- "This is a precision job. Thermal vault will be on the lowest level. Down where it's warm. The only way we're going to pull this off if everybody plays their part. Stick to the plan. Do not improvise… Alright people, time to shine."
- ―Tobias Beckett, to his crew
The raid on Kessel, also known as the Kessel Slave Revolt or the Kessel heist, was an operation undertaken in 10 BBY by the criminal Tobias Beckett and his outlaw crew when they traveled to the spice mines of Kessel in an attempt to retrieve raw coaxium for the crime lord Dryden Vos of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. The crew was able to succesfully complete the mission and evaded Imperial forces that pursued them after the theft. As a result of the Imperial pursuit, Han Solo found a shortcut through the Akkadese Maelstrom and completed the Kessel Run in between twelve and thirteen parsecs, breaking the previous record.
During the Imperial Era, the royal family of Kessel opened one side of their planet to large scale mining operations. These operations were controlled by the Pyke Syndicate, which used slave labor extracting minerals and fuel including coaxium, spice, and kessoline. The Pyke Syndicate's operations were directed by Quay Tolsite who used Pyke sentinels to oversee the slaves.
While the Galactic Empire monitored Kessel's exports, they turned a blind eye to the Pyke Syndicate's criminal activities. The Empire also maintained a relationship with the Pyke Syndicate. In return for obtaining the minerals that it needed to build its expanding military forces, the Empire supplied prisoners as slave laborers. These prisoners ranged from enslaved aliens like the Gigoran Senna and the Wookiee Sagwa, criminals like Tak, and political dissidents like the former Imperial Senate page Baxin Winstoll. In addition, the Pykes sourced their labor from kidnapped school children like Dezine Krisso.
The Pyke Syndicate also employed the services of several droids including the WDD adminmech DD-BD, the programming droid DA1-4XB, the labor droids J3-55, CC-4M, and JBLX-24, the protocol droid S1D6-SA-5, the adminmech droids P0-03 and P1-SZE, the sifter droid C26-T, the messenger droid GOUD-4, the astromech droids KR2-M80 and P6B-LT2, the power droid MPH-11 and the repair assistant W1-EG5. These droids encountered endless work shifts, dangerous conditions, a lack of oil baths and restraining bolts.
In 10 BBY, Han Solo, Tobias Beckett, and Qi'ra convinced the Crimson Dawn crime lord Dryden Vos to allow them to steal coaxium from one of the Pyke Syndicate's mines in order to pay Beckett's debts. Beckett wanted to regain Vos' favor following a failed heist on Vandor. Due to his syndicate's business dealings with the Pykes, Vos assented on the condition that the Crimson Dawn would issue plausible deniability in the event the heist went wrong. After hiring the services of Landonis Balthazar Calrissian, his droid co-pilot L3-37, Solo and his gang traveled to Kessel on Calrissian's YT-1300 light freighter, the Millennium Falcon.
Infiltrating the mine
To gain access to Tolsite's mine, Qi'ra posed as the slaver "Oksana Floren" while Solo and Chewbacca posed as slaves. Beckett posed as her security attache while L3-37 posed as her servant droid. Calrissian stayed aboard the Falcon as a getaway pilot. As part of the plan, Solo and Chewbacca were transported into the mine for processing. However, they ambushed their Pyke captors in a lift. Chewbacca ripped the arms off his captor, derailing Solo's plans to pose as guards.
Tolsite led Qi'ra into a meeting room while Beckett and L3-37 waited in the control room. Beckett killed the guards while Qi'ra killed Tolsite using the martial arts Teräs Käsi. After freeing DD-BD from his restraining bolt, L3-37 convinced DD-BD to liberate his droid brethren. The liberated droids then deactivated the slave restraints and collars, sparking a slave and droid revolt against the Pyke Syndicate.
The heist and uprising
While the slaves and droids rebelled against the Pykes, L3-37 guided Solo and Chewbacca through the mine to the coaxium vault. On the way, Chewbacca went to aid the Wookiee slave Sagwa and Solo handed him a pike, which he used to subdue the Pyke guards beating Sagwa.
With the help of L3-37, Solo reached the coaxium vault and knocked out the sentry. After L3-37 unlocked it, Solo loaded twelve canisters of coaxium onto a sled. While navigating through the mines, he was noticed by the guards but Chewbacca and Sagwa came to his aid. Solo, Chewbacca, Qi'ra, L3-37, and Beckett then fought their way back to the ship amidst the stream of liberated slaves and droids and hostile Pyke sentinels.
