Obi-Wan and Luke go and meet with the Wookiee, Chewbacca, and his pilot, Han Solo. Solo is a smuggler and the captain of a ship called the Millennium Falcon, and has a rather smug attitude about his abilities as a pilot. When he tells Obi-Wan that he has outrun a number of Imperial starships, Obi-Wan tells him they would need to take him, Luke, and two droids, and not ask any questions.
Solo tells them it will cost them extra, 10,000, because they want to avoid "Imperial entanglements," and Luke gets annoyed with his arrogance. Obi-Wan, however, remains calm, and tells Solo he will pay him 2,000 now and then 15,000 once they reach Alderaan. Solo agrees and tells them he's at Docking Bay 94. Suddenly, stormtroopers arrive in the cantina, and Luke and Obi-Wan must make a run for it.
When the stormtroopers walk over, Obi-Wan and Luke are nowhere to be found. Solo tells Chewbacca ("Chewie") that the 17,000 he's getting paid could really help him, and instructs the Wookiee to go back to the ship.
Outside, Obi-Wan tells Luke to sell his speeder, and Luke says he'll never come back to Tatooine, so does not mind. As Solo goes to leave the cantina, a bounty hunter named Greedo stops him with a blaster pistol and tells Solo that he owes a debt to his boss, Jabba the Hutt. As he talks to Greedo, Han grabs his own blaster pistol and shoots him, before tossing a coin to the bartender.
On the Death Star, Vader talks to Tarkin and others about questioning Leia. "I think it is time we demonstrated the full power of this station," Tarkin says, before telling a navigator to set the course towards Alderaan.
Meanwhile, on Tatooine, Solo meets Jabba the Hutt at his docking bay. Jabba wants his credit for a shipment of illegal narcotics that Solo lost. Solo insists that he will have Jabba's money soon, with interest, but that he needs more time, and Jabba agrees to give the pilot one last chance.
As Obi-Wan, Luke, C-3PO, and R2-D2 arrive at the Millennium Falcon, Luke notes that it's a "piece of junk," but Solo insists it has the necessary technology to get them where they are going. Stormtroopers approach, and are tipped off to Luke and Obi-Wan's whereabouts by a discreet spy with an elephantine trunk. They see Solo as he is just about to get on the ship and the Millennium Falcon has to embark on an unexpectedly quick takeoff.
They speed through the galaxy, pursued by two Imperial starships. Luke tries to give Solo advice, but Solo refuses to take it, insisting that he knows what he's doing. The Falcon goes into light speed and disappears into space.
Princess Leia is brought to meet with General Tarkin, who invites her to a ceremony to demonstrate the power of the Death Star before her execution. He tells her that since she has not provided the location of the rebel base, he has set the target of the Death Star on her home planet, Alderaan. Leia is alarmed, and tells him that the rebel base is on Dantooine, but Tarkin orders the commanders to destroy Alderaan anyway, as Dantooine is too remote a location to really demonstrate the Death Star's power. Leia is forced to watch as they destroy her home planet in a fiery blaze.
On the Millennium Falcon, Obi-Wan senses a huge disturbance in the Force, sensing that something terrible has happened. As Solo comes into the room and brags about outrunning the Imperial forces, Chewbacca and R2 play a board game, while Luke practices his aim with a lightsaber. Obi-Wan tells him that a Jedi can "feel the Force flowing through him."
Solo laughs and tells them that he does not believe in the Force. Hearing this, Obi-Wan puts a helmet over Luke's eyes so he cannot see, and advises him to try and hit the laser bolts that a remote droid are shooting at him without being able to see. Luke successfully does so, after Obi-Wan tells him to "stretch out with your feelings." "I call it luck," Solo says, as they begin to approach Alderaan.
On the Death Star, a guard tells Tarkin that they went to investigate Dantooine, and found a deserted rebel base that is no longer operational. Angered, Tarkin orders for Leia's execution.
