There’s more to being a Head Butler than tidying up the Manor, especially since those mynocks tend to make a mess of everything (well, anything with a power source that is), and occasionally even we members of the service caste get some free time. Thusly, one develops hobbies to bide the time between guests at the Manor, and mine has become being a detective…a detective of the growing Star Wars story. With “The Curious Case of…” series, I’ll show you what I’ve found…
I’m just excited as the next fan that Grand Admiral Thrawn is in canon now, set to appear in Star Wars Rebels‘ third season, but there’s someone I’m way more intrigued by at the moment, coming to the show in the same season: Lothal Governor Arihnda Pyrce. As I mentioned in my review of the Rebels‘ season three premiere, “Steps into Shadow,” I didn’t find Thrawn as interesting as Pyrce because he’s a known entity, in that anyone who has read the Thrawn Trilogy has a good idea what to expect out of him: studying his opponent’s art to find their weaknesses, a brilliant 5-steps ahead of you strategy that will make any chess player jealous, etc. But Governor Pyrce has pretty much been a non-entity in the show and suddenly in her first appearance not only is shown as practically an equal to Grand Moff Tarkin but she’s standing right by Thrawn’s side after she demanded he be brought in. How did she go from a character barely mentioned in season one, rarely in season two, to hanging out with the two most recognizable Imperials who have names that start with “T?” After some careful research, I’ve uncovered ewok crumbs leading straight to the answer thanks to the forward-thinking work of the Lucasfilm Story Group. Be curious no more about Governor Arihnda Pyrce, as Detective Mynock is on the case…
The ewok crumbs I’m referring to were scattered across a few sources, starting with the Servants of the Empire series (written by Jason Fry), which contained the most detailed look at Arinhda Pryce, as I found more information on her there than any other source. Next, the officially created Tumblr page for HoloNet News reports, used as a way to promote Rebels, is where the character of Pryce all began. Lastly, there were a few choice mentions of Pryce and some of her doings, plus hints at what goals she may have, in Star Wars Rebels. (UPDATE 5/6/17): This article has since been updated to reflect knowledge gained from Star Wars: Thrawn, which deals quite a great bit with Arihnda Pryce’s past, unlocking secrets that both support and detract my deductions below. (UPDATE 3/11/18): And now there’s a little update from the final season of Star Wars Rebels. Here’s what I gathered and how I believe it all fits together:
Servants of the Empire
In case you’re unaware of the SotE series, it’s tie-in material for Rebels, but becomes much more than that throughout all four books as it charts the journey of Zare Leonis (seen in Rebels S1 episode “Breaking Ranks“) and Merei Spanjaf’s own way of rebelling against the Empire. Zare, who quickly learns the Empire isn’t all that he’s grown up to believe, joins the Imperial Academy in hopes of finding his elder sister who also joined but has supposedly vanished without a trace. Merei is a computer-whiz and all around genius who assists Zare once she learns the truth about the Empire too (and they even develop a relationship, though their actions and methods for fighting the Empire cause them to frequently butt heads). Despite being junior novels, these are not to be missed, as Fry brings a real nuance to each book that some of the adult novels seem to miss from time to time.
Now that you’re up to speed about the SotE books, you won’t have to go any further than book 1, Edge of the Galaxy, to find the biggest details about Governor Pryce. Her ‘appearance’ in the book is technically her first and it includes dialogue, but it’s mostly her chatting with Zare and his family at a party they host at their home to celebrate Dhara Leonis’ acceptance into the Academy. But it’s not in the dialogue that we learn a lot about Pryce, but rather from the discoveries Zare, Merei, and fellow cadet-in-waiting Beck Ollet eventually make, whether it be simply from information in class lectures or as they dig into Dhara’s disappearance and the destruction of a jogan fruit orchard for mining purposes.
Early in the book, during the Fall section, Zare and Merei meet up after their Crop Management class and Zare can’t help but say how boring it all was. Merei on the other hand finds the real details of what they just learned hiding under the surface, making connections where Zare simply can’t see them at first. She’s noticed the Empire set up shop on Lothal with a priority on speed instead of security, which she deduces from simple TIE flight paths, as the Sienar flight lab, governor’s complex, the ag ministry, and minerals ministry are all located rather close to one another. Pryce seems interested in being close to everything the planet produces…and she wants it done fast, likely due to pressure from her superiors in the Empire or the importance of the project she’s involved with.
