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Who Are SOLO’s Pyke Syndicate and Crimson Dawn?

Solo: A Star Wars Story, but a couple of shady organizations do, namely the Pyke Syndicate and the mysterious Crimson Dawn. Who are they? Why do they instill so much fear in the galaxy? And, WHOA, is that Darth Maul? What?!

Pyke Syndicate

One of the oldest “business” (and criminal) organizations in the galaxy, the Pyke Family controlled the flow of spice throughout much of the Republic, and that continued into the reign of the Empire. Spice brings a lot of money in and out of Coruscant, and Palpatine is definitely not the kind of ruler to limit money, especially if he can use them for other things.

One of these other things is assassinations. You probably remember in Attack of the Clones several mentions of the Jedi Master named Sifo-Dyas, who had originally been investigating the cloners on Kamino… except he was dead. Sifo-Dyas was sent by Chancellor Valorum to engage the Pykes in negotiations about their monopoly of the spice trade prior to the invasion of Naboo. The Jedi was deemed too much of a liability, and so Darth Tyranus (a.k.a., ya boy Count Dooku) ordered the murder of Sifo-Dyas, which was carried out by the Pykes in exchange for greater freedom in moving spice. That left Dooku open to pretend to be Sifo-Dyas to the cloners.

The Pyke Syndicate allies with Darth Maul and several other criminal organizations during the Clone Wars to form the Shadow Collective (more about that later), and once that folded, they resumed their activities in Kessel, mining spice using Wookiee slaves and a copious amount of droids. It’s the Pyke Syndicate who meets with an undercover Qi’ra on the mission to retrieve the coaxium, and that’s who Han, Chewie, Beckett, Lando, and Qi’ra engage in battle as they frantically try to escape, leading to the infamous Kessel Run.

Shadow Collective

One of the important links between the Pyke Syndicate and Darth Maul’s new Crimson Dawn criminal organization is the Shadow Collective, a sort of United Nations of crime in the galaxy which operated for a very short period of time. The Collective was started by Maul as a means to take power and undermine his former master, Darth Sidious, whom he believed had totally forsaken him.

Maul began this by coercing the newly formed Black Sun organization to side with him. Black Sun sprang forth during the Clone Wars, when the Jedi were more focused on galactic military matters and less on policing criminal activity, which gave the clandestine group a chance to thrive. Maul was already in good with the Mandalorian Death Watch, a group of militant isolationists on Mandalore who wanted to take control of the planet for their own fascist goals. Maul convinced the Pyke Syndicate to stage an “attack” on Mandalore so that the Death Watch could come in and be the saviors of the world. And it worked like a charm.

In addition to the Pykes, Death Watch, and Black Sun, Maul also brought in the Hutt families, and the Nightbrothers, the warrior class of male Dathomirians, of which Maul himself was born and bred, along with his brother Savage Opress. Mother Talzin, an elder in the Nightsisters, was one of the founders of the Shadow Collective, to boot. However, this alliance didn’t last long, and the Hutts soon buggered off, followed by the Black Sun and the Pyke Syndicate after a particularly hefty routing at the hands of Dooku and the Separatists. With the Shadow Collective in tatters, Maul lost favor with the Death Watch, who basically had what they wanted from him anyway.

(You can read more about Maul’s history here, and here.)

Crimson Dawn

Which brings us to Crimson Dawn. We see that the members of Crimson Dawn–like Qi’ra and Dryden Vos–have a tattoo, a brand really, to show their affiliation. It looks not dissimilar to the symbol of Black Sun. And since we have no canonical knowledge of what happened to Darth Maul after the destruction of the Shadow Collective and his reemergence as a weird old hermit in Star Wars Rebels, we know there’s a good ten or so years when he could build another criminal organization from the ground up.

It seems pretty evident that Maul, Qi’ra, and the rest of Crimson Dawn will play a major part in the subsequent Solo adventures, and possibly in any other movie that might be set during this fruitful time in the creation of the Rebellion. With Maul back in play, and his underlings clearly terrified of what he could do to them should they fail, it’s going to take a lot to take down Crimson Dawn.

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