It has been said that if you study something, you ruin the mystery of it for yourself. This is particularly true for storytellers. The once unnoticed flaws of favorite stories become unbearable. Too many stories on the market are laughably bad. Fans and critics alike often don’t know what they’re talking about and throw around terms like ‘theme’, ‘act’, and ‘character’ in ways they don’t understand. Surprising plot twists are few and far between. When you know the language of story, why each shot is used, can pick up the symbolism a kilometer away, and what to look for as a story unfolds, knowing what happens next is inescapable. Defying that is one of the reasons we have arthouse films that are unfit for mainstream consumption. As such, a general spoiler warning for every narrative you’ll ever consume may be in order - or as much as understanding Campbell's monomyth does - since we are going to discuss some of the ways to predict where a story is going.
The Hapan Royal Family: Allana Chume'da Djo, Tenel Ka Chume Ta' Djo,
and the nexu, Anji. Circa ~45-46 ABY.
Illustration by Valerie Erzählerin
On January 15 of 2018, Leland Chee, the Keeper of the Holocron and Lucasfilm Story Group member, was asked "Would the resources or criteria for continuing the Legends storyline be met sometime in the future? I'm really interested in seeing more of those" to which he replied "Personally, it's not storytelling I have interest in further developing. What I will say is that there was never a fully agreed upon plan to clearly bridge the novels and the Legacy comics." Being related to Legends lore and the continuation thereof, it, naturally, spread like wildfire through the EU pages on various social media sites. The ensuing discussions have highlighted some interesting notions in the community, the ideas of content creators, and fandoms in general in regards to a story’s progress.
The goal here is to provide a clear example of the future of where Legends could have gone. We don't need a clear and agreed upon bridge covering the Gap Period between CRUCIBLE (The last chronological novel) and LEGACY (The Dark Horse Graphic Novels set in the future) - we already have a great deal and plenty of room for exploration. What is laid out here are the opportunities that can be exploited using setups we are aware of. This is all speculation, born out of the small details and exploring them building on each other. We might not know the smaller stories of each individual novel, series, and adventures the characters fact, but there are some clues for the big-picture. Landmarks if you will. A major fight of Jaina against Jacen have their undertones in the book SHADOW ACADEMY. By no means is it a sure thing (in early NJO drafts, Jacen was going to die and Anakin falls to the dark side), but the setup was still there to be picked up once again. I can't predict plot twists or the specifics of a series, but I can analyze the pattern of symbolism, themes, character progression, and tell you what I thought would be likely to happen in broad terms based on that.
Let's cover Chekhov's Gun first. This storytelling technique, named after playwright Anton Chekhov, is an aspect of keeping the tonal focus of a narrative (that every story element must have a purpose) and is most commonly used in film. At its core, it says that if you have a story element, a gun in this example, hanging on the wall then in a later act it needs to go off. You have made a promise to the audience with the mere existence of a story element (the gun) and must make good on that promise. As a storyteller, you can vary this in every way imaginable (Character A fires the gun at character B, Character A fires the gun on themselves, the gun goes off accidentally when it falls off the mantle, Character A fires the gun at character B but it jams and doesn't go off when they need it to!), but you have to pay off the promise that the story element sets up. And when I say the gun must go off, such as in that last example of an inverted fulfillment of expectations, it would be more accurate to say the story element must come back into play and fulfill a use (often symbolic) in the story. Even inverted, it still fulfills the promise. Setups are not always going to be intentional, and venturing out into multi-author stories and series, it rarely is. Nonetheless, it presents wonderful opportunities to seize upon when available. Within the original story, it must have its own meaning and fulfillment or it will just be dangling - a common misstep in franchises that demand they all be linked to encourage people to buy more but there is no certainty you will have the same audience like there is in self-contained media. The opportunity we seek then clearly lies in revisiting an element from a previous story in a new way. Chekhov has put his proverbial gun back on the stage for another production. Once again, you must set the symbolism back up in the new story before you can use the gun. In doing so, you have set up a link in the invisible story connecting the two. Any audience that experiences both will do so with an amplified emotional reaction to the story content.
