Friday Focus: Solo Novelization (Q’ira Part 2 + L-3)

That looks like a mathematical equation, but the Solo novelization, by Mur Lafferty, is perfect to discuss more about Q’ira, as well as L-3, in my Women of Star Wars series.

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition

I loved Solo: A Star Wars Story, and was eager to read the novelization in hopes of getting some more insight into the characters, and I wasn’t disappointed.

What I especially loved about the book was that it gave us more insight into the two female characters, Q’ira and L-3. There’s a scene in the movie where Q’ira engages L-3 in conversation while on the Millenium Falcon, and it’s expanded in the book to give us some more backstory to both characters.

“Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra from Solo: A Star Wars Story ”
Q’ira and L3

After L-3 quips that’s “It works,” referring to a possible relationship between her and Lando, she goes on to ask Q’ira what her story is. A flashback scene takes us into Q’ira’s memories after Han escaped Corellia while she didn’t. She’s brought back to Lady Proxima, and as she realizes she’ll have to stand in for Han’s crimes as well as her own, “Resentment, a seed planted in dry ground at the spaceport, got a little bit of water and began to squirm very slightly in her chest.” She’s glad he got out, but…she didn’t.

Lady Proxima sells her to a slave dealer, who eventually sells her to Dryden Voss. The first year was “hell” filled with escape attempts and beatings. But on her last attempt, he’s impressed enough to offer her a chance to use her potential and work for him. He teaches her Teras Kasi, a fighting style meant for nonforce users to use against Jedi. She’s not free, but she does gain some power, as in becoming his right hand. She has luxuries, she lives unshackled, and can take part in Crimson Dawn business. Nevertheless, “the chain that attached them wasn’t one of physical links, but something she knew could never break.”

L-3 intuits this, and asks her “What’s your restraining bolt?” The answer, of course, is Dryden Voss himself, and at the end of the book, Q’ira removes her restraining bolt by killing him.

Solo: A Star Wars Story | StarWars.com
L3-37

Q’ira asks L-3 about her story, and L-3 tells her that her first owner, after cleaning her sensors, forgot to put her restraining bolt back. She used the parts in his workshop to modify herself and download data, and left to look for work. Alas, no one wanted to hire her as an independent contractor rather than use as a droid slave. Until Lando. He took a chance on her, and they’d been flying together ever since, all the while L-3 never giving up on her quest to liberate any droid she could find.

I loved these two females having a “girl talk”, discussing the limited choices they could make within their constricted lives, and the nature of freedom and oppression. L-3 is actually freer than Q’ira: she’s there by her own choice, while Q’ira is beholden to Voss.

We get much more from L-3 when she’s plugged into the Millenium Falcon after her “death.” At first she resists, not wanting to become a slave to humans again, as a ship doing what they want her to do. But the Falcon talks to her and convinces her that it’s either meld with the ship and become one with it, or die. She can live on, and become part of something bigger.

I love, love, love that we get to hear the Falcon actually speak to L-3 (well, through its circuitry). It’s what we knew all along: the Millenium Falcon is a character in its own right. Once L-3 does merge with the ship, its character becomes a combination of concern, and even love, for its owner(s), a vast navigational knowledge, and a bit of sass. Sounds about right.

HALCON MILENARIO
The Falcon

We even get a scene of Lando talking to L-3 one last time once she’s plugged into the ship’s computer, which is touching. They trade jokes and insults before saying goodbye, and then her individual consciousness fades away into the Falcon. One last flicker thinks This is tolerable.

In the Epilogue, we get another scene that was not in the movie, but that was satisfying in that it connected to another Star Wars stand-alone: Rogue One.

Star Wars Authentics | Enfys Nest
Enfys Nest

The young woman who is Enfys Nest has travelled to meet with Saw Gerrera, to deliver all that coaxium she stole from the Crimson Dawn for her cause. She’s surprised that he brought along a girl, about eleven years old, with him: Jyn Erso.

