Solo: A Star Wars Story has much more intriguing connections to Star Wars’ recent past beyond just telling the tale of a younger Han Solo. But the upcoming novelization of the movie, just like other recent Star Wars adaptations, is adding more—including an intriguing wrinkle left unstated by the film.
By now, you’re probably aware that none other than the very-much-still-alive (at least, at this point in the Star Wars timeline) Darth Maul makes a special appearance in the climax of Solo, as the real leader of the sinister Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. If you’ve somehow managed to retain an interest in Solo and yet still have not seen the film, well...hey, you read past the spoiler warning!
In the last act of the movie, Qi’ra, Han’s former paramour and current operative for Crimson Dawn, makes the decision not to flee with Han after the death of her boss, Dryden Vos. Instead, she contacts the Dawn’s leader and works her way up the criminal underworld’s career ladder, leading to a frosty holo-call with none other than Maul himself. He snarls a bit, twirls his double-bladed lightsaber (just so you really know it’s Maul), and tells her to meet him on the planet Dathomir, promising that they’ll be working very closely going forward.
Maul’s name isn’t mentioned in the scene, and while he makes it clear that he knows Qi’ra well enough, the encounter is shrouded in enough mystery that you might assume Qi’ra herself already knew who Maul was, and was just making a shrewd move in contacting him, like the many other decisions she’d made throughout the film. But according to a StarWars.com interview with Mur Lafferty, the writer of the Solo novelization, the book will make it clear that Qi’ra had no idea who was on the end of that call when she made it:
In the final version, Lafferty’s novelization does describe the Force-wielding Zabrak — “another thing that I added almost entirely after I saw it,” [Lafferty] says. “It wasn’t until I saw it the second time that I realized he Force-pulled his lightsaber to him. It wasn’t on him, he pulls it in. Which is even scarier!”
But she made the conscious decision not to include his name because, she reasoned, Qi’ra wouldn’t have known him on sight. “I don’t think she would have known who he was,” Lafferty says. “They sort of implied that Dryden was beholden to someone a lot more powerful than he was. And so she knew that whoever it was scared him, but she didn’t know that the guy used to be a Sith Lord. She didn’t know who he was. She just knew that that button would call Dryden Vos’ boss.”
Lafferty goes on to reason that considering by the time the original Star Wars trilogy took place, the Jedi are a fabled myth (despite only having been gone for two-ish decades!), it’s pretty reasonable that Qi’ra, a lowly orphan turned gangster, doesn’t know that her boss’—well, ex-boss’—boss is actually a secret Sith. People like Maul survived as long as they did in the galaxy far, far away by sticking to the shadows, rather than letting it be known that they’re, say, running vast criminal enterprises.
But it’s an interesting interpretation of the scene from the movie nonetheless—and makes the fact that Qi’ra doesn’t promptly freak out the moment Maul starts getting all lightsaber-spinny in front of her rather intriguing. Who knows when we’ll get to see more of their relationship together in a post-Solo world at this point, but little twists and tidbits like this make it one of the most intriguing partnerships left currently uncovered in Star Wars canon.
The Solo novelization hits shelves September 4.