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Did It All For The Wookiee: 21 Things About Chewbacca That Make No Sense

The Star Wars Universe is rich and expansive, and therefore must have plotholes the size of Death Stars. With all the lore it has, there are layers of material that are used to flesh out that galaxy far, far away. With so many contributors in so many forms of media to it, there are bound to be aspects of it that just don’t make sense because nothing is cross checked. Take Han’s lovable co-pilot Chewbacca. Brave, ferocious, sometimes huggable (if you’re a brazen Ewok), the wookiee turned smuggler named for the famous warrior Bacca is an essential member of the OG Star Wars Crew. Unlike the others, Chewie always suffered from seeming like an afterthought in the original films, and Roger Ebert’s review of A New Hope painted him as the equivalent of a shaggy “window dressing”.

Chewie didn’t get to have a completely realized character. He didn’t have all that much to do except follow his friends on their missions, provide backup, and occasionally be the getaway driver. Since he wasn’t all that fleshed out, a lot of aspects of his character don’t make sense. Like having a wife that watches cooking shows, or never bringing up the fact that he met Master Yoda. Things like that.

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21 HE NEVER QUESTIONS HAN’S STUPID IDEAS

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Han Solo has survived one close call after another due to luck and his ability to talk himself out of a perilous situation. He persuaded an upset Hutt in A New Hope that he’d get him his money owed, plus interest. He used an old Imperial code in Return of the Jedi to trick an Imperial officer into letting him take a stolen supply shuttle down to the surface of Endor right past Darth Vader’s watchful eye. His roguish charm and persuasive attitude that everything will work itself out generally gets him by, but he has a partner to consider. Why does Chewie not bring up the fact more times in the films that Han Solo’s ideas are stupid?

Chewie’s opinion is a little railroaded when it comes to voicing objections since he owes Han a “life debt” for rescuing him from the Empire, but surely Chewie knew it was a bad idea to dump the cargo that belonged to Jabba the Hutt at the first sight of a Star Destroyer. And to hide in the gullet of an asteroid-burrowing space worm in Empire Strikes Back. While Han survived all the close calls, he tempted fate more times than was necessary. One would think Chewie would have offered some alternatives considering he was a fearsome warrior back on Kashyyyk and was no doubt well versed in combat strategy and tactics.

20 HE NEVER OWNS HAN FOR RIDICULING THE FORCE

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While passing time before encountering a certain “small moon” on their way to Alderaan, space hermit Obi-Wan Kenobi and callow farmboy Luke Skywalker begin a debate about The Force with Han and Chewie aboard the Millennium Falcon. Luke has been training with his father’s lightsaber, and endeavoring to understand just how The Force works in relation to handheld laser beams. Han Solo is rebuking everything Obi-Wan says about the mystical energy “binding the universe together”, stating that he hasn’t seen anything to make him believe The Force is real and controls the destiny of the galaxy and the beings in it. Never mind that Han was a boy during the events of the Clone Wars, and most certainly saw some Jedi around the well known Corellian System he called home.

It’s at this moment that you’d expect Chewbacca to roar defiantly and own his partner for making fun of something he’s personally witnessed. Chewbacca fought on his homeworld Kashyyyk during the Clone Wars, amongst squadrons of clonetroopers led by Jedi generals, and even helped Master Yoda escape. He would be able to verify everything Obi-Wan is saying, and more. And yet he keeps silent, and even goes so far as to mock some of the old man’s anecdotes as well.

19 HE NEVER GOT A MEDAL AT THE END OF A NEW HOPE

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After the Battle of Yavin was over, the Death Star Destroyed, and Vader’s TIE fighter sent spiraling into outer space, the Rebel Alliance gathered in the great hall of the former Jedi Temple and held a resplendent ceremony. Princess Leia presented medals of heroism to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, the two men most responsible for the success of the mission. Well Chewie was helping to fly the Falcon too, Leia, yet he didn’t get any recognition whatsoever.

