Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Who Is Zorii Bliss?

Zorii Bliss is the latest scoundrel introduced to the Star Wars universe. But who really is this mysterious The Rise of Skywalker character?

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Zorii Bliss

This article contains major The Rise of Skywalker spoilers. You can read a spoiler free review here instead.

Scoundrels have always been a classic Star Wars archetype. Based on Han Solo, the man with the fastest ship in the galaxy and a price on his head, they live between the light and dark. They’re often smugglers or running some other kind of scam, but sometimes scoundrels will surprise you with hearts of gold. Sometimes. The underworld these scoundrels often thrive in has its own rules, but you’re as likely to be double crossed whether you follow them or not.

Keri Russell’s scoundrel, Zorii Bliss, helps the The Rise of Skywalker crew at several key moments during their adventure, and she also reveals quite a few things about Poe Dameron’s past.

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“She has a little bit of a checkered past and maybe some questionable morals, but she’s really an old friend of Poe’s,” Russell said of her character in an interview with EW before the release of the movie. “I think the entrance of Zorii is there to describe more of who he was, y’know, in a very intimate way and a familiar way, and the friends are sort of like, ‘What do you mean, you know him?’”

Who is Zorii Bliss, what is her connection to Poe, and why does she choose to help? 

A Dark Past

Zorii is the leader of a gang of smugglers, which also includes the droidsmith Babu Frik, known as the Spice Runners of Kijimi, Kijimi being the planet where they base their operations. Poe joined this crew at some point before joining the Resistance, becoming a spice smuggler alongside Zorii. Poe’s history has been explored in the Expanded Universe, primarily in the comics, so we know he moved right from the New Republic military to the Resistance.

Did Poe have a spice running career before he joined the New Republic? As the son of Rebellion fighters, he might have gone through a phase of trying to find a career different from his parents’. That’s where Zorii comes in. A capable fighter and commander of other scoundrels, she has an imposing presence and sleek equipment, including a gold helmet that covers her face and an elegant blaster. Canonically, she’s a native of Kijimi and frequents the Thieves’ Quarter. 

Disney has not yet revealed much more of Zorii’s history, and it’s unknown whether her full story will ever be told outside of what we saw of her in The Rise of Skywalker, but there’s always a chance she’ll appear in later tie-in novels or on a Disney+ TV series.

A Good Heart

Zorii isn’t willing to leave Kijimi to help the Resistance at first. It isn’t a selfish decision. She sees the First Order bombarding her planet and wants to stay to defend it despite the danger. She also reminds Poe of why she has optimism when he begins to despair that there is no hope for the Resistance. There are more of us than there are of them, she encourages. (This is up for debate what with the new Final Order fleet, but let’s not get too bogged down in numbers. This isn’t that type of Star Wars article.) Zorii believes that good people working together can defeat evil, and isn’t just out for herself.

In true smuggler fashion, she also has a way out in case things go wrong: a First Order code chip that can get her past any blockade. She gives this chip to Poe in the end, proving her selflessness and care for the person who once ran with her crew. 

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The movie also calls into question whether Zorii and Poe’s old acquaintance signified more than just a friendship. Is it possible that these two scoundrels were once romantic?

“Well, every relationship with Poe has a sexual element,” Oscar Isaac said in an interview with Total Film before the release of the movie. “It’s just kind of the way it is. But with her, you definitely get a sense that things were left kind of messy and there’s some hurt there.”

Whatever the case, Zorii is willing to help her old friend when he needs it most. Having escaped the destruction of Kijimi, she comes to the rescue of Poe and what’s left of the Resistance right when all hope seems lost during the Battle of Exegol. 

Behind the Scenes 

Russell may be best known for playing a steely, conflicted spy on The Americans, but she’s also a J.J. Abrams staple, having played the title character in his television show Felicity. That’s likely at least one of the reasons, besides her immense talent, that he cast her in The Rise of Skywalker. Abrams, like many directors, likes to work with a particular group of actors. You’ll also find frequent collaborators Greg Grunberg and Dominic Monaghan in this movie. Russell says Abrams reached out to her with the part.

“Not only did I get to be in Star Wars, I get to be a cool character!” Russell told Entertainment Tonight. “Not that there’s any bad character, but I got to be a cool character… I have a cool costume, the morals are questionable — like, that’s exactly who you want to play!”

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In an interview with Refinery29, she described Zorii as “the best version of every person I want to be. She can take care of herself. She’s a survivor.” 

Russell also enjoyed the anonymity of the mask, both becase of what it said about the character and because as an actress it meant she was more likely to be able to walk down any given street without being recognized. “To be hidden to [sic] and to see everyone, but no one can see me is my other dream because I’m sort of an introvert. It’s my fantasy,” she said. 

Like Zorii, she seems to have achieved that mix of anonymity and fame. Getting to wear a cool mask and pal around with Poe Dameron, but also not being on the top of the First Order’s hit list? Sounds like a fun Star Wars life to me. 

Megan Crouse writes about Star Wars and pop culture for StarWars.com, Star Wars Insider, and Den of Geek. Read more of her work here. Find her on Twitter @blogfullofwords.

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