Later on in the novel (Part 3: Spring), after Zare and Beck witness the Empire kill innocent civilians just so they could clear them from the new mining grounds where the old jogan orchard was, Merei deduces just what they are mining the area for. The answer is something so important to the bigger Imperial picture and canon, it’s a great surprise and delight to see such a big reveal about Lothal’s importance tucked away in SotE. The site, approved for additional security from Pryce herself, is where the Empire is looking for, and I quote from Merei in Edge of the Galaxy, “It’s obvious that they’re looking for crystals, probably for use in laser-targeting systems.” What do we know is being built around this time by the Empire, probably needs lots of or really big (kyber) crystals for a laser-targeting system, and someone named Tarkin (who just so happens to be a ‘pal,’ as it where, to Pryce) is overseeing? Yeah, Pryce is somehow mixed up in the Death Star, folks. All that, just from one little book. UPDATE 5/6/17: See below in the Thrawn section, but the novel doesn’t seem to indicate Pryce is after kyber crystals or has any knowledge of the Death Star…though it lacks evidence against that she knows about either them.
The other three books don’t offer much more on what Pryce might be up to, as she’s just as absentee of a governor as she’s presented to be in the Rebels series proper. However, the other novels do allude, at the very least, to her being rather ruthless, ordering crackdowns and raids against known dissents on Lothal or even signing off personally on cover-ups for innocents killed, helping to give you a slight sense of what type of Imperial she’ll be.
But if you think I’m stretching her connection to the Death Star, there’s more evidence and hints in the other material below.
Alton Kastle’s HoloNet News reports were actually our first introduction to the character of Governor Pryce, some of which included interesting details about her possible importance and plans for Lothal before even the show or SotE started. Her first mention is in Kastle’s report about Lothal’s jobless rates hitting all time lows, due to an Imperial Registration Act which helps assign citizens jobs based on personal information they give up to the Empire, which Pryce is happy about because it, “…demonstrates the power of what can happen when Imperial interests are allowed to flourish in underdeveloped sectors.” As we already know from SotE (and as I’ll later mention in the Rebels section) she’s focused on getting Lothal integral to the Empire’s efforts, which is highlighted in another report (despite not mentioning Pryce), where Sienar Fleet System’s, “…most prosperous factory…” has lured famed pilot Baron Valen Rudor to Lothal to test its latest fighter technology. Most of the citizens who gained jobs from the Imperial Registration Act, enforced by Pryce, found themselves with jobs at Sienar’s factory, likely as a way to help speed up the factory’s output because as Merei found out in SotE, the entire operation has been set up with speed in mind
But it’s the last HoloNet News exclusive released on the site that reveals whatever Pryce is into and has been doing, it’s been noticed by the higher echelons of the Empire. Delivering a report about Lothal’s effectiveness (as this takes place roughly before the show and SotE begins) directly to Coruscant, Pryce meets with Grand Vizier Mas Amedda. Shortly after, whatever she’s all revealed about Lothal’s industrial and mining prospects gains her a meeting with officials on Eriadu a.k.a. Grand Moff Tarkin’s home planet. Not too long after this, not only does Merei and Zare uncover Lothal’s mining operations are looking for crystals for targeting systems but Tarkin personally comes to the planet to help with the growing rebel problem. If they aren’t working together in some shape or form, be it on Death Star or not, I’d be extremely surprised at this point. UPDATE 5/6/17: See the Thrawn section below, but it seems Tarkin and Pryce are working together simply because he could get her what she wanted, Lothal’s governorship, and she had dirt on his enemies. It is possible he’s taken more of an interest in her due to the planet having loads of doonium, a metal instrumental to the construction of the Death Star, but that she still doesn’t know why the Empire is eating so much of the metal up.
By now it should mostly seem clear that Pryce is wrapped up in something much bigger than Lothal alone, something even the limited mentions of her and certain plot points in Rebels make all the more clearer.