Much has been made about this little slight on the part of the princess. George Lucas explained at the time that wookiees don’t put much importance on medals, but in the novelization of the movie which came out six months before it, Chewie was said to have received one. And in the 1980 comic The Day After the Death Star, Leia does present Chewie with a medal. So why did Lucas decide at the last minute to rewrite the film screenplay? Well, as it turns out, Princess Leia was simply too short to put the medal over the 7 ft 6inch tall wookiee. This was finally “rectified” at the 1997 MTV movie awards when Carrie Fisher awarded actor Peter Mayhew with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” awkwardly shaped like the medal Chewie should have received at the conclusion of A New Hope. Better late than never.

18 HIS WIFE WATCHES COOKING SHOWS

In one of the most baffling moments in the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, Chewie’s wife Malla frustratedly watches a cooking show and tries to recreate the recipe it features. A four-armed lovechild of the Swedish Chef and Julia Child explains how to properly make something that looks like smashed meat. As cannot be stated enough, George Lucas has specifically said wookiee’s aren’t materialistic, and so Malla giving a Sith about how to properly recreate a holovision personality’s home cooked meal is absurd. Is this a standard wookiee meal? Is Malla trying to think outside the box? Is she trying to impress Chewie before he comes home? It doesn’t matter, because she hasn’t heard from him for weeks, and even a holomessage from Luke Skywalker and R2 goes nowhere because they can’t understand wookiee anymore than the viewer can.

For all Malla knows, Chewbacca could be dead. Yet there she is, ready to reach through the screen and pommel the chef because her galactic goulash looks iffy. It’s safe to assume that in wookiee society, recipes are passed down through generations, and that Malla’s tribe had some tasty tomes full of all kinds of culinary delights. This sequence only makes her seem more human and accessible to the audience, who would otherwise be wondering why they were watching a holiday special about Alf and his brood.

17 HE MET YODA BUT IT NEVER COMES UP

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The first time audiences are introduced to the wizened green prune is in Empire Strikes Back, when he’s eating Luke Skywalker’s meal replacement bar out of his tackle box and battering R2 with his gimer stick. He’s been hiding out on Dagobah for the last 20 years from the Empire, biding his time until the wayward son of Anakin Skywalker found his way to him. We assume no current character in the original trilogy could have interacted with him because he’s 900 years old and they’re all a bunch of youngsters (plus Obi-Wan is dead). And YET.

Chewbacca fought alongside the Grand Republic Army on his homeworld of Kashyyyk during the Clone Wars, which consisted of clonetroopers that were under the command of Jedi Master Yoda, and yet when Luke breaks off from him, Han, and Leia after the Battle of Hoth, Chewie keeps his mouth shut. He could have grunted something to Han who, though puzzled, could have relayed some helpful information to Luke that might have given him some insight once he crash landed on Dagobah. Like, say, to not expect that Yoda is some towering figure of myth but in fact a tiny wrinkled frog man that speaks backwards.

16 HE KNOWS HOW TO ASSEMBLE C3PO LIKE IT’S NBD

In Empire Strikes Back, while the adults are talking, Threepio gets turned around in the corridors of Cloud City and wanders into some sort of galactic chop shop. Surly uggnauts are busy taking apart droids and other machinery for scrap, and Threepio becomes their next victim. Why? Because he heard some moody beeps and assumed there was an R2 unit in the room. When he’s returned to Han, Leia, and Chewie in a box, it’s Chewie that begins putting him back together like a golden rubix cube.

Yes, he got Threepio’s head backwards, but Chewie knew how to put the protocol droid back together like he’d been rebuilding droids all his 200-year old life. He was no doubt a skilled mechanic to get the Falcon semi-functional most of the time, but he came across like a bantha in a china shop, with next to no “fine motor skills”. His giant meathooks don’t possess the dexterity to work with the delicate wiring of a droid, and the level of concentration involved seems beyond the impatient furball. When the film shows him fumbling with Threepio’s head using a tiny screwdriver, it’s inadvertently hilarious, especially when he starts growling when Threepio criticizes his progress.

15 HE DIDN’T SPOT BOBA FETT’S SHIP IN HIS REARVIEW

In one particularly clever maneuver shown in Empire Strikes Back , Han flies the Falcon straight towards the bridge of a Star Destroyer commanded by Admiral Piett, only to vanish moments later. The Star Destroyer had waited patiently for them to emerge from an asteroid field where it could not follow due to its sheer size. Piett commands that the Falcon be tracked, but it’s impossible to detect it. Little do the Imperials know Han has attached the Falcon to the Star Destroyer itself and plans to detach and float away when they dump their garbage before a jump into hyperspace. It’s standard Imperial procedure Han recalls from his strange stint as an Imperial officer years before.

