No one’s ever really gone in Star Wars. But everyone’s favourite chuckling Sullustan is really pushing that idea in what has to be, somehow, the silliest debate raging across post-Rise of Skywalker discourse.
The final battle of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is filled with as many familiar faces as it is familiar starships. Thanks to a last-minute round-up by Chewie and Lando, Poe’s wavering armada of Resistance fighters above the Sith planet Exegol finds itself bolstered by a flotilla of civilian ships, from Naboo Starfighters to a craft operated by the Official Galaxy’s Best X-Wing Pilot, Wedge Antilles.
Those ships find themselves led into battle by another familiar sight in the Resistance’s fleet, the Tantive IV, the same Corellian corvette Bail and Leia Organa used to fly missions for the Rebellion. The ship used in the infamous flight from Scarif with the Death Star plans flew into battle once more in Rise—piloted by another familiar face, Nien Nunb, jumping from the X-Wing cockpit he was seen in during The Force Awakens.
At one point in the battle in Exegol’s atmosphere however, the tide takes a dazzling turn, as from the surface below, the reborn Emperor Palpatine casts out a massive storm of Force Lightning, disabling Resistance and Sith Eternal vessels alike, including the Tantive IV. With their engines and other important systems offline, many ships, from the grandest destroyers to the smallest snubfighters, tumble helplessly to their doom.
A doom that, according to writer (and scribe behind the upcoming official Rise of Skywalker novelization) Rae Carson, claimed the life of our beloved Nien. Speaking on Twitter with Bryan Young, Carson alleged that Nien Nunb perished in the battle above Exegol, saying it was “pretty clear” in the film, and that presumably in her novelization, the Sullustan would also perish.
Yeah, I think it's pretty clear from the movie (upon careful watching), so I feel comfortable confirming. Props to you for noticing!
— Rae Carson (@raecarson) January 6, 2020
Nien famously not only flew the Millennium Falcon alongside Lando Calrissian at the Battle of Endor before flying for the Resistance, but is even the canonical holder of the Chalcedony Waves, Leia’s necklace from the Throne Room sequence in A New Hope, given to him for smuggling Alderaanian survivors off of Sullust! Before you start mourning a true Star Wars hero however, you might want to pause reaching for the tissues. Because...THE DEAD SPEAK.
Well, the maybe dead. Nien Nunb himself would like to note that reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated. In light of Carson’s comments sparking a wave of mourning akin to the outpouring for Admiral Ackbar’s sudden, shocking death in The Last Jedi, Mike Quinn, the actor who’s played Nunb since Return of the Jedi, took to Facebook to tell fans that he lived, bitch.
Mr. Quinn thinks otherwise!!! pic.twitter.com/ry6Abqkjwf
— THE Bobby Linn (@501stBobbyLinn) January 7, 2020
Quinn has noted that the Tantive IV is one of the ships seen making it back to the Resistance’s base on Ajan Kloss to celebrate after the battle is won, meaning that it survived the temporary disabling of its systems. So presumably Nien is still piloting the ship. Unless, did Palpatine’s lightning fry him at the conn station or something? Was it his own quick-thinking that saved an iconic ship of the Rebel Alliance from certain doom? Who’s right, who’s wrong, can someone, for the love of god, tell the Star Wars fandom if this minor background character is alive or dead so we can move on with our lives???
RIP to a real one. Maybe? Who can say? We’ve reached out to Lucasfilm and will update should we hear back.