Star Wars Rebels
While Merei and Zare figured out the crystal mining plans of Lothal, it’s in Zare’s first appearance on the show (“Breaking Ranks”) that a kyber crystal actually gets featured heavily in the plot (and for the first time in any of the new canon). While Ezra Bridger, Zeb Orellios, Sabine Wren, and Zare try to help an Imperial cadet with a connection to the Force escape from the Imperial Academy, Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus are off chasing down a kyber crystal, which they successfully destroy. Combine the fact that Palpatine’s been looking for giant kyber crystals during even the Clone Wars (since that’s after he got the Death Star plans from the Geonosians) with Maketh Tua’s information (seen in “The Siege of Lothal“) regarding Palpatine having personal interest in Lothal, one could certainly see how the planet’s mining operations could be linked to the Death Star project. This adds to the credence of my early inference Pryce got Tarkin’s attention and is working together with him after she reported on mining findings from Lothal, making it hard to rule out Pryce’s involvement with the Death Star in some capacity. UPDATE 5/6/17: This stays true, but it’s not due to direct knowledge of the Death Star and rather Lothal’s doonium deposits.
To go back to her work on trying to making Lothal an integral part of the Empire (UPDATE 5/6/17: read Thrawn to find out how far she’s willing to go and what she all does to make Lothal so important), and tying into the news report about the famous pilot Valen Rudor coming to Lothal, the Sienar Fleet Systems factory on the planet is responsible for the TIE Advanced v1, used by the Inquisitors and eventually Darth Vader. She’s so proud of this achievement, she has Tua flaunt the new ship during the planet’s Empire Day celebrations. As important as new fighters and the mining operations are, Pryce is away often enough that Tua is given governing duties on Lothal, with the prime directive to protect the planet’s industrial interests since they and Lothal are instrumental to the Empire’s expansion in the Outer Rim…or at least so says Grand Moff Tarkin (in “Call to Action“). So if those things are so important, why is Pryce gone so often and what exactly is she up to? It would certainly have to be something even more vitally important than the Outer Rim expansion, that’s for sure (which could be Imperial interests beyond just the Death Star, to be fair).
Interestingly enough, it seems since Pryce’s last trip to Coruscant, where she was met by Mas Amedda instead of Palpatine, her standings have changed in the Empire as Maketh Tua reveals during the Empire Day parade (in the episode “Empire Day“) that Palpatine invited Pryce to celebrate the occasion personally with him. If she’s been producing the results they want to further the Death Star’s completion, don’t you think that would earn someone a personal invite by the Emperor himself? But then why is she away from Lothal so much? Does it have to do with the 5 year plan for the Outer Rim (which we haven’t heard about since Tseebo, a Rodian who’s Imperial implant contained senstive material, was dropped off to the larger Rebellion to reveal what he knows in “Gathering Forces“)? Or is the 5 year plan basically part of the Death Star project, as they are pulling resources for the giant battle station from backwater worlds to help hide what they are really working on? UPDATE 5/6/17: See the Thrawn section below, but the novel seems to suggest the only real reason she’s gone is due to learning how to be a governor and collecting political dirt as Tarkin desires.
And will the episode screenwriter Gary Whitta wrote for Rebels S3 tie into Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in some way, since he wrote a draft of the film’s script and not only is it pretty darn clear Pryce is working on the Death Star but Tarkin is on the show? UPDATE 5/6/17: Interestingly enough, all three episodes he wrote for the third season do not tie-in to the film at all, actually. Beyond that question mark for the third season, her first proper appearance on the show in the “Steps into Shadow” S3 premiere reveals the fruit of her labors since whipping Lothal’s resources into shape for the Empire’s goals. Her brief interaction with Tarkin (not much longer in the episode than what was seen in the trailer) shows her on a nearly even playing field with the Grand Moff, despite him being the regional governor of the Outer Rim territories and she just a governor of one planet. Likewise, he defers to her opinion about how to deal with the rebels since they’ve grown more organized and she basically orders him to get her Grand Admiral Thrawn to deal with the problem. As Thrawn reveals he’s not your average Imperial by the end of the episode (at least to those who weren’t aware of his skills and to the audience), Pryce stands by his side, again putting her on equal footing and importance
While my deductions above should now make it clear some of the path Pryce took to go from just another governor of some backwater planet in the Outer Rim to highly important to the Empire’s larger plans, there are still much bigger questions regarding Pryce specifically: how and why? What’s her story before the Empire, before becoming Governor of Lothal and tied up with the likes of Tarkin, Thrawn, and the Death Star project? Rebels recently gave fans hope the show can deliver characters on both sides of the conflict that can have backstories and motivations, as Agent Kallus went from evil for evil’s sake to someone with a soul in “The Honorable Ones,” so it’s possible Rebels will take some time to uncover her history in S3. But to have gone so far already, it speaks to Pryce as a very ambitious and ruthless individual, who should work well with Tarkin’s own ruthlessness and Thrawn’s efficiency, while making her sound like a very interesting character to see developed further (whether its in the show proper or a novel/comic/etc).