He brought her along because he wants Jyn “to learn.” Seeing how young she is, Enfys, who is young herself at sixteen, removes her helmet so Jyn can see her. “They’re going to underestimate you,” she says to Jyn. “Make them regret it.”

As they all walk onto her shuttle to discuss the coaxium, Jyn whispers to Enfys, “He’s going to underestimate you,” referring to Saw. The last few lines of the book is:

Enfys smiled to herself. The girl learned fast. They might be in good hands after all.

This was a wonderful little bridge to Rogue One, and a great ending to a excellent novelization.

Monday Musings: Rogue One Novelization (Or, Jyn Part 2)

Star Wars : Rogue One

I just finished reading the Rogue One novelization by Alexander Freed, and I have to say, though I enjoyed it, I’m not sure if “book Jyn” is the same person as “movie Jyn.”

Here’s what I mean. The same events happen to her as in the movie, the same origins, and the same end. Everything’s the same on the outside. On the inside of Jyn’s mind and heart, however, I saw a different person than I saw onscreen.

In the movie, Jyn is an emotionally distant criminal with no allegiances. She’s hurt and bewildered by her mother’s death and her father’s and Saw’s abandonment. It makes her bitter and hardened, distrustful.

A mother’s gift

In the book, Jyn is not merely bitter–she’s a raging inferno of hate. She hates everyone and everything, but especially her father, Galen Erso. Seriously, if Jyn was a Force user, she’d have turned to the Dark Side almost immediately. She spits anger and hatred and distrust almost constantly, a tensed animal ready to spring into violence.

I was a little unsettled by this version of Jyn. While I perfectly understood it, it was at odds with the Jyn I saw portrayed by Felicity Jones onscreen. Maybe it’s Jones’ lovely face that made me feel there was more hurt and loneliness behind her heart than hatred. A silly tendency, maybe; but Jones is a wonderful actress, and I seriously doubt she misunderstood the character.

That means the author decided to go deep into Jyn’s psyche to tell the story, and what he apparently found there caused him to create a character that constantly wanted to blow things up. Kind of like an unhinged, female Poe Dameron.

I’m not saying Alexander Freed is a bad writer, or did the wrong thing. On the contrary, he created a pretty convincing psychology of Jyn based on what he knew of the character. In the book, Jyn is not only damaged by her past experiences, but traumatized. He thought about a sweet 8-year-old girl who watched her mother get murdered, her father leave with the Imperials, and who was then delivered into the hands of a violent guerilla extremist who had no interest in coddling her, despite his love for her–or even because of it. What kind of person does that create?

Someone who compartmentalizes her pain to survive, and stuffs all her emotions into a “dark cave” that she rarely explores. It’s the cave she hid inside as a child, waiting for someone to find her. Over the course of the book, that cave keeps opening up to her little by little, a bit of light here and there to illuminate everything she’s trying to deny or forget. When she sees the holographic message from her father, it puts her into a tailspin; she doesn’t know what to think of her father anymore:

My father is alive. My father is a traitor. My father is building a weapon to destroy worlds. My father is a hero. My father is a coward. My father is a bastard. Galen Erso is not my father. Galen Erso didn’t raise me…

Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso
Galen Erso: hero, coward, bastard, father

The girl’s a tad messed up. Who can blame her? However, over the course of the book, that dark cave of emotions keeps getting pried open more and more, until, at the end of the story, when she and Cassian and the Rogue One crew are on their way to get the Death Star plans come hell or high water, it’s wide open and illuminated. She’s accepted everything that’s in there, is at peace with it, and herself–she’s now a woman with a purpose, doing what she’s meant to do. When the end comes,

…The world grew brighter, emerald at first and then a clean, purifying white. In Jyn’s mind, the cave below the broken hatch was illuminated with the strength of a sun, and then the walls turned to dust and there was no longer a cave but only her spirit and heart and everything she had ever been: the daughter of Galen and Lyra and Saw, the angry fighter and the shattered prisoner and the champion and the friend.

Soon all those things, too, burned away, and Jyn Erso–finally at peace–became one with the Force.

