Star Wars Lore - The Rise of Nute Gunray
As the Viceroy of the Trade Federation, the Neimoidian Nute Gunray was deceitful, ruthless, and – most importantly - powerful. However, for all the power he had and liked to claim, Gunray was ultimately just another unwitting pawn of Darth Sidious. And when the Dark Lord of the Sith no longer needed the Trade Federation’s help, he had Gunray killed…
The first major event of Nute Gunray’s reign as the viceroy of the Trade Federation was the Naboo Crisis, where the Galactic Republic and the Trade Federation feuded over the taxation of trade routes to outlying systems. Following the Trade Federation’s blockade of Naboo, which cut off shipping to the planet, the Republic dispatched both Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the dispute. However, shortly after the emissaries landed aboard Gunray’s Droid Control Ship, the Saak’ak, the two were identified as Jedi. Following Sidious’ commands, Gunray attempted to have the Jedi destroyed. Unfortunately, Jinn and Kenobi fled to Naboo, just as the Trade Federation began invading the planet. Shortly after the Queen refused to sign a treaty with the Trade Federation, she and her entourage were captured when droid forces invaded Theed, Naboo’s capital. When Gunray landed on the planet, he once more demanded the Queen sign the treaty with the Trade Federation, only to be refused yet again. The viceroy received another blow when Jinn and Kenobi managed escape Naboo after rescuing the Queen and her party. Amidala was reluctant to leave her population starving in detention camps, but she had to make her way to the Galactic Senate.
Unbeknownst to Gunray, the man he followed orders from was actually pulling strings on both sides of the conflict, both as Darth Sidious and Chancellor Palpatine. So after Sidious ordered the invasion of Naboo, Palpatine instructed Amidala to call for a vote of no confidence against Supreme Chancellor Valorum, following his refusal to immediately intervene in the situation. In the meantime, Gunray attempted to have Governor Sio Bibble sign a treaty with the Trade Federation in the absence of the Queen. After Bibble failed to do so, he ordered the droid army to move against Naboo’s amphibious indigenous civilisation, the Gungans. However, after the Trade Federation removed most of their fleet from Naboo, Queen Amidala, her entourage, and her two Jedi rescuers landed on the planet, which proved to be the turning point of the conflict. In response to the unwelcomed visitors, Sidious ordered his Apprentice, Maul, to reinforce viceroy Gunray. Whilst the two Jedi faced Maul, the Gungans battled the droid army and many Naboo N-1 starfighters attacked the Droid Control Ship, Amidala and her party made their way closer to Gunray. Not long after the viceroy and his Lieutenant were taken captive, the Droid Control Ship was destroyed by young Anakin Skywalker, which immobilised the droid army. With no alternative, Gunray and [Rune] Haako surrendered and were transported to Coruscant to face trial for their crimes. Although Darth Sidious was displeased by reports of his Apprentice’s demise at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi, shortly after he slew Jinn, Palpatine was glad to announce his campaign for the vacant role of Supreme Chancellor.
Although Gunray faced four trials in the Galactic Republic’s Supreme Court, he managed to evade justice after buying his release. Afterwards, he vowed to not only see the Republic brought down, but to avenge his humiliation by Padmé Amidala, also. As a result, around ten years after the Naboo Crisis, he backed the growing Secessionist Movement in return for the assassination of Amidala. As part of the deal, the Secessionist leader - who was also the new Apprentice of Darth Sidious - arranged for bounty hunters Jango Fett and Zam Wessel to carry out the kill. Unfortunately, the attempts were unsuccessful, and actually led Obi-Wan Kenobi to Geonosis, where the Separatists had secretly come together to coordinate their plans against the Republic. Not long after, Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Amidala were all captured on the planet, and so were sentenced to death in the Petranaki arena. A delighted Gunray attended the event only to have his hopes for revenge against Amidala dashed when a Jedi strike team rescued their allies. In response, Gunray met them with droid forces. However, the Separatists soon lost control of proceedings once more when Grand Master Yoda arrived with the Grand Army of the Republic’s clone troopers. As the Battle of Geonosis raged on, Gunray and his Separatist allies looked on from a secure bunker. As the Republic took control of the battle, Gunray and the others fled Geonosis. This was the start of the Clone Wars, a conflict engineered by Sidious.
Not long after, Nute Gunray turned his attention to the Mid Rim world of Rodia following Onaconda Farr’s appeal for help. Rodia’s senator reached out to Gunray following the planet’s attack from pirates. Gunray only agreed to offer food and supplies in return for one small favour: the kidnapping of his long-time foe, Amidala. Although Farr was a long-time friend of the Amidala, he drew the senator to Rodia. Upon arrival, she and her protocol droid, C-3PO, were both captured. When Gunray arrived on the planet, he altered his deal with Farr: Rodia would only receive the much needed supplies if Amidala was executed. Against Farr’s protests, Gunray ordered droidekas to blast Padmé. However, the loose Jar Jar Binks arrived alongside a Kwazel Maw monster to even the odds. The viceroy attempted to flee, but was captured himself by Amidala. Shortly after, Republic forces arrived to transport Gunray to Coruscant to answer for his latest crime.
On the way to Coruscant, Gunray attempted and failed to bribe Commander Gree to free him. Although the viceroy was guarded by Gree, a squad of Senate Guards, Jedi Master Luminara Unduli, and Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano, Sidious and Dooku ordered Asajj Ventress to rescue Gunray. The Jedi interrogated Nute, but he refused to cooperate. Just as the Jedi were losing patience, the Venator-class star destroyer they were aboard was attacked by Separatist forces. Whilst Ventress duelled the Jedi, Captain Argyus of the Senate Guard revealed himself as a traitor to the Republic. At the promise of riches by Dooku, Argyus overpowered his fellow commandos, and Gunray even managed to knock out Gree. All three managed to escape aboard a Republic ship, but Argyus’ help was repaