The latest on the podcast:
I forgot to put Solo and Rogue One into the timeline as I went along with my “Five Favorite Things” series. So here’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, a seriously underrated Star Wars movie, in my opinion.
The Train Heist Scene. This whole sequence is just exhilarating. Han and Chewie have wormed their way into the employ of Tobias Beckett and his crew (Val and Rio) to steal raw coaxium from the Empire. It’s being transported on a mag-train winding around a snowy mountaintop. Han, Chewie and Tobias jump onto the moving train to secure the coaxium as Rio pilots their stolen freighter above. Everything is going according to plan until Enfys Nest shows up–a gang of masked thieves that always seem to know the group’s next move. Things go down from there, Rio and Val are killed, Beckett is furious, and they lose the coaxium, putting them into the debt of Dryden Vos. Big pickle. But a really fun, exciting scene.
The Maw. There are no lightsaber duels in Solo, but there are plenty of battles and action scenes that I could choose from. All of them are terrific, but when the crew flee from Kessel with the hot coaxiam, they need to get it refined, like yesterday, before it blows them up. When the Imperials show up to make things worse, Han decides to go off the beaten path and find a shortcut through the Kessel Run. Not good, as they encounter a giant space monster (a summa-verminoth) and an enormous gravitational-sucking maw that wants to pull them into oblivion. They manage to survive, Han finishes the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs (yes, distance, not time–finally figured that out), and they get the coaxium to the refinery in time. The Falcon is pretty banged up in the process, though, which leads to…
Lando: “I hate you.” Han: “I know.” This is a great twist on the famous “I love you, I know” lines from Han and Leia in Empire. I also love when Han says, “I have a really good feeling about this,” on the Falcon during the Maw crisis, another twist on a famous line. It’s nice to have good feelings for a change, rather than bad ones, lol.
There are SO many funny moments and lines in this movie, it’s almost impossible to pick just one. From nearly everything that comes out of L3-37’s mouth, to the way Lando deliberately mispronounces Han’s name, the chuckles are frequent and delightful.
Most Impactful Character
Han Solo. The movie is called “Solo,” so of course it’s all about Han Solo. The movie is about what made Han into the man we meet in A New Hope, an older, cynical man who nevertheless has a heart in there somewhere. Q’ira sees this in him when she tells Han he’s “the good guy,” while he blusters about being an outlaw. Q’ira is also the one who breaks his heart and sours him on love (until he meets a certain princess). The movie is filled with the people who influenced Han in his youth: not just Q’ira, but Tobias, who turns into a mentor and cautions him to not trust anyone; Lando, who loses the Falcon to Han and becomes a kind of frenemy until the events of the OT solidify their friendship; and of course Chewbacca, a lifelong and dedicated friend, and the only one Han trusts (despite what Tobias says). So yes, the movie centers on Han, but all the supporting players impact him in so many important ways.
There are so many things I love about this movie. The cast is excellent–Paul Bettany as the Crimson Dawn villain Dryden Vos is particularly wonderful, and Donald Glover as Lando is just a joy to watch. The movie is fast-paced and fun, and I think Alden Ehrenreich did a great job as young Han, capturing his youthful zeal, ambition, and devil-may-care attitude. For a Star Wars movie with no Jedi or lightsabers (the closest thing is Maul’s brief appearance at the end) I just love this movie.
What did you like about Solo: A Star Wars Story? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!