At the end, book Jyn and movie Jyn are the same, and the differences don’t seem to matter too much.

I always enjoy reading the novelizations of the movies, because it gives us a chance to see into a character’s mind a little bit more than a movie can do. This one was more uncomfortable than most, but still worth a read.

Check out my Women of Star Wars post on Jyn Erso here.

Did you read the Rogue One novelization? What did you think? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!

Friday Focus: Qi’ra-Ambitious Survivor

Han Solo Star Wars Story Emilia Clarke Qi Ra Qira Half Circle Necklace Cosplay #Ad , #Sponsored, #Wars#Story#Emilia

I happen to be one of those people who loved Solo: A Star Wars Story. I don’t necessarily think it’s crucial for the canon (unlike Rogue One, another movie I loved even more), but it was a fun, entertaining heist movie.

One of the more interesting aspects of the story was Qi’ra, young Han’s love interest. They grew up together on Corellia, as orphans/runaways who worked for Lady Proxima, an alien crime lord. It was a tough life, but they dreamed of something better, of having their own ship and not living under anyone else’s thumb. Despite their crappy life, they had a youthful innocence that allowed them to dream.

The two hatched a scheme to escape, and, long story short, Han got out. Qi’ra didn’t.

The Star Wars Underworld: Deleted Scene From 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Released

It’s the experiences of these two young people that determines the choices they make later, and how those experiences define them.

Han went into the Imperial forces to become a pilot, but decides it’s not the life for him. Plus, he couldn’t follow orders. Big surprise there. Despite seeing battle and war, it doesn’t ultimately change who he is–the irrepressible scoundrel we’ve all come to know and love. He’s still one of the “good guys”, even though he’s loathe to admit it.

When they meet again years later, Qi’ra recognizes this and knows they can never make a life together. Because she HAS been fundamentally changed by her experiences. We don’t get too many details besides dark hints and references to “the things she’s had to do” to survive.

For one, she’s beholden to baddie Dryden Vos for getting her off Corellia–at least that’s what I’m guessing–and giving her the opportunity to rise in his crime syndicate, Crimson Dawn. In addition to presumably killing indiscriminately at his command, I’m guessing she’s also had to sleep with him, something only hinted at in this Disney movie, but the assumption is there.

All of which leads to a self-loathing that she’s accepted, something that Han doesn’t recognize or accept himself.

13377 Qi'ra: (Pants suit/Red cape) build - Qi’ra: Kessel Run - 501st Legion : Underworld - Detachment Forums

Qi’ra sees that Han has retained some of his original innocence (and perhaps loves him more for it). When he tells her “You don’t know everything,” she replies, sadly but knowingly, “No. Just more than you.” For Qi’ra, there’s no going back to what she once was. There’s only forward, and it doesn’t include Han.

I don’t believe Qi’ra is evil. She’s damaged and she knows it; there’s no point in trying to be anything else. When she kills Dryden Vos, I believe it’s for two reasons: to save Han, out of a love she still feels for him; but also to elevate herself, for she has ambition as well. If this is how it has to be, then she’s going to be in charge. She’s taking back some power.

I do think she’ll get more than she bargained for dealing with Darth Maul. That’s a type of evil she hasn’t reckoned with yet.

Han Solo and Qi'Ra

Qi’ra’s abandonment hurts Han, and it partly shapes the man he becomes in the near future. No commitments, no attachments. Don’t trust anyone, a lesson he thought he’d learned from Beckett–until he meets a certain princess and her friends years later. That’s when we–and he–learns that he really is one of the good guys.

As for Qi’ra, I wish we could find out what became of her. The scene with Darth Maul was a teaser for a second film, but Solo’s disappointing reception (undeserved, in my opinion) may nip that in the bud. Too bad.

<img src="https://i.pinimg.com/564x/c4/6b/e7/c46be74da3e2ebf12c0a174211e359e1.jpg&quot; alt="Emilia Clarke says her <em>Star Wars

Qi’ra may have written herself off from the good guys, but even though I believe she’s more than capable of fending for herself against crime lords, I don’t think she truly has the heart to play serious with the bad guys–Maul, the Emperor, the Sith, the Dark Side, etc. Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps we’ll never know.

