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Literature / Tales from Jabba's Palace

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"If I told you half the things I've heard about this Jabba the Hutt, you'd probably short-circuit!"
C-3PO, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Tales from Jabba's Palace is a Star Wars Legends book, published in December 1995. It follows on from where Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina and Tales of the Bounty Hunters leave off, being an anthology of short stories by different writers edited by Kevin J. Anderson. This time around the action is focused on the ramshackle collection of thugs, murderers, plotters and luckless slaves that make up the court of Jabba the Hutt. Just as the stories from Mos Eisley Cantina revolve around the arrival of Luke and Obi-Wan in Episode IV and the Bounty Hunters tales centre around the pursuit of the Millennium Falcon in Episode V, this collection takes place around the delivery of Artoo and Threepio to Jabba's palace at the beginning of Episode VI.

Surprisingly, the Bloated One himself is not the star of any of the stories, though he plays a big role in nearly all of them. As with the other volumes the quality of the stories varies greatly, but for anyone who wants to know how Mara Jade infiltrated Jabba's mob or how Boba Fett got out of the Sarlacc, this is your book.

     The Tales 
  1. "A Boy and His Monster: The Rancor Keeper's Tale," by Kevin J. Anderson
  2. "Taster's Choice: The Tale of Jabba's Chef," by Barbara Hambly
  3. "That's Entertainment: The Tale of Salacious Crumb," by Esther M. Friesner
  4. "A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance: Oola's Tale," by Kathy Tyers
  5. "Let Us Prey: The Whiphid's Tale," by Marina Fitch and Mark Budz
  6. "Sleight of Hand: The Tale of Mara Jade," by Timothy Zahn
  7. "And Then There Were Some: The Gamorrean Guard's Tale," by William F. Wu
  8. "Old Friends: Ephant Mon's Tale," by Kenneth C. Flint
  9. "Goatgrass: The Tale of Ree-Yees," by Deborah Wheeler
  10. "And the Band Played On: The Band's Tale," by John Gregory Betancourt
  11. "Of the Day's Annoyances: Bib Fortuna's Tale," by M. Shayne Bell
  12. "The Great God Quay: The Tale of Barada and the Weequays," by George Alec Effinger
  13. "A Bad Feeling: The Tale of EV-9D9," by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
  14. "A Free Quarren in the Palace: Tessek's Tale," by Dave Wolverton
  15. "Tongue-tied: Bubo's Tale," by Daryl F. Mallett
  16. "Out of the Closet: The Assassin's Tale," by Jennifer Roberson
  17. "Shaara and the Sarlacc: The Skiff Guard's Tale," by Dan'l Danehy-Oakes
  18. "A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett," by (Daniel Keys Moran writing as) J. D. Montgomery
  19. "Skin Deep: The Fat Dancer's Tale," by A. C. Crispin

Tropes from Jabba's Palace:

  • And I Must Scream:
    • Literal example with several characters who are turned into a Brain in a Jar by the B'omarr monks, especially after they retake control of the palace after Jabba's death. The indicator lights on their life-support systems indicate their emotional state, and red lights indicate the brain is screaming in horror because the person hasn't adjusted to their transformation well.
    • "A Barve Like That" details what it's like to be eaten by the Sarlacc. It's not pleasant; even as your body is immobilized by internal tentacles and digested, your mind remains conscious, also "digested" by the Sarlacc and added to its "soup" of shared memories. It's possible to remain "alive" as part of the Sarlacc long after your body is no longer capable of sustaining your life on its own, the basis of the film's line, "slowly digested over a thousand years." The Sarlacc (in the persona of its first victim, Susejo) likes to force you to relive some of the other victims' memories to relieve its own boredom.
  • Ascended Extra: Ephant Mon, Malakili, Tessek, the Max Rebo band, and so on and so forth.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: In "Skin Deep", the Geranite huntsman Doallyn uses this tactic to take down a krayt dragon — he'd studied the species extensively in preparation for hunting and capturing one for Jabba and thus knows that its sinus cavity (which leads directly into its brain) is a weak point, allowing him to kill the beast with a single blaster shot.
