Fulminatrix

The Sacrifice of Paige Tico

Caught in the open during the evacuation of their base on D’Qar, the Resistance confronts an existential moment of crisis as it stares down the barrel of two orbital autocannons, affixed to a First Order Dreadnaught, targeting their base and fleet. With only seconds to spare, the final Resistance transports flee the surface of D’Qar as the autocannons obliterate the now empty base. With personnel and equipment safely aboard the vessels of the Resistance fleet, General Leia Organa orders her forces to disengage but Poe Dameron has a different idea. Having taken out the surface cannons on the Dreadnought, Dameron ignores his commanding officer, switching off his communications, intent on scoring a victory against the First Order by taking out the “fleet-killer.”

One can easily criticize Dameron for his actions; and he is criticized, even demoted, when the Resistance makes its orbital exit from the D’Qar system following the battle. In this moment, though, the impetuous Commander gives the order to attack. Protected by X-Wings and A-Wings in the Resistance starfighter fleet, massive B/SF-17 heavy bombers “in tight formation” slowly move towards the Dreadnought preparing to unleash their payload of proton bombs to destroy the terrifying Man-of-war.

Although it’s surface cannons were knocked out by Dameron’s lone assault, the Dreadnought is not defenseless. TIE Fighter Squadrons throw themselves against the Resistance attackers, intent on destroying the bombers. A fierce dogfight commences. Starfighters on both sides are vaporized. A B/SF-17 is blasted apart by the green lasers of an attacking TIE. But the Resistance does not let up, and the Bombers close the distance with the imposing First Order capital ship which is now aiming its massive autocannons at the Resistance fleet. Bombardiers ready their payloads, opening bay doors and arming bombs as the vessels inch closer to “the sweet spot” where they will inflict maximum destruction.

Suddenly, a damaged TIE Fighter crashes into one of the Bombers, unleashing hell. Shredded from the inside, massive detonations hurtle debris into two other B/SF-17s which also erupt into flame. Watching from the ball turret at the base of her Bomber, a Resistance gunner witnesses the destruction. Removing her mask and breathing heavy, her wide-eyes reveal her shock and disbelief.

Paige Shocked
Paige Tico’s expression when she sees the other Resistance Bombers exploding.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Now, this gunner’s Bomber is the only one that remains. Suspended above the massive First Order ship, it is the last hope for the small Resistance fleet. The situation is perilous and the tension is amplified when Dameron frantically contacts the gunner:

“Paige, come in, we’re over the target. Why aren’t your bay doors open? You’re the only bomber left, it’s all down to you!”

This gunner, Paige, springs into action. Exiting the ball turret at the bottom of the weapons bay, she opens the bay doors and calls to the bombardier up above. 

“Nix!,” she yells, but there is no reply, only the distinct beeping of the weapons release on the grated floor far above.

“Paige, drop the payload, now!,” Dameron frantically exclaims. Determination on her face, she frantically climbs the ladder, past the armed bombs in their racks, emerging at the top to find the bombardier, Nix, dead on the floor. Paige reaches for the beeping, blinking weapons trigger laying nearby but as she does, a TIE Fighter blasts the cockpit of the Bomber, killing the pilot and sending fire and shock waves through the cabin. Losing her grip, Paige falls, landing heavy on the floor at the bottom of the weapons bay.

Momentarily unconscious, Tico opens her eyes. The trigger, still beeping, is far above, now dangling on the edge of the opening at the top of the ladder. Paige kicks the ladder but it does not fall to her. Again, she kicks, even harder, but it still does not fall. The Bomber continues forward, now moving over the “sweet spot” of the Dreadnought. The music laid over the scene adds to the tension, and we see Poe Dameron soundless but clearly screaming for the bombs to be dropped. Again, and again, Paige kicks the ladder but still the device does not fall to her.