UPDATE 9/25/16: And now post “Steps in Shadow” airing, Dave Filoni, Pablo Hidalgo, and Henry Gilroy have spoken a little about Pryce and her backstory:
— Star Wars (@starwars) September 25, 2016
Unfortunately my detective work can’t see into the future, only what’s already been presented, so we’ll have to wait for the third season of Star Wars Rebels to begin to see if its story will delve into Governor Pryce’s backstory at all. But thanks to material already released and a really big microscope, yours truly, Detective Mynock, was able to uncover Governor Arinhda Pryce’s story during and surrounding the time of the show, revealing an ambitious Imperial who struck gold on her planet and become highly important to one of the biggest developments in the Empire’s history. Not bad for a character easily assumed to be some slob of a governor since she was seemingly never around on Lothal. Now I definitely can’t wait to learn more about her.
When I first heard the novel Thrawn would feature Pryce, I was intrigued to learn how much she’d be in it and what background details would be revealed that Rebels doesn’t really have the time to cover (as its third season understandably neglected diving more into Pryce’s story, though it did give her several enjoyable appearances). After finishing Thrawn, (here’s my review) I walked away surprised for several reasons, including: her part in the book was practically the same as the titular character’s; some of my previous assertions above have been put into question; and thorough connections to the show reveal why she was absent for the first two seasons. In fact, just as I had hoped for towards the end of the original part of this article, Pryce really is an interesting character to see developed further and her life makes for an intriguing read and for the deepest, most critical dive into her character yet, Thrawn is a must-read for that reason alone (and I agree, calling it “Star Wars: Pryce” isn’t completely incorrect). Here are some of the things I’ve learned and also the things that changed from earlier assumptions.
Above I’ve made a pretty clear case Pryce was involved with the Death Star project in some form or capacity, but after Thrawn it’s clear I was wrong…from a certain point of view. Pryce doesn’t know about the project, just that the Empire is eating up doonium (a metal used for the DS’ construction) like it’s nobody’s business (which, as far as the Empire is concerned, it isn’t anybody’s business) and the mines of Lothal have this in spades. In fact, one of the mines was her family’s, which is where she humbly starts her life on Lothal, and she eventually returns after a lot of political maneuvering and ambitious moves to shut down her own mine and hand it all over to the Empire. She doesn’t necessarily care to know WHY the Empire needs it, but if she wants her little backwater planet to be integral to the Empire, then she’ll gladly serve it up on a platter to them. She might sound like a pretty horrible person, as the Rebels Recon extra above seems to point out, but Timothy Zahn does an excellent job of making Pryce a person to be sympathetic for and her actions justifiable…at least in her mind. So while it’s possible she’s since learned of the actual Death Star project and her planet’s mines part in it, for the time being she’s oblivious to the bigger picture simply because all that matters is that she’s able to further her own goals and not even her home planet is going to stand in the way of that.
The novel also has an excuse for her absentee governorship in the first two seasons of the show: she was learning to be a governor. It sounds silly when I put it that way, but considering she’s never held any form of office up until this point it’s absolutely necessary and ends up being part of the deal she strikes with Grand Moff Tarkin when she serves him up not only Lothal on a platter, but some dirt she’s been collecting on Tarkin’s rivals for an advocacy group she’s been working for (and soon dismantles). The book goes so far to even introduce us to Maketh Tua (rest in peace), the woman Pryce selects to govern in her stead while she’s both learning to be a governor and continuing to collect political leverage for Tarkin, and makes other such connections to Rebels that fans of the show will have plenty of details to pick out. Adding to that, how she crosses paths with the soon-to-be Grand Admiral Thrawn himself gets detailed within the novel and their mutual appreciation for each other’s skills and clear-cut goals makes it easy to see why she’s able to call upon him to help her with Phoenix Squadron’s growing rebel activity in her sector. Well, and she might have offered her political power to help smooth things over for the politically-inept Grand Admiral in the future…granted he helped her out with some rebel problems.