This brings us to another form of foresight into storytelling, the transition. All story is made up of transitions. From beats, to scenes, to acts, to the story itself. It’s a fairly simple concept. You have a primer which sets up the before shot. You have the transition, often symbolic. And you have the conclusion, which often mirrors the primer to emphasize the change. While a short-sighted tool for predicting stories, it is beneficial as a type of Chekhov’s Gun.
For example, who is going to lead the Empire into a new age of peace? We have dozens of warlords, officers, and can always create someone new to step up - whoever shall be the one for authors to turn to fill the role? When first looked at, that seems to be an impossible answer to provide. In my upcoming article on story structure, we're going to cover the anagogical structure once again (focusing on the aspect of time instead of space). The anagocial structure of the Thrawn trilogy is a contrast between the Empire and the Rebellion - what makes them different? A number of lines and scenes are brought in from the original trilogy as intertextual elements to emphasize and amplify the points explored. Thrawn was created to highlight this difference and he does so by being a foil to Leia most of all. Leia represents the heart of the rebellion and her story spine is dictated by that. It is why she can bring the Noghri to her side, why she is holding the New Republic together politically, and why she is giving life (including literally) to multiple people in this book. Thrawn is the opposite and this is his blind spot. He studies art, not because it's some wonderful talent that is 'cool', but because art (mediums dedicated to sharing what it means to be 'human') is a glaring example of his own shortcoming. It's a technique in contrasting stage elements and symbols. By emphasizing art, the reader is going to pick up, subconsciously, that he's lacking in the ability to emphasize through shared experience. It's always right in front of him. And while the Star Wars universe is filled with aliens, like our own mythologies are full of non-human creatures, we humanize them a great deal for the sake of story and relatability. Thrawn isn't a non-human simply because that's 'how badass he must be to get the position!' - that is the surface story. He's not human because he can't understand what it means to be 'human' - that very thing art is supposed to convey. It is this shortcoming that blinds him to what becomes his downfall. We can also infer the times he wasn't able to understand a culture's art that it dealt exclusively with the sharing of empathetic experiences with others, but that's a side issue (what? did you think that was some great mystery we could never solve?). Pellaeon, Thrawn's student, survives this failing and witnessed it first hand from start to finish. In fact, we have a wonderful arc regarding Pellaeon where he starts out in full belief that the fatal flaw of the Empire was the youths onboard his Star Destroyer and ends with him knowing perfectly well the problem was one of heart. So let's revisit that question of who is going to lead the Empire into a new age of peace with the Republic/Alliance? The answer is pretty obvious now - we have a character whose story arc concluded with what will become the core value we need. Anyone could lead it, yes, but the closer to the anagogical structures you adhere to, the more substance your story will have as you move forward. The main heroes need their stories wrapped up within a series but secondary characters, like Pellaeon and Mara, do not. They are just beginning their great transitions. These dangling threads often form the backdrop, even unintentionally, of the interweaving of stories. It’s no accident it was the conditions Zahn set for the THRAWN duology.
There is also tonal focus, particularly in relation to emotion. This is a short term method but still a useful methodology to check a theory across multiple threads. This principle states that there is a single emotional thread running through a story. Luke faces a horrible truth from Darth Vader and suffers through anger, denial, grief, and eventually decides to flee the situation. He does this by willingly falling into the abyss. At this same moment in the story, Leia, Chewie, and Lando are also fleeing the situation after the loss of Han. The emotional thread is the same and the emotion of one character flows into the emotional situation of the others in the story, reinforcing the emotion for the audience. With the exception of flashbacks and other forms of non-linear storytelling, it’s likely that any events which are close enough to potentially be in the same story will share an emotional current connecting them. So if we know or can safely assume Jaina Solo Fel is going to be experiencing any particular emotion during an event of SWORD OF THE JEDI, we also know that related characters like Tahiri, Ben, Allana, and Jagged will - in some way - share their own version of that emotional experience around the same time.
