Star Wars fans often brand Lando Calrissian as selfish or untrustworthy because of the unfortunate circumstances of his debut in The Empire Strikes Back. But when you take a closer look, you realize that he never actually betrayed his old friend.
Han and Lando go a long way back and shared a lot of adventures in their youth, namely the Kessel heist in the canon timeline and the hunt for the Yavin Vassilika in Legends. That’s why it’s strange to see Lando so hostile towards Han when the crew of the Millennium Falcon make their way to Cloud City in Episode V. And the small fact that he sold them out to the Empire and handed them to Darth Vader doesn’t help the scoundrel’s case, either.
But according to the folks at ScreenRant, while a lot of Star Wars fans tend to think that Lando started out as an antagonistic figure and redeemed himself by saving Princess Leia and the rest of the gang, the movie clearly hints that that might not be the case.
For one thing, Lando states that the Empire got to Cloud City before the rebels, giving him no choice but to surrender. As the Baron Administrator of the space hub, he had to think about the population and couldn’t risk the Empire subjugating them like they did a lot of other worlds before. The character also had the chance to flee but decided to stay and work with Vader undercover. When Han approached the city, both Lando and his security were hostile towards them, in the hope of tipping the scruffy-looking nerf herder off.
Last but not least, Lando got ahead of Vader by ordering the Bespin Wing Guard to lay a trap for the stormtroopers. And while he was too late to rescue Han, he also warned Cloud City’s citizens of an impending Imperial takeover, giving them plenty of time to escape or at least put up a fight. After the events of the second movie and into the final film in the Star Wars Original Trilogy, the character also worked closely with the Rebel Alliance to rescue Han and even became a general, leading his own squadron in the Battle of Endor.
It stands to reason, then, that Lando never betrayed Han in the first place, but was forced into cooperation and kept his cover to at least save some of the rebels, though it’s undeniable that Empire‘s pacing, especially towards the end, makes it difficult to acknowledge the elegant plan.