who tries to come to her aid, but is held back by
Luke and the Sentinels. Han calls Luke a traitor before being Force choked by him. I am
disliking Luke a lot more than usual here, I mean what the hell is he playing at? It's
Threepio who is the voice of reason.

THREEPIO - Master Luke, you're killing him!!

LUKE - ( to Han) You understand nothing of what is taking place or what I'm doing to
save the galaxy.

That's right we don't understand! Cut the crap, Luke.

We move to Leia, who has been escorted to the Emperor's private chamber. Palpatine tells
Leia that she is destined to be a far greater Jedi than her brother. He also explains that he
is unwell, and it is time to transfer to another body. He goes on to show her his Jedi
Holocron which contains lots of ancient Jedi teachings. The Emperor grows weaker and
asks Leia to help him to his bed, where he explains how he can transfer his essence not
only into clones, but into anyone, even Leia's unborn child! Understandably angry Leia
tips up his bed, leaving him helpless on the floor, and flees with his Holocron. Leia bumps
into Luke and pleads with him to return to Pinnacle Base with her, and he appears to

Han and Chewie manage to escape from a prison cell to be greeted by Salla and the
Falcon. Han says he isn't leaving without Leia, who coincidently then shows up, along with
Luke and Threepio. Han is not thrilled to see Luke, but Luke seems pretty much back to
normal now, and claims he has stored a code inside Artoo that will halt the Imperial
Devastators and end the fighting. So it seems that evil Luke was all an act. Back on
board the Falcon they have a close call with the planetary shields whilst trying to escape,
and then a really odd scene where they pass too near a wormhole and the magnetic fields
cause havoc. This is weird to listen to as their voices all slow down and sound extremely
strange for a few minutes. Han still doesn't trust Luke, and in an unexpected twist it turns
out that Luke isn't really with them on the Falcon after all. He's used a dark side projection
of himself to fool everyone, and is still down on the planet Byss.

The real Luke has apparently broken his ties with the dark side and is now threatening the
Emperor with his lightsaber, but of course, as Palpatine is made of energy he cannot die,
so Luke decides he must destroy all the clones before he can transfer his essence to a
new body. But Luke is not fast enough, and the Emperor jumps into a younger body and
the two engage in a lightsaber duel. The Emperor is more powerful than Luke anticipated,
and he has Luke on his knees, vowing to track down Leia to retrieve his Holocron, as well
as stealing her unborn child.

Back on the Falcon, the gang are heading towards Mon Calamari to use the code
imbedded in Artoo's memory to stop the Devastator's onslaught. And of course, Artoo
saves the day. Hooray!!

Once they arrive back at base, Mon Mothma calls a meeting, and at last Han finds out that
Leia is expecting. It's about time.

HAN - uh, Leia, before the council meeting begins I just wanted to say...I mean I
wanted to tell you every since we returned to Pinnacle Base, I'm sorry about what I
said, I guess I'll never figure ol' Luke out.

LEIA - Sometimes the actions of a Jedi make no sense to ordinary men. Luke is
sacrificing his life for us, Han. For our three children.

HAN - Yeah well. Three? Did you say three children? You mean...

LEIA - (laughing) Yes, Han. I'm pregnant. I can feel the baby stirring. It will be strong
with the Force.

HAN - Pregnant again? Who'd have thought, me, the father of three Jedi. I guess an
ordinary guy can do something right.

Whilst I dislike Leia pointing out yet again that Han is just an "ordinary" guy, I really do like
that little moment. We never got the chance in any of the books for Leia to announce her
pregnancy, and I think it's a moment we'd certainly like to read about. Whilst this isn't
perfect, it's a cute scene and actually being able to hear it, rather than reading about it is a
cool bonus I think.

At the council meeting it's bad news, as the Emperor's forces are preparing to strike other
systems. Mon Mothma totally puts her faith in Luke however, believing he will sabotage
Palpatine's plans. Afterwards Han tells Leia to get some rest, like the doting father to be
would, whilst he goes off to check on something. But of course, Leia is thinking about
Luke again. She remembers the stolen Holocron in her pocket, and activates it. An ancient
Jedi appears in hologram telling her that all of this has been foretold in prophecy
thousands of years before, and that she is the only one who can save her brother.
Meanwhile there's trouble for the Alliance as three Imperial ships are approaching the
planet. The Emperor transmits a message over the holonet, saying he will discuss a truce
with the Alliance if Leia is handed over to him, along with his missing Holocron. Naturally
Han's not having any of it but of course Leia has other ideas, she wants to go.

HAN- Its too dangerous. There comes a point when you have to choose between
this Force business and your own good common sense.

LEIA - You're right, Han. There does, and I have.

HAN - Leia, I won't let you go, not with our child.

LEIA - You will let me Han!

