Something I have always appreciated about Star Wars are those second-tier characters literally shrouded by unique helmets and armor. These characters need not be the center of action in every scene, such as Darth Vader. No, they – Boba Fett, Captain Phasma – can command the stage through presence alone. Importance radiates from their mysterious outfits and unyielding stances, pulling us into their orbit. They demand our attention and our respect, and we gladly offer it to them.
The latest edition of Star Wars to hit theaters, Solo: A Star Wars Story, introduced movie-goers to yet another of these mysterious figures, this time in the form of Enfys Nest. Leading a loyal band of Cloud-Riders, Enfys Nest – wearing harsh but intriguing armor – makes their first appearance early in Solo on the planet Vandor-1, literally swooping in on a swoop bike to steal the goods, refined coaxium, which Tobias Beckett and Han Solo are themselves attempting to steal. A battle ensues between Beckett’s crew and Nest’s marauding band, a battle which confirms Enfys Nest as a formidable opponent, but a battle which also results in neither side leaving Vandor-1 with the valuable fuel.
That Enfys Nest is a pain in the side of Tobias Beckett and the man he is working for, Dryden Vos, becomes apparent soon after the events on Vandor-1. In turn, while we know Dryden Vos is *probably* the real bad-guy in the film, Enfys Nest is never-the-less established as the antagonist which Han and company must contend with as the film progresses. But it isn’t until much later in the film when Beckett, Solo, and the others arrive on the planet Savareen when Enfys Nest finally reemerges.
There are two moments in Solo: A Star Wars Story that literally made my hair stand up, and both moments happen back-to-back when Enfys Nest returns to the film. After the excitement on Vandor-1, the planet Kessel, and the death-defying Kessel Run, Han Solo and company finally have a moment of reprieve on Savareen, a chance to let out a sigh of relief. The scene is peaceful, Solo and his confederates resting and waiting in a small, run-down ocean-side village. Yet, the peace does not last. Out of no where, Enfys Nest and the Cloud-Riders materialize, standing in the background only yards away from Han Solo. Likewise, the musical score adds to this chilling moment, breaking the serenity on Savareen and signaling that a showdown has commenced.
With Enfys Nest’s apparitional appearance on Savareen, an old west style stand-off ensues (the title for the musical score is appropriately titled “Savareen Stand-Off”). But guns are not drawn. Instead, only an instant after the stand-off begins, Tobias Beckett calls Enfys Nest a marauder and the reaction from Nest is rather unexpected. Moving forward as if prepared to fight, Nest instead removes the terrifying helmet masking their face. Now, the a second hair-raising revelation occurs: we can see Enfys Nest true face, the face of a young woman of color.
This revelation is a bold one, for Enfys Nest and for Star Wars in general. The power of mysterious characters like Nest resides in NOT knowing the face under the mask. Consider Boba Fett and Captain Phasma. We never see Boba Fett’s face in The Empire Strikes Back but we know the bounty hunter, who shows up in a handful of scenes, is really good at what he does. After all, he tracks the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City, leading the Empire to Cloud City, and leaves with his cargo. As well, we do not see Captain Phasma’s face but we never doubt that she is fearsome and commands the respect of the First Order’s stormtroopers. After all, she gives the command to open fire on the villagers at the beginning of The Force Awakens and chastises FN-2187 for removing his helmet. But with Enfys Nest the mystery is purposefully broken and replaced by long, curly hair blowing in the Savareen wind and the face of woman starring down the condescending Beckett and the cocksure Solo.
In my opinion, Enfys Nest is the absolute best thing about Solo: A Star Wars Story. Sure, there are a lot of cool and delightful things in the film (a film, mind you, I was not planning on seeing), but Enfys Nest, she took my breath away. In Enfys Nest, the Star Wars universe has been gifted with a powerful and commanding woman who can go toe-to-toe with the “Big Boys,” with the likes of the crime-lord Dryden Vos, Tobias Beckett, and even Han Solo. And she does so without the slightest hesitation, standing firm as a physical and principled force who is unwilling to back down, who desires to take on crime syndicates and the Empire. That, we learn, is her goal: going on the offensive and taking the fight to the oppressors in the galaxy far, far away. She and her Cloud-Riders are a force for good, a glimmer of hope, a new hope, in these dark times.
