I came across this meme the other day, causing a discussion with my wife. Like many people, she feels Han played the rogue when he failed to tell Leia he loved her in return.
I think it played out differently.
A Little History First
Cast your mind back. Our intrepid heroes are held prisoner by Darth Vader in Lando Calrissian's, Cloud City. They've been torchured and generally mistreated in an effort to lure Luke Skywalker there. Looking for a safe way to transport his dangerous cargo back to his master, Vader comes up with the idea to freeze him in carbonite. Calrissian warns Vader that putting humans in carbonite could potentially kill them. Vader decides to test the carbon freezing process on Captain Solo first.
The prisoners are marched into the carbonite freezing chamber. Lando informs Han that he's being put in carbonite. The bounty hunter, Bobba Fett, complains to Vader that he can't collect the bounty on a corpse, but Vader assures him he's covered. Our heroes instantly recognize there's a very good chance Han isn't going to survive this experiment. It's bad, and Han is going to die.
As Vader orders Solo into the freezing chamber, Leia steps forward. "I love you."
Han's lips form a tight line. "I know."
Wherein We'll Catch The Conscience Of The King ... Uh, Princess
So, what really happened here? Did Han play the rogue and fail to disclose him emotions? My money is on, 'NO,' and here's why.
From the very ending of Star Wars: A New Hope, and from the very beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, Han has been showing Leia how he feels, all while trying to get her to admit how she feels about him. Han confronts her, she dodges. He invades her space, she ducks out. She doesn't ever show it, or say it. But by the climax of the film, Han is about to die and Leia still hasn't confessed how she feels about him.
So as Han steps into the chamber of death, she blurts out, "I love you."
Han, who obviously loves her too, could have gone for the easy route. "I love you too." But he's a hero, damn it! And heroes care about their lady's feelings. Knowing Leia blurted it out because she couldn't live with herself if Han died not knowing how she felt, he comforts her psyche by satisfying her fears. "I know."
He could have said, "I know you do, sweetheart. I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of a smuggler and a princess don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy galaxy far, far away. Someday you'll understand that. Here's looking at you kid."
But he didn't.
Using conservation of words--because let's admit it, Vader is NOT a patient man--he tells her, "I know." At once, validating Leia's feelings and confirming his own.
While obviously a con artist, Han held genuine feelings for Leia. In what he felt were his final moments, Han was more worried about Leia than himself, so he wasn't glib, but compassionate.
That's my two-bits.
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