HAN - Ok

MON MOTHMA - You looked dazed, General Solo. Almost like Leia used a Jedi mind
trick on you.

HAN - No, no, no mind tricks. I'm just surprised that with all the women in the galaxy
I married the only one as stubborn as I am.

I like that last line, I think that's true. Whether she did use a mind trick on him or not isn't
made clear, but I certainly don't like the idea of her using them on her own husband. I hope
it's not something she makes a habit of.

Leia is brought before The Emperor. He demands his Holocron back, but Leia claims she
doesn't have it and has only come for Luke. Palpatine tells of his plan to claim the body of
unborn Anakin Solo, and it's not pretty. Leia pretends to be in a trance as the Emperor
goes to touch her, but Leia surprises him and whips out her lightsaber.

PALPATINE - You tricked me!

LEIA - You aren't the only one here who understands the power of the Force, Your
Majesty. And if you touch me again, I'll cut off your hand!

Go Leia, she's really meaning business here. The next scene is basically inside Luke's
mind, with the voice of Leia begging him to return to her, and the voice of the Emperor
telling him he has to stay, because there's no way back from the darkside. Leia tells him of
her pregnancy and how he will someday train all her children to be Jedi. He eventually
snaps out of it and tells her how he was discovered the secrets of the darkside and knows
all the things their father knew. Then together, with lightsabers at the ready they battle the
Emperor, resulting in, yep, his hand being cut off!! That doesn't stop him from creating
more energy storms that threaten to engulf the Alliance base. In a final effort, Luke and
Leia mind meld with each other and use the Force to overpower Palpatine, which in turn
wipes out the energy storms.

Back at base, Han fears the worst, until Leia's voice calls over the comm, "Perk up,
Flyboy" as Luke and Leia make their way back, hopeful for the future and Luke certain that
with Leia and her children the Jedi will rise again.

And that's it!

Other than the fact that Leia is suddenly some super Jedi and the way she sometimes
talks down to Han, which is totally uncalled for, I do really like this audio drama. There are
a few corny lines in places but it's mostly a lot of fun and it really gives you a more full-on
Star Wars experience than you would ever get from a book or a comic or even an audio
book for that matter. It certainly sounds like you are listening to a movie, all the sound
effects you'd expect are there, from the snap-hiss of the lightsaber, to Artoo's bleeps and
Chewie's growls. There's no denying, it sounds like Star Wars and obviously a lot of love
has gone into it's production. And with a running time of two and a half hours, it's even
longer than the films.

Unfortunately we haven't got Harrison or Carrie providing the voices here, but then, we
didn't really expect that, did we? Instead we have Joe Hacker as Han, and Ann Patricio as
Leia. No, I haven't heard of them either! But fear not, they both do a commendable job.
Joe especially is great as Han, and at times really does sound uncannily like Harrison.
Since Carrie's voice was noticeably deeper in Return of the Jedi, Ann's Leia probably
resembles more the ESB era Carrie. Sadly that can't be said of John Cygen as Luke, who
to me sounds absolutely nothing at all like Mark Hamill, and he's easily the weakest of the
main trio. Whilst we don't have any of the main three we do actually have Billy Dee
Williams, who is clearly very excited to be returning as Lando, and delivers his lines with
gusto. Nick Jameson makes a fantastic Palpatine, and I enjoyed his performance. Also of
note is Jim Ward as Threepio. He's no Anthony Daniels, but he's actually pretty good.

For the most part I enjoyed Han and Leia a great deal in this, there's a fair bit of trademark
banter and they have virtually all of their scenes together. It's also worth noting that the two
best Han and Leia scenes here do not feature in the comic book, and were written
especially for this audio production. Those being the scene that is probably implying
Anakin's conception and the scene where Leia tells Han she's pregnant. I thought it was
pretty neat that Han and Leia got some brand new scenes, as I don't recall there being any
other new bits.

If you've never heard this audio drama it's well worth checking out. You can normally find it
on Amazon or eBay at a reasonable price. I ended up copying all the scenes with Han and
Leia to my iPod, and it's cool when you've got it on shuffle play and you get a scene from
this pop up in-between songs.

As we won't be getting anymore Star Wars films, this is the nearest we will get to seeing
the post Return of the Jedi universe come to life, and despite it's rather unoriginal and
contrived plot with two dead characters returning, and a main character turning dark it
certainly gives you a rather satisfying Star Wars fix.

Thank you for the great review, Claire!  And as always, if anyone else has anything they want to contribute then please let us know!


  1. It's funny you review this now because I had a really long drive the other day and listened to it in the car. It is definitely a fun thing to listen to... once you get over the initial shock of being like, "That's not Han!" The guy doesn't sound like Harrison at all but he brought his own little personality to it that I was able to enjoy. And when Leia was acting normal she was fine, like when she was talking to Han. But when she got all ethereal about the Force she sounded annoying.

