The latest episode of the Talk Star Wars podcast was an enjoyable one for me for many reasons. I've been gradually settling into my new role over a few episodes, and having a great time doing so! Most notably, though, it was enjoyable for the discussion that took place during the episode on the subject of Dubrovnik.
As fans will no doubt be aware, the location is being used for some filming of the latest movie currently code-named Space Bears. While the set is fairly closed off, a website has sprung up showing what few photographs they can obtain from the location. The website, as I mentioned on the show while recording, is called starwarsdubrovnik and is maintained by a tourist website. I heartily recommend checking it out as it shows some basic photographs without getting too heavily into speculative theories.
While browsing the website during the recording, I picked up on a few things about the majority of the actors being photographed on set. They all seem to be dressed in black, with their heads bowed low. When I saw a shot on the blog of Michael Kaplan, a costume designer from the film, holding what looks like a concept image of Carrie Fisher in a black cloak my mind went racing. It wasn't, for those with the dirtier minds (and we do Carry On Star Wars with the best of them here at TSW) because of the shape of the cloak in the right hand image, although the After Darkside podcast shows how much of an effect that held on us!
It was the fact that everyone was dressed in black, combined with the events of The Force Awakens that got my mind racing. Could we be looking at a funeral shroud for a memorial service?
As with any theory, I should state now that this is all pure speculation, and is based on nothing more than the shots I've seen and an over-active imagination. With that said, here's our theory for what Dubrovnik represents in the movie.
So at the end of The Force Awakens, we know two things to be true. The entire Hosnian system has been wiped out by Starkiller Base, and Han Solo has been killed by Kylo Ren. Both of these are significant events in the Star Wars universe, as the Hosnian system and in particular Hosnian Prime is viewed as the center of the Republic, and Han Solo is...well, Han Solo. The galaxy, and in particular Leia and Chewbacca, will want to mourn these titanic losses to the galaxy. Although I originally speculated on the podcast that any memorial service they might hold would be for Han Solo, the sheer volume of distinct extras I'm seeing leads me to believe that if this is a memorial service, it's a Republic memorial service for the victims of Hosnian Prime. Disappointingly, this also means that I'll have to treat one of my speculations as less likely if I do so. Specifically, I was speculating that if the memorial service was being held solely to commemorate Han Solo, we might actually be looking at Corellia in the set photos. In proper canon, we've never seen it, so it felt like a possibility. However, to me it feels less likely that they would hold a memorial for the victims of the Hosnian system's destruction on a planet like Corellia unless it shared some sort of immediate geographical proximity. Putting that one on the back-burner for now, let's return to the central theme: The memorial.
The question then becomes the reason for Leia's presence. Now, on the surface, her being at a memorial for Han Solo and the victims of the Hosnian attack would be a perfectly reasonable explanation for her presence in and of itself. Stick with us on this. What if the true purpose of her visit is much more subtle than that? She could well be meeting with someone under the pretense of the service. Leia meeting with The Resistance would make sense, but so could a meeting with higher-ups in the Republic. Think about it; the Republic has been dealt an enormous blow, and is now on the back foot. This could be Leia saying "We told you so" to the Republic and imploring with them to unite against a common enemy in the First Order. What's more, the sudden discovery of Leia on the planet could make for a high-speed chase that would explain the crashed speeder that keeps popping up in the set photos. That could especially work if she is accompanied by some of the returning cast (Poe Dameron springs instantly to mind, as well as a recovering Finn), who could act as her bodyguards of sorts.
This theory could also be supported by the upcoming book Bloodline, which I briefly summarised on the episode. In short, it deals with Leia trying to stop the Republic from naming a First Senator as she fears what happens when a single person is a focal point for political power (not without reason, either!) and even appears to be struggling with the idea of whether or not to set up a new Rebellion in the face of this possibility. Admittedly, I'm only going by the synopsis of the novel, as well as the short piece in the latest issue of Star Wars Insider, so this may turn out to be incorrect later. Hey, all of this could. Theory continues.
Who, then, could she be meeting? Mon Mothma? Possible. She's not been seen in an on-screen capacity as yet during the new canon, and there's no reason she couldn't make an appearance. However, is there someone else who makes even more sense? In my view, the choice is simple. The choice is Lando.
Think of it from this point of view; Lando, when last we left him, was not a smuggler or indeed the administrator of Cloud City. He was a Rebellion General, and he strikes me as the kind of guy who would stay in touch with Leia and keep her abreast of the current state of galactic politics. His presence as a contact for a secret meeting also serves a second purpose. Leia will no doubt know at this point that Maz Kanata was the one who obtained Luke's blue lightsaber (formerly Anakin's) and we are never told how the lightsaber comes into her possession. All we are told is that it is a good question, for another time. What if Leia is keen to get her own answers? She is presumably well versed in galactic history, and might be skeptical of such help from a strange being of whom very little is known. She would need someone who can interact with the Republic, and someone who could ask around. Lando would tick both boxes for her; he has insider knowledge of the Republic (assuming he hasn't done a Han and absconded) and he would know where to find answers about how the lightsaber got from Cloud City to Takodana. There could be a separate plot line running, with Lando doing some investigation of his own to establish the answers to these questions.
Wild, right? Nonetheless, it was fun to theorise about, and could make for a very exciting story! However, I sense that you want just a little more...You want this....don't you?
Alright, you've swayed me. We know that Benicio Del Toro is in Episode VIII, and we know that he is being a little unclear about his role in the film. In one interview he said he was the villain, in another he suggests that it's not that clear-cut. Del Toro is a tremendous actor, and capable of performing very complex roles and characters. What if his character is not a villain in the traditional Star Wars "wears a black cloak and wields a red lightsaber" style, but instead plays a character who is just a bit of a git? A character with a more unpredictable moral centre could be compelling stuff if done right, and Del Toro could be playing someone corrupt or just simply corruptible. What if...Del Toro is the "First Senator" referred to in the Bloodline synopsis? He could be a corrupt Republic Senator, a bit like Dominic West in 300, but wielding infinitely more power to shape the future of the galaxy.
Ultimately, it's just a theory. I'd love to be right, but at the same time if it's Star Wars I'm also happy to be completely wrong if it's entertaining!
Thanks for reading, and May The Force Be With You
Rob Wade is the newest contributor to Talk Star Wars, and is also the Senior Editor at Emotionally14. He can be found on a multitude of shows on the Emotionally14 platform, as well as the Talk Star Wars podcast. He can be found on Twitter @RobWadeVision where he tweets about video games and all manner of geek stuff.
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