In my last post, I commented briefly on how Chewbacca’s death had set a grim tone for The New Jedi Order book series. I would like to take some time now and examine that a little more in-depth in the first post on this topic.
In Vector Prime, Chewbacca, Han Solo, and his son Anakin Solo, go to the planet Sernpidal at the request of Han’s “old buddy” Lando Calrissian. Lando has asked them to pick up a shipment for him, but things are not well when they get to Sernpidal. The moon, Dobido, looks awfully large and seems to be moving awfully fast through its orbit around the planet.
They are approached by the former mayor, who tells them the moon is on a collision course with the planet. Then Han and Chewie begin loading up people onto starships to get as many folks off the doomed planet as possible, while Anakin runs off with the former mayor to try and see what’s causing the moon to behave this way. As it turns out, the Yuuzhan Vong are behind it all, using a dovin basal to manipulate gravity and literally pull the moon into the planet.
When Anakin is knocked away from the Falcon, Chewie runs after him and gets him back up on the ship. Han asks Anakin to take over so he can help Chewie up onto the boarding ramp. However, the planet is beginning to come apart at the seams. The ground is in violent upheaval, the winds are hurricane-force, and the moon is about to make contact with the planet at any moment. Despite Han’s protests, Anakin makes a hard decision to leave Chewbacca behind, to save themselves, and the dozens of people on board, all of whom are now homeless refugees.
Han watches, disbelievingly, as the Falcon flies away, and Chewbacca howls defiantly at the moon as it crashes into him and the planet.
Han is furious with his son and so overcome with grief-fueled anger, that he goes as far as to blame Anakin for Chewie’s death. Han Solo, revered and hated throughout the galaxy, became a man consumed by grief. He spent weeks alone in the Solos’ apartment on Coruscant, with the lights off and a bottle in his hand. His family and friends feared that he would never come out of his grief. They all tried to pull him back into the fold, to be there for him, comfort him, but he would just push them away. Even after Chewbacca’s funeral on Kashyyk, Han was nearly inconsolable.
This whole ordeal causes a massive rift to form between Han and his family, and he goes so far as to fly off in the Falcon, leaving Leia and the kids to their own devices. Even with a new temporary sidekick in the form of a Ryn named Droma, Han still refuses to even take comm messages from his wife for several weeks. It is a full four books after Vector Prime before Han begins to return to his old self, but even then, it is not entirely his old self. Chewbacca’s death breaks one of Han Solo’s most endearing qualities: his sense of invincibility. For several months after Chewie’s death, Han second-guesses himself and errs on the side of caution much more than he ever did.
It is also some time before Han actually apologizes to Anakin for the blame Han placed on him. Yet, even with his father’s apologies, Anakin is forever changed by the guilt he feels. With or without Han’s blame, Anakin feels responsible because he made the decision to leave Chewbacca behind. It is Anakin’s reaction to Chewbacca’s death that I wish to examine next time. For now, how did Chewbacca’s death affect you? Do you agree with Han’s reaction, as developed in the series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.