Star Wars has many memorable partnerships, mentor relationships, friendships, and pairings. Artoo and C-3PO were the first that audiences ever saw on the big screen. The fussy droid and his wise-beeping, if you will, counterpart charmed audiences in A New Hope. Han and Leia took bickering and banter to new places with The Empire Strikes Back while developing a budding romance. Luke and Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan and Anakin, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan and Luke, Anakin and Ahsoka, Kanan and Ezra are some examples of the many Jedi mentor relationships from the films and television shows. The Sith of course have their Rule of Two, as exhibited by Darth Sidious and Maul, Sidious and Dooku, and Sidious and Darth Vader.
Most recently, audiences saw Finn and Rey, Poe and Finn, and Finn and Rose form memorable friendships and partnerships in the sequel trilogy. Rogue One featured Cassian and K-2SO as well as Chirrut and Baze. It isn’t hard to find these pairings in Star Wars films. Solo: A Star Wars Story is no different. The film is full of many partnerships, but only one really survived the film as a healthy friendship. Like in the other films, partnerships and friendships are a key element of the story. This blog is the first in a series that examines the many “Partnerships of Solo” and their impact on the story.
Han and Qi’ra – The Early Days
The first of the “Partnerships of Solo” features Han and his then girlfriend, Qi'ra. Solo begins with Han racing back to the lair of the White Worms. It doesn’t take long before Qi’ra finds him. This relationship is a defining motivation for Han throughout the movie. The pair has big plans. Their vision includes escaping from Corellia and the White Worms. Next, they’ll get their own ship, and they’ll be off on their own adventures.
Unfortunately, things go horribly awry. Han and Qi’ra’s escape fails when the White Worms, lead by Moloch, catch Qi’ra at the spaceport. However, this relationship defined Han’s life for the next several years. He enrolled in the Imperial Naval Academy in the hopes of learning to fly and returning to Corellia. All the while, Han kept a vision of Qi'ra in his head. To him, she was the girl he left behind. Things change though. When the Empire busted Han down to the infantry, he took the first escape he could. That escape was Beckett and his crew.
Beckett and Val (and Rio)
Of course, Han isn’t the only man with a relationship in Solo. Beckett, Han’s would be mentor, had a pair of relationships. Val was more than a partner to Beckett. The two also had long-term plans. Rio and Beckett were close. When Val and Rio met their end on Vandor, Beckett’s plans changed. His immediate problem was settling up with Dryden Vos and Crimson Dawn. However, he needed new plans. Therefore, he agreed to take on Han and Chewbacca as a new crew.
That is oversimplifying things. Beckett and Val had retirement plans. Like Han and Qi’ra, they were planning a life together. There was a difference between Han and Beckett though. Han still had hopes of finding Qi’ra and resuming the life he lost. That was denied to Beckett. Beckett, Val, and Rio were hardened scoundrels. Val’s death, and Rio’s, shook Beckett. A life with a partner became a much lonelier and bleaker prospect on Vandor. Although the focus here is on Val as a romantic interest, Rio was also important. Beckett referred to him as brother, and he was clearly concerned when it became apparent Rio was injured when the Cloud Riders infiltrated the AT-Hauler on Vandor.
Han and Chewbacca – The Introduction
Shortly after Han meets Beckett, Val, and Rio, and before their mission on Vandor, he meets Chewbacca. This meeting occurs under unusual circumstances. Han’s attempt at blackmailing Beckett into taking him with them backfires. Beckett, the imposter Imperial officer, manages to get Han, a legitimate Imperial soldier at the time, thrown into a mud pit for desertion. It is there that he meets Chewbacca, who is also a prisoner of the Empire.
The friendship and partnership of Han and Chewbacca is legendary. The relationship has its roots in this scene. Han overcame Chewbacca’s anger and aggression with an act of kindness. He spoke in Chewbacca’s native language to him. To the Imperials, Chewbacca was just a beast. They threw him prisoners for food. Granted, Han was working from a position of self-preservation, but he reached out to Chewbacca at a level everyone else was unwilling to meet. Han gave Chewbacca another shot at living.
Han and Beckett
Once Val and Rio die and the conveyex blows up, Beckett has a problem. He is in serious debt to and in trouble with Dryden Vos and Crimson Dawn. Reluctantly, he agrees to bring Han and Chewbacca with him to meet with Vos. Up until now, Han was just a member of Beckett’s crew for the conveyex mission. Now, Han is a more significant person in Beckett’s life. Beckett needs help and a crew. Han and Chewbacca are it.
Han was already taken with Beckett. The flashy manner in which Beckett spun his blasters on Mimban immediately captured Han’s attention. He quickly discerned that Beckett and his crew were up to something. Han believed Beckett embodied everything he wanted to be. Whether Beckett intended it or not, he slipped into a mentor role for Han. The older scoundrel seemingly had a soft spot for Han and Chewbacca and defended their usefulness to Val. The mentor relationship was sealed when Beckett gave Han his famous blaster.
This relationship evolves and develops over the course of the movie. Beckett eventually gives Han some key advice. However, those moments in the movie haven’t arrived yet.
Concluding Thoughts on the Partnerships of Solo Part I
Partnerships, mentor relationships, and friendships greatly influence the first thirty minutes of Solo. Many, if not most, of these relationships sour to some degree over the remainder of the movie. Solo begins with some partnerships that soon fade or die. Of the partnerships of Solo, one will evolve and blossom in contradiction to the rest. Regardless, these relationships influence all the characters and especially Han Solo. In the next part of this series looking at the “Partnerships of Solo,” the focus will shift to a few new characters, one returning character, and the changing relationships of the rest.
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