Star Wars Echoes examines the lives of two characters — seemingly very different on the surface — and how they’re often more similar than we might think.
Spoiler warning: The article discusses plot points and details from Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Two criminals seemingly connected only by their shared appreciation of illegal shipments and luxurious lifestyles. One, the elegant and cultured mouthpiece for a shadowy syndicate. The other, a corpulent and indulgent crime boss lording it over the weak and defenseless. Affiliated with the worst the galaxy has to offer, both entertain similar tastes when it comes to the way they oversee their respective criminal enterprises and more nuanced moments in their separate, fatal character arcs in the Star Wars saga. Relax your morals and hold your noses, gentle beings, as we explore the journeys of Dryden Vos, the refined face of Crimson Dawn, and the slug-like rancor enthusiast from Tatooine, Jabba the Hutt.
Each surrounded themselves with a retinue of underworld hangers-on.
What’s the point of being the boss without having lackeys, flunkies, and a “faithful” staff to look down upon? Whether a coterie of rich, amoral parasites yearning for refracted fame and fortune or a cadre of bounty hunters and other scum, it’s the entourage that cements the kind of aura a crime lord hopes to portray. In Dryden’s case, the gentleman gangster filled his yacht, the First Light, with a gaggle of pleasure-seeker bon vivants who may or may not have understood the nature of his true business. Jabba, meanwhile, attracted the dregs of the underworld to his palace in Tatooine’s Dune Sea — a classless lot aiming for a fast buck and a good time in the sands. Both groups, at heart, were little more than sycophants hoping for a taste of what the rich and powerful had to offer. In the end, the only thing separating them was a sense of class and polish, and the right connections. To Dryden Vos, those were traits perhaps worth their weight in credits. Jabba, however, cared little for polish…and surrounded himself with those who amused him and might provide information, service, and loyalty.
Both gangsters had an appreciation for the finer things in life (and Mandalorian armor, apparently).
Despite the boorish nature of his inner circle, Jabba the Hutt had a taste for fine food and finer art. Enslaving — er, I mean employing only the finest chefs and musical entertainment, Jabba’s court was known as a place to hear the best bands, indulge in fantastic food and drink either in the palace or aboard his luxury sail barge, the Khetanna, and even tour intricate art and artifacts secured from across the Outer Rim. Of course, the jewel in Jabba’s art collection was beyond compare (for a time) — none other than Han Solo himself, encased in carbonite! Vos meanwhile, filled his study aboard the First Light with a carefully curated gallery of rare items, displayed around his office in order to catch a visitor’s eye. Dryden’s collection was so vast, in fact, that he rotated them on a whim and employed buyers and relic hunters to find new additions for his trove much like Jabba, paying Boba Fett — one of his favorite bounty hunters who favored Mandalorian armor — for the privilege of displaying Darth Vader’s carbonite masterpiece. One of Dryden’s prized possessions just happened to be a near-complete set of Old Republic-era Mandalorian rally master armor, situated to the left of his desk from the perspective of a visitor…or victim.
Temper temper! Fail them once, shame on you…because you’ll never fail them again.
It becomes clear throughout our first encounter with the powerful oligarch that Dryden Vos a man one best not cross. His reaction to Beckett’s failure on Vandor brooks no argument: the mercenary’s team failed, and now he and the survivors — Han and Chewie — must pay the price. Ignite Dryden’s smoldering anger at your own risk; he gets what he wants, or you die. Qi’ra walks on eggshells with him, understanding that he answers to powerful people. Life in Jabba’s court proves to be equally precarious. Not only does failure earn one of the Hutt’s many flunkies and operatives a quick trip to the rancor pit, but any slight might trigger the huge slug’s ire. The laughter starts and then people die. What’s interesting is that in a mythology filled with calculating villains, doling out revenge and punishment in a manner colder than Hoth, Dryden and Jabba stand out as two antagonists who can’t help but let their decisions be influenced by the heat of the moment.
Despite perhaps never working closely with one another, the two criminals maintained a mutual connection to Darth Maul and the remains of his Shadow Collective.
In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Maul recruits a who’s who of criminals and Death Watch to form a collective with the goal of taking over both Mandalore and the galactic underworld. As Maul consolidates power, a bid to bring the Hutt clan into the fold leads to a Shadow Collective attack on Jabba’s palace on Tatooine before Maul could win the gangster’s support, joining the ranks of Black Sun and the Pyke Syndicate. As we know, the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story revealed that Crimson Dawn, the organization run by Dryden Vos, also answered to Maul.
In the end, despite their common distaste for the cocky smuggler, the pair of villains died at the hands of someone who loved Han Solo.
Two villains, each with a penchant for shackling the women in their lives. For Dryden Vos, we refer to a metaphoric shackle and physical branding of Qi’ra. Jabba, meanwhile, preferred literal cuffs, much like those he placed upon Princess Leia Organa after discovering her freeing the man she loved from a frozen block of carbonite. Qi’ra, a former scrumrat who loved a boy named Han, eventually impaled her former master with his own dagger. Jabba, however, sealed his doom by keeping Leia closely restrained to his own repulsive person only to be strangled with those very chains.
Two villains, each with a vendetta against the same man, both destined for the same fate. For despite their many differences — class, charm, cultural preferences — the lives of Dryden Vos and Jabba the Hutt really weren’t that different and their choices ultimately brought their individual journeys to a very similar close.
Neil Kleid is a writer and designer who truly belongs among the clouds. He digs Star Wars, comix, mobile design, BBQ, and baseball. Talk to him about design and Lobot on Twitter at @neilkleid.