Han isn’t the only clever one that day, and when the Falcon detaches, it’s followed by Boba Fett’s ship, Slave 1. He had been floating amidst the Empire’s space waste the whole time. The ship trails the Falcon so close that if Chewie just looked in his rearview mirror, he would have seen it. The plot demands the audience assumes the ship is cloaked, because missing it dogging them would be glaringly obvious. It follows them all the way to Cloud City, and they never even realize it.

14 HE ALWAYS WEARS A BANDOLIER 

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As we know, Chewie’s fur serves him decently as clothes. He’s covered where it counts, and his species isn’t fond of clothing unless it resembles some sort of battle regalia. The one article of “clothing” that Chewbacca wears throughout the Star Wars films is a bandolier. It holds cartridges as big as cigarette cartons for his weapon of choice, a bowcaster that he is only seen with half the time. It appears in A New Hope, but becomes less detectable as the original series progresses. When Luke, Han, and Leia land on the forest moon of Endor, he uses several other weapons. At one point he even acquires an AT-AT with the help of his new Ewok pals.

Perhaps having Chewie completely free of clothing was too much for the film censors, and so an accessory that sort of suggested clothing was necessary to be included by the creative team. It’s a little like wearing your holsters all the time without a pair of six-shooters in them. He doesn't even wear any sort of harness that he could attach his bowcaster to, to make the bandolier relevant. He carries no pack to stuff a bowcaster in, no sheath or case, but he does remember to always wear his bandolier.

13 HE NEVER COVERS UP

Once eloquently described as a “walking carpet” by Princess Leia, the remark is apropos considering carpets don’t wear clothes and neither does Chewie. What need does a wookiee have for clothes when his society doesn’t deem his naked form morally objectionable? Besides, his hair covers up his furballs so there’s nothing to see there. On Kashyyyk, all wookiees are naked (including the women folk), and don’t place any sort of status on garments or fashion.

When A New Hope came out in 1977, producers did feel that Chewie’s hot bod might be too much for audiences (and more correctly, censors) to handle. Yes, the costume was made from a mixture of goat and yak fur, and yes it was long and lush and did cover wookiee crumbs, but taking the species at face value, it was apparent that Chewie (and wookiees in general) didn’t wear clothes. In earlier drafts of the character he was depicted wearing some sort of armor, but this concept was essentially scrapped because George Lucas deemed that it looked too “fantasy-like”. Little did Lucas know that some of Ralph Mcquarrie's original sketches would go on to be used as inspiration in works of fantasy, by none other than George R.R. Martin himself for a short story called “And Seven Times Never Kill Man” in 1975. The illustrations for the main character are shockingly wookiee-like.

12 HE WAS OK WITH HAN DITCHING THE RESISTANCE

There’s a telling scene in A New Hope when Chewie voices, perhaps for the first time, his objection to one of Han’s laserbrain ideas. It doesn’t happen often (presumably because Han mutters something about a “life debt” and Chewie shuts up), but in this case, Chewie isn’t objecting to the rationality of Han’s idea, but rather the moral implications of it. Princess Leia has just paid Han his reward for rescuing her from the Death Star, and he is planning on taking his money and skipping town before the Rebel Alliance takes it on. Their paltry fleet is no match for the “Ultimate Power in the Universe”, and truthfully Han doesn’t like the odds he sees (or more to the point, the thought of his new friends getting blown up).

Considering the return of Han Solo to blast Vader’s TIE fighter out of the way of Luke’s X-Wing might have been all down to the persuasion of Chewie, why exactly did he let Han leave the Resistance before the events of The Force Awakens? When Han was frozen in carbonite, he entrusted the protection of the princess to his co-pilot. Han walking out on Leia and the Resistance, after all the shared battles and memories, doesn’t seem like something Chewie would have allowed to happen without changing Han’s mind.