  • Author Appeal: Timothy Zahn likes to write about Imperials who aren't pure evil.
  • Battle Butler: Ephant Mon, who holds the distinction of being Jabba's only true friend.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Yarna, the Fat Dancer, turns out to be one. Although shown as rather ugly in the film, she reveals to Doallyn that she was forced to wear makeup that reminded Jabba of his mother, and her eyes are bright green. Her species retains water to survive desert climates, and she sheds some of the weight almost immediately and becomes more voluptuous.
  • Big Eater: The bandleader Max Rebo arranges for his group to be paid in free food (later EU books explain that food is exceptionally scarce on his homeworld).
  • Brain in a Jar:
    • The B'omarr monks, the original inhabitants of the palace, have their brains surgically removed and placed in jars upon reaching enlightenment. In this state they can contemplate the cosmos without the distractions of a living body and mundane senses. When the monks choose, the jars do allow for limited hearing, speech, and vision (and the monks are telepathic anyway). They can also summon spider-like droids that carry the brain jars around when they want to move—one of which can be barely glimpsed in the film as C-3PO and R2-D2 enter the palace.
    • After Jabba's death, the monks take over the palace, applying their surgical techniques to Bib Fortuna and several others, including Bubo (willingly), Tessek (less willingly) and J'Quille (in the epilogue, where he only consents because he can't stand Tatooine's heat any longer and has a bounty on his head if he ever leaves the planet). In the X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics we see that Bib got out of it eventually.
  • Brain Theft: The ultimate fate of Bib Fortuna. He escapes with a brain theft of his own.
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of the band's tale, Droopy McCool declares that he's going into the desert to find other Kitonaks and does so. According to the epilogue, he's never seen again, but some people hear sounds like flutes playing and assume it's Droopy and his 'brothers'.
  • Cassandra Truth: Jabba's chef Porcellus is met with disbelief when pleading he hasn't been poisoning Jabba even though he's telling the truth.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: In the backstory a villainous version of this happened when after all of Jabba and Ephant Mon's gunrunning companions were killed or scattered, a few of them came back in time to rescue Jabba and Mon before they froze to death.
  • Circus of Fear: Before entering Jabba's service Malakili was beast-tamer at the aptly named Circus Horrificus, which later showed up in the Republic comic series.
  • Clear My Name: Porcellus spends a good portion of his story trying to prove he wasn't poisoning Jabba, and even succeeds in proving it was his assistant poisoning the food. Unfortunately he was actually being accused of hexing the food to cause bad luck, and was sentenced to death for it.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Gartogg concludes that the person committing the murders must be Dannik Jerriko because there is no evidence left behind and only a snot vampire can kill people and do that. His superiors dismiss his theory and threaten to grind him up for Jabba's dinner. Turns out he was right all along, despite being an utter moron in everything else.
  • Clueless Detective: Gartogg, who blunders around the palace trying to solve the murders, stumbling across no less than four murder victims and not even realizing that three of them are murder victims. Nonetheless, he does come to the correct conclusion about who the killer is.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: EV-9D9 is that rarest of creatures, a droid sadist, and lives to torture other droids, considering the application of mechanical pain an art form, one enhanced by the pain-sensors she has installed in herself and the other droids in the palace. Such sensors are usually only found in the most human-like droids, such as protocol droids, meant to allow them to empathize with living beings, but EV-9D9 twists them to her purpose.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Tessek has set up several legitimate businesses for Jabba which rake in more money than the criminal ones. Tessek's long-term plans involved keeping those businesses while selling the criminal ones to Lady Valarian once Jabba was dead, and he felt confident he could be content with that honest income.
  • Death by Gluttony: The Gamorrean guard Jubnuk falls victim to the rancor shortly after eating scraps of food that had been hexed by one of Jabba's many would-be assassins.
  • The Ditz: Gartogg the guard, who is moronic even by the standards of other Gamorreans.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Bidlo Kwerve dies fighting back against the rancor with a blaster Kwerve had kept hidden on his person. Spectators agree he put up a worthy fight.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Sarlacc has traits of one, particularly in how it tortures its victims by forcing them to experience the memories of other victims, past and present. And then claims each victim's mind for itself.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: EV-9D9 thinks Lando Calrissian has infiltrated Jabba's palace in order to recapture her and bring her back to Cloud City. Of course, as we know from the film, he's more concerned with rescuing Han from Jabba's clutches.
