It's been a few years, but Qi'ra is officially back in business.
The femme fatale, first introduced in Solo: A Star Wars Story, made a shocking return in the first issue of Marvel Comics' War of the Bounty Hunters series. It was revealed that Lady Qi'ra is now the leader of the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn, and stealing Han Solo from Boba Fett was her move to get the organization back in play with the rest of the galaxy's cartels.
There's clearly a great deal that remains unknown regarding how Qi'ra was able to take control of the syndicate and, more importantly, what transpired between her and Maul. While those answers will have to wait for the time being, the actress behind the shady crime lord has shared her process for portraying Qi'ra in Solo...
QI'RA HAD A PLAN
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, actress Emilia Clarke entertained a theory that Qi'ra tipped off Enfys Nest during Han Solo and Beckett's failed train heist operation in Solo. While she enjoyed the thought process, Clarke shared that it wasn't until Han re-entered Qi'ra's life that the latter began to consider betraying Dryden Vos:
"Oh my goodness! That’s a really, really juicy one. I wrote pages about Qi’ra — behind-the-scenes Qi’ra — and all of the other stuff that was going on. But I think it is only when she sees Han that she realizes that there is a way out. That’s what I was playing. That’s definitely where I was at. I don’t think she felt herself to be strong enough at that point to go on and escape Dryden’s grip."
Clarke emphasized that seeing Han was what reminded Qi'ra of the life she can still have:
"I think that Han is the slap around the face that made her go, “(Gasps.) I was a whole person. I was this other thing. Where have the last 3 years gone?” So it was that kind of thing, but I think your theory is very good."
The actress also agreed that ditching Han on Savareen was a move Qi'ra made to keep her friend safe:
"Yeah, the ultimate sacrifice."
Fans have speculated that Maul's threat to Qi'ra is what drove her decision to leave Han, but Clarke insists that the character knew what she was doing before the confrontation with Dryden:
"100 percent. She had to have a plan before, you know what I mean? She had to go into that situation with her own agenda and with her own plan, that the audience then catches up with after the fact."
SHE'S A SURVIVOR
It's like Beckett told Han.
He doesn't really know Qi'ra. Her first and primary objective is to keep herself alive, and the only way for her to do that in Solo is to ascend Crimson Dawn's chain of command. Of course, Qi'ra did truly care about Han, as is evidenced by her choice to omit him in her report to Maul, but her destiny lied along a different path than his.
Qi'ra is one of the more interesting characters to be introduced in the Disney Star Wars era, and the surface has barely been scratched in terms of realizing her potential. There's just as much room to go back and tell stories about her early days with Crimson Dawn as there is space to move forward, and doing so would explain why she couldn't bring herself to stay with Han when there was a chance to leave the syndicate behind.
The Solo novelization briefly touches on Qi'ra's time after Corellia, sharing that she killed enough of her guards that Dryden Vos was impressed enough to take her under his wing. By the time the crew has a chat with Enfys Nest about Crimson Dawn's history, it's clear that Qi'ra is ashamed of the things she's done for the organization and knows Han is the good guy who will help the rebels out, but she had other reasons for helping in mind.
Given the dark past that Emilia Clarke's Qi'ra has been through, it's no surprise that she sees power as the only forward. As she climbs the ranks, there will be more targets on her back, but she'll also feel a security that she never did as a Scrumrat or Dryden's top lieutenant.
With any luck, the story of what went down between Qi'ra and Maul will be told sooner than later. While one can obviously never be too sure, Qi'ra is a shady one and would be in her character to be directly responsible for the dark sider's exile on Malachor. From there, she has free rein to take over all of Crimson Dawn, and from the shadows rebuild the syndicate into the one seen in War of the Bounty Hunters.
Qi'ra's journey is just beginning. She undoubtedly has a plan in mind for Han, regardless of how painful auctioning him off to Jabba may be. She survived Dryden, she survived Maul, and she's probably going to survive Boba Fett.