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Friday, August 10, 2018

10 Ideas for Keri Russell's 'Episode IX' Character that are Better than Rey's Mom

*SPOILER WARNING* for Thrawn: Alliances.

Since 2014, fans have been theorizing connections between Rey and the other women of Star Wars. Leia, Jyn Erso, and Qi'ra have all been theorized to be her mother, even after Rey told us herself in The Last Jedi that her parents were "nobody." Keri Russell's casting brought on the same tired discussion, with THR even publishing a whole opinion piece on the topic.
To a certain extent, this is Lucasfilm's fault; when they consistently cast white brunettes, it's natural for us to see a resemblance. If they did a better job of diversifying their female characters by casting women of color (which, to be fair, they have been improving on), we wouldn't be talking about how they all must be related. 

But again, Rey's whole arc in The Last Jedi was about accepting that her parents are unimportant and her power comes from herself. It might be cool for Rey to learn that her long-lost mother is a badass Force-sensitive warrior, and Russell already shined in a complex, unconventional mother-daughter relationship in The Americans, but unless JJ Abrams decides to undo Rian Johnson's work (which by all accounts, he won't), we need to forget about Rey's parents. 
So I've compiled 10 alternative ideas for Russell's character that would call for the kind of steely performance she gave on The Americans and the "action-heavy fight scenes" that Variety reported are involved with her role. This ranges from silly ideas to actually serious, thought-out ones: 


10. Captain Phasma

After falling into flames in The Last Jedi, Phasma reconstructs her scarred face and ends up looking like...Keri Russell. But don't worry, Gwendoline Christie still has a role because Phasma made clones of herself at some point. Like, a bunch of clones. And Keri Russell Phasma leads the Gwendoline Christie Phasmas into battle. Or something.
(Okay, so this is the worst idea on this list, but you can't deny that Russell would rock that armor.)

9. Supreme Leader Snoke

Episode IX should probably just leave Snoke lying on the floor of this throne room with his lower half cut off and his tongue hanging out. But if they decide to bring him back in any fashion, why couldn't he look like a beautiful 42-year-old human woman? Hell, give her one of those golden bathrobes, too. 
8. Rey's older sister

Here's an idea that would actually justify Russell's vague resemblance to Rey while still staying true to the concept that her parents were "nobody." Rey's much-older sister may not share her Force sensitivity – that would suggest that their bloodline is important after all – but if she was similarly abandoned by their parents in the middle of nowhere, it would make sense for her to have the same self-taught fighting skills. 
Of course, it would be a waste of time to introduce an estranged member of Rey's family when she already has established relationships with Kylo Ren, Finn, Luke, and Leia that are surely more relevant to the plot. But this idea is still better than Russell playing Rey's mom! 

7. Maul and Qi'ra's daughter, Qy'lie Maul

Yeah, this is gross. Maul is at least 20 years older than Qi'ra and was weirdly predatory towards her in their one conversation. ("You and I will be working much more closely from now on"? Ew.) But could you object to the awesomeness of seeing Keri Russell with reddish skin, a double-bladed red lightsaber, and horns poking out of her hair? No. No you couldn't.
6. The leader of the Yuuzhan Vong Grysks

One of the key elements of the Expanded Universe is the Yuuzhan Vong, a species of terrifying extragalactic invaders. The newly-released novel Thrawn: Alliances introduces the Grysks, a similar species that seems to serve as the Vong's canon replacement. The book preludes their invasion of the known galaxy, but the story of how our favorite characters deal with this threat has yet to be told. 
The Yuuzhan Vong
The conflict between the Rebellion and First Order has more than enough excitement and intrigue without the introduction of a third party. But if the Grysks were to appear in IX, why not let Russell play their leader? Put her in enough makeup and prosthetics that she's unrecognizable. Let her chew scenery with long monologues about suffering and torture and all kinds of Grysk mythology—in a hoarse alien accent, of course.

5. Maz Kanata's girlfriend

Between referring to Chewie as her "boyfriend" in The Force Awakens and hinting at a sexual past with the Master Codebreaker in The Last Jedi, it's clear that Maz hKanata as been intimate with all sorts of beings—quite possibly, regardless of gender. We know for a fact that she'll be back in Episode IX, so maybe she'll bring along her latest lover, a fellow pirate played by Keri Russell either as a regular human or an alien.
No, just kidding. Maz belongs with Chewie. It just makes sense. This is the key romance of the Sequel Trilogy, not Reylo. He can send Malla the divorce papers in the mail.