  • Everyone Can See It: Porcelleus can tell Leia's feelings for Han as soon as they meet.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Malakili, the most successful (read: longest-lived) beast tamer in the history of the Circus Horrificus, is hired away from the circus by Bib Fortuna to be the rancor's keeper. He successfully teaches the otherwise vicious creature to trust him to the point that they eat lunch together, and he can climb into its mouth to pull rotten teeth without fear. On one occasion he takes the rancor out of the palace for some exercise and it willingly returns with him.
  • Full-Conversion Cyborg: Jabba's Palace initially belongs to the B'omarr Order, a group of ascetics who surgically extracted their own brains to become a Brain in a Jar as a form of intentional sensory deprivation so they could achieve enlightenment. More senior monks were permitted to connect their brains to cybernetic spider-like bodies for practical needs.
  • Gambit Pileup: Where to even begin?
    • Bib Fortuna is plotting to kill Jabba. Bib knows of a separate plot by Tessek, Ree-Yees, and Bubo, but just wants to let that progress to see if those three end up killing Jabba for him. In all, there are at least 14 assassination plots that Fortuna is aware of and 68 more plots to rob the palace.
    • Tessek has arranged to set Jabba up to be arrested in the middle of a drug buy by the Imperials... but he plans to double-cross the Imperial Prefect by arranging for everybody to be killed in the middle of the arrest, effectively removing both Jabba and the head of Imperial law enforcement on Tatooine.
    • J'Quille the Whiphid — on orders from Jabba's chief criminal rival, the Lady Valarian — has bribed the kitchen boy to put slow-acting poison in Jabba's food each day... However, the kitchen boy ends up getting murdered by Dannik Jerriko!
    • Dannik Jerriko does this because his species kills and feeds on other sentients' brains, and in Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina he had been eagerly anticipating doing this to Han Solo. With Solo in Jabba's captivity and soon to be executed, Jerriko is pissed at being denied his prey and has thus targeted Jabba. He wants to get Jabba good and scared by killing lots of people in his service before finally killing Jabba himself. The movie main cast throws a Spanner in the Works, obviously.
    • Multiple people finish their stories right before they hurry off to plant a bomb on Jabba's sail barge in an attempt to blow him up when he rides out to feed the heroes to the Sarlacc; only one bomb is found in one of the later tales, and it's disarmed, but that's moot because it happens moments before the barge gets blown up by the heroes anyway.
    • As we know from the film, the Rebels infiltrate the palace to rescue Han and various hijinks ensue around them.
    • Finally, after Jabba dies and some of the plotters return to the palace with the intent of taking his place, they fall victim to the B'omarr monks; the monks used to own the palace before Jabba forcibly took it from them. They aren't very pleased about this, and so once Jabba's gone and his surviving minions start fighting among themselves, the B'omarr monks make their move and retake the palace.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: "A Time to Mourn, a Time to Dance: Oola's Tale" fades out right before Oola gets dropped into the rancor pit.
  • Handicapped Badass: Doallyn, a palace guard and Jabba's enslaved hunter, wears a breathing suit similar to Vader's after injuries from a hunt left him unable to breath unaided. This doesn't hinder his fighting prowess, as he fires on Dannik Jerriko without hesitating and even kills a Krayt dragon with a single blaster.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: According to the epilogue, this happened to the bounty hunter Dannik Jerriko, who went on a murder spree after Jabba's death and ended up with a huge bounty on his own head as a result.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Oola's dancing partner Sienn is meant to be one, an innocent-yet-sexy Twi'lek to contrast with the more "worldly wise" Oola. The truth is they're both very naive and unaware of the danger on Tattooine.
  • In the Back: In "A Free Quarren in the Palace", Tessek shoots one of Jabba's guards in the back (which goes unnoticed in the chaos of the battle on Jabba's sail barge), saving the life of Luke Skywalker (who never noticed) in the process.