11 HE WAS OK WITH PORGS NESTING IN THE FALCON

Does Chewbacca Eat Porgs in Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

Much ado was made over Chewie’s interactions with the space puffins in The Last Jedi, mostly because it was known hilarity would ensue if a disgruntled wookiee and a bunch of neurotic furry birds ever crossed paths. The porgs, for better or for worse, provided comic relief, cuteness, and a way for filmmakers to deal with actual puffins interfering with all the shots on the Skellig Islands standing in for the planet of Ahch-To. Understandably, Chewie tries to eat one (always thinking with his stomach), but their big dumb eyes prove too much for the fearsome warrior and he can’t go through with it. Later on, they completely take over the Falcon, and proceed to tear up the seats, mess with the electronics, and probably poop everywhere.

When Chewie and Rey head back to meet up with the rest of the Resistance, several porgs have nested in the corridors of the Falcon. One brazen fellow is even present for the Battle of Crait and gives a mighty war cry when Chewie launches an attack maneuver. When the battle is over, there’s a porg sitting on top of R2’s head. This implies there’s a family (soon to be several families) of porgs calling the Falcon home. It makes no sense Chewie was cool with this, considering how much damage the little nuggets do to everything, and how he spent half his time swiping them angrily off the console.

10 HE NEVER LET HAN USE HIS BOWCASTER

Chewbacca’s weapon of choice is a bowcaster, which he’s used for 40-plus years, and for which he wears a bandolier of giant cartridges across his chest as his only article of clothing. Unlike a blaster, magnetic acceleration helped the bowcaster fire powerfully and accurately, delivering more damage, more quickly. Since it tended to be handmade, it was highly customizable, and the design of the weapon varied greatly by its creator. The ammunition charges on Chewie’s bandolier became enveloped by plasma energy when fired, and given momentum by passing through the energy field created at the end of the bowcaster from its two polarizing orbs. Chewie made his own, and outfitted it with an automatic cocking feature.

Han first uses the bowcaster in The Force Awakens, when the First Order does a raid on the beaches of Takodana. He instantly takes a liking to the weapon, given its range, power, speed, and accuracy. One has to wonder though; in all the 40-plus years these two smuggler bums have been cruising around the galaxy, Han never asked to use it? Never had to use it to get out of a tight spot? According to the most recent Star Wars comics he’s already used a lightsaber several times canonically and yet…

9 HE IS UNDERSTOOD BY REY

Up until Rey shows up, Han Solo is the only person (other than C3PO who doesn’t count because he knows over 6 million forms of communication) that can understand what Chewie says. When Han was a youngster on Corellia, he fell in with a group of space pirates whose ship cook, Dewlannamapia (or Dewlanna for short) taught him the basics of the wookiee language Shyriiwook. Though it may sound like a series of grunts, growls, and warbles, it’s a complex language that is difficult to understand for anyone who isn’t a wookiee also. Humanoids are incapable of mimicking wookiee speech patterns, so Han could only ever answer Chewie in Galactic Basic, but what are the odds that Rey, an isolated junker girl, could comprehend him as well?

The fact that Rey gets to Niima Outpost to sell her found scrap means she might be put in contact with a variety of species that pass through. However, the picture The Force Awakens paints is that she gets whatever she can for the pieces of downed space vessels leftover from the Battle of Jakku and promptly goes home. She leads a solitary life and prefers it that way, not seeing much of a reason to make friends, or carry on conversations, as evidenced by her surly attitude initially towards BB-8 and the First Order deserter Finn.

8 HE HAS CLAWS HE NEVER USES

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Wookiees are taller, stronger, and faster than most other bipedal hominid species in the galaxy. They tower at well over two meters in height, and have long arms that though lanky, are incredibly muscular. Most species underestimate the reach of a wookiee until their sinewy arms have closed the distance to them, and their massive paws are in their face. Han Solo once warned R2-D2 to let Chewbacca win the game of holochess they were playing aboard the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope. C3PO protested his advice in favor of his friend being the victor. Han cautioned him against upsetting the wookiee, because they were known for ripping their opponent’s arms out of their sockets when they lost.

