Solo: A Star Wars Story has long promised to shed new light on the previous films, and even though the movie is still a few weeks away, new clips are already doing that: in this case, explaining a weird holochess easter egg.
Backing up, the movie was always going to be shedding light on the smuggler at its core. From showing just how extensive Han's "special modifications" to the Millennium Falcon are to potentially retconning his personality across the original trilogy, it's become abundantly clear that screenwriters Lawrence and Jon Kasdan and director Ron Howard weren't just wanting to tell a basic "How he got to the Cantina" tale, but probe Han and the galaxy.
In fact, things go much bigger than one Corellian scoundrel. We're seeing the early days of the Empire, the canonization of Tag & Bink, and potentially even getting some of The Holiday Special elements thrown in. And, if a new clip is anything to go by, Solo may also explain some of the Star Wars franchise's more minor quibbles.
The Force Awakens' Weird Holochess Easter Egg
Let's go back to the last time we saw Han Solo: The Force Awakens. The first movie of the Disney-era of Star Wars, this was both a continuation/restart of the classic story and celebration of the franchise returning after ten dark years (longer depending on your view of the prequels). As such, it was filled with references and callbacks. Some big (like the plot bearing a strong resemblance to A New Hope), some more subtle.
One such easter egg was the holochess table on the Millennium Falcon, which at one point Finn accidentally turned on. That's not what we're concerned with, however, rather the state of the game he restarts: the pieces were in the exact same position as they were when Chewie and Artoo played dejarik in A New Hope, only this time they were attacking the other way around. A treat for eagle-eyed fans, sure, it also raised some logic questions: forty years after the journey to Alderaan, in which time the Falcon had gone through several different hands, the game ended up in the exact same state? If dejarik is anywhere near as sprawling as chess, the odds are worse than those of successfully piloting an asteroid field.
Like a lot of Episode VII's fan service, it felt like something cool that nevertheless broke credulity... until now.
How Solo Makes Sense Of The Holochess Confusion
In a new clip for Solo: A Star Wars Story, we see Chewbacca and Beckett, Han's mentor figure, engaged in a game of dejarik: Chewie makes a move that allows Beckett taking his piece, leading to the Wookiee throwing a mild tantrum. The scene is essentially about learning to plan ahead - Beckett says to "anticipate your opponent", potentially foreshadowing some subsequent double-cross - but the action in the game is what's interesting. Chewie moves the orange, club-wielding brute, which is taken by the even-larger, rancor-looking behemoth: the exact same move and take that Chewie will experience with R2-D2 ten years later.
The implication here would seem to be that Chewie never was and never will be good at dejarik, incapable of getting into the mindset of a master chess player and think moves ahead. The result is that he makes the same mistake repeatedly. And if he does it against both Beckett and Artoo, he can do it to others much later in the timeline, making the game ending up in the same state a lot more understandable (and even suggesting he eventually gets the upper hand).
The question now is why this has been done by the filmmakers. Is this new scene a move by the Kasdans, Howard or the Story Group to address that niggle from Episode VII, or was this cyclical explanation, deepening a throwaway moment in the original Star Wars, always intended? Larry Kasdan did write The Force Awakens and was already working on Solo at the time: it's possible, as with the gold dice originally intended to appear, he threaded more references between the two films. Of course, none of this may be intentional, and Lucasfilm has accidentally created and solved a weird logic gap.
Whatever the case, if they're going to be resolving confusing easter eggs, we can only hope they'll also explain the Millennium Falcon's Revenge of the Sith appearance.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019