  • It's Personal: A lowly traffic-control droid from Cloud City tracks down EV-9D9 and, after shooting her limbs off, releases all of her robotic prisoners and allows them to dismantle her. She had previously practiced her torture techniques on at least three of his fellow traffic droids.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Bib Fortuna is so sure of himself that when Luke speaks to him and instantly convinces him to take the opposite action from what he planned (keeping Skywalker away from Jabba and making a deal with him after killing the Hutt and taking over), he only pauses for a moment to consider whether the Jedi could have influenced his mind before dismissing the idea.
    Fortuna: What are you doing here? You know Jabba has not accepted your offer, and he will not speak with you. You must wait for me.
    Skywalker: You will take me to Jabba now.
    Fortuna: I will take you to Jabba now.
  • Karmic Death: Averted. Bib was planning one for Jabba but never got a chance to enact it. As part of his coup, he was planning to have Jabba doused in hot grease from the kitchen and then slid down the rancor chute.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Ortugg the Gamorrean guard finally becomes so disgusted with Gartogg's stupidity that not only does he not allow Gartogg to come on the sail barge when Jabba and his gang take the Rebels out to be fed to the Sarlacc (something that Gartogg has been constantly begging him for), but he announces that when he gets back he is going to kill Gartogg and have him ground up and served to Jabba. And what happens to Ortugg? Like nearly everyone else in the gang, he gets killed when the sail barge he had prevented Gartogg from boarding blows up, purging that Jerkass from existence and finally freeing Gartogg (who gets a happy ending of sorts) from Ortugg's bullying.
    • EV-9D9 is attacked and disabled by a droid survivor of her previous killing spree on Cloud City. The droid paralyses her, then leaves her at the mercy of the droids she tortured and experimented on in Jabba's basement. For added irony, he also rips out her custom pain-sensor, so she can't even enjoy the sensations of her own dismantling.
  • Living MacGuffin: Nat Secura, Bib Fortuna's hostage/ward who he plans to use as a Puppet King back on Ryloth and thus has a vested interest in keeping alive throughout his story.
  • Lost in Translation: An In-Universe example. The Huttese word "fierfek" is generally believed to mean poison, so the chef Porcellus is horrified to learn Jabba thinks he used a "fierfek" on the food. While able to prove his assistant was poisoning Jabba's food, Porcellus is still sentenced to death. As C-3PO explains, Hutts doesn't actually have a word for poison as their biology is too resilient for many substances to harm them. "Fierfek" actually translates most closely to "hex"; Jabba believed that Porcellus was hexing his food to cause bad luck, which is why so many people who ate it died soon after.
  • Magic 8-Ball: In George Alec Effinger's story "The Great God Quay", the Weequays consult a talking white orb (meant to resemble their homeworld's moon), believing that it conveys wisdom from their god. Its responses, while taken straight from the standard 8-ball list, are surprisingly accurate.
  • Mercy Kill: One year after escaping the Sarlaac, Boba Fett returns to the Pit of Carkoon in a new ship and uses its thrusters to burn up both the Sarlaac and the telepath Susejo to finally end his miserable existence.
  • Multi Boobage: Yarna the Askajian dancer has six breasts. Justified, in that her species bear multiple young at one time. After she leaves Tatooine she becomes a model for a line of jeweled brassieres.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: "A Bad Feeling" has a bit where Artoo cusses out EV-9D9 in such a dense stream of machine language that she actually rewinds it and slows it down inside her head so she can process all the nuances. It's what causes her to call him "a feisty little one" in the film.
  • Nervous Wreck: Porcellus, Jabba's chef, was once an award-winning Supreme Chef whose only concerns were the perfection of his craft and pleasing his Imperial employers. Now, the narration remarks, he is "prey to chill terror at every unexpected word.
  • Oblivious to Hatred: Hatred might be a strong word but Gartogg comments about how he almost decapitated Porcelleus by accident and how the chef doesn't hold it against him. Porcelleus's chapter reveals that he dislikes the gamorreans, especially because of that accident (he doesn't hate Gartogg any worse than the others but only because he can't tell them apart that well to tell which one nearly killed him).