Tico Kick
Determination on her face, Paige kicks the ladder a final time. Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Autocannons glowing red as they prepare to fire, General Organa sensing the impending doom of her forces, now Tico closes her eyes and clutches a half-crescent medallion on her necklace. Opening her eyes once more, a clear sense of determination painted on her face, Paige kicks the ladder with all her strength. Finally, the trigger tips over the edge and falls. Everything goes silent, the lone exception the sound of the remote clanking against a bomb rack on its way down. Laying there in the silence, Tico exhales as she watches the still beeping, blinking device go by her.

The camera view is now on the falling remote. Suddenly, the music begins to build and a hand reaches out, grasping it from the air. Paige is now laying face down, the item in her left hand. She presses the blinking red button and the bombs begin to drop on the Dreadnought, unleashing incendiary death.

Still laying there, Tico puts her hand once more to her medallion, touching it with a few fingers. We see her face, looking down through the grated floor, fire spreading down towards her through the now empty bomb bay. Resigned to her fate, a stoic expression upon her face, Paige Tico closes her eyes and is bathed in the flames of her dying craft as it crashes into the inferno ripping through the Dreadnought.


To say that Paige Tico (Veronica Ngo) is a minor character in The Last Jedi is neither controversial nor surprising. Two minutes after meeting her as she watches the other Resistance Bombers perish, she too is gone, vaporized in a massive explosion. But while her screen time is brief, her actions are exceedingly important, not only saving the Resistance but also, we learn soon after, the life of her sister Rose.

I have never been shy with my thoughts about The Last Jedi, disliking a number of things about the movie. I highlight as much in my piece Reflections on the Last Jedi, but my intention here is not to dwell on the negative. Instead, I mention that post to note that while I find The Last Jedi lacking in some specific ways, there are scenes and characters that I really did enjoy and could appreciate in the film. And at the top of that list is Paige Tico.

The first time I saw The Last Jedi I was absolutely mesmerized by the two minutes this Resistance gunner, Paige, is in the movie. In general, I find the opening of the film quite good, hitting all of the right notes as the small Resistance, caught in the midst of their evacuation, confronts the First Order. But Paige truly stands out, the opening sequence reaching a tension-filled crescendo with her heroism and ultimate sacrifice.

Honestly, this is my favorite moment in the entire Sequel Trilogy. I very well might be the only one who feels this way, or perhaps I am one of just a few. It’s the truth, though. The entire sequence doesn’t just captivate me, it affects me at my core. Frankly, this is why I have never written about the sacrifice of Paige Tico, at least not until now. I have never been able to find the words to express just how much this scene, Tico’s actions/death, speaks to me. The fact is that it just done, plain and simple. But if I have to put it into words, expressing some reason that accounts for my feelings, I would say this: it is because Paige’s sacrifice is incredibly personal.

As an audience, we are the only ones who know what Paige Tico does to save the Resistance fleet, who actually witness her actions and her death. Later, when meet Rose Tico mourning her sister, her own crescent-shaped medallion in hand, Rose can only imagine what happened in the final moments of Paige’s life. We are burdened with knowledge that Rose can not and will never know. To me, this is what makes the two minutes we spend with Paige Tico so intimate, so personal, so damn powerful. 

We see Paige react to the destruction of the Bombers, shock and disbelief on her face.
We see Paige climb out of her ball turret, call to Nix, and climb the ladder.
We see Paige fall when the cockpit of her Bomber is destroyed.
We see Paige, on her back, desperately kicking the ladder to get the trigger to fall to her.
We see Paige close her eyes and grasp the medallion around her neck.
We see Paige kick the ladder one final time, knocking the trigger off the ledge above.
We see Paige grab the trigger out of the air as it falls past her, releasing the bombs.
We see Paige touch her medallion a final time, close her eyes and die.

We alone see the final two minutes of her life; we see the sacrifice of Paige Tico.

Paige Tico's Death
The Sacrifice of Paige Tico
Gif Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

 

 

Where Are The Dead Bodies?

