Lando Calrissian. To the friends of Han Solo, these two words stir more anger than the image of an ewok piloting the Millennium Falcon. For those of you in the outer rim who do not regularly receive transmissions, Lando is the chief administrator of the mining colony of Bespin (alias Cloud City) who, through a deal with the Empire, ended up turning over then-fugitive, and Lando's own friend, Han Solo to the evil Darth Vader and subsequently the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Though never brought to trial, in the court of public opinion the man was found guilty of being an intergalactic douchebag. But should we still harbor ill will toward this political figure? I offer this list of counterpoints not to exonerate but to provide perspective to potentially balance the scales. Lando Calrissian was in the wrong, but it wasn't completely his fault.
Jump past the bump for the five reasons to cut Lando some slack.
Cloud City Politics
The only reason that Bespin had been enjoying such success was that it was one of the few businesses untouched by the Empire's influence. Lando, still a rookie political figure on the Bespin scene, was under tremendous pressure to uphold the neutrality of Cloud City during the intergalactic war with the rebels. The problem was that Bespin was too small to even find membership in the mining guild so they were completely unprotected when the Emperor became aware of their operation. The surrender of Luke Skywalker, someone Lando had never met, would ensure that not one imperial garrison would ever be stationed in Bespin and that it's inhabitants would remain free. What leader would have refused that bargain?
Han Swindled Him Out of His Ship
It is entirely true that Han and Lando were once close friends; augmenting and seemingly validating the accusations of betrayal. But bear in mind exactly what type of person Solo was. If we divorce ourselves of the esteem in which we hold the Han he became, we may recall this was a miscreant and a smuggler who thought nothing of killing the bounty hunter Greedo in cold blood. An inextricable aspect of Solo's personna is his ship: the Millenium Falcon. But the method by which Han came to possess this iconic vessel was ultimately a cheap swindle. After that, Han stole away to Tatooine to make a living smuggling for the abhorrent Jabba the Hutt and never again made any attempt to contact his former compatriot. It does not condone his actions, but it offers an insight to the possibility of Lando's residual anger.
Again, the reason so many people sought to crucify Calrissian was because of the unfortunate fate that befell Captain Solo as a result of Lando's dealings. Yet, and forgive the reiteration, the deal was never designed to involve Han as anything more than bait for Skywalker. Lando had no ties to Luke and, as per the terms of the proposal, Solo and his passengers would remain on Bespin under his supervision. The ultimate mistake Lando made was trusting a Sith lord in the first place. Vader altered the terms of the agreement left and right; threatening to permanently station his troops on Cloud City if there was even a hint of noncompliance from Calrissian. As soon as Lando realized the deal was a fraud, he organized an insurrection. So shouldn't we logically direct our outrage toward Vader and not Lando?
Blowing Up New Death Star=Ultimate Contrition
There are many religions on many planets in many systems that subscribe to the idea of contrition; that a sin can be expunged with the completion of a task undertaken in the hope of forgiveness. For the Catholics, contrition is saying Hail Marys while certain Pagan cults sacrifice animals and Gugans...I really have no idea what those freaks do. For Lando, his act of contrition was blowing up the Empire's second draft of the planet-destroying Death Star. I don't want to trivialize the rites of any religion, but there's not much more a man can do to atone for his misdeeds than spell the end of the Galactic Empire as we know it. Not only that, but Lando was instrumental in the rescue of Solo from Jabba's palace. In my book the man paid his debt in such a fashion as to warrant and even demand our respect.
Have you seen the uniforms on Bespin? I mean for crying out loud, Lando Calrissian is the cheif administrator and he is forced to dress like a space stewardess. I'm just saying I would be a little on edge too if I had to come to work every day dressed like I had to serve drinks and hand out little packets of peanuts. It in no way excuses his behavior, but the guy had a tough enough job without having to deal with frilly shirts and a gold-lined cape. I know I'd be more prone to making bad decisions if I had a wardrobe identical to my parent's rec room furniture.