Meanwhile, the Millennium Falcon navigates a meteor shower, but Solo cannot locate Alderaan. Obi-Wan posits that the Death Star destroyed it, even though Solo believes this is impossible. Suddenly, an Imperial fighter appears, seemingly out of nowhere. It is going towards what seems to be a moon, but Obi-Wan correctly identifies it as a space station. As they approach the Death Star, Luke is worried and Obi-Wan tells them to turn around, but they have been trapped by the magnetic field and are being pulled towards the space station.
A group of stormtroopers run towards the ship, as one of them sends a message to Tarkin and Vader that a ship from Mos Eisley has landed on the Death Star. Vader surmises that the ship is carrying rebels who want to return the stolen plans to the princess. "She may yet be of some use to us," he says.
Vader goes to examine the ship, where a guard tells him that the Millennium Falcon has been completely abandoned, and that it seems likely that it is a decoy, with several escape pods missing. Vader orders for the entire ship to be checked, saying, "I felt something, a presence I've not felt since..." before wandering off abruptly. As several stormtroopers leave the Millennium Falcon, Luke and the others emerge from below the floor of the ship.
As the scanning team boards the Millennium Falcon, we hear a scuffle and then Solo's voice calling for the stormtroopers standing outside. When the stormtroopers climb aboard, Solo and the others kill them and steal their suits for disguises.
Luke and Solo, disguised as stormtroopers, come into the command center and kill the two commanders working there. R2 plugs into the system and locates the tractor beam generator, so that Obi-Wan can set to work shutting it down. Luke wants to accompany Obi-Wan, but Obi-Wan insists that they have to go their own ways on this mission, and Luke must focus on delivering the droids safely, so that the other systems do not "suffer the same fate as Alderaan." Before leaving, Obi-Wan tells him, "The Force will be with you, always."
In the command center, R2 locates Princess Leia in the Death Star on Level 5, and notes that she is scheduled to be executed. Luke jumps into action and wants to help her, but Solo wants to stay in the command center. "But they're gonna kill her!" Luke protests, to which Solo replies, "Better her than me." Trying another angle, Luke tells Solo that Leia is rich and powerful and if they rescue her, Solo might earn a large reward. With the promise of wealth, Solo agrees.
Han Solo, the captain of the Millennium Falcon, has a much more cavalier and irreverent attitude than any of the other characters we have encountered thus far. A confident smuggler, he is proud of what he does and has a certain earthy pragmatism with which he views the world, remaining unimpressed by Obi-Wan's wisdom and Luke's bright-eyed ambition. His attitude, and the ways it contrasts with the other characters, turns Han Solo into the comic relief in the film, a smartass who just wants to do his job.
It is in this section of the film that the adventure plot of the film fully begins, as Luke and his companions embark on a journey on the Millennium Falcon and Vader's stormtroopers become aware of them. Luke and the others must rely on the help of Solo, who has his own desires and priorities to worry about, as they set off into the galaxy in the busted-up, but well-equipped Millennium Falcon. For the first time in the film, we see the protagonist, Luke Skywalker, setting off on his hero's journey, to rescue the galaxy from Imperial rule.
The Imperial forces reveal just how evil and unforgiving they are when Tarkin orders for the Death Star to destroy Leia's home planet of Alderaan right in front of her. Even though she has told him that the rebel base is on Dantooine, he mercilessly orders for the destruction of her home planet, disregarding her information. This demonstration of destructive force sends a message to the galaxy that the Imperial forces are not to be trifled with, and that they are not afraid to destroy huge populations of people.
The power of the Death Star, and the decision to demonstrate its power, bears an allegorical resemblance to anxieties about the atomic bomb that were such a huge part of politics in the mid-20th century, right before Star Wars was made. General Tarkin's decision to destroy a whole planet, in order to demonstrate the destructive capacities of the giant globular weapon the Death Star, resembles the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States during World War II.
On the Death Star, Luke and Obi-Wan must go their separate ways for the first time in the film. When they locate the tractor beam generator, Obi-Wan goes off to dismantle it, telling Luke to stay behind. Luke is anxious about being separated from his mentor, but Obi-Wan insists that it is now time for them to go their separate ways, and that the Force will always be with him. In this moment, Luke must grow up and individuate from his older counterpart, and trust in the Force to guide him.