Chewie’s death was hard for me. That was when I stopped reading Star Wars books. I’m excited about the upcoming sequel, but I don’t know if I’m ready for that kind of impact again.
But why am I getting into this? We just had an amazing trailer, though tinged with melancholy and tears. We are all excited again like in the early 90’s when there were new books.
Well, I’m bringing this up because I’m worried about Han, and I have two reasons for it.
First, he’s the Obi-Wan figure. In A New Hope, Old Ben was the wise man, the Gandalf, who called the hero on his quest. Like these two wizards, Han is the battle-weary hero of a past tale come to tell our new heroes that magic is real and that there’s more to the world than the Shire, or Tatooine, or Jakku. He is the sage in Jung’s archetypes.
So what does this have to do with Han dying? Well, what happened to Gandalf on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm? What happened to Kenobi in the Death Star? The same thing that happens to all sages: they died so that the heroes could not only live but grow into their own.
Second, there’s this.
We can’t really tell, but I’m worried that this might be Han. The jacket looks too similar for me to blithely discount it and move on.
If this is true, then I wonder why the idea of Han dying is so difficult. Obi-Wan is a beloved character and so is Gandalf, but the remembrance of their deaths do not affect me in the same way that the possibility of Han’s death does.
Perhaps this is because they come back, one as a Force ghost and the other as the resurrected Gandalf the White. That helps, but there is still a distance to their characters after that. Obi-Wan no longer has a body and the more corporeal Gandalf still doesn’t quite feel the same.
Then maybe it’s because I knew that Obi-Wan would die. It’s not a future event that I’m anxiously considering the possibility of, but a past event renewed with every viewing but still safely tucked away in the past. It can fade into the fabric of the story rather than feel like a starkly personal loss.
Maybe that’s it, but let’s go a little further. I can’t remember the first time I saw A New Hope. There are bits and pieces of childhood memories of the cantina scene and Darth Vader, but I don’t remember much how I felt. The narrative of the entire trilogy was always present to me without any possibility of surprise. And while that is exactly what made it so personally mythic for me, it also means that the impact was dulled.
We all have that experience of the background noise of death in family pictures that are always present during our childhood. There’s Great-Grandma, there’s your Uncle, there’s Old Ben. These have their share of melancholy, but it’s not the same as being in the same room in the immediacy of the moment and then numbly figuring out what it means to walk away and close the door.
Obi-Wan reminds me that my ancestors have died.
Han reminds me that I’m going to die, my wife is going to die, we’re all going to die.
The saddest thing about Han dying is that that will be the very moment where we will all need a Han hug most, and he won’t be there to give it.
You don’t even know how much I hope I’m wrong.