Sadly, we were never treated to any arm-ripping-out action in any of the Star Wars films. In a cut scene from The Force Awakens, Chewie was supposed to rip the arm off of Unkar Plutt the junk trader, but producers felt it would be too gruesome a scene. While we never got to be treated to that amazing moment, we also never get to see Chewie’s claws. All wookiees have retractable claws, all the better to climb and to hunt with. Yet we never see Chewie’s, unless they’re always hidden by hair. But how choice would it have been if Chewie could have been the one to give Kylo Ren that scar across his face for what he did to Han.

7 HIS LANGUAGE HAS 150 WORDS FOR TREE

The language of Shyriiwook is an incredibly difficult language to understand if you’re not a wookiee, and impossible to speak. The series of grunts, growls, and warbles can’t be mimicked by any human, and only marginally well by a protocol droid. Han Solo could understand Shyriiwook only because he was taught it by the wookiee Dewlannamapia, a cook on the smuggling vessel he joined as a boy. Were it not for the kindly female wookiee taking him under her wing, he would have no clue what Chewie was ever saying to him.

Now that it’s been established that the grunts and growls of the wookiees are part of an incredibly complex language, it’s time to unpack that they have 150 words for “tree”. True, the wookiees have a symbiotic nature with the fauna of their planet, but are there even that many different types of trees on Kashyyyk? The most prolific are the wroshyr trees, huge and wide, perfectly able to support hundreds of wookiee houses in wookiee urban centers. This tree is what Kashyyyk is covered in, with few sub-species. Granted, some of these terms are to differentiate ceremonial and spiritual trees from those used for lumber and trade, but that 150 still seems excessive. The only way to tell the difference between the terms would be the most imperceptible change in a wookiee’s tone.

6 HE ONLY HAS ONE FACIAL EXPRESSION

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No matter what’s taking place around him, Chewbacca’s expression is largely immobile. We know he doesn’t have that much chill, so audiences are left with deciphering the tone of his “voice” to tell what sort of mood he’s in. The original trilogy character suit was designed by Stuart Freeborn and was made from goat and yak hair. It was incredibly hot, difficult to move in, and the mask he used didn’t have a way for actor Peter Mayhew to get very much expression across. Chewie could open his mouth, and you could see Mayhew’s eyes behind the mask, but those were the only visual markers to signal that the wookiee was indeed expressing something.

Faced with this dilemma, Peter Mayhew went to the London zoo and studied all manner of primates so that he could learn how they moved. He even studied “footage” of Bigfoot. While he knew that wookiees were human-like, he still wanted them to move like gentle giants of the forest. It was through carefully crafted body language that Mayhew was able to breathe life into the lumbering wookiee, doing certain physical motions that conveyed exactly what he was feeling (such as putting his “hands” behind his head and leaning back smugly). He was so gifted at the process that when stunt doubles or anyone else was in the costume, crew could tell because he just “didn’t move right”.

5 HE HAS A FAMILY HE NEVER TALKS ABOUT OR SEES

Though some fans would like to pretend that the Star Wars Holiday Special never happened, it did provide them with a unique glimpse of wookiee life. The focus of the two hour special that aired in 1978 is on Chewbacca trying to get back to Kashyyyk for “Life Day” (aka Christmas), and all the little things that keep preventing him. It depicts him having a wife, Malla, and a son Lumpawaroo (or “Lumpy” for short). They all live in a treehouse that seems to be outfitted like a rustic set piece of All in the Family, complete with the peasoup and burnt orange color palette of most ‘70s home decorating. Han makes an appearance in the special, as does Luke and Leia, and yet the fact that Chewie has a family is never discussed in the films.

The entire time that Han and Chewie have been gallivanting around the galaxy playing smuggler, Chewie’s family lives on Kashyyyk under Imperial occupation. The Empire drains their resources for lumber and agricultural purposes, and enslaves their people to work in mines and on inhospitable worlds. You would think that Chewie wouldn’t just leave his family on the planet, to face stormtroopers whenever they “get out of line”, and turn over all their earnings to the Empire.