So you don't need a detailed plan per se, but the better you can read the underpinning of the stories that came before, the better you can pinpoint where you can go. It's important when working in a shared universe and will be something covered more when we discuss collaboration. One thing that should be mentioned about foreseeing using Chekhov's Gun in stories is that there is no way to predict new elements. You can't predict a character like Vestara showing up before the FATE OF THE JEDI series. The thing about the Gap Period that is the hardest to contend with is that there is a whole generation that is unknown. One of the reasons I'm not sharing speculation for more than just the Djo family and those close to them is how confusing and difficult it quickly becomes. It increases exponentially and we don't have any names to keep track of them. Regardless, you don't need a detailed plan to begin exploring these stories and because these are opportunities and not true outlines, the context they are presented in can be changed drastically. I brought up the example of Luke receiving Anakin's lightsaber in A NEW HOPE. The symbol of Jedi might. Chekhov's Gun is set up when Obi-Wan gives him the symbol. It comes into play once again on the Falcon as Luke takes his first step into a larger world. It's an important step because it combines the symbol of the lightsaber with the powers of the Jedi. This pays off in the trench run sequence at the end of the film. The physical lightsaber is not involved in the sequence, but the symbol it represents (the Force), is. Chekhov's Gun still goes off. Then in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, we set up Chekhov's Gun once again - this time tying it to Luke wanting to follow in his father's footsteps as a Jedi much more closely. Chekhov's Gun still goes off, again in an unexpected way. The context any theory built off Chekhov's Gun can easily shift as the stage it's in changes - but the gun will still go off.
We see some of Allana's eventual adventures with the Falcon was set up in the book MILLENIUM FALCON. her making a key discovery regarding a force-related connection is a pretty straightforward link. Given what we know of the small run of issues Ania Solo had, I would argue that Allana was likely to be the Falcon's last pilot and that it's also likely the two also 'went down' together. She played a big part of the ship's last mission before Han acquired it that it had not yet completed - a mission that related to some of her standing themes as well. Allana found the hidden device of the Republic Group through the force. I'm drawing the conclusion that this is symbolic of the Falcon accepting Allana (given the book treats the Falcon as her own character) as the one who will complete the circle - and she and the ship will be close friends and companions much like Han and the ship are. In a narrative, we often will hint at the overall plot within the first few minutes of a film or story or comic - often in a roundabout way or through symbolism. Had this story been allowed to be apart of something larger, I would imagine the "birth scene" of the Falcon, which was fiery and explosive, would echo its death. Allana being the one instrumental (read: trusted by the Falcon) to complete the ships portrayed 'original purpose' shows that she is heavily connected with the ship's cycle. Given Ania has nothing to seemingly do with Hapes or is aware of her heritage beyond the surname 'Solo', I would expect they were setting up a big clue to eventually bridge that part of the story even if what that bridge was hadn't been planned out in the slightest. It foreshadows a struggle in Allana between smuggler/Jedi/and queen as time went forward. She and the Falcon certainly have a connection which would hint a struggle against her destiny to be free to roam as she wills (we've seen a wild kindred with the nexu that really is more Dathomiri than Hapan). Allana becoming the Jedi Queen Jacen saw in prophecy is a clear setup, especially because of how it's set up as being the reason for his fall. It's a payoff moment, albeit it might not happen directly as foreseen. That kind of respect could be brought about by making a force related discovery. The Mortis Monument is a possibility, but I would go back even older (which had storylines running at the same time of publication as the Legacy era). Perhaps something with the Je'daii or a re-release of the Rakata plague and save the galaxy from that - as those are plots that would unite many of the various force traditions behind her. Notably the later. In a sense, she would have saved the Force (loosely uniting many force traditions in the process) - especially if the Lost Tribe would have released that weapon as a way of stopping Abeloth without the Mortis Dagger. Finding a way to stop it and what it was would actually continue the Odyssey arc started in FATE but left unfinished. Allana being the one to finish the Odyssey of Jacen is the fulfillment of an implied plot other characters started. Going back to her being saved from manipulation from the Dark Man, her descendant - who I refer to as 'the hypothetical' - would have no such luck and probably became what Jacen feared would happen (Aiding the Dark Man/One Sith).
