It is now official that Billy Dee Williams will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian in Episode IX. This is surely important for Lando fans, but it may also be relevant for those concerned with the fate of Kylo Ren – and thus, for the story as a whole.
Why? Well, there is a connection between Lando and Ben Skywalker established before the latter’s birth. This connection is implied in last book of Chuck Wendig’s trilogy, Aftermath: Empire’s End. How much this is arbitrary and how much this is a bait for Kylo Ren’s future in the films is, of course, an open question. But let us speculate about it for now.
A Gift For the Baby Ben
What actually happens in Empire’s End is this: a few years after the Empire’s defeat on Endor, Lando Calrissian reclaims the Cloud City from Imperial occupation. While he is at this, his assistant Lobot keeps reminding him that Han and Leia’s baby is due soon, and that he should, as nice uncle Lando, provide some present for them or for the newborn. Lando has trouble coming up with a satisfactory present, his probably most ridiculous suggestion being “can we get him a cute little cape and a mustache so he looks like old Uncle Lando?”
I am now leaving the cape comment aside (I am sure this was the author’s inside foreshadowing joke). What Lando eventually arrives at is leaving a blaster for the kid, but more importantly, leaving him a note: sort of a time-locked gift, saved for the moment when he becomes of age. Lando promises to be there for Ben Skywalker if he ever runs into trouble and he does not dare to talk about to his family. Specifically, Lando promises to help without telling Ben’s parents.
Uncle Lando To Save The Day?
This incident, however minor, is an ideal stage for foreshadowing and establishing something. Now, before we jump into conclusions: nobody says Chuck Wendig’s little insertion needs to be addressed in Episode IX at all. At the same time, it seems too random to serve no purpose whatsoever. Maybe Disney just had the idea of having the author insert this for possible future use, without having any clear idea how would it fit into the newest trilogy’s plot. After all, Lando’s, resp. Billy Dee Williams’s presence in the film has been long discussed without clear decision whether he was going to be there or not.
However, now that he is there, the little gift for Ben provides one more venue for Kylo Ren to turn back to the light. At this stage, if we look at the film story right now, it is difficult to see how exactly it would happen through Lando (or with his assistance, at least). But it is something – a door open.
Another option may be utilising this connection between Lando and Ben to compensate for the impossibility to have Leia play an important role in the last film. Before Carrie Fisher’s death, has been long speculated and implied by the filmmakers themselves that there had been an idea that Leia would play a major role in Episode IX. Given her and Kylo Ren’s relationship, it is possible this had to do with his potential redemption.
Is it possible that Lando could take over the role originally intended for Leia? Probably not completely at least. Personally, I would find it both unlikely and perhaps undesirable. However nice would it be for “uncle Lando” to appear as someone with understanding for Ben who could help him in getting back on the right path, he is still not his mother. The Lando we know would also have to undergo some transformation – up to the point of becoming perhaps a completely different character. And there is another problem: Han’s death. For all the bickering, Lando and Han have been best friends, and it is definitely not easy to talk to somebody who just murdered your best friend.
But for all this, I believe Lando’s little present for baby Ben still leaves possibilities for interesting interaction. Lando might be willing to see Ben in a different light than all the other characters do, simply because he is his godfather of sorts. And there may be a creative way for him to fulfil the promise he had made many years ago.