  • Out-Gambitted: Bib Fortuna spends much of his story believing that he has the B'omarr monks under his thumb, and that they'll help him take control of Jabba's organization. Once Jabba is dead, he learns that he's the Unwitting Pawn to the monks, and they've decided he's enlightened enough to become a Brain in a Jar.
  • Pen Name: Daniel Keys Moran had the story "A Barve Like That" published under the name "J. D. Montgomery" after some Executive Meddling. It's not a pure case of Alan Smithee because Moran says 80% of the story was left intact. The book's author bio for Montgomery simply says he "does not exist ... not really."
  • Planet of Hats: Exploited. The Max Rebo Band gets stuck working for Jabba in "And the Band Played On" because Sy Snootles made the mistake of letting Max handle the contract negotiations. Max is an Ortolan, whose Hat is Big Eater,note  and Jabba offered to pay them in food.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Certain of Jabba's minions (Tessek, Barada, Porcellus) are otherwise lawful beings who happen to work for a gangster, and they can be quite friendly when they're not in shootouts or carrying out executions and the like.
  • Ragtag Band of Misfits: The Rebels that infiltrate the palace, as observed by Tessek. The Quarren, upon realizing that Jabba has captured leaders of the Rebel Alliance, believes that the Bloated One has turned the palace into a target and spends the trip to the Sarlacc watching the skies for the Rebel fleet to come to the rescue. He's rather stunned to see that the people Jabba's gang has already captured (a man who's half-blind, a Wookiee, a kid with a lightsaber, and a woman in chains, along with a so-called guard) are doing a pretty good job of fighting off the thugs.
  • Redemption Rejection: Luke tells Bib Fortuna that his lifestyle will bring him to ruin and offers to help free his homeworld from the Empire. Bib is tempted but quickly rejects the young Jedi's offer.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Apparently, Mara Jade was in the palace at the time Luke Skywalker launched his rescue mission, we just never happened to catch a glimpse of her (because, of course, as a fictional character she wasn't created until nearly a decade after Return of the Jedi). This was originally established in her first appearance in The Thrawn Trilogy, where the fact she never managed to actually interact with the main characters there despite her best efforts was a major part of her backstory.
  • Retirony: It turns out the Rancor (mistreated into its vicious behavior in the same way as fighting dogs are) and its keeper would have escaped Jabba's clutches later that day if it hadn't been killed by Luke.
  • Robotic Psychopath: EV-9D9 runs Jabba's droid pool and tortures droids who fail in their duty. The film shows her burning the feet of a droid, but the book details much more horrifying things in her secret lair. The reason why was that back when her line of droids was manufactured, they got motivators intended for then-illegal torture droids by mistake.
  • Series Continuity Error: In "A Boy and His Monster", Bib Fortuna is rewarded with a promotion to majordomo for bringing Jabba the rancor. In "And the Band Played On", Jabba already has the rancor before the retirement of Bib's predecessor.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: While some members of Jabba's gang stick around to try and take over, others grab whatever they can and leave after Jabba's death.
  • Smug Snake: Bib Fortuna. In fairness he comes across as reasonably cunning (even if he is a "weak-minded fool") but he definitely isn't the Magnificent Bastard he sees himself as.
  • The Starscream: Bib Fortuna, Jabba's majordomo and right-hand man, is also the one with the most elaborate and well-thought-out plan to kill him and take over. Actually a lot of people are trying to bump off Jabba, but Fortuna fits the trope closest.
  • Supreme Chef: Porcellus was once an award-winning chef, head of an Imperial Moff's personal kitchen, in which capacity he occasionally cooked for the Emperor himself. Even kidnapped into slavery in Jabba's dank palace, his culinary creations (the ones edible by beings other than Hutts, anyway) are legendary.
    Minor religions had been built around Porcellus's beignets in Mos Eisley—scaresly the oddest objects of veneration in that port, it should be added.
  • Telepathy: Tessek develops this as a result of his time with the monks; six months later, he uses it to touch the minds of Han, Leia, Luke and Chewbacca, who all get (and shake off) the same, strange thought as a result: "If ever you return to Jabba's fortress, you will find a free Quarren in the palace."