Unfortunately the book doesn’t mention kyber crystals at all, nor does it cover her meetings with the Grand Vizier or Palpatine as mentioned in the HoloNet News Reports, but neither does the book discount those things happening or could be happening. In fact, the book jumps time so often and is so focused on the tale it wants to tell, there’s a possibility some of the conclusions I drew above could still be on the table, as it is possible she’s learned of the Death Star or her world’s potential kyber deposits before/during/after the novel and it’s simply not covered there. However, it doesn’t support the theories so for now some of my guesses above might truly be incorrect, but Pryce’s ambition, knowledge of Imperial mining demands, desire to be vital to the war effort, and willingness to destroy everything that isn’t in service of the Empire are still important parts of her character.
So if you’ve made it this far in your curiosity over Pryce, I’d say you should go out and get the novel Thrawn as soon as possible, as it answers nearly all of the biggest questions regarding Lothal’s dear governor that you’ve ever had. While the season 4 trailer for Rebels didn’t show Pryce, I wouldn’t rule out another appearance or two considering the Ghost team travels back to Lothal at some point. I seriously hope she survives the season (though I fear she’ll be killed by the Empire due to failure to stop the rebels more than anything the Ghost crew might cook up) as her time in Thrawn certainly made her an even more compelling character than I originally imagined was possible when I first started this article.
Star Wars Rebels Final Season
Unfortunately, the final season of Rebels doesn’t reveal anything big or new regarding Pryce that I’ve not already covered above. If there’s anything it does confirm at least, it is that kyber crystals were never the real importance of Lothal for the Empire (nor were they even there, seemingly), but rather it was due to the Emperor’s interests in a world between worlds within the Jedi Temple there (more details on that here). However, S4 does show the results of Pryce’s ambitions for making Lothal such an important part of the Empire’s development pipeline: the planet is near ruin, as she strip mines it for everything the Empire needs, including Thrawn’s TIE Defender initiative. Her goal for being important to the Empire backfires, as her rashness in the destruction of a Lothal fuel depot in an attempt to kill the rebels (one does perish, sadly) halts Thrawn’s TIE program and the planet joins the revolt against her that the crew of the Ghost begins in the finale. Defiant to the end, Pryce chooses death instead of running away with the rebels or dealing with the fallout of losing Lothal. We may yet see her again in the upcoming Thrawn: Alliances, but for now, Pryce’s story, though a few holes abound, is complete.
OTHER CURIOUS CASES:
The Curious Case of Force Ghosts
Canon Novel Review: Thrawn
Star Wars Rebels Season Three Premiere Review: “Steps Into Shadow”
Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Panel/Press Conference Details: Trailer, Grand Admiral Thrawn (& Novel), New Characters (SWCE 2016)
OTHER BUTLER CONFESSIONS:
Dream or Force Vision: A Crazy Night’s Thoughts on Star Wars: Episode VIII
Marvel’s Back: Star Wars Comics 2015 Year-in-Review
The Force Awaken’s “(Just) Let It In,” – A Parody of Frozen’s “Let It Go”
Grand Admiral Canon: To Be or Not to Be “So Artistically Done” Again
The Great Reboot of 2100: Just How Evergreen is Star Wars?
Preserving the Mystery of In-Universe History
Star Wars Ring Theory: An Interview with the Author, Mike Klimo, and Why You Should Read It
Chutes, Shafts, and Sinkholes: Star Wars and the Descent into the Underworld Mytheme
With New Eyes: The EU Reboot Changed How I View Ep. VI
EU and Gaming: Thoughts on Their Relationship
Choice Isn’t an Option: The Future of Star Wars Video Games (Part 1)
Always On The Move: The Future of Star Wars Video Games (Part 2)
A Good Blaster At Your Side: The Future of Star Wars Video Games (Part 3)
Star Wars Netflix Hopes: The Rule of Two