So in Empire Strikes Back, Lando makes a deal with Darth Vader which is he will help him capture Luke and possibly his friends:

Darth Vader: Calrissian. Take the princess and the Wookiee to my ship.

Lando: You said they'd be left at the city under my supervision!

Darth Vader: I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.

So my question… is what exactly was the deal, and why did Lando take it in the first place? Why even make a deal when the Empire could essentially force him and Cloud City to do whatever?

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    Whatever the deal was, it was definitely altered.
    – user40790
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 21:35
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    Thanks for the edit @WadCheber... appreciate the help with my first question :)
    – Blin
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 3:09
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    The moment Vader altered the deal was the moment that the illusion of a deal fell apart. To me, it's equivalent to a gangster saying "Nice business. Shame if anything were to happen to it.." Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 14:48
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    @WadCheber Your line is "I have edited the question. Pray I don't edit it any further".
    – Schwern
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 20:26

4 Answers 4


Han and Lando have a conversation about it for starters

HAN: Aren't you afraid the Empire's going to find out about this little operation and shut you down?
LANDO: That's always been a danger looming like a shadow over everything we've built here. But things have developed that will ensure security. I've just made a deal that will keep the Empire out of here forever.

Later - Lando says to Vader:

LANDO: You said they'd be left in the city under my supervision.

As well as this:

LANDO: Lord Vader, what about Leia and the Wookiee?
VADER: They must never again leave this city.
LANDO: That was never a condition of our agreement, nor was giving Han to this bounty hunter!
VADER: Perhaps you think you're being treated unfairly.
VADER: Good. It would be unfortunate if I had to leave a garrison here.


LANDO: He doesn't want you at all. He's after somebody called Skywalker.
HAN: Luke?
LANDO: Lord Vader has set a trap for him.

Given the context, it seems apparent that the deal is that Lando helps Vader obtain Skywalker, in which case the Empire will turn a blind eye to Lando and Cloud City, which, given his initial conversation with Han, is apparently in danger from getting shut down otherwise. Whether or not Lando is to be trusted in these comments is up for debate.

"The Empire Strikes Back", The Internet Movie Script Database

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    @Richard Downvotes should not be used to punish users for only partially answering a question. A partial answer with valid points is better than no answer, and in some cases it is not possible to give a full answer. Downvoting partial answers encourages people to withhold otherwise useful information. If one is unhappy with a partial answer, a better course of action is to refrain from upvoting.
    – Praxis
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 4:38
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    @Praxis if a partial answer contains no useful information whatsoever, or rather only the bare minimum to technically count as an answer (as is common on Stack Overflow), then downvoting is a fine course of action. Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 6:13
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    @Praxis - In its initial form, the answer contained no information that was relevant. It barely qualified as an answer and I didn't view it as "useful".
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 7:15
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    Two more quotes that are somewhat relevant at this point: Han, returning from the interrogration / torture chamber, saying that "they didn't ask a single question". And Luke, telling Yoda he can sense his friends, suffering. Han's torture is the bait in the trap Vader set.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 9:03
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    Appreciate the conversation @Praxis. I think even the initial answer prior to my edits answered the question, if obliquely. Lando is saying there is danger in running the city, but he has made a deal that will keep the Empire away. He opens the door and delivers Han and company. That's the deal. Turn over the Rebels to Vader, keep Cloud City. I was in process of adding information anyway and Richard is generally always helpful and I can understand his initial position. I could have helped the situation by saying something like 'more on the way', etc..for clarity. No offense taken (for my part)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 13:19

Cloud City is not exactly above board. Lando indicates that the Empire didn't know about their operation, which probably means they weren't paying taxes (which would be a good reason to stay off the radar). There's nothing else illicit about Cloud City that would warrant them being afraid of the Empire finding them (lots of tax havens operate like this).

So Vader shows up and apparently strikes this deal (based on indirect statements)

  • Cloud City will basically continue to be ignored (and presumably go on not paying taxes)
  • Lando and his people will help capture Luke by using Luke's friends

Since Lando doesn't even know Luke, this sounds like a great deal. It's only once he realizes Vader isn't going to hold up his end that Lando decides to smash the whole thing and incites a riot to cover them trying to rescue Han and Luke.

Why even make a deal when the Empire could essentially force him and Cloud City to do whatever?

Largely because they wanted Luke to fall into the trap. In order for it to be believable, you'd need to have it look like everything was normal. You can't just fake that, though. It would be like flying over New York City and seeing it devoid of people. If you threw Cloud City into a panic or took everyone away it would be obvious, through the Force, that something was wrong.

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    You'd noticed pretty quickly if Times Square was quiet and empty. No Force required.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 17:18
  • while a retcon in terms of Empire Strikes Back, it is still official canon now: The Empire was well aware of Cloud City and Bespin. A supporting character in "Lost Stars" is in the Empire from Cloud City and her family is personally wealthy from tibana mining.
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 20:44

I assume the deal was to let the people and workers of Cloud City keep mining (Cloud City is a mining operation in some Star Wars books). In exchange for Luke, the Empire wouldn't bat an eye.

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    Do you have any evidence or reasoning to back up this theory?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 16:09
  • "in exchange for luke the empire wouldnt bat an eye" I think you mean "in exchange for luke the empire would turn a blind eye". :)
    – RedCaio
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 23:57

Why even make a deal when the Empire could essentially force him and Cloud City to do whatever?

In a way the Empire did force Lando to do what they want from him, because Lando had no choice to refuse negotiations with Vader. But Lando must have thought of this deal as being not too harmful, because for all he knew, Vader only wanted to imprison one unknown person and Han, Leia and the Wookiee were agreed to be free to leave Cloud City after Vader has caught Luke. It is not clear to me, if Lando knew of Vader's intent to torture Han and Chewie beforehand, but I doubt it, because I think, that Vader has figured that Lando would be more cooperative, when he believes that he can avoid the threat the Empire poses to his business. It is only clear, that Vader constantly changes the deal, or what I think is more probable, Vader has been lying the whole time and was just doing what he had already planned before he set foot on Cloud City.

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