    I remember the first time I listened through I noticed right away the constant honeymoon references! And the scene where Han is telling Leia she has "nothing to worry about" is great, and what you can't convey here in the review is that Leia is making some noises that tell you that Han is definitely doing some things... Not to mention the fact that the next time we see Leia she is knocked up ;)

    I don't even know where to start with this, but I will say that one thing that really bothered me throughout was how condescending Luke and Leia were to Han. All this "ordinary man" crap and how he can't understand anything. Ugh, I just don't think Han would put up with that crap. I don't understand why post-EU Luke has to talk like a wise old sage and totally loses any character he may have had in the movies.

    But, like I said, overall I liked it and if you can find a copy, I'd recommend it.

    1. Did you really not think he sounded like Harrison? Interesting. Cos I thought he did, most of the time.

      Thanks for pointing out the little noises that Leia makes in that scene, and yes, impossible to convey in the review. But you certainly get the idea that something interesting is about to happen that's for sure. If you listen with headphones there's an odd noise at the very end of that scene, its a fast paced repetitive kind of squeaking sound. And I always think its the sound of bed springs, I know its NOT, but that's what always pops into my head when I hear it in the context of that scene, and its actually pretty funny. Zyra, have a listen!

    2. I thought the funny noise at the end was just the generic noise they put at the end of every scene change before that sort of "whhoooosh" sound that starts another scene? Anyway, Leia is definitely breathing a little heavier and letting out some little sighs. I do love how quickly he distracts her there :)

      And no, I don't think he sounds like Harrison. His voice is nowhere near deep enough. Like I said, I think he has kind of a good Han personality in the role, but it doesn't sound like Harrison.

    3. Yes, that funny squeaking noise does occur at the end of a couple of other scenes too, right before the whooosh wipes to the next scene. But I thought it was just rather fitting with this scene seeing as it made me think of bed springs! :)

      He certainly distracts her very quickly. One minute it's "Oh Luke this" and "Luke that" then a few seconds later they are preparing to get jiggy with it. You can't help but wonder exactly what Han was doing at the time.

  2. Wow, what a review. I have never heard this drama. I'll have to look for it on-line. Yah, I would get annoyed with the Jedi stuff and the condescending tone towards Han, but it sounds like there are some good moments that make up for all that. Thanks for the review.

    1. Well worth getting Seams. I know you've mentioned in the past listening to audio books in the car. Try this for something a bit different, and as I'm sure Zyra will agree, its great for long drives.

      Leia's Jedi high and mightyness here is probably what turned me so against leia becoming a Jedi, because at times, she really is boarding on bitch-ness.

    2. We have several road trips coming up, hopefully I can find it sometime soon. I've checked out every Star Wars audio book from our library system, I need something new to listen to. I'll cut Leia some slack on the bitchiness, I've been known to be a bit like that myself (however my household doesn't let me get away with it :)
      I was thinking about the whole "Jedi vs. Ordinary man" thought process and I think it is stupid. Don't we all have unique gifts and talents, why do some of these authors think only the Jedi can save the day? I forgot to mention, I loved the first quote about Han and his magnetism, made me think "you got that right!" Thanks again for the review/contribution.

    3. Yes, it is annoying that being a Jedi seems to trump every other possible skill or talent you might have. I think Han is extra awesome because he DOESN'T have the Force and yet he is still able to keep up with all of them.

      I will soon have to drive back from where I came from and will probably listen to the radio dramas of the movies :)

    4. Not only does he keep up with the Jedi, he tends to save them quite a bit. I do like how Han and Leia work together as a team in the EU after she does become an official Jedi. The authors seemed to have toned down the "high and mighty jedi crap."
      I must have been living under a rock, there are radio dramas of the movies?

    5. Yep, radio dramas of the movies. ANH and ESB were put out around the time of the movies, I believe, and Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels did their own voices. You should absolutely check those out because especially in ANH there is a ton of back story before they even get to what happens in the movie. Leia on Alderaan with her father preparing to head out on Tantive IV, Luke on Tatooine with his friends, stuff like that. You can buy them on Amazon, which is what I did. Just make sure it's unabridged.

    6. The ROTJ one was much later though, wasn't it? In the mid nineties I believe.

    7. Yes, RORJ I think didn't come out until 1996 because of money, or so I read. And even so, it is way, WAY shorter than the other ones. Everything having to do with that movie is just half-assed because people were tired of doing things related to it. The movie itself, the radio drama, the Family Guy parodies... Oh, and the comic. I had never seen that comic and was going to buy it but then I saw it at the book store and flipped through it and now know not to waste my time. Talk about an abridged version of events!

    8. Never considered that about ROTJ before, but it's absolutely true.

      I've not listened to the radio dramas, other than odd snippets. I have no idea why I've never got them, because I've known about them forever. I suppose I just thought there wouldn't be anything new in them. Looks like there is, so maybe it's about time I actually invested!

