Before Han Solo married Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan and fathered her son, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, his main squeeze was a woman named Qi’ra, who has become a Star Wars fan favourite. Born on Corellia, Qi’ra was raised on the streets in the same manner as Han. The pair start as rivals before becoming romantically involved. She later joins Lady Proxima on a mission to recover coaxium, which leads them to get separated.
[Editor’s Note: This is just a short explainer of who Qi’ra is.]
Qi’ra ends up serving Dryden Vos, the public face of the criminal organisation Crimson Dawn as a slave after being sold by Proxima. She was trained in combat and was eventually branded with the symbol of the syndicate after her first kill.
Several years later, Qi’ra is reunited with Han when he and his friends are on a mission to recover coaxium. It’s during this time they get back together. She is also the one that introduces Han to Lando Calrissian. Eventually, Qi’ra betrays Vos and kills him to save Han’s life.
It is later revealed that Qi’ra is working for former Sith Lord Darth Maul, the true leader of Crimson Dawn.
Qi’ra Meets Leia
After Han is frozen in carbonite, Qi’ra meets Leia, and they don’t have a warm meeting. Instead, Leia, Lando, Chewbacca and C-3PO are trying to get Solo back after he was auctioned off.
Lando has Qi’ra searched for any form of weaponry. Leia believes they have nothing in common. Qi’ra then mentions that they have both loved Han and apologises for the situation the smuggler has gotten himself into. Leia is far from happy with her and believes Han is dead.
Qi’ra tells Leia that she didn’t intend Han’s fate to be what it was and wants Leia to get Han out after the auction. However, she admits that Han could have walked a much dark path had they remained in a relationship.
How Star Wars Highlights How Han Changed After His Relationship With Qi’ra Ended
Han’s demeanour changed significantly after he and Qi’ra parted ways for good. Despite still being in it for himself, he realises that to survive, he needs to leave behind the past and find a better path. Some of this is reflected when he reunites with Leia after their separation in The Force Awakens. He admits that their son’s descent to the dark side forced him to abandon his new life and return “to the only thing he was any good at.”
This is a nod to the life he once had with Qi’ra. Han was always good at smuggling and worming himself out of situations where he’d probably die.
Ultimately, Qi’ra’s importance shows that even a high-strung smuggler like Han can get into trouble but find a better life. After all, she remained in the criminal life, whereas he escaped, married and had a child before returning to his old life.