This Star Wars article contains major spoilers.
Unlike the last few installments full of twists and turns, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fairly straightforward romp through space starring Han, Chewie, Lando, and newcomers Qi’ra and Tobias Beckett. With Solo, we get to finally see (in the new canon, anyway) how young Han Solo became the scoundrel we know and love from the Original Trilogy as well as how he met his loyal Wookiee companion, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian, his charming frenemy from The Empire Strikes Back.
The film zips through its plot, taking us from Han’s days as an orphan in the dirty industrial streets of Corellia to his service in the Imperial infantry to his fateful meeting with Beckett, which put him on the path to become a smuggling legend as well as a famous Rebel leader. But while there’s a lot of laughing, careless flying through a maelstrom, and some pretty high stakes gambling, Han doesn’t complete his first adventure across the galaxy without a bit of heartbreak.
Solo is the franchise’s most faithful space western to date. Indeed, this story of a coaxium heist gone wrong and the multiple sides trying to make a run for it with the most valuable resource in the galaxy might as well be The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Star Wars. In the end, all sides show their hands.
Enfys Nest and her Cloud-Riders, the marauders who have been chasing Beckett’s crew throughout the movie, are revealed to be a rebel cell made up of aliens from the planets that have suffered under Imperial rule. Most notable of the crew is Enfys herself, a teenage girl who wants the coaxium stolen from Kessel in order to spark life into a new rebellion (we all know which). Specifically, Enfys Nest wants to make bombs out of the highly unstable coaxium.
As Qi’ra knew he would, Han turns out to be the good guy, hatching a plan for the Cloud-Riders to escape with the coaxium while he and his beloved fool Crimson Dawn by selling its leader, Dryden Vos, “fake” stuff. Of course, that plan doesn’t completely turn out.
While many expected Qi’ra, who is presented as a chaotic neutral figure in the trailers, to betray Han at some point in the movie, it’s his mentor, Beckett, who pulls the plug on the scoundrel’s plan. Beckett, who plays the part of “honest” smuggler throughout the movie, a captain who cares for his crew, teaches Han one last valuable lesson: don’t trust anyone. It’s Beckett who informs Vos that Han plans to trick him with the “fake” coaxium, and in that way, the veteran smuggler can live another day and stay in Crimson Dawn’s good graces.
In a classic Mexican standoff, Beckett reveals he’d rather get a good pay day than allow the Cloud-Riders to use the coaxium for a better cause. Han and Qi’ra, who is Vos’ right hand, are exposed as traitors, but not before acting as a distraction so that Enfys Nest and the rest of the marauders can get away with most of the coaxium. The last bit of coaxium is actually with Han and Qi’ra, who weren’t offering Vos fake stuff at all. Beckett decides to take the remaining coaxium for himself and Chewie hostage.
A fight breaks out between Han, Qi’ra, and Vos. It’s a showcase of fancy Teras Kasi moves and slightly clumsy blaster fire. In the end, Qi’ra is able to kill her former boss, finally freeing herself from his clutches.
Han decides to go after Beckett and save Chewie, but not before sharing one final moment with Qi’ra, who promises that she’ll be right behind him. Of course, that’s not true. Qi’ra, who came from nothing, a petty thief working for a giant bug woman named Lady Proxima on Corellia, decides it’s time for her own ascension into power. She takes Vos’ Crimson Dawn ring and uses it to call her real boss, the man Vos alluded to earlier in the movie: Maul. It’s revealed that Maul has been pulling the strings of Crimson Dawn all along.
If you’re wondering how this is possible, remember that Maul survived his defeat at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi through sheer force of will. He made his return in The Clone Wars animated series after being dumped on a junkyard planet and fashioning himself spider legs out of trash. He slowly rose to power once again, fueled by his thirst for revenge against Darth Sidious, the master who abandoned him, and the Jedi who almost killed him. At the height of his power during the Clone Wars, Maul was the leader of the Shadow Collective, an alliance of criminal organizations, which he used to wage war against both the Republic and the Separatists. He also became ruler of Mandalore.
Not much is known about what Maul got up to after the end of the Clone Wars and before his return on Rebels, but Solo confirms that the former Sith apprentice was still leading at least one criminal organization in those years. Maul is only on screen for about a minute or two in Solo, played once again by The Phantom Menace actor Ray Park and voiced by Sam Witwer, who also voiced the villain in The Clone Wars and Rebels. He gives Qi’ra a mysterious new assignment and she accepts, flying off on the Crimson Dawn ship to parts unknown.
Lucasfilm has signed Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich for three movies, with plans to make a trilogy of films around the character. Qi’ra’s connection with Maul is clearly meant to carry over to another movie. Hopefully, we’ll get to see how this plays out in a future installment.
Meanwhile, Han has one final showdown with Beckett. Like it’s high noon in the Old West, Han shoots first and takes down his former mentor, who dies thinking about the retirement he so longed for and the valachord he wanted to learn how to play.
With the whole mess coming to an end, Han and Chewie decide to follow a lead Beckett had mentioned earlier in the movie. Apparently, there’s a gangster on Tatooine with a very big job… We all know he means Jabba the Hutt. Assume that this is another plot thread that would be picked up in a sequel.
But before Han and Chewie can get to Jabba, they need the fastest ship in the galaxy. In the epilogue, Han challenges Lando to one last game of sabacc for the Falcon. This time, Han makes sure to snatch the secret playing card Lando keeps under his sleeve. When the two criminals show their hands, it’s Han who comes out on top and gets to fly off in the Falcon for many more adventures. As for Lando, we don’t get to see where he goes next. Perhaps we’ll get to see that in his own solo film.
Basically, Solo: A Star Wars Story ends with three storylines that could be continued in a sequel: 1) Han and Chewie meet Jabba the Hutt for the big job, 2) Qi’ra goes on a new mission for Maul, and 3) Lando finds someone new to con (and perhaps even meets Lobot!). There’s plenty left to explore with these characters, although it remains unclear we’ll ever actually see these storylines play out after Solo‘s poor performance at the box office in comparison to the franchise’s other theatrical releases. But we remain hopeful that we’ll see these characters again somehow. Perhaps on TV?
Until then, trust no one.