In my last post – Continuity Confusion in Resistance – I outlined the plot of the Season 2 episode of Star Wars Resistance titled “A Quick Salvage Run.” In turn, I examined how, at the end of that episode, when the Colossus makes its getaway from the First Order, the ship is not tracked through hyperspace, an outright confusing fact considering the First Order possess the technology to do so. For the sake of brevity, I will let you go read that post to see what I say about the topic. Here, though, I wanted to return briefly to “A Quick Salvage Run” to pose a question that popped into my mind as I was watching. Allow me to set the stage.

In the episode, Kazuda Xiono leads a salvage team comprised of the members of the Warbird pirate gang to the Fulminatrix, the First Order Dreadnought destroyed by the Resistance at the beginning of The Last Jedi. The intention of the salvage run is pretty straightforward for Xiono: find the hyperfuel (coaxium) still in the ship and bring it back to the Colossus. Of course, the pirates have ulterior motives, salvaging any other materials they deem valuable, although they do not hinder the primary objective. 

As one can imagine, the “quick salvage run” to the Fulminatrix is the core of this episode, and many scenes are devoted to Xiono and his confederates scouring the wreckage of the massive vessel. And it is was during these scenes aboard the Fulminatrix where my question popped into my head:

Where are the dead bodies?

Seriously, there are no bodies of First Order crew members anywhere to be found within the wreckage of the Fulminatrix. Not even one. According to the reference book Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Incredible Cross-Sections, the dreadnought had the following personnel aboard:

  • 53,000 officers
  • 140,000 enlisted
  • 22,000 stormtroopers

That is a total of 215,000 crew aboard the Fulminatrix when it was bombed by the Resistance!!! Are we really to believe that Xiono and company are running about the vessel and no dead bodies would be present? I mean, it stands to reason that some of the crew were probably able to evacuate the doomed dreadnought, while the bodies of thousands of others  – like Captain Canady – were completely incinerated in the inferno triggered by the Resistance bombs. Never-the-less, it is difficult to believe that not a single dead body would be laying about as Xiono and the pirates navigate the debris-strewn corridors of the dreadnought. Surely, hundreds, if not thousands, of bodies should be strewn about the ship, contorted and mangled by the explosions that ripped through the Fulminatrix. 

Fulminatrix Explosion
The destruction of the Fulminatrix.
Gif Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

I mean, I guess someone could argue that because Star Wars Resistance is a kids show – it is animated and on Disney XD – the presence of dead bodies would be upsetting to children. Frankly, I find that reasoning entirely unconvincing, especially because animated Star Wars programs have been known to show death/dead bodies in the past. Besides, “war” is in the name of the franchise and this means there is an obligation not to sanitize warfare. This is not to suggest that every Star Wars story must depict the exact same level of death, horror, and destruction. I hardly think a “kids show” needs to show the grotesque, burnt corpses of First Order ensigns and gunners littering the hallways of a destroyed dreadnought. No, in this case, a few dead stormtroopers lining the darkened hallways as Xiono and the pirates walk-by would have been enough, a clear reminder to kids and adults alike that when the Resistance bombs exploded, people died. 

Continuity Confusion in Resistance

In a recent episode of Star Wars: Resistance – “A Quick Salvage Run” – Kazuda Xiono and his compatriots aboard the Colossus find themselves in orbit above the planet D’Qar. There, they discover the Resistance base on the surface abandoned – nay, destroyed! – and the wreckage of Resistance and First Order ships drifting aimlessly above the world. At the center of the debris field is the wreckage of the Fulminatrix, the First Order Dreadnaught destroyed by the heroic sacrifice of Paige Tico during the Evacuation and Battle of D’Qar at the beginning of The Last Jedi.

That the second episode of Resistance’s final season brings fans back to D’Qar following the opening battle of The Last Jedi is an intriguing piece of connectivity between stories. It is a connection that goes beyond superficiality to show that events taking place at one moment can have ramifications for others later on. And this is particularly true for Xiono and those aboard the Colossus. As their ship is in desperate need of hyperspace fuel to escape the First Order, Xiono leads a crew to the wreckage of the Fulminatrix to salvage fuel from the destroyed dreadnaught. 