As with most fan speculation, I’m going to take the common road of assuming Ania is likely Hapan royalty for this. Albeit she doesn't know it - which means she wasn't born on Hapes, and the cluster was likely thrown into chaos after Allana. For some reason, they've returned to being uninvolved in the galaxy despite having open borders. Now, given the way the Sith and the Jedi wanted Ania, I would wager that the character between Allana and Ania actually helped the Sith - possibly one of the few "light-sided Sith" (given we haven't seen that fully explored), or perhaps someone to make use of concepts and ideas left over from Zannah, but ultimately still the villain of a number of stories....someone who caused the galaxy a lot of trouble before "being saved"/expunged from the Sith altogether and going into obscure exile. The connection to Hapes may mean she is responsible for Elliah's death and what would become the fall of Darth Havok - so one of the prominent and an early One Sith to show up in the Gap Period. The scene of Darth Havok in particular has an establishing shot she might be just outside of as she watches her potential student complete his task for her - that device isn't uncommon in comics as a way of quickly drawing a reader back to the same location to watch another scene play out. It's a longer shot, but I can see her also killing characters like Vestara and Ben Skywalker (on Myrkr, since that's where Luke and Mara's journey really kicks off together, precedent deaths, and the lack of force for the in-universe explanation) if they investigate Elliah's death at the hands of a potential Sith threat. Given the use of the Council of Seers, Jacen's flow-walking, the maiming of Tenel Ka due to her own arrogance, Allana wounding a Sith in the face in a scene on Coruscant during Fate, and the themes Sith books like BANE and PLAGUEIS only lightly touched on....I would also guess this hypothetical character is blinded and loses her sight at some point (in a story arch where the character is unwilling to 'see' the truth until she loses her sight) - and given the way these stories tend to play out, that likely happened fighting against her mother Allana. While it wouldn't have been tackled this way back then, if the story is continued now, I would wager the character also suffers from brain damage in this act. The late Carrie Fisher did a great deal of activism regarding mental illness so utilizing it as a key part of a the redemption arc could raise a lot of awareness, buck misconceptions, and explore the subject (much like how COURTSHIP explored sexism) as the character becomes isolated from her [sith] society because of the struggle with it. It's possible she is still alive during the events of Legacy and Legacy II - although not shown. Allana's connection to the Falcom is something I believe Ania inherited in a symbolic way, which is why she is using the name 'Solo' and seems to have been set up for a smuggler's adventure as opposed to some epic Jedi arch like Cade was. Because of this, I would argue that Ania was born when the hypothetical character was keeping a low-profile type of retirement and Legacy II kicks off sometime after they parted ways (if I had to guess, I would say the hypothetical survives, barely, an assassination attempt and couldn't put her daughter, Ania, at further risk).
Furthermore, I suspect - although the hints for these are weaker than I'd like - that Ania is the product of an artificial insemination and that is a [small] part the reason for her significantly reduced force sensitivity. A side effect to the 'can't clone Jedi without them going mad' philosophy that would later color the EU seeing as such technical advancement does not play well with the mystic naturalism themes and is supported by the high influence of Han Solo on the character of Ania. While Star Wars has always had a technological vs natural theme, this can inadvertently back it into a corner in some areas like the aforementioned. Having that theme flipped on its head this way, where Ania can help save the galaxy from the Sith despite not being strong in the force (and possibly because of that), is a great way around it. While it's speculation, I would wager the hypothetical eventually found love with another [sith] female, and Ania isn't keenly aware of her lineage because she wouldn't know which line to successfully trace back to the legends of Han and Leia - only that it's there. It also allows for a seeming-red-herring-later-turned plot twist comics enjoy due to their compacted story and comparatively longer production time. The hypothetical character mentioned is female, seeing as the 'right-to-rule' Hapes seems it could have passed to Ania and the female line would be the dominant one in that culture. If she had any siblings or half-siblings, they're not aware of each other. Given the Hapan neutrality, and what it means if the Chume'da under Queen Mother Allana joined the Sith, I think it's possible the hypothetical made a failed play for the throne which causes of the suspected civil war and lead to the birth of the current Queen Mother (who won't attack the Sith and would also be an older sibling to Ania) during the Legacy era (raised by a noble family, possible regents, that were part of the plot?)....that's assuming that child would still be alive of course. While we're in nebulous waters here, it makes sense to me that she is because it could have led to a good foil position for Ania in regards to dealing with the Sith. As for the name, while Allana is undisputably Tenel Ka's daughter, Jacen solo was never her formal husband or named consort under Hapan law. In fact, Tenel Ka obscured who the father was so most of the nobles at court thought Allana might be theirs...implications being what they are, I think it plays into the symbolism of Hapes being a collective family to Allana very nicely. Alone [on the throne] but surrounded by people, paralleling visions of the Throne of Balance. The open and poly relationship is not something seen often in fiction but it does solve plenty of potential plotholes, fits the symbolism, and is a dramatic ground still original to most of the audience. If Allana leans towards a poly royal family instead of merely an open one, a character like Elliah Fel could very much be a daughter of Allana and member of the royal family, without having Allana's specific bloodline. The surname Solo probably was honorary bestowed, or was revived to protect Ania after the hypothetical left her, or was apart of the hypothetical's identity - perhaps as a way of honoring Jacen for being a being pure of the light side (and yet also destined Sith) during the Vong war? It could be in Tenel Ka's zeal to protect Allana, the name Amelia Solo has some kind of "Do Not Flag" protection in Hapes' security databases to protect her from the Heritage Council. If the hypothetical adopts the moniker or a variant, she can operate freely on behalf of the Sith and against Allana. And if her first steps back towards the light are taken in this story arch, then adopting the solo name in exile is a very real possibility. It's not certain, but I think that's these ideas are quite possible (well, more likely than others) how it would have happened because it does speak to parallels, symbolism, and yet conjures an original story and character.
