A couple of weeks ago, I posted my review of Solo: A Star Wars Story; now I’m going take a look at what the movie adds to the setting and what storylines it might create.
Despite its disappointing box office reception, Solo is in many ways an example of what is to come. While the film contains its own plot arc, it is very much a setup film for the franchise. Where Rogue One explored the struggle between the Empire and those who resisted it, Solo explores life of those who operate in the shadows. Belying the adventurous tone of the movie is the rather stark and brutal reality of those who live on chaos as well as those caught in the middle.
War and Chaos
The movie’s opening in the slums of Coronet City briefly shows the bleak life of those condemned to them and alludes to how the gangs are often the only source of opportunity (more extensively explored in Most Wanted). The White Worms have no trouble recruiting the street urchins of the city with the promise of a daily meal. In turn, those recruited work to enrich its leadership, often at great personal risk. The real world parallels to the ghettos of the American inner-city or the slums of Rio De Janeiro are obvious. Syndicates and gangs provide order and opportunity where there is no hope.
The Emperor and his Empire preach order, but as Solo and other stories show, reality shows their true goals are chaos. As the recruiting office in the Coronet spaceport demonstrates, the Empire prays upon the desperate by offering them one of the few ways out of poverty. The greater the chaos, the more people lining up to voluntarily become the faceless soldiers of the Imperial war machine. The Emperor enslaves the galaxy by convincing its people to forge their own chains. (There’s also the possibility the Emperor has another motive – perhaps ever increasing suffering fuels the dark side of the Force.) Chaos also legitimizes the Empire and its ever expanding control.
Han is an interesting character. He’s no stranger to the underworld, having grown up in it, yet remains a fish out of water no matter how much he wants to live life outside the law. While we see a number of key moments in Han’s early life, he himself doesn’t change significantly from the beginning to end. As Qi’ra tells him in the final third of the movie, Han is and always will be a good person at heart and lacks the ruthlessness to get far in the underworld.
Indeed, Han allows Chewie to rescue his enslaved fellow wookies on Kessel and finally makes the right choice of betraying Dryden Vos and Beckett in favor of giving the idealistic Enfys Nest and her gang of Cloudriders. He is not, however, ready to give up the glamour and supposed riches of the roguish life and turns down Enfys’s offer of joining the gang yet.
Qi’ra, on the other hand, is a survivalist and knows she’s too far in to leave with Han as she had once dreamed. At the same time, she has a soft spot for Han and betrays him for what she feels is his own good. If she had told him her true intentions, he would have insisted on going with her or tried talking her out of it. Either way, he would not have survived and jeopardized her life as well. As she tells him, once in Crimson Dawn, there is no escaping it.
Which all leads to her probable true agenda. While brought up in the film, who tipped off Enfys Nest about the Vandor heist is left unanswered. Later on, they know what ship the crew is taking and put a tracker on it. The mole is highly likely to be Qi’ra. Dryden may have rescued her from the White Worms, but that simply replaced on form of servitude for another and Qi’ra just wants her freedom (she even turned down an offer in Most Wanted for a similar reason). So, she’s escaping Crimson Dawn in the only way she can – by destroying it from the inside.
As Most Wanted illustrates, Qi’ra’s greatest asset is her mind and ability to plan. Knowing she can’t run from Crimson Dawn, she realizes she must ascend it and then destroy it instead. While working her way up as Dryden’s most trusted lieutenant, she quietly undermined him wherever she could, including passing information to Enfys. Once the opportunity presented itself in the form of Han, she killed Dryden and took his place. She may have wanted to go with Han, but she also knew Maul would hunt her down and therefore had to be brought down as well.
The Falcon and Connections to the Sequel Trilogy
The Shadow Council had previously speculated there was something special about the Falcon’s navigation systems that made the ship especially desirable; particularly to someone sitting on the edge of the difficult to navigate Unknown Regions. Now, Solo has confirmed there is indeed something unique about the Falcon. Namely L3’s personality and processing power have been joined with the ship giving it the ability to rapidly find routes no other ship can. This is a major step forward in figuring out how the Falcon ended up on Jakku with Unkar Plutt.
Other Plotlines and Observations
Besides the main cast and Maul’s cameo, there were several other potential plotlines setup in the movie:
- Enfys Nest and her band of Cloudriders were introduced and she has dreams of building a rebellion. She now has several hundred million credits worth of Coaxium to do it too. Particularly noteworthy is the cameo of “Two-Tubes” in her gang, who was first seen in Rogue One as part of Saw’s group. What’s particularly interesting about this cameo is Saw’s gang attracts a lot of rebels who feel their groups won’t go far enough in fighting the Empire. This strongly suggests Enfys does go on to form her rebel group, but isn’t extreme enough for Two-Tubes for whatever reason. Also of interest is Enfys’s mention that her helmet once belonged to her mother and it’s not a reach to speculate the name ‘Enfys Nest’ did as well.
- Han’s time at the Imperial academy has been left blank. The scene of him getting kicked out was originally intended to be in the movie, but was ultimately cut.
- What exactly Qi’ra did to rise to the level of Dryden’s top lieutenant is also unknown. As is how she escaped the White Worms.
- How Chewie wound up getting captured on Mimban.
- Dryden has a giant holocron in his office almost certainly intended for Maul.