As Chewbacca and Sagwa loaded the coaxium canisters onto the Falcon, Lando joined Han, Qi'ra, Beckett, and L3-37 in the skirmish against the Pyke syndicate, who had brought a sonic cannon. During the skirmish, L3-37 was hit and disintegrated by the Pykes. Lando rushed to her and was wounded by gunfire. Han came to his aid and drove off the Pykes.
After farewelling Sagwa, Chewbacca carried a wounded Lando aboard the Falcon. Qi'ra also took out the Pyke's sonic cannon with a grenade. With Lando grieving over the loss of L3-37, Solo took the helm of the Falcon and was joined by Qi'ra and Chewbacca as co-pilots.
- "The damage to the mines and loss of coaxium cut into the Pykes' profits and upset the galactic underworld's delicate balance of power."
- ―From the collected files of DK-RA-43 regarding Kessel
Solo and his team's raid on Kessel attracted the attention of the Empire, which dispatched an Imperial Star Destroyer. The Falcon managed to outrun the Star Destroyer but was pursued by several TIE fighters and a TIE/rb heavy starfighter. In an attempt to lose them, Solo flew the Falcon into the Akkadese Maelstrom. Despite sustaining considerable damage to the Falcon within the maelstrom, Solo managed to lose the TIE pursuers with the help of Beckett, taking out four TIEs.
With the coaxium vials heating up, Solo sought to cut the journey by convincing Lando to install L3's internal processor into the Falcon's navigation system in an attempt to plot a quick path out of the Maelstrom. The Falcon managed to escape a summa-verminoth in the Maw by having Beckett inject some coaxium into the Falcon's fusion core. These factors allowed the Falcon to make the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs, setting a new historical record.
Solo then brought the Falcon to a refinery on the planet Savareen, where they had arranged to rendezvous with Dryden Vos. However, Enfys Nest and her Cloud-Riders managed to convince Solo and his group not to hand the coaxium over to Vos. Solo concocted a plan to defraud Vos and gain enough money to buy a new ship. Despite Beckett's betrayal, Solo and Qi'ra managed to defeat Vos and his Hylobon Enforcers with the help of the Cloud-Riders. After killing Beckett, Solo handed the coaxium to Enfys Nest, who used it to finance the Cloud-Riders' campaign against the Empire and crime syndicates.
Behind the scenes
While figuring out the development of the Raid on Kessel, the film's crew revisited the Mission: Impossible film series because they wanted the sequence to have the kind of momentum and feeling of coordinated effort that the best sequences in those movies always have. Comparing Han Solo's personality to that of Ethan Hunt's, screenwriter Jon Kasdan realized that they were very different and that Han is much more a guy for whom things go best when he just does anything on his way through.
One of Kasdan's biggest regrets of the film was the deletion of a creature known as a Wapota, designed by Jake Lunt Davies, during the Raid on Kessel sequence. Conceived by former directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the Wapota was an elephant-like beast of burden, fitted with an enormous burrowing drill over its face for tunneling which was to break loose from its restraints during the revolt and ended up chasing Han, Chewbacca and Sagwa as they escaped with the coaxium. An incredibly slow chase which included some great banter between Solo and Chewie, the idea was dropped in pre-production for its cost. Kasdan objected to its deletion but to no avail.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (First appearance)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition (First identified as Kessel Slave Revolt, simultaneous with Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition audiobook)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition audiobook
- Solo: A Star Wars Story Read-Along Storybook and CD
- Solo: A Star Wars Story: Meet the Crew (Indirect mention only)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story Adaptation 3 (Indirect mention only)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story Adaptation 4
- Solo: A Star Wars Story Adaptation 5
- Solo: A Star Wars Story Adaptation 6 (Indirect mention only)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story Adaptation 7 (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures – "Chewbacca - Wookiee Warrior"
- Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures – "Han and Chewie - A Lifelong Partnership"
- "Faith in an Old Friend"—From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars (2020) 13 (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars (2020) 14 (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars (2020) 17 (Indirect mention only)
Notes and references
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- The timeline provided in Solo: A Star Wars Story The Official Guide places Han Solo's Kessel Run nine years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. As that film takes place in 19 BBY, we can deduce that the mission to Kessel and the subsequent Kessel Run took place in 10 BBY.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story The Official Guide