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Solo: A Star Wars Story is All About Trust

Trust me.

I want to talk a little bit about trust in the Star Wars Solo movie.

Because, at it’s core, that’s what this whole film is about.  Trust. Trust that Solo will end up where he needs to be to put him on his path to the original trilogy.  Trust between characters. Trust that the filmmakers are going to do right by the audience.

Normally, when you build out a backstory or you build a narrative for a character you spend a certain amount of time reeling the viewer in.  You show them that one time our hero managed to fight off a pack of wild dogs with a stick of chewing gum and a whistle. You show the audience why this hero is the hero and thereby build the tension through camaraderie.  With Solo, the audience knows already, but the other characters in the film do not. The onus of trust, the leap of faith should be placed on the characters rather than the viewers. And we, as the audience, know that our hero is up to the task.  Our joy should come from the rest of the characters finally joining us.

And this is where it gets interesting.  Never, at any point in the film, do we (or anyone in the film other than Qui’ra, who grew up with the guy) get evidence of Han’s skill first. We don’t know if Han is a decent pilot, if he actually knows how to play cards, if he’s even capable of shooting first at this point.  We know he *will be* in the future, but this is a younger man. As an audience we are asked, repeatedly, to trust Han with only foreknowledge at our fingertips, no any real indicator of his past.  We never get to see him gamble until a critical moment depends on it, we never get to see him pilot until a critical moment depends on it, so many of these moments in the movie are relying on the fact that we know who Han will be eventually.  

This entire movie revolves around trust.

In a heist movie full of criminals and bad-actors (the character type, not the actual actors) trust becomes the key central point.  The entire plan holds together remarkably well until the moment that that trust is broken (by the one guy who told us not to trust him).  Roll into that our trust in the filmmakers to get Han where he needs be by the end, to the trust that the writers and the actors understand the archetype rogue that Han Solo has become after so many decades as a part of the public consciousness, this film takes that one core idea and threads it through all levels of the experience.  

 

Every Hill

I cannot die on every hill. My battles, much like yours, must be chosen with care and fought with craft, with skill, with all the little pieces of me. Strength in numbers prevails, many hands, many hands. But the clarion that calls to thee may not match the resonance of my heart. The bell that calls my spirit to the fore may not be the one that rings for you. I cannot die on every hill. And neither can you, though you may try. Torn asunder, each piece, every moment frantically contributing, calling, pursuing until close and spent. We may be comrades, you and I. But we cannot die on every hill. It is more than should be expected of us.

The Work of The Federation

Discovery, meet Enterprise.

Image courtesy of Cinemablend

 

As I watched the conclusion of Star Trek Discovery’s first season, one phrase came to mind.

“Do the work.”

I think it’s an overriding thematic element that runs through all Star Trek, but it tends to get ground under discussions of starship physics and alien physiology.  After all, Starfleet and the Federation are supposed to be the utopian, post scarcity-ideal.  They are us, ARRIVED at our best version of humanity.

They did the work.

But static systems, societal or otherwise, are nigh-impossible to create.  The “Golden Era” that we often ogle fondly in hindsight is usually just that, a short-lived blip spanning five to ten years. Often shorter, often well-defined only in the history books, that “best version” only comes around after it’s been fought for, after an ideal has been set and reached for.

You have to do the work.

And the work is not easy, or expeditious and sometimes while in pursuit of an ideal, you’re going to get kneecapped by someone who thinks it’s just too much trouble.  Throughout this season of Discovery we have seen characters who felt that ideal was nice and all, but ultimately unattainable.  It was simpler to get dirty.  It “had to be done”.

It’s not always the right work.

But in the end it didn’t help.  The dirty work that “had to be done” in order to service the utopian ideal did nothing but drag that ideal closer to the trashbin.  It wasn’t until an entire crew put their food down and said “NO”.  Until that crew chose the harder path, the more complicated path, the more HUMANE path that we saw Starfleet’s course righted again.  Starfleet and the Federation headed back towards that utopia that every one of us fans lionizes and holds dear.