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So in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke parts ways with the rest after The Battle of Hoth and trains with Yoda.

In the meantime Han and company evade the Imperial fleet, land in a space worm and then end up in Cloud City.

Some people think there is a plot hole here, Luke's training would have taken a while but the Han/Leia plotline seems to indicate that their events happened over a few days before ending up in Cloud City. Needless to say Luke ends up is Cloud City soon after.

So is this an admitted flaw or are there other explanations?

  • Why are you thinking in absolute time? Luke can always spend more time & meet Leia in her time. – I Love You 3000 Aug 11 '12 at 21:52

11 Answers 11

48

I don't think there's any reason to think there's a plot hole. Both parties had off-screen downtime. We don't know how long they were hanging out at Cloud City before the Imperials spring their trap on Han and the gang. We also don't know how much time Luke spent training. In my mind, it seemed like he spent a short time training, and was interrupted by his friends being in danger.

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    agreed, especially since, as you imply, Luke's training was not complete when he left. – Wikis Mar 7 '11 at 8:10
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    I think the more pressing timegap is traveling between hoth and bespin without hyperdrive. – erdiede Sep 25 '11 at 15:34
  • I've adjusted my answer as I'm currently rewatching Empire, and I'd forgotten Lando's line about the Imperials arriving at Cloud City before our intrepid heroes. – user1027 Sep 25 '11 at 22:05
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    How long do you think they would've stuck around with C3PO missing? – Rob Sep 27 '11 at 19:21
  • According to the map in the essential atlas, Bespin and Hoth are basically on top of each other while Dagobah is a fair ways off though still within a fairly short jump. – World Engineer Feb 10 '12 at 7:41
29

There are two likely explanations that would allow you to avoid considering this a "timeline error".

1) Luke's training took a lot less time than it may be assumed. Either due to Luke's innate abilities (midichlorian count? :) ) or the fact that Force training to a certain level is a kind of phase shift event - you gain a certain level of control (Which can take any amount of time from 1 day to 10 years) and you obtain a set of skills/abilities, the rest of "Jedi Training" time is merely honing those.

2) Travel to Cloud City took a lot longer than to Dagobah. Yeah, the Millennium Falcon is a fast ship, but the galaxy is pretty big AND Han was trying to avoid the Imperials, so may have had to take a somewhat roundabout route.

P.S. Please note that the extended universe (especially the Bounty Hunter related books) might offer a fairly decent amount of detail to help establish the timeline.

Though, if you ask me to put my money on a specific answer, "timeline error" would be my bet. Remember - Lucas was making a space opera, NOT hard sci-fi.

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    My money's on (2). The Falcon didn't have lightspeed capability at the time, and if Bespin was in a different star system than Dagobah, travel would have taken years at minimum. – neilfein Mar 7 '11 at 4:53
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    Even with the hyperdrive, the Falcon could only go 1.5x the speed of light. The Star Wars universe has its star systems a little closer together than in our corner out here in the boonies of the Milky Way. Even without a hyperdrive, though, SW-universe ships seem to have very little need for fuel, and have engines that burn continuously, which in space would have the result of near-constant acceleration allowing ships to approach light speed. Princess Amidala's ship was able to get from Naboo to Tattoine before all the characters died, so why can't the Falcon get to Bespin? – KeithS Sep 21 '11 at 0:53
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    What are these "midi-chlorians" you speak of? – Suman Roy Aug 26 '14 at 8:52
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    Note that Anakin was able to win the podrace after just one lesson "trust your feelings". Luke also seems to have become very force-sensitive after just a few hours with Obi-wan. My guess is that Jedi training works in fits. – Valorum Oct 3 '14 at 18:06
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    You can level a Jedi Padawan in "Star Wars: The Old Republic" to level 10 less than an hour. ;) – Schwern Dec 10 '14 at 4:25
12

The Falcon's hyperdrive was broken, so they were facing a sub-light journey. It couldn't have been YEARS, as all the official SW sources place Return of the Jedi as within 2 years from Empire Strikes Back. But it could be weeks or months. Or maybe just a few days. We don't know how fast "non-hyperdrive" travel is in Star Wars. There's lots places where the time could have been made up. How long were they hiding in the asteroid field?

