While the plot of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is still very much a secret, we’ve finally learned more about one of the film’s main settings: the casino city Canto Bight, thanks to the brand new novella collection of the same name. While the book’s four stories don’t touch on the saga heroes, they do give fans a good picture of what the city is like and the kind of characters Finn and Rose will encounter when they reach Canto Bight’s casinos.
The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson called the city of Canto Bight “a new environment … like dunking your head in a cool bath of water.” That sounds both refreshing and shocking, which suits what we’ve seen in these stories so far. Johnson also said that he wanted to do something that didn’t involve “grimness and dirt.”
Our review of the book is here. If you haven’t read the collection yet, we’ve picked out some of the important details – the things that tells us a bit more about what to expect when The Last Jedi premieres on Dec. 15.
Here’s what we learned:
First unveiled as part of the many The Last Jedi toys, the Canto Bight Police Department is detailed a bit more in the novellas. Corruption in the city spreads into the department’s ranks, in particular the sadistic Officer Brawg. Anglang Lehet, a killer for hire, notes that the CBPD are “not savages bent on breaking limbs, but agents of the orderly spending of money” — but only for the people with money to spend. They’re cruel to “street criminals” and people who show up in the wrong place at the wrong time, though. If their speeders feature enough in the film for Hasbro to make action figures out of them, then maybe Finn and Rose end up in a police chase at some point during their visit to the city.
While it doesn’t seem like any of our main saga heroes are featured in the book, there might be one film character sneaking around. “DJ”, played by Benicio del Toro, is a hacker who Finn and Rose meet during their adventures in Canto Bight. In the novella “The Wine in Dreams,” the mysterious alien Rhomby encounters a man she believes is a thief: “…the unfamiliar human behind her, a man in gray-and-white clothing tailored to look shabby — but not shabby at all, not really. It is a clever illusion, which makes this man a liar before he has even said a word.”
Lucasfilm describes DJ as “an enigmatic figure whose tattered, threadbare clothes and lackadaisical attitude conceal a sharp mind and expert skills.” Hacking is a kind of theft, if DJ is stealing information. So is this Benicio del Toro’s sinister character? He shows up only briefly in the story, fleeing the scene of a theft after Rhomby wisely tells him that he’s likely to be questioned.
It’s possible that the character was inserted into the story on the off chance that he could be DJ, but with a vague enough description that if Lucasfilm decrees otherwise, the character isn’t contradictory. A similar theory was recently disproven: fans speculated that a “dead-eyed” girl in the First Order creche was Captain Phasma, only for a book placing her childhood on an entirely different planet to be released later. Even if this isn’t DJ, it’s cool to think that familiar faces might be lurking around Canto Bight.
An Escape from the News
The novella “The Ride” reveals that not all citizens of Canto Bight know or care about what’s happening in the rest of the galaxy. The city is described several times as a place where people go to get away from their problems or to transport themselves to a world of escapist luxury. The story begins as career card player Kal zones out during a conversation about the destruction of Hosnian Prime. If Finn and Rose are on the run, Canto Bight might be a good place for them to disappear. Some of the tourists will probably have heard of General Hux — and Anglang can tell that open war is coming — but certainly not all.
The Gang Lord
Canto Bight’s version of Jabba the Hutt is Big Sturg Ganna, a whale-like alien who fills the role of a mobster. I predict that Ganna might have a role closer to Jabba’s in The Phantom Menace than Jabba in Return of the Jedi — a remarkably large alien at a sporting event, just one more of the colorful creatures at Canto Bight. But in the novella, he’s an active participant in the underworld of the city, roping innocent Lexo Sooger into a conspiracy involving sabotaged space horse races and kidnapping. He also seems to be a bit of a collector of rare and grim artifacts — his private suite includes a piece of the second Death Star.
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While all kinds of grift and grief go on beneath her feet, Countess Alissyndrex Delga Cantonica Provincion looks down on the lights of Canto Bight. In the novella “Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing,” she orchestrates a deal between herself and Big Sturg Ganna, putting her go-between Lexo in considerable danger along the way. She also has a hand in the fathier races (detailed below), another of Canto Bight’s lucrative betting opportunities.
The book doesn’t reveal how exactly Canto Bight is governed — is the countess part of a hierarchy of royalty, as her title would imply in many cultures on Earth? She wears Onyx Bands of Cato Neimoidia, so maybe she’s royalty there instead. Either way, if The Last Jedi explores any of Canto Bight’s large-scale crime operations, the countess might be involved behind the scenes.
A Changing Underworld
In the story “Rules of the Game,” Anglang notes that Canto Bight’s criminal underworld is undergoing a change. The Syndicate, an organized crime ring, was a fixture of the planet Cantonica until Canto Bight and its casinos sprang up out of the desert, bringing marks too expensive and too well-protected for the gang to handle. They were replaced by the Old City Boys, which tended to do bigger jobs than the Syndicate would tackle. Anglang uses his connections with both to get out of a tricky situation.
The “space horses” more properly called fathiers recently starred in one of the promo videos for The Last Jedi. The floppy ears and mournful eyes of the fathier seen on set were quickly overshadowed by the memetic popularity of porgs, but it looks like fathiers might participate in some dramatic races in Canto Bight.
In the novella “Rules of th Game,” we see how the races go on well into the night, enjoyed by everyone from corrupt billionaires to down-on-their-luck gamblers. Child workers muck the stalls of the fathiers and hope to become jockeys. It’s a poisonous place, and it doesn’t look like Finn and Rose will have to look hard to find trouble there.