Journey to Maz Kanata
We’ve left our villains alone for a while at this point, so let’s return to them for a moment. Actually first, though, let’s take a look back at something that happened in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
As we all know, at the end of Empire, Han is frozen in a block of carbonite and shipped off with Boba Fett the bounty hunter. What happened between that and Han showing up as a piece of performance art at Jabba the Hutt’s palace?
Most of the inter-film details aren’t necessarily cannon anymore, but the long and short is that a bunch of people went out looking for him
So if Poe is the hotshot pilot and squadron commander we believe him to be, his going MIA is going to wake a few people and scramble some search and rescue ops. As an aged man, we don’t necessarily expect Han Solo to still be in the military, but he could be. And while it doesn’t count as definitive proof, there is this shot:
No, not Leia. We’re looking at those little cylinder things tucked in his jacket. Remember that ammunition isn’t really a thing in Star Wars, so those aren’t clips for his blaster. But rank cylinders are a thing. Think of the various insignias that military commanders wear; in Star Wars, there are similar things that take the form of cylinders sticking out the tops of pockets. This dates back to the very first film.
So it seems possible that Han and Chewie might go looking for Poe, especially because they have the underworld connections to move around in Imperial space (if Jakku is controlled by the New Order). After shaking the TIEs, Rey and Finn dock to refuel, and whaddya know? Han Solo happens to walk by and see his old ship.
I don’t think we’ll actually see Han and Chewie be sent out; they’ll just tell us about it later.
The Knights of Ren Get a Mission
While all this is going down, Kylo Ren and other Knights of Ren receive a secret mission for Supreme Leader Snoke, who we’ll hear for the first time, but probably still won’t see until later.
Whatever the Knights of Ren mission is, it’s grim. Even though we’ve already had one action set piece highlighting the New Order’s brutality, they didn’t get their prize. This is the followup mission to capture Luke, and it’s devastating.
Of course, word of it reaches the New Republic, and because it’s got to do with Luke, there’s no hesitation in passing the info on to Han. And where is Han? Already within a lightspeed jump of Kylo Ren, of course, because Kylo Ren was just at Jakku and so was Han.
So with Rey and Finn in tow, Han and Chewie go to investigate, while the New Republic scrambles some cavalry.
Han, Chewie, and Finn get Captured, Rey Barely Escapes
Ok, so if all that was too murky and lacking in the evidence department for you, let’s get back to a few things we do know. First, that rainy pit where we see the Knights of Ren could well be the same place Han, Chewie, and Finn get captured.
Notice that A) there’s no Rey here, B) pretty much everywhere else in the trailer besides Jakku, Finn has a gun, and C) this is the same planet Poe’s squadron is about to attack, as evidenced by other shots and the Stormtrooper that goes running through the back of the picture a few frames later. They’re probably looking at the fighters coming across the water in this picture.
But where is Rey if not here? Well, this seems like the most lush planet in the movie, so that’s probably where this shot comes into play:
So Poe, who at this point has reconnected with whatever element of the Republic military was also close to Jakku, and Poes fighter wing…
…fly in to remove the imperial presence. A counterattack. They probably don’t even realize Han and co. are on the ground.
This allows Han, Finn, and Rey to escape once again, and continue on their ultimate path: meeting up with Leia at Maz Kanata’s. Yeah, really.