Beyond ‘The Force Awakens’: Taking a First Step Into a Larger World

Mike Delaney
Movies Star Wars
Movies Star Wars

“This will begin to make things right.”

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens opened in theaters around a month ago to rave fan reviews — and subsequently went on to break most box office records in existence. But The Force Awakens is only the first step in Disney’s massive reboot of the Star Wars universe into a “forever franchise.” As such, it left a ton of questions unanswered — questions that are just beginning to be addressed in other places, such as the novelization released in the wake of the film. This article highlights the best of those recent revelations.

Warning: The rest of this article assumes you’ve seen The Force Awakens and contains spoilers. Heed the Warning Ewok.


Seriously, after this point there are spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Did They Just Blow Up Coruscant?


The city-covered planet of Coruscant was the galactic capital of both the Republic and the Empire that followed it. It served as the seat of power for the galactic government and played host to the Senate. Coruscant first appeared in Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn Trilogy” of novels. The planet was later incorporated first into the Special Edition release of Return of the Jedi, and also appeared as a main setting during the prequel trilogy and Clone Wars TV show. So when a planet-killing superweapon Starkiller Base targets the capital of the New Republic, the first thought was that the target was Coruscant itself.

But it wasn’t.

Supplementary material released in the wake of The Force Awakens establishes that the planet Starkiller Base destroyed was called Hosnian Prime (located in the Hosnian system, because even people in A Galaxy Far, Far Away are unimaginative when it comes to naming stuff). After the signing of the peace treaty between the New Republic and the Empire known as the Galactic Concordance, the New Republic decided to rotate its capital among the member worlds rather than keep it on Coruscant. While a fine idea in practice, the cost of building suitable facilities on host worlds to house the thousands if not millions of Senators and staffers was probably astronomical. And what about all the local jobs that were lost and the subsequent effect on the economy when the Senate rolls out of town?

Now, in the wake of the destruction of the Hosnian system, any planet hosting the capital is basically painting a target on itself. Sure, Starkiller Base was destroyed, but the Empire came back with Death Star II: Electric Boogaloo, so why not the First Order?



One word, one stormtrooper, one instant Internet meme. With a can-do loyalist attitude and a hatred for traitors, a single riot control stormtrooper almost stole the show. While unnamed in the film, the Internet took to calling him by a variety of names including T8-TR, TR8-TOR, and Tray Tor. He even received a Hot Toys figure set where he battles Finn for supremacy of the universe.

Eventually revealed that the stormtrooper was one FN-2199, a squadmate of Finn who appeared in the novel Before the Awakening. So rather than a generic statement about Finn’s new loyalties, FN-2199’s outcry has a more personal meaning, as the two trained together and were probably the closest things to friends the First Order allowed.

What Exactly Is the First Order and What Happened to the Empire?


The First Order is the successor state to the Galactic Empire, which technically makes it the successor to the legacy of the Galactic Republic. In the wake of the peace treaty signed between the Empire and the New Republic, various restrictions were put in place to stop the Empire being a threat, including restricting military hardware, recruitment, and resources. Torture was prohibited, the Empire ceded all claim to the planet Coruscant, and they were restricted to a number of systems in the Core Worlds and Inner Rim. In effect, the Empire was a rump state with severe restrictions.

A large portion of the Imperial military basically said “screw this” and hyperspace-jumped to the Unknown Regions. Over the course of 30 years, the former Imperial officers, nobles, and technologists emerged as the First Order under the leadership of Supreme Leader Snoke, with a brand spanking new super weapon and a desire to reclaim the Imperial legacy.

Because it worked out so well for the Empire the first time around…

A Resistance to What?


So the Resistance is not the Rebel Alliance (although it is styled after the Alliance). The Rebel Alliance became the New Republic, and while it does not sanction the Resistance, it tolerates it because it is a splinter group of the Republic military. With me so far? The Resistance is a private military force headed by General Leia Organa with the express intent of opposing the First Order. While the New Republic believed that the First Order was not a threat, Leia saw the situation differently and decided to do something about it with like-minded individuals. They also had the secondary mission of finding Luke Skywalker.

The Resistance was supported by some elements of the New Republic hierarchy, but many thought it was chasing shadows and was unable to let go of the past. Presumably this attitude vaporized immediately along with the Hosnian system. Surely some members of the Resistance realized that Leia is basically using them for the personal errands of finding her brother to scold him for sulking, and for telling her son to come home and stop being a moody teenager?

So Just How Did Poe Get off Jakku?


Poe and Finn escape the Star Destroyer Finalizer in a stolen TIE fighter, only for it to end up crashing in the desert of Jakku. Finn gets thrown clear of the crash, finds the wreckage with no Poe in it, and conveniently ends up with the pilot’s jacket that was left behind before the fighter is sucked under the sand. Finn believes Poe is dead, and the film intends for us to believe that as well — unless, like the rest of the world, we watched trailers where Poe is alive and well in scenes that clearly have not happened yet. So how did Poe get from Jakku back to the Resistance base?

He used a space bus, obviously. One leaves every 30 minutes and stops just a few blocks from the hidden Resistance base…

And you’re not buying that are you? OK, while the film glosses over the events that led to Poe commanding an X-wing squadron to rescue the (other) heroes at Takodana, the novelization of the film reveals all. Poe managed to set the ship down, escaping before anything blew up. Along the way, he impressed a local scavenger with his piloting skills who then helped him get transport off world.