4. Mon Mothma's daughter, Minnie Mothma

While Mon Mothma may not be an iconic legacy character like Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, and Lando, she was even more instrumental in the formation and success of the Rebel Alliance. Having Russell play her daughter – another Rebel leader who shares Mothma's integrity but isn't afraid to get her hands dirty – would be a great way of acknowledging her.
And as far as we know, Mothma is still alive (though pretty damn old) by the time of the Sequel Trilogy, so why not let Caroline Blakiston reprise her Return of the Jedi role for at least a scene or two? At 85, Blakiston is roughly the right age, too. Regardless of who Russell plays, Lucasfilm should seriously consider bringing her back. 

Bonus idea: Russell's character is half-Bothan; when Mothma famously lamented "Many Bothans died to bring us this information," she was actually mourning the loss of her secret Bothan lover, with whom she had a child. (Try saying "Mon Mothma's half-Bothan spawn" 10 times fast.)

3. A Jedi Knight

We've (finally) moved on to the more serious ideas. This theory mostly arises from the fact that Russell's part seems to have been the one reportedly codenamed "MARA." In the Expanded Universe, Mara Jade is Luke's wife and a fellow Jedi. While that same character can't possibly exist in the canon anymore, it's possible they were using her name as a placeholder for a similar female Jedi in the same general time period.
It would make the most sense for this character to be an experienced Light Side warrior who's been in hiding for the past several years but then re-enters the picture. It would also be fascinating to see her as Rey's much-older apprentice who's never learned to hone her Force sensitivity, but it's doubtful the film would take the time developing that relationship.

2. A Dark Side warrior

The Star Wars canon is sorely lacking in female Sith Lords and evil Force-users of the like. Russell would nail it as a cold, ruthless villain, and the revelation that Snoke trained "at least one other apprentice" in addition to Kylo has already set up the idea of another powerful dark warrior in IX.
Whether this character was a Knight of Ren, another leader in the First Order, or an old apprentice of Snoke's who re-enters the fray, it's doubtful that she would play second fiddle to Kylo—you just don't cast Keri Russell as someone who takes orders from someone as immature and unstable as him. That could mean some serious battles between her, Kylo, and Rey. 

1. The warrior queen of Mandalore

It's about time that a Star Wars movie highlighted the Mandalorian people in the way that The Clone Wars and Rebels have. Canonically, they seem to have sat out the Galactic Civil War, but as far as we know, they're still standing strong by the time of the Sequel Trilogy. Why not let Russell play their ruler who the Resistance seeks out for help?
Between Satine and Bo-Katan Kryze, and Sabine Wren and her mother Ursa, Mandalore already has a huge precedent for badass female leaders in the canon. The last time we saw the planet, Bo-Katan had taken the legendary Darksaber and the ruling power that came with it, so why not let Russell be Bo-Katan's daughter who inherited both the mantle and the sword? 

Just think of it: an armored Mandalorian warrior swooping in on a jetpack, slicing through stormtroopers with the Darksaber (which would look amazing in live-action, by the way), kicking all kinds of ass with Mandalorian blasters, flamethrowers, and other gadgets, and then taking off her helmet to reveal none other than Keri Russell. That's exactly the kind of role she deserves.
(The one hitch in this idea is that Making Star Wars just reported Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars TV will be centered on Mandalore, albeit in a different era. This series will likely premiere less than a year after Episode IX, so Lucasfilm may not want to overwhelm us with Mando content.)

Bonus idea: Russell's character is named Satine Kryze, after her aunt. This would make for a lovely tribute to the fan-favorite Clone Wars character who stole Obi-Wan's heart.


No matter who Russell plays, we can be sure she'll give a powerful performance, and we know for a fact she'll kick ass, too. At the end of the day, there isn't much more we can ask from a supporting female character in Star Wars.

Who do you want Keri Russell to play in Star Wars: Episode IX? Which idea on this list is your favorite? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all.

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