  3. Well, except for the way she talks to Han sometimes, this sounds like a pretty good Han/Leia drama! I love the sexy time... and of course the honeymoon references! Definitely some good missing moments in there.

    I'm kind of surprised at how un - Lukeish Luke's character is in the EU, considering he is the main character - you would kind of expect that George Lucas would have at least gone, 'hey, that doesn't sound like the guy I made up for the movies.' What the hell was with him trying to kill Han in the middle? That was really really weird...

    There are definitely some great moments in this... I love how she tells him she's pregnant, and he doesn't catch on straight away!

  4. Oh, speaking of Luke trying to kill Han, I'll have to admit I found it a bit out of character for Han to be so intent on killing Luke without a second thought. I feel like he would know that he wasn't exactly himself. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like he'd be more conflicted about that rather than saying things like he'll kill Luke the next time he sees him.

  5. That's a good point - I'm really not sure what's going on with them during that scene. And why is Luke just going on about what Han doesn't understand?

    Oh, and why did they have power generators the size of banthas just randomly laying around?

    1. The Bantha sized power generator really bugs me. How in the hell could Leia, at this point in the timeline, possibly levitate and throw that using the force? Only the year before, in the Thrawn books she only appears to have very basic lightsaber skills, and doesn't have time to develop her Jedi skills any further. And all the EU after this right up to Dark Nest do not present a Leia who is that powerful. So this just doesn't fit continuity wise at all. But then since when did the EU conform to any kind of continuity? This is one of the worst examples though.

  6. Thanks for the review, Claire. Nice job!

    I remember listening to this a long time ago, back when I had a tape deck in my car. Thought it was on one of my road trips home from school, but it's been so long. =) Remember liking it at the time.

    Love all the moments you pick out - how Leia tells him she's pregnant, their time alone. Like it when he says they need time for them too. It's very true. And may have to go back and listen to the tape again for the extra sounds. Love how he says she's got plenty to worry about right then, a beautiful princess alone with a notorious smuggler. That's awesome. Yes, it does make one wonder what Han was actually doing. But this is Han. He's probably distracting just as he is.

    I don't dig how they seem to knock Han for not being a Jedi or that they are so much better because they are. Whatever. Even Wookiepedia admits that Han was able to keep up with his Jedi relatives with his quick thinking and inventiveness. Always love that bit.

    I so want to get my hands on the radio dramas too. On my wish list.

    1. I had the tapes too. But I had to upgrade to the CDs when I suddenly realised I didn't have anything that played tapes anymore!

      If any of you are planning on ordering this, let me just point out that Amazon claim the cd version is "abridged", it's NOT. It's exactly the same as I remember on the tape, plus the running time is exactly the same on both. So don't let that put you off.

  7. I'm thinking about getting the CDs.

  8. It seems to me that the New Jedi Order (or whatever its called) wouldn't even exist without Han - Everyone would be dead and the Empire would still be in charge if it weren't for him!

    1. True. If he hadn't save Luke in the beginning, there might not even be a Jedi order.

    2. Yep, I've always thought that. While he isn't integral to the whole Skywalker story arc, none of them would be alive without him.

  9. I know I downloaded this a while back when someone here mentioned it. As much as I do get sick of the Jedi crap ("Who am I to question the judgement of a Jedi?" I don't see that ever leaving Han's mouth) it's neat to listen to this as opposed to just reading a book.

    Haha, the implied naughty time. The first time I listened to it, after the whoosh-y sounds, Luke exhales really loud, but I thought it was Han at the tail end of the last scene, if you know what I mean!

    1. Haaa, yeah, I didn't notice that, but I can understand why you thought that.

      I agree, Han would never say "Who am I to challenge the judgment of a Jedi?". There are a couple of lines where he appears to put HIMSELF down, probably because Leia keeps on telling him how ordinary and stupid he is all the time. And we all know Han would never belittle himself, that ego is far to big.

  10. I found the radio drama on you tube. They have it split in two parts. "The scene" is on part two starting at the 5:11 minute mark. Here is the link,
    but in case the link doesn't work, I just searched Star Wars Dark Empire Radio Drama in google and got to you tube.
    I definitely like thinking the "exhale" belonged to "the scene", seems to fit in quite nicely. And the only time I could imagine Han saying "Who am I to challenge the judgment of a jedi?" is if Leia had something "interesting" planned for him, you know what I mean :)

  11. Great find Seams! Now everyone can enjoy this without having to buy it!

  12. Leia wants to fly Falcon?!?
    Leia refers herself a jedi?!?

    I've had a couple of comics of Dark Empire but not all of them. I would really love to listen to this! :)

    1. Lily, search for it on YouTube, it's pretty easy to find. I'm sure you will enjoy it.