34

In A New Hope, after Han and Luke fight off the TIE Fighters while escaping from the Death Star, these exchanges happen:

           INT. DEATH STAR - CONTROL ROOM

           Darth Vader strides into the control room, where Tarkin is 
           watching the huge view screen. A sea of stars is before him.

                                 TARKIN
                     Are they away?

                                 VADER
                     They have just made the jump into 
                     hyperspace.

                                 TARKIN
                     You're sure the homing beacon is 
                     secure aboard their ship? I'm taking 
                     an awful risk, Vader. This had better 
                     work.

           INT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - COCKPIT

           Han, removes his gloves and smiling, is at the controls of 
           the ship. Chewie moves into the aft section to check the 
           damage. Leia is seated near Han.

                                 HAN
                     Not a bad bit of rescuing, huh? You 
                     know, sometimes I even amaze myself.

                                 LEIA
                     That doesn't sound too hard. Besides, 
                     they let us go. It's the only 
                     explanation for the ease of our 
                     escape.

                                 HAN
                     Easy... you call that easy?

                                 LEIA
                     They're tracking us!

                                 HAN
                     Not this ship, sister.

           Frustrated, Leia shakes her head.

                                 LEIA
                     At least the information in Artoo is 
                     still intact.

                                 HAN
                     What's so important? What's he 
                     carrying?

                                 LEIA
                     The technical readouts of that battle 
                     station. I only hope that when the 
                     data is analyzed, a weakness can be 
                     found. It's not over yet!

Leia doesn't even know if there is a weakness, let alone whether they'll find one. If she (correctly) realizes that they're being tracked, why doesn't she suggest that the Millennium Falcon go somewhere besides Yavin 4 instead of just frustratedly shaking her head? I know the plans apparently have to be delivered in person, but it seems unlikely that continuing to fly to the secret Rebel base in the ship she's certain is being tracked is the only option. They are already in hyperspace when this conversation happens, but they apparently have time to talk for a little while after, so presumably they'd have time to stop and reroute.

  • 8
    Or she realizes that she's in an argument with a stubborn, stuck up, scruffy looking nerf herder and that she's not going to convince anyone, and relents. – phantom42 Oct 6 '14 at 20:13
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    @phantom42, she's a quitter. – Jack B Nimble Oct 6 '14 at 20:25
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    "presumably they'd have time to stop and reroute." I don't know, can they do that? Flying through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops. – Royal Canadian Bandit Oct 6 '14 at 20:32
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    It is easier to blow up a Death Star that is chasing you wherever you are going than a Death Star on the other side of the galaxy. It saves fuel, travel time, and scouting missions. From her point of view, they were basically leading the Death Star into a trap - which is exactly how it worked out. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Apr 6 '15 at 22:28
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    While Rogue One isn't mentioned in the question, it's worth pointing out that that film establishes that the Rebels are aware that the Death Star has a weakness. They just don't know how to take advantage of it, not without the plans. But their actions (not limited to Leia's apparent "lure them to Yavin" gambit) do suggest that they were confident of finding a way pretty easily once they had the plans to analyse. – Tim Pederick Jan 15 '17 at 18:37
14

Carrie Fisher's audition tape for "A New Hope" indicates that, at least in that draft, Leia knew they were being tracked, and decided to lure the Death Star to Yavin, as Colin Q. Bang's answer said.

Leia's lines read:

I know they'll follow, and they'll bring the Death Star. Our only hope is to destroy it before it destroys us. Look, hiding is useless now! With the Death Star they'll continue destroying systems until they've found us. We have no alternative but to process the information and use it while there's still time.

  • Great find! It may not be in the final movie, but it's presumably still the characters' motivations for that scene. – Milo P Feb 22 '17 at 15:52
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    @Milo P I'm jealous of Lubin for having "taken" the Answer prize from me :) but I agree it is a nice bit! It doesn't make anything explicit but generally supports my fan-wank (err, shrewd reasoning) that "the same fate could soon befall any other planets...so defeating the Death Star was not only vital, but urgent." What I like about it is it shows that GL had thought stuff out, and I don't think he gets enough credit for that. He may be bad at romance and working with actors, but ANH's story holds together remarkably while too many genre movies seem not to care about plot holes. – Colin Q Bang Mar 16 '17 at 0:08
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    Furthermore - if they run, they'll be caught, eventually. When they're caught, the plans will be recaptured, and then there will truly be no way to stop the Death Star. Leia correctly sees that they just have to roll the hard eight at that exact moment. – Chris B. Behrens Feb 8 '18 at 15:54
  • To me it seems like it would have been rather easy to go to some planet with minimal imperial garrison and buy, beg, borrow, or steal another spaceship without a tracking device in it and then go to Yavin. Of course maybe Leia knows that the imperial government has been secretly planting tracking devices in every spaceship and the MF, being a smuggler's ship, was one of the few that had been without one. – M. A. Golding Feb 8 '18 at 19:09
28

