Ricky Church with four hints for Star Wars: The Force Awakens from Aftermath…
Despite being less than 4 months until its release, there is still a whole lot we don’t know about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Its plot is still unknown, we don’t know the true identities of Finn and Rey, we don’t know how much the original three heroes (Luke, Leia and Han) play a role, nor do we know how the Rebellion and the Empire have become the Resistance and First Order respectively.
Thanks to Lucasfilm’s marketing initiative Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, some of those questions are at least being answered or hinted at throughout its various media. Chuck Wendig’s novel Star Wars: Aftermath gives the clearest perspective of what the post-Return of the Jedi world looks like and he drops some big hints regarding the much-anticipated film throughout the novel. Here are some of the biggest things we learnt throughout the book:
Han Solo and Chewbacca’s Secret Mission
Han and Chewie make a short cameo during one of the book’s interludes. They’ve been travelling from planet to planet going on undercover recon missions to discover secrets about and further destabilize the crumbling Empire. Just before they go on their next mission, they get a call from one of their smuggler colleagues about the Empire’s minimal presence on Chewie’s homeworld, Kashyyyk. Realizing this is a very precious small window of opportunity, Han decides to cash in all the favours he has with fellow smugglers, offering a blanket pardon from the New Republic, if they help them liberate Kashyyyk. He and Chewie abandon their current mission and head straight for Chewie’s home.
Sources have claimed that there is a rift between Han and Leia in The Force Awakens and, if true, this could be the point where that rift began. Han and Chewie essentially abandoned their mission for the New Republic. Another factor that plays heavily into their decision was their frustration over the New Republic’s own decision not to do anything to help Kashyyyk yet. Apparently they have a strategy in place and don’t want to act too soon, but Han and Chewie aren’t willing to wait, not with such a small window of opportunity at their door.
This decision could lead to the supposed rift between Han and Leia and somehow play into Han’s line from the trailer, “Chewie, we’re home”, as they board the Millennium Falcon again. Whatever the outcome on Kashyyyk is, expect it to have major ramifications for Han Solo.
The New Republic’s Strategy
Speaking of the New Republic’s strategy in liberating the galaxy from the Empire’s grip, there is a short chapter dedicated to Mon Mothma, leader of the Rebel Alliance and now Chancellor of the newly formed Republic, as she visits a war torn planet Republic forces have just liberated with her personal guard. She explains to her two bodyguards her eventual plans for the New Republic and disarmament. Mothma doesn’t want the galaxy to believe the Republic is taking over from the Empire and view them as an occupying force so once the Empire is fully dealt with and all planets have peace and freedom, Mothma is going to disband the Republic’s army by 90%, leaving the other 10% as a peace keeping force which will help train other planet’s armies.
Both her bodyguards take issue with the plan, citing the amount of years it could take before the Empire is really gone. They also believe reducing the army by that much will only make it easier for another warlord to rise up to control the galaxy. Mothma is steadfast in her decision though, believing that planets will come together to unite in a situation like that, but they must be self-governed and feel unafraid of the New Republic’s policies. While her ideas are well intentioned and raise some good counterpoints, namely how the beliefs her bodyguards share are the ones that allowed the Old Republic to morph into the Empire in the first place, it does seem like her plan is a very unwise one, especially at such a precarious time as this. Her decision could be what leads the way for the Empire to regrow and become The First Order.
Bounty Hunters Siding with the New Republic
At the height of the Empire’s power, they often employed bounty hunters and the criminal underworld to do some of their dirty work for them, particularly when it came to finding elusive rebels and smugglers. With the sudden shift in power, many bounty hunters have begun hunting down Imperial officers to cash in on the bounties and form a good relationship with the New Republic. Many don’t care about the ideologies of either government, they just want to get paid very well.
One of the characters in Aftermath, Jas Emari, is one such bounty hunter who gets mixed up in the story after she attempts to collect the bounties on several high-ranking Imperial admirals. There’s also an interlude depicting a fight between two bounty hunters who differ between which side to work for. No one really wants to be seen working with the Empire for fear of prosecution, but they also don’t want to be branded a traitor and rebel should the Empire make an eventual comeback.
Not all bounty hunters and criminals feel the same way, though. One of the smaller antagonists in Aftermath is a gangster who is too closely tied with the Empire and earns a lot of his riches from them. Unlike the Republic, the Empire was more than willing to look the other way and even profit off of the criminal underworld during its time. This change in circumstances for the bounty hunter community could see a lot of them working alongside the New Republic. The only thing we can be sure about a bounty hunter’s loyalty, though, is who has the bigger paycheck.
The Empire’s Transformation
With the Empire in shambles and officers defecting, surrendering or getting captured, its remaining leadership is struggling to survive. Aftermath’s plot revolves around a secret meeting with many important Imperial officials on how to move forward with the war effort. When the outcome results in the deaths or capture of most of those Imperials at the hands of the New Republic, all seems truly lost for the Empire.
That is until it is revealed the architect of the meeting, an unnamed admiral of considerable power, tells the sole remaining Imperial from said meeting that this is exactly what he wanted to happen. He let the information about the meeting trickle down to the New Republic in the hopes they would eradicate any rivals he might have to gain complete control over Imperial forces. Rather than try to bring the Empire back to its former glory, he recognizes the need to distance itself from Palpatine’s image and create something new and truly lasting, an Empire, he says, worthy of the galaxy they are trying to rule.
This right here most likely marks the beginning of The First Order. How exactly this admiral will go about forming this new government still remains a mystery, but he apparently has quite the reputation among Imperials and a considerable fleet of his own, a fleet which contains the last remaining Super Star Destroyer.
The identity of this admiral remains a mystery. It could be a character created by Chuck Wendig to explore in the next book of his Aftermath trilogy or it could be someone who will play a role in the Sequel Trilogy. Most likely, this character could be Andy Serkis’ Supreme Leader Snoke, but this could also be a character introduced in Episode VIII. Anyone who has watched Star Wars will know Emperor Palptatine was merely mentioned in A New Hope and made a cameo in The Empire Strikes Back before fully appearing in Return of the Jedi. Benicio del Toro has already confirmed he’ll not only be appearing in Episode VIII, but he’ll be the villain as well so this could be who he’ll be playing.
There’s also the question as to why this admiral was unnamed in the first place. Clearly it was an intentional decision to create speculation over who this character is. As said, it could be Supreme Leader Snoke or a character yet to be introduced, or it could be a character fans of the Expanded Universe (now Legends canon) may well be familiar with…
Could Grand Admiral Thrawn be set to appear in the new canon?