Did you like Solo: A Star Wars Story? What did you think of Qi’ra? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!

Friday Focus: Jyn Erso-Reluctant Hero

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Here’s the latest installment of my Women of Star Wars series.

Jyn Erso from Rogue One is an interesting character to analyze, because she doesn’t initially align herself with either the Empire or the Alliance. Who is she and what does she want?

At the beginning of the film, I assumed that after witnessing the death of her mother at the hands of an Imperial, an Imperial who also took her father away, she’d naturally drift toward the Alliance. But no. When we first see her as an adult, she’s a criminal who is busted out of imprisonment by the Alliance for their own reasons.

My assumption was based on adult thinking; I forgot that as an 8-year old, Jyn might have understood things differently. All she knew was that she lost her parents to the Empire; and she was left in the hands of Saw Gerrera, an extremist formerly linked with the Alliance, who taught her how to survive, surely, but who also “abandoned” her. She trusts no one, and just lives day to day to survive.

I’ve read the Rogue One novelization, and it gets deeper into the character of Jyn. The book presents her as not just distrustful, but deeply damaged by these perceived abandonments; not only that, she spends many years hating her father. I’m going to delve deeper into the novelization in another post, but for now I’ll focus on Jyn as seen in the film.

Welcome Home

We don’t necessarily see that hate for Galen Erso in the film; what we see is a person who has endured many losses, who has had to fight to survive, and who has become bitter with that life. When her father says when she’s a child, “Whatever I do, I do because I love you. Say you understand,” and she replies, “Yes, Papa,” we know that an 8 year old can’t possibly understand what’s happening and why. The loss of her father is painful and bewildering, and she’s angry without understanding why.

When Saw Gerrera leaves her behind because she’s a liability for his group, he left her able to take care of herself. We, the audience, may understand it intellectually, but as a 15-year old, Jyn just sees it as another abandonment. Is it any wonder she has no particular allegiances?

When she agrees to help the Alliance, it’s because she has no choice, really, but we get the feeling that she needs to find her father, if only to get answers. This is a personal quest for Jyn; she’s not there because she hates the Empire, or has any sympathy for the Alliance. She probably hates them both, along with everyone else in the galaxy.

Things start to change for her once she sees her father’s hologram message. She understands a little more about him, what he’s done, and why. It brings up painful, almost paralyzing emotions, and Cassian must pull her away to escape the destruction of Jedha’s Holy City.

Witnessing that destruction, a mere fraction of what the Death Star can do, brings her father’s actions into focus, and she begins to understand the wider implications of such a weapon. It’s not just about her and her anger; it’s about that little girl she saved in Jedha’s plaza, a rescue reduced to nothing because she died anyway, vaporized along with her mother, and everyone else there. She witnesses Chirrut’s and Baze’s loss of their home. The Death Star has become horrifyingly real.

On Eadu, Galen Erso dies in her arms (from Alliance bombs, no less). His last words to her are “It has to be destroyed.” At this point, Jyn becomes determined to do just that–not for the Alliance, but to give her father’s death meaning. It’s still personal. Her father built the damn thing himself so he could secretly put a weakness inside it. This cost him his family, and caused Jyn to live the painful life she’d lived. It has to all mean something. She must finish the job, if she’s to have any kind of personal resolution.

"I'm not used to people sticking around when things go bad."

But it’s also not just personal anymore, either. Her confrontation with Cassian after Eadu moves her closer to this. She’s understandably upset when she learns he meant to kill her father all along. This perceived betrayal cuts deep, considering her trust issues. Cassian argues that he decided–on his own, against orders–not to pull the trigger. It’s not enough for Jyn, and she continues to harass him. He counters with, “You’re not the only one who’s lost everything.” Like her, he’s been suffering since he was a child. But, he says, “Some of us decided to do something about it.” Ouch.