(tl;dr summary in bold)

Leia wouldn't have had to merely suggest an alternative and try to persuade the others: she was the only one on the Falcon who knew where the secret rebel base was, and therefore was in control of the decision.

Clearly she made the conscious choice to use a rope-a-dope strategy. Having just witnessed the obliteration of her home by the dreaded space station, she knew full well that the same fate could soon befall any other planets--and their millions or billions of inhabitants--that refused to fall in line, so defeating the Death Star was not only vital, but urgent. Enticing Tarkin to use it to attack their base was likely the only way to guarantee an engagement, at least in the near future.

The secondary question then becomes "was this a foolhardy strategy?" Well, there were at least two problems with it. One is that it assumed the Empire would even use the Death Star for the attack, when a couple of Star Destroyers could presumably have been sent instead. Another, raised in the question, is that no one at that time had any idea if an attack on the battle station would have even a remote chance of success.

This would be troubling if the rebels could not evacuate Yavin 4 in advance of an attack, so you might say it was pretty flaming reckless. However, I surmise the rebels did temporarily flee the (otherwise sparsely populated?) moon except for those needed in the "command center" for the attack. (Brazen retconning? Taking away some of the drama from the countdown to the Death Star's arrival? Perhaps, but I don't think this speculation is contradicted anywhere in canon.) Aside from the uncertain amount of time they would have had to load equipment onto a transport ship, it should have been quite doable considering the apparently tiny total force there (even compared to the later evacuation of Hoth). Leia could thus sacrifice the secrecy of the base on the chance of the rope-a-dope panning out, without sacrificing the entire rebel force itself (Well, sorry General Dodonna--but, hey, Leia was willing to stand and die with him, and by that time they believed they had at least a fighting chance). Therefore, without going outside of movie canon the plan was clearly justified by the desperate situation. Even if for some reason they couldn't evacuate, the unprecedented and urgent threat that the Death Star apparently posed might justify the bold strategy if there were other rebel allies elsewhere.

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    Nice answer. Leia's assumption that Tarkin would "take the bait" & bring the Death Star to Yavin rather than some other ships is reasonable. She did after all observe how single minded he seemed to use his station to deliver the killer blow to the Rebels, if they were on a planet within a reasonable distance. Coaxing the DS to Yavin on its own was probably the only small chance the Rebels had. Of course if Tarkin had've ordered 10 Star Destroyers to rendezvous with him at Yavin the Rebels would've been toast. I think she put all her money on Tarkin's ambition & arrogance & it paid off. – Palp Fiction Jul 27 '15 at 6:16
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    Your theory about the Rebel high command fleeing Yavin seems even more plausible given the trailer for Rogue One, which shows Mon Mothma on Yavin, where we don't see her in the original movie. – Milo P May 2 '16 at 5:22
  • Also, Leia probably had no other place to go, if there was only one rebel base and no one else she knew in the galaxy who was able to understand the plans of the Death Star. – Marvin Falz Jan 15 '17 at 17:39
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    So I imagine Leia knew they were being followed and wanted to force the battle right there and then.... and also wanted to buy a few extra minutes. Why did the Death Star come out of hyperspace on the opposite side of the planet and have to spend 30 minutes orbiting it "at maximum velocity" instead of just attacking from an optimal angle out of hyperspace in the first place like they seem to have done to Alderaan? I suggest Leia knew they were being followed and had Han take the most roundabout route to put the Death Star on that inconvenient vector to give the fighters a chance to attack. – Adam D. Ruppe May 28 '17 at 0:20
1

I'm certain that Leia was the decision maker as to going to Yavin. She wouldn't have given Han the location if she didn't want to go there. When arguing with Han about how easy it was to escape, she was just asserting her own intelligence and her perception of Han's lack of intelligence. At this point, neither character was yet totally likeable (note that Leia had called Chewie a walking carpet, suggesting "speciesism" on her part).

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    I’m not really sure what relevance the last sentence has on the answer. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 20 '18 at 23:52

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