With her unmasking, Enfys Nest purposefully breaks the shroud which encases her, removing that which enables her to command fear and respect. But this profound decision only amplifies the respect for Enfys Nest. True, Tobias Beckett is unmoved, and I am sure there are viewers who did not care for Enfys Nest. But Han Solo is moved, and seeing her humanity and hearing from her, he chooses to help her! Likewise, my interest in Nest exploded, as did my admiration, when she shows us who she is, the face of a small resistance, the leader of that resistance, a young woman of color.
Let me say that again: the face and leader of the resistance is a young woman of color. How awesome is that!?!?!?! Seriously, I hope we get more of Enfys Nest in Star Wars very very soon. And in the meantime, as I impatiently wait for her next appearance – in another film, in her own Forces of Destiny short, in a novel and a comic – I will be going out of my way consuming everything else I can find about Enfys Nest. She is just too damn cool, and too damn important, to ignore.
**Enfys Nest is portrayed British actress Erin Kellyman.**
Enfys was really awesome! I was definitely taken back when she took off her mask, but I loved it. I loved that she was so different than what you were expecting! Star Wars definitely did awesome here, and I hope we can see more of her soon too!
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Glad to hear you had a similar reaction to her unmasking! I have a feeling we will be seeing her again. In fact, I am disappointed Rebels is over because I bet she would have popped up in the show at some point. But oh well, there are definitely other ways she will be incorporated (and I really really hope they start out by giving her a five-issue comic and a Forces of Destiny short).
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I know a lot of people loved Enfys Nest, but I was decidedly neutral about her. Neither liked nor disliked her, but appreciated her part in the story. I didn’t think she was a superfluous character (thank goodness) as Disney tends to like throwing in nowadays, but was neither was I wowed by her.
That said, it may just be a personality thing, since I did not care for Boba Fett when I was younger and couldn’t see the big deal about him (still can’t) and Phasma was always a bore for me.
Maybe I prefer seeing people’s faces!! That might be it. Haha.
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Always interesting to hear the different reactions people have to various aspects of Star Wars. While you prefer seeing faces, I prefer a good mystery and reveal. Admittedly, I didn’t care all that much for Boba Fett when I was younger. He was interesting but hardly the focus of my attention or love of Empire Strikes Back. It took a while for me to appreciate the aura of mystery surrounding him. In fact, I think it was The Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy that really expanded my interest in Fett, although even after reading the novels I didn’t focus a lot of my adolescent attention on bounty hunters.
I’m interested in what you thought of the Solo movie in general? Last I read, you didn’t want to see it?
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I hadn’t planned on seeing it but I ended up having free time and got my hands on a cheap ticket so I figured “what the hell.” I thought about doing a little reflection on it (like I did with The Last Jedi) but I’m not really ready to offer my overall thoughts just yet. I decided to talk about Enfys Nest because I genuinely liked her, and there are some other things about the film I liked. As a whole, I thought it was a decent film. They didn’t do anything too crazy with Han, although it did feel like they were offering a lot of vignettes about Han. Chances are I will end up writing some more about the movie at some point. I have thoughts on Darth Maul’s cameo – neither positive or negative, just thoughts – and feel like saying something about Mimban because I thought those scenes were cool (the dirty, gritty side of war really came through and I wish we got to see more of that).
What did you think?
My first thought was how young she was! I think it explains her idealism, but the character is not naive. A great combo of compassion and competence. She has a Robin Hood feel, but her piracy nudges her towards “grey character” territory.
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Oh I absolutely love the “grey” in her character. That she has a connection to Saw Gerrara and his partisans makes that grey zone all the more fascinating and I would absolutely love to see her and Gerrara interact. Seriously, whether on this new Cassian show or in some other way, those two would be fascinating if they are put together.