June Wedding

She still grumbles, but it’s here that she’s beginning to come out of her own personal, painful bubble. Her faith in Cassian is restored when he gathers the Rogue One team after the Alliance Council decides against attack. The last third of the film shows Jyn being who she was meant to be: a woman with a purpose. She needs to destroy that Death Star not only to avenge her father and give his death meaning; not only to take back some power for herself after a life of powerlessness; but because it’s the right thing to do.

Jyn’s not looking to be a hero, but her sacrifice makes her one, along with the rest of the team. As she and Cassian watch their death approach, there’s sadness in her, certainly some fear, but no regret. She’s done what she’s meant to do.

How do you feel about Jyn’s character? Did she ring true for you? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!

Monday Musings: Rogue One

Poster Star Wars Rogue One Felicity Jones Jyn Erso Film Cinema #17 #fashion #home #garden #homedcor #postersprints (ebay link)

For some reason, I’ve just watched Rogue One for the first time. I’m not sure why I resisted watching it until now, but I’m kicking myself, because it’s absolutely amazing! I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just list a few (there’s so much!) of the things I loved about this film:

It has nothing to do with the Skywalker storyline. Let me rephrase that: it doesn’t directly have anything to do with the Skywalkers. It does quite literally tie in with A New Hope, and a Skywalker appears in the form of Darth Vader, but it’s not about that family. And don’t get me wrong; I love the Skywalker saga. Star Wars is the Skywalker saga. But it’s so refreshing to see this world from a different perspective. None of the characters are “special” in any way, they don’t have grand bloodlines. They’re just ordinary people, fighting for what they believe in. Jyn Erso, as the daughter of an important Imperial engineer, is the only one with any prominent name, but even she starts out as a criminal. There’s no Star Wars royalty here; it’s just about The People.

Yavin 4 (Planet)
Yavin 4

It’s refreshing, but still has all the familiar Star Wars elements. I love seeing the whole “New Hope” look again. The ships, the uniforms, the technology, the Rebel base on Yavin 4–everything just screams Episode 4, but obviously the special effects are even better. It’s New Hope next level. There are plenty of familiar faces, too: bringing Grand Moff Tarkin back is amazing, but I have to admit, he’s a little creepy. Darth Vader is electrifying in his brief scenes–and seeing him in that bacta tank reminds us that even though he nearly burned to death 20 years ago, he’s probably still in constant pain. Yikes. Seeing Gold Leader in his X-Wing, as well as Porkins, and was that Biggs Darklighter, Luke’s buddy from Tattoine? Cool. Two aliens, whose names escape me, from the Mos Eisley Cantina that Cassian and Jyn run into on Jedha (and are cranky as ever). Leia, played by an actress who looks remarkably like Carrie Fisher (or was that CGI too?). Bail Organa, Mon Mothma. It was fantastic seeing all these original characters.

We spoke to Lucasfilm production designer and self-professed Star Wars fan Doug Chiang about X-wings, U-wings, Death Troopers and bringing the visual aesthetic of A New Hope to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. #starwarsmob
Big Bad Death Star

It’s a story I never knew I needed to know. Way back when, I just took it for granted that the Rebels “somehow” got the Death Star plans, and the story began there. Turns out, it was waaaay more complicated than that. In fact, it’s one hell of a story, one full of anguish, pain, excitement, tragedy, and hope. It forces me to look at A New Hope in a different light: good people died to get this information–not just faceless unknowns, but characters we’ve come to care about. You damn well better blow up that thing! It also explains why the Death Star had such a vulnerability–it wasn’t just a random mistake, it was purposely put there. It’s more believable.

The trailer shows storm troopers, Imperial AT-AT walkers (above), Darth Vader and even a Death Star, one thing that viewers did not get to see were any jedi knights
The battle on Scarif

It’s edge-of-your-seat exciting. The entire third act had me biting my nails anxiously, every muscle tensed, even though I knew they would succeed in their mission. It didn’t matter; I was in an agony of suspense. How would they accomplish this impossible task? Who would live, who would die? My eyes often glaze over during long action sequences, but not this time. Every moment counted.