I prefer the space bus answer myself, but either way, Poe basically left Jakku without even attempting to find BB-8.

(For the conspiracy theorists out there: A popular alternate theory doing the rounds is that Poe died on Jakku in the TIE crash and the Resistance pilot for the rest of the film is a clone.)

Millennium Falcon II


Well, not quite. Since Han Solo had the Millennium Falcon stolen from him by Gannis Ducain — who in turn lost it to the Irving Boys, who had it stolen from them by Unkar Plutt — he had to find alternate travel arrangements. Cue the arrival of the Baleen-class heavy freighter known as the Eravana. Over four hundred meters of rathtar-hauling beauty, the Eravana actually helped Han and Chewie actually turn a small profit smuggling cargo, although they always hoped to somehow find the location of the Millennium Falcon. Either way, Han was using it as a way to escape his domestic situation.

In a stroke of fate/luck/the Force (although apparently it doesn’t work like that), the Millennium Falcon ended up back in Han’s possession, hand-delivered to him by Rey and Finn in time for him to make his escape from the Eravana after it was boarded by Kanjiklub and the Guavian Death Gang — leading to a three-way fight between them, Han and Chewie, and three rather hungry rathtars.

Oh, and why was he transporting rathtars? To sell to a King Prana, a collector of exotic animals. So Han went from smuggler to Rebel general to pet delivery man…

Lor San Tekka


Lor San Tekka was a mystery. Described as an “old ally” in the film’s opening crawl, it was not unreasonable to assume that the character be someone from the films we’ve met before. But no, he was an entirely new character for the film, living on the planet Jakku. The film only reveals he was important to finding Luke Skywalker, since he had part of the map that led to his hermitage. Poe Dameron was sent to get it, setting the events of the film in motion, which resulted in Kylo Ren killing Lor San Tekka.

Tekka was a member of the Church of the Force, a religion that worshiped the ideals of the Jedi Order. He knew Kylo Ren when he was Ben, and helped Luke Skywalker track down lost Jedi teachings and lore. Given that he was reportedly born during the last years of the Clone Wars, Lor San Tekka might be an early-bird cameo of a character who will be introduced in stories set earlier in the timeline, such as Star Wars Rebels or Rogue One.

Wreckage Everywhere


The desert world of Jakku is littered with the broken wreckage of a titanic battle, with wrecked Star Destroyers and starfighters dotting the barren landscape. Scavengers eke out an existence by salvaging parts to sell and embarking on daredevil adventures by abseiling through the interiors of wrecked Star Destroyers and sledding down sand dunes.

The Battle of Jakku, considered to be the last major battle between the Empire and the New Republic, was fought over the planet. Large portions of both the Imperial and Republic fleets were committed to the battle, which resulted in a Republic victory. The Star Destroyer that Rey scavenges parts from in the film is the Inflictor, formerly commanded by Captain Ciena Ree from the novel Lost Stars. And the Super Star Destroyer wreckage that Rey flies the Millennium Falcon through as they escape from Jakku has been identified as the Ravager, the command ship last seen in Admiral Rae Sloane’s possession in Aftermath.

Kylo Ren Revealed


Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, originally named Ben. But you knew that already. What’s not revealed in the film is that he was born shortly(ish) after the Rebel victory at the Battle of Endor in what was probably the start of an unprecedented baby boom for the entire galaxy. Before the release of the film the prevailing theory was that Kylo Ren was Han and Leia’s son, so the revelation came as little surprise — although the name Ben raised a few eyebrows. While no one really expected him to be named after his Legends counterpart, Jacen, the name Ben was considered to be a strange choice, as Ben Skywalker was the son of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade in the Legends continuity.

Kylo Ren’s birth name was most likely chosen to honor Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi, but his parents barely knew the Jedi Master before he sacrificed his life to allow them to escape the Death Star. Leia never met him (OK, he was at her birth but that’s stretching things a little far) although presumably was well aware of Kenobi’s exploits, and Han spent his brief time with Kenobi aboard the Millennium Falcon snarking over the man’s beliefs.

Constable Who-vio?


Constable Zuvio had a large presence in pre-release marketing and merchandise, getting his own standard action figure as well as place in the premium Black Series toy line. Unfortunately, Zuvio doesn’t appear to be on screen at all during The Force Awakens. His major scene was apparently deleted, most likely late in production, long after the merchandising and toy makers had done their thing. As the head of the local militia at Niima Outpost on Jakku, he was to have stepped in to stop the theft of BB-8 from Rey early in the film. Zuvio was featured in the short story High Noon on Jakku, and supplementary material revealed he was a member of the Kyuzo species, like Embo from Clone Wars.

Of similar note is Sarco Plank, who got his own figure but did not appear in the film in any meaningful capacity. He was featured prominently in the tie-in novel Weapon of the Jedi, but what role he would have played in The Force Awakens in unclear.


Bonus points for this one. The planet on which Luke Skywalker is currently winning the galaxy’s longest game of hide-and-seek is called Ahch-to. But was this information revealed in any of the tie-in novels, games, or reference books?

Nope! The name of the planet comes from the official script of The Force Awakens.

Mike “Cavalier One” Delaney is an administrator on Wookieepedia on Wikia. He saw The Force Awakens on opening day in a cinema that John Boyega visited four days later to surprise fans. His sense of timing has always sucked.

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Mike Delaney
Star Wars fan and general pop culture addict. Only two beverages worth drinking are tea and whisky.
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