4 HIS FAMILY MIMICS A HUMAN NUCLEAR FAMILY

The 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special has become Star Wars Legends territory and not made entirely canonical. Which is probably a good thing, considering the depiction of Chewie’s family in the two hour special is a lot like Leave it to Beaver. True, humans wrote the show and so probably based wookiee life off of what they knew, but it seems odd that Chewie’s existence would so staunchly mirror our own. His son, Lumpy, literally wants to play a computer game deemed “too adult” by his mother Malla, so he’s forbidden to play it. That is, until a few minutes later, when he disobeys her to play it and even comes across a suggestive hologram lounge singer in one section.

The fact that Chewie’s family plot points revolve around the equivalent of a mother putting parental controls on the family iPad makes no sense whatsoever in their culture. Sure, wookiees have access to the greater expanses of the galaxy -- Kashyyyk is a Mid-Rim planet after all. But a culture that places no importance on material things (aka why Chewie doesn’t get a freaking medal at the end of A New Hope according to George Lucas) shouldn’t give a gundark about playing video games.

3 HIS LACK OF MOURNING WHEN HAN DIES

Han and Chewie have been thick as thieves for over 40 years. Han rescued Chewie from enslavement to the Empire, for which the wookiee vowed to owe the human a “life debt” and be ever at his side. They began first as smugglers, then as heroes of the Rebel Alliance, and finally as shepherds of the Resistance and the New Republic. They’ve gone through almost being smashed in a trash compactor, to almost being devoured by a space slug, and slowly digested by the Sarlacc at the Pit of Carkoon. They’ve aided in the destruction of two Death Stars, seen the fall of one Empire and the rise of the First Order, and through every possible trial these tribulations brought, remained the best of friends.

When Han is killed in The Force Awakens, Chewbacca should be devastated. He should bay at the moon of whatever planet he’s on in melancholic despair. He should look into the inky void of space and see no stars, only blackness. He should become irritable, irascible, and difficult to be around after that horrible event. And yet the audience gets a few moments to indicate Chewie is mourning, and in The Last Jedi, it seems to barely register Han is gone because everyone has moved on. It should affect Chewie almost more than Leia or Luke, because he was there when Han had no one, and they only had each other.

2 HIS LACK OF ACTION WHEN HAN DIES

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Chewie was present at the birth of Ben Solo, Han’s only son. When he witnesses Ben’s ultimate betrayal to Han, and sees his friend fall at Ben’s hands, it should have sent the wookiee into a howling rage. He would have been there all the while Han wrestled with his demons about the struggle his son was going through, the conflict that was tearing him apart. He would have been a confidante for Han when he couldn’t face Leia and her disapproval at the fact that he couldn’t turn his son from the Dark Side. He would have hated Ben himself for making Han so tortured, and loathed him even more for being the one to end his friend’s life.

Is the audience to believe that Chewie was so shocked he couldn’t jump into action? True, he cries out. He even fires poorly aimed shot at the young Dark Side warrior. But that was pitiful by comparison to what Chewie is capable of. He is an incredible marksman, and knows the mechanics of his self-made bowcaster like the back of his hand. The only explanation for his lack of any decent action after or since is because he was too emotionally distraught. Any other explanation (including that he let Han die on purpose) is just pathetic and lame.

1 HIS ACCEPTANCE OF REY AS A FIRST MATE ON THE FALCON

Shortly after Han, Chewie, Rey, and Finn land on Takodana to meet up with Maz Kanata in The Force Awakens, Han hands Rey a blaster and gives her some paternal advice. It’s a little out of character for the surly old smuggler, but the audience has come to see his softer side wink through over the course of the four films he’s been in. He also offers to give Rey a job as his first mate on the ship. While she is incredibly flattered, she doesn’t yet know what her destiny will be. He goes on to say that Chewie would like it.

Chewie has been described as either Han’s co-pilot and/or first mate in many different iterations of their partnership aboard the Millennium Falcon. Han’s offer to make Rey his first mate is a bit of a slap in the face to the wookiee. Furthermore suggesting it was Chewie’s idea is adding insult to injury. It doesn’t matter anyway since Chewie stays co-pilot/first mate and Rey just slides right into the captain’s chair once Han is gone by The Last Jedi. It seems odd that Chewie would adjust to a new partnership so easily with someone he knows so little about. Unless the old wookiee knows more about Rey than meets the eye...

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