I got: K-2SO! Which Rogue One Rebel Are You?
K2SO

I’ve finally found the droid I’ve been looking for. K2SO is quite possibly the first droid I’ve ever loved in Star Wars. Sure, R2D2, BB8, and DO are adorable, but they don’t speak our language, and it’s hard to relate to them as more than just cute pets. And don’t get me started on C3P0–he’s mostly just annoyed me for the past 40 years. But this guy (as well as Solo’s L3) is a droid character I actually came to care for. I laughed at almost every sentence that came out of his, well, mouth. He’s funny and likable, sarcastic, while still having that touch of droid innocence. And those long, skinny legs! Loved, loved, loved him. I truly grieved when he unquestioningly gave his life for the cause.

Galen Erso

Not everyone in the Empire is evil. Finn from the sequel trilogy is the first character we see that defects from the “bad guys”. It’s always interesting to see a more balanced view of both the “good” guys (who are not always perfect) and the “bad” guys (who are often just human beings like the rest of us). Galen Erso is a man with a conscience–as an Imperial engineer, he recognizes that the weapon he’s working on is truly monstrous and must not be allowed to exist. He risks his family (and ultimately loses them) and commits treason to make sure this is so. There’s also Bodhi Rook, the Imperial cargo pilot who defects and brings Galen’s message to Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera. In the earlier trilogies, the galaxy seemed to be made up of black and white; the sequel trilogy and the stand alone films explore the fact the there’s quite a large area of gray in life.

Womens Star Wars Rogue One Jyn Erso Womens Jacket with Vest - Ideas of Star Wars Outfits #starwarsoutfits #outfits #clothes -   Women's Star Wars Rogue One Jyn Erso Womens Jacket with Vest
Jyn Erso

The main character is a woman. It may seem unnecessary to point this out, but I don’t think so. It’s still kind of a big deal for me. Along with Rey, she’s the heir to Princess Leia, who was a strong female character who nevertheless wasn’t the main hero of the films–Luke was. Padme was just as strong in her own way, but again, it wasn’t her hero’s journey–it was Anakin’s. In Rey, we finally get a proper female protagonist; and Jyn is her complement in Rogue One. There may be others in the canon, like Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars, but I’m not familiar with that story. If so, that’s fantastic. I’m planning on writing more on Jyn Erso in my Women of Star Wars series, so stay tuned.

A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the The to the Death Star in the anthology film, Rogue One.
My peeps.

I absolutely loved all the members of Rogue One. This group of people really lodged themselves in my heart–Jyn Erso, the prodigal daughter who is determined to give meaning to her father’s death; Cassian, the tough, crafty Rebel intelligence officer with a heart; Bodhi Rook, the erstwhile Imperial pilot whose stutterings are charming and endearing; Chirrut Imwe, the Force-sensitive Guardian of the Whills, blind and amazingly deadly with a staff; his loyal companion, Baze Malbus, who carries a big gun and an even bigger love for his friend; and of course, the irrepressible K2SO. Thrown together by circumstances, they make a great team and get the job done. I adored every one of them.

Rogue One… May the Force be with you. #starwars. Not a kiss, but I freaking love this.
Why??!!

The ending crushed me–and then filled me with hope all over again. As the characters began to die off, I knew it was inevitable. Someone has to die. But all of them?! As Jyn and Cassian stumbled down to the beach and watched their doom approach, my throat closed. Does it have to be this way? my heart wailed. And the answer is, yes, of course it does. They went into this knowing they may not come back. They were willing to sacrifice their lives for it, and they did. Do I like this? No. Did it give the film more emotional heft, and make the events of A New Hope more poignant? Yes.

I haven’t even mentioned Orson Krennic, the main antagonist, or said much about Saw Gerrera, or discussed the less-than-flattering light of the Alliance in this movie, but I’ve gushed for too long here, an you get the picture. Perhaps another blog post is in order?

These are some of the reasons I loved Rogue One, a just about perfect Star Wars movie. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch it again.

Did you love Rogue One? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!