Given what we see of Corde/Nyna, and that character's parallels to an early Mara Jade, I suspect Vestara is something of a thematic forerunner to Corde in the Legacy era. This would put Vestara, not Tahiri (who foreshadowed the fulfillment albeit only temporarily), as the likely most well known of/first among Fel's Emperor's Hands. And given the Imperial Knight's core beliefs, I suspect she had a strong hand in their formation even earlier than that and that it was Jaina Solo Fel who specifically imposed serving the light above all else in response. No, I don't think Ben and her ever became a couple again, but I think she found a home in the Fel Empire at some point in her life. This naturally lays the foundation, even if only symbolically, for the Empire's alliance with the Sith too. Jaina is the Sword of the Jedi, and being a Jedi is pretty central to her identity, I don't think she formed the Imperial Knights or really oversaw them during her life - not to mention they don't seem to reflect her ideals. I think she continued to be a Jedi to the end, although the Fel Empire likely would have stepped up in the fight against the Lost Tribe. If some of the Jedi that serve the Empire (and by extension, Jaina) fell to the Darkside during the war with the Tribe, that might begrudgingly open her up to their formation - and I see her insisting their loyalty is to the state above all (hence the unity of their armor and weapons as compared to the Jedi). Given all this, I think it's a solid belief that the Imperial Knights were likely formed by Vestara. It's possible they could have played it straight with Jaina but I feel the visual symbolism, especially going into the territory of the comics, is the key here. So while she would never get back together with Ben Skywalker, she would still fulfill her 'I wish I had a Jedi father' arc by becoming the parental figure of another group of Knights. The visual shift for Vestara by acquiring red Mandalorian armor is very much a solid hint towards this development.
Tenel Ka is often described as rational and non-emotional, loving very few in turn (most noticeably being Jacen). I wonder if Tenel Ka didn't begin to take after her grandmother, Ta'a Chume, during the time of BLOOD OATH when it comes to the ruthlessness of rule. Allana might have been given to Han and Leia for her protection only in part....but also because Tenel Ka didn't want her daughter to see what she was going to do to her enemies (the Heritage Council) and wanted time to find herself afterward (lest she turns out like Jacen). At a glance, it would make sense that Zekk was in Hapes to help Tenel Ka...but Elaine does much with romances where the characters are at contrasting odds and approaches. He might have been there to keep a Jedi eye on her and ended up helping saved the realm with the Zel twins (Tenel Ka's secret agents) in the process. Love conflict like that, where in keeping Tenel Ka morally in check would set up confrontations with her agents, is very much in Elaine's style of writing. It also sets up the Nightsisters in FATE being a symbolic, proxy mirror of Allana's mother.
