Empire Minute 94: The String on a Balloon

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May 22nd, 2014


Four armor-suited stormtroopers stand at the ready in the large chamber, which is filled with pipes and chemical tanks. In the middle of the room is a round pit housing a hydraulic platform. Darth Vader and Lando stand near the platform.


Klee Wiggins



  • Minute 94.
  • Starts with Darth Vader being told that there's a ship approaching - X-wing class; ends with everyone taking their positions around the carbon freezing chamber for a good freezing.


  • Everyone forms a trust circle in the carbon freezing chamber.
  • Who's in the X-wing that is approaching? Wedge? It would be funny if Wedge got frozen in carbonite by mistake.
  • Are the Twin-Pod cloud car pilots giving Luke a hard time as well? Asking for his Lando permit? No - they have been instructed to let him land; and Luke probably doesn't see anyone on Cloud City from the time he lands to the time he gets near the carbon freezing chamber.
  • Luke knows it's a trap but he still gets in over his head pretty quickly.
  • Luke doesn't tell R2 to hang on for this landing. How often does R2 fall out of the X-wing?
  • It's weird to see an X-wing in a "normal" / Earth-like sky; it's like seeing the original Star Trek going back to Earth in the 60s or Star Trek: Voyager going to Earth in the 90s.
  • Referenced: Sarah Silverman in Star Trek: Voyager playing a dramatic role.
  • The carbon freezing chamber is one of the favorite film sets of all time.
    • It should be grey and ugly; instead it is a beautiful and operatic set that is very dramatic.
    • There should be fluorescent lights buzzing overhead.
    • The steps in the chamber reminds Klee of Michael Jackson's music video for Billie Jean.
    • Referenced: Dancing With the Stars and Billy Dee Williams performing dressed as Lando.
    • The orange and teal effect is used in the carbon freezing chamber.
    • The Clone Wars cartoon features carbon freezing in a few episodes.
(Spoiler warning - skip ahead 1 minute - n....ow!)
In the Clone Wars cartoon a number of Jedi hide themselves in frozen carbonite blocks - including Anakin.

Given that carbon freezing humans obviously works why do they still need to test it in The Empire Strikes Back?
Well, because Cloud City and its equipment is so old.

  • How do you freeze gas?
    • Expose it to extremely cold temperature? (see below)
    • Heat it up to change its state and then freeze it.
    • The hosts agree that they need Ryan Haupt for this question.
    • On Cloud City, the ugnaughts are freezing tibanna gas in carbonite blocks for transportation.
  • They allow Chewbacca bring his model kit to the freezing (i.e. C-3PO). Like his favorite toy to keep him occupied. Where did Chewbacca get the carry net from?
    • Disneyland (Disney's Hollywood Studio) provides a Carbon-Freeze Me experience.
    • It generates a figurine the size of an action figure.
    • The hosts agree that they need to get to Disneyland asap.
    • The figurine is shipped to your house in 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Luke's helmet is filthy - from Dagobah or pine tar (for baseball fans).
CloudCity egvv.jpg
  • What's at the end of the pole at the bottom of Cloud City?
    • Is Cloud City attached to Bespin somehow?
    • The concept art shows a large ball at the end of the pole but we don't see that in the original cut of the movie (but we do in the Special Edition).
    • Based on the Cloud City toy that Pete got from Taco Bell (see SWM 80) Cloud City is free-floating and not attached to anything.
    • The ball is like a counter weight or the string on a balloon preventing Cloud City from floating away.
  • There are great Ben Burtt sound effects in the carbon freezing chamber scene.
    • What did it actually sound like on the set - probably nothing like in the movie.
  • Why are Leia, Chewie and C-3PO even invited to the freezing?
    • It may be torture by extension.
    • Or evil people do evil things just for the sake of it sometimes.
    • If Han didn't survive the freezing process then they would have made adjustments and then tried again with Leia and then Chewbacca.
    • They would have kept trying until they got it right; there would have been carbonite blocks piled up on each other by the end.
    • They would have ultimately tried it on a Twin-Pod cloud car pilot. Although they would have to freeze both pilots at the same time - either together in the one carbonite block or in a carbonite block each with a metal bar going between them.
  • C-3PO tells Chewbacca that Chewbacca has a responsibility to C-3PO and no to do anything foolish.
    • C-3PO is still being selfish and needy - even at this point.
    • C-3PO seems confused about how a life debt works; Chewbacca doesn't owe C-3PO anything - it's the other way around.
    • Plus C-3PO complains about his legs not being attached; Chewie probably wishes that he attached C-3PO's legs first and then his head.
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Meta Minute

  • 17:41 podcast episode length.
  • Cold-open: starwarsminute.com/donate <Note for listeners that are patrons and listen to the Roll Call of Heroes each week on Star Wars Minute: Weekend Edition - one of the donors that are specifically called out in the cold-open is...David.
  • An example of frozen gas that everybody is probably familiar with is dry ice, which is solid frozen CO2. A brief but interesting article on freezing air on Earth can be found here and more information - or nonsense jibber-jabber according to Alex - on the process of carbon freezing is provided on Wookieepedia.
  • "Carbonite" does actually exist (either as an inorganic anion, or as an explosive), but neither material in any way resembles the carbonite in the Star Wars universe.


  • Klee: <Misspeaks in the intro> I'm Klee Wiggins from kleewiggins.clom.
  • Pete: Everyone loves a good freezin'. Alex: It's the reason for the freezin'.
  • Alex: ...there's pine tar on it; they put that on their <baseball> bats to get a better grip. Alex: Did you suddenly bust out, like, sports trivia? Pete: Sorry; I realised that I was in the wrong place. Alex: I was like "Pinetar, was he one of the bounty hunters that they showed?
  • Alex: <As Chewbacca to a complaining C-3PO> Is there a way I can detach your mouth?
  • Alex and Pete: <Multiple times throughout the episode> 94.



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