  • Token Good Teammate: Malaki observes that of the various ghoulish hanger-ons and assistants he has to put up with only one goes with him to check on the dead rancor and then tries to console him, while the rest just dissipate now that the opportunities the rancor provides are gone. Malaki feels a little guilty that he can't remember the guy's name.
  • Uncertain Doom: The skiff guard who tells Boba Fett about his sister Shaara is never seen or mentioned in the epilogue, and most of the skiff guards died fighting Luke and Lando.
  • Villain Protagonist: At least half the stories.
  • Volatile Second Tier Position: Bib Fortuna. All the members of Jabba's court risk execution or worse, but as the closest to Jabba himself, Fortuna is under the most consistent risk.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Since most of the characters in this book never really figured heavily in future stories, one of these was included where it had been absent from the other books.
    • Malakili the rancor keeper freed Porcellus the chef from his cell, then the pair looted the treasury and opened their own restaurant in Mos Eisley with the proceeds.
    • J'Quille the Whiphid found he now had a bounty on his head if he ever left Tatooine and, unable to take the planet's heat any longer, joined the B'omarr monks and exchanged his body for a brain jar.
    • Mara Jade was kept very busy.
    • Gartogg the Gamorrean left the palace with others heading to Mos Eisley, where he became an enforcer for a smuggling operation and faithfully took the dried-out mummies of the kitchen boy and a B'omarr monk (whose murders he'd solved) with him everywhere he went.
    • Ephant Mon returned to his homeworld and started a religious sect that worshiped the Force, funding it with the occasional scam using the skills from his former life.
    • Max Robo and Sy Snootles split up; Max joined the Rebellion as an entertainer and later started his own successful multi-planet chain of restaurants, while Sy tried for a solo career that went poorly, forcing her to hook up with other jizz bands to keep her career going. Droopy vanished into the desert and is supposedly still out there with other Kitonaks, whose music can still be heard.
    • Bib Fortuna remained in the palace, a brain in a jar, though he managed to contact other allies and still hoped to escape some day. In the "Battleground: Tatooine" arc of X-Wing Rogue Squadron, he eventually succeeds.
    • Dannik Jerriko went on a killing spree in the palace and ended up a wanted man.
    • Like Mara Jade, Boba Fett was kept very, very busy by his later adventures.
    • Yarna Gargan and her business partner Doallyn lived on their new ship and became free traders; Yarna danced for credits when needed, including at Han and Leia's wedding, and there became recruited as a model for a new line of jeweled brassieres. Doallyn managed her new career, with a side job of capturing specimens for zoos. Yarna's son and daughters discovered a talent for music and eventually became a swinging jizz trio.
    • Of the other eight stories, six ended with the viewpoint character dead, and two others (Tessek and Bubo) joined the B'omarr monks.
  • Who Even Needs a Brain?: Played entirely realistically in Bib Fortuna's chapter, where he has the brain removed from his friend Nat Secura's head and transferred to a nutrient jar. Nat's body is only still alive because the brain stem was left, specifically so the body would still breathe, but it otherwise remains motionless until it's eaten by the rancor.
  • Yandere: Lady Valarian is very sweet on J'Quille... but the moment he attempts to return to Toola, she threatens to put a bounty on his head if he ever leaves Tatooine, supposedly due to being hurt by his "rejection" of her. For good measure, this is likely a calculated move to force him to spend more time with her in the Lucky Despot's ice spas, the only place where Whiphids would ever be able to endure Tatooine's heat. However, this threat backfires when J'Quille despairingly joins the B'Omarr Monks.
  • You Killed My Father:
  • You No Take Candle: How Gartogg the Gamorrean guard speaks, due to his lower intelligence. Head guard Ortugg finds it annoying and yells at him repeatedly to talk normally. In the final scene, he succeeds (but has to concentrate heavily on each word to do so).
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Combined with a "Shaggy Dog" Story. The Weequays' chapter has them finding and disarming a bomb (in spite of their dimness) threatening to kill Jabba only for Luke and the others to escape and blow up the sail barge mere seconds afterwards (while also killing at least two of the five Weequays in the process).