Speaking of Zekk....I've long suspected Zekk, the once "Darkest Knight", would be Allana's primary master in the Jedi Arts. Not only does he have experience with battling the Darkside and is loyal to Hapes, but he knew both her mother and father and was very highly trusted by both. As I told you some time ago, I believed there was build up leading towards Tenel Ka's death - Zekk and Zel could very much take the role of adoptive parents during her early adult years much like Leia and Han during her youth. Chance are, it would mark the end of her Jedi training - either causing her to leave the order or cement her place in it. I thought it was likely Jaina would also play a part in that training, but far from her primary teacher due to her continued involvement with the Empire and the war against the Lost Tribe. Allana got very passionate, lost friends (one right next to/under her, protecting her), and even took part in the fighting against the lost tribe with a blaster (scoring kills too) - I don't think Tenel Ka would want to risk her going down a dark path by staying too close to the Sword of the Jedi in a time of war. What's more, I believe Allana would have primarily trained at a rebuilt Jedi Academy on Dathomir. This is where we see Allana with Zekk and the Twins in FATE, Allana has strong ties to the planet, was promised she would go back, and we see Luke and Ben make great progress towards making that a reality while they were searching for Vestara. Even if the academy is not rebuilt, I still think that is where it is likely to happen.
Allana I feel would initially use a CorscaGem, mined from the planet Yavin, in her lightsaber (Yes, THAT CorscaGem). At some point, she needs to come to grips with who her father is. I believe this would be one of those steps, as well as a call back to the YOUNG JEDI KNIGHTS series, that would have formed a subplot in SWORD OF THE JEDI. Given the title Sword of the Jedi was bestowed on Jaina to refer to her destiny of killing Jacen, the sword theme, as well as the connection to Jacen, are both strongly present. If she continues to use it or eventually moves out of its shadow is likely the real question. If my notions of the Hypothetical are correct, it might show back up in her hands.
I also suspect that among her group of friends that she would have been the moral center - Not only because of Jacen's actions but also her name referencing Allya. I think this would have developed fairly earlier on while lost in the Dathomiri wilderness and coming to the realization that morality (and the light side of the force especially) is a survival strategy - particularly a group survival strategy. Not only does this draw a parallel with Allya, but Anakin (Solo) as well. It even creates an internal conflict should the intent of Jacen's final actions ever be revealed.
And you all know that at some point, Allana was going to turn to her mother, Tenel Ka, and share some awful Jacenish-like joke she heard while at Jedi Academy to try and make her mother laugh....or who knows, maybe she started a food fight at the Jedi Academy and has to awkwardly explain to her mother she did it because someone (she clearly has a crush on) "didn't laugh at my joke". Mayhap both variations are possible. But that's surface details of the story - the proverbial cherries on top. If played well, a storyteller can use them to amplify a very powerful emotional beat for long-time readers.
As you see, a highly detailed plan was never needed. Creative freedom, that valued fertilizer for growing stories, can be had and acquired in the middle of a living, breathing galaxy. I tried to keep it to various opportunities and setups but quickly ended up painting a picture nonetheless. Any time you have an abundance of puzzle pieces, you are naturally going to do that. Often, this is what makes a setting or IP/setting feel too big to write in but that’s a falsehood. No story is going to include every opportunity established beforehand, nor is it required to (with the exception of breaking the self-contained rule. Although I’d warn that amplification of nothing is still nothing for unshared audiences). As I mentioned beforehand, it’s a link between the invisible stories. This is the purpose of intertextuality, the amplification of emotional sequences and story beats. This is precip is the lifeblood of transmedia. What I described above is not an outline, no matter what kind of picture it appears to paint - it's a direction, one of many that could have been taken based on the build up we already have. Story context changes. The story grows and introduces many more new elements and sets up many new opportunities. But always, always, Chekhov's Gun must go off. In some way, it will go off. As storytellers, we determine when that happens. Yes, we know Jagged Fel eventually establishes the Fel Empire - but we don’t know how or when. The authors of FATE OF THE JEDI had the stage set up to do it, but they didn’t pull the trigger during that series. In fact, they teased it; It’s going to be told in another story. What surprises the audience isn't that Chekhov's Gun goes off, it's how that event happens. Always must the storyteller be faithful to the direction anagogical structure/s point. The Star Wars Expanded Universe is alive, and like any living creature, it has enough experience behind it to know what direction it wants to go in. If you listen, you can hear it and plan for it. The stories speak. How it gets there may be unknown. The journey taken might unknown. What trials await could be beyond immediate comprehension. But like using the North Star to find your way home, the direction it wants to travel will always be known. Even the lost wanderer, aimless in their destination, still has a direction of 'forward' to explore. Be mindful of the Force and it's counsel; That is how you will know what landmarks to look for as the story goes along.
To see more from Valerie, click here!