Either way, however long it takes to get there, Luke has a working hyperdrive on his X-Wing and can jump there almost instantly by comparison.

7

It has been several years since I've read it, but I think it was in Star Wars: The Anotated Screenplays...

http://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Screenplays-Laurent-Bouzereau/dp/0345409817/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412826137&sr=1-1&keywords=star+wars+the+annotated+screenplays

...that Ivan Kirshner indicated that he regretted that he did not properly convey the passage of time. If I remember correctly, Luke's training and the Falcon's travel was supposed to take 6 months.

5

I also take the backup hyperdrive theory. The backup hyperdrive is like a spare tire: you can only run on it for a limited period of time and you have to manually switch to it. It's also possible that one or more of Han's modifications interfered with the operation of the backup hyperdrive, or that it's failure to work is due to the ship's shoddy maintenance. Possibly even both. I think that the Falcon's hyperdrive worked just long enough to get the Falcon relatively close to Bespin and then they traveled the rest of the way there on sublight engines. However the total time between the departure from Hoth and the arrival at Bespin cannot exceed 2 months as that is the limit of the Falcon's crew consumables, according to the Wook. It isn't clear how much time is spent on Bespin before the dinner with Vader but I don't think Leia would spend more than a few days missing Threepio before getting suspicious.

3

No one has noted yet that according to EU and "official" sources, most ships larger than snubfighters have a "backup" low-power hyperdrive against just such an occasion as the one the Falcon finds itself in.

3

Richard mentions in this answer that according to the book Star Wars in 100 Scenes, a "factbook" released in August 2014 which should be part of the current Disney canon according to the guidelines Richard discussed in this answer, "The Falcon needed several weeks to limp from Anoat to Bespin with her backup hyperdrive." Anoat was a planet they stopped at between leaving the asteroid field and arriving at Bespin according to the novelization of ESB, which according to the canon guidelines above should also be part of the current Disney canon as long as it doesn't conflict with what was shown onscreen (and the stopover could easily have happened offscreen).

So assuming the hyperdrive on Luke's ship could get him from Hoth to Dagobah much more quickly, Luke would have had at least those "several weeks" to train with Yoda, and as user1027's answer says, we also don't know how much time Han, Leia, Chewbacca and the droids spent on Cloud City before Vader revealed himself.

2

My main theory is this. Since the hyperdrive was malfunctioning after the Hoth asteroid system scare, Chewwie and Han had to bring the backup hyperdrive online. The main hyperdrive was a Class 2.0, while the backup was Class 12, which made the backup significantly slower. That means they were NOT going fast enough to make it to Bespin in a few days, more like many weeks or months. This allows time for Luke to train a long time and almost complete his training with Yoda, and for Han and Leia to get to Bespin in much longer time than usual, filling your "plot hole."

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    While this is indeed true, it doesn't add any information that's not already in the answers above. – Valorum Jul 6 '16 at 17:07
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My thought, similar to the movie Interstellar: time moves more quickly on Dagobah maybe, that's why Yoda seems to age so quickly, considering he lived 800+years without too much noticable change. Maybe he chose that place because the empire doesn't go there because of the time shift. And he knew he could get much more training done with Luke in a universal relative short amount of time. It could also explain why Luke keeps feel strange, and when his instruments didn't work upon landing.

  • Is there any evidence of this? – Adamant Jan 5 '17 at 5:42
0

There is a new answer for this: Dagobah and other planets strong in the Force have their own time. Luke could have spent several weeks or months training on Dagobah, while Han & Leia's trip to Bespin took only a few days or weeks.

My source is Pablo Hidalgo from Lucasfilm Story Group. Here are his tweets about that: https://twitter.com/pablohidalgo/status/719742305364652032 and https://twitter.com/pablohidalgo/status/707400665740345344

-2

The novelization implies Luke's training takes several weeks at best so it's probably a timeline error.

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