STAR WARS RESISTANCE
The Colossus
Photo Credit – Star Wars Resistance Episode 2, Season 2: “A Quick Salvage Run”

While aboard the Fulminatrix, a First Order Star Destroyer tracking the Colossus appears above D’Qar, led there by an ill-advised communication from Xiono to his friend-turned-First Order pilot Tam Ryvora. A battle ensues, the hyperfuel is salvaged, and just before the Colossus is decimated it zips into hyperspace, the First Order is foiled in their attempt to destroy the massive ship.

Except, the Colossus does not get away! Immediately after exiting hyperspace, far from the planet D’Qar, the First Order Star Destroyer reappears. It has tracked the Colossus through lightspeed! Turning it’s full compliment of 1,500+ turbolasers, point-defense lasers, and ion cannons against the Colossus, the Destroyer rips the massive refueling station to bits and leaves the wreckage, and dead bodies, floating in the vacuum of space.

Okay, I made that last part up (it’s why I put it all in italic), but I did so to point out that there is a “Fulminatrix”-sized continuity hole in the ending of this episode. While “A Quick Salvage Run” does a wonderful job of directly tying itself to the events at the beginning of The Last Jedi, the showrunners completely and utterly forgot to factor in one of the biggest and most important plot points from the movie. Namely, that the First Order has the technology to track ships through hyperspace! 

Point of Continuity Confusion

In my previous post – Continuity Confusion in The Last Jedi – I highlighted some thoughts regarding the First Order’s pursuit of the Resistance in The Last Jedi. I won’t rehash the post here but I will note that one of the points I make is that The Last Jedi used, as a central plot point, a concept first teased in Rogue One: the concept of hyperspace tracking. In The Last Jedi, the Resistance is completely caught off-guard when the First Order tracks their fleet through lightspeed, and the actions of the Resistance leadership going forward in the film are driven by the reality that they cannot simply re-jump to hyperspace to flee their enemy.

In turn, The Last Jedi also goes out of its way to fill us in on a handful of key points, also important to the plot, regarding hyperspace tracking. For our sake, the one that truly matters is that even blowing up the ship doing the tracking, the lead Destroyer in the First Order fleet, will be pointless. Why? Because another Star Destroyer will just start doing the tracking. Here is the dialogue where Finn explains this very point to Poe Dameron:

Poe: “Just give it to me one more time, simpler.”

Finn: “So the First Order’s only tracking us from one Destroyer, the lead one.”

Poe: “So we blow that one up.”

Finn: “I like where your heads at but no, they’d only start tracking us from another Destroyer.”

Did you catch that? Finn explains that the First Order can track them using any Destroyer. Blow one up, another will do the tracking. The implication is that every First Order capital ship has hyperspace tracking capabilities.

So, with that in mind, turning back to Star Wars Resistance, I am left utterly confused by the fact that the Colossus jumps to hyperspace at the end of  “A Quick Salvage Run” but the First Order Star Destroyer does not track it through lightspeed. It has the ability to do so, but it doesn’t…??? 

Honestly, I am not just confused by this, I am dumbfounded. Hyperspace tracking is THE plot point driving a major portion of the narrative in The Last Jedi, and yet, the showrunners for Star Wars: Resistance just happened to forget? The film was clearly on their minds considering the Colossus travels to D’Qar and Xiono salvages fuel from the destroyed Fulminatrix. Yet, for reasons I cannot figure out, the Colossus is able to slip away at the end of the episode without a care in the galaxy, completely safe even though the First Order harbors the technology to follow and destroy Xiono and his friends. 

Oh, and for the record, I did my due diligence and waited patiently to watch Episode 3 (“Live Fire”) before I wrote this post. I figured, at the very least, maybe the showrunners had a surprise for the audience and the First Order DID track the Colossus. Well, I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say this: they didn’t track the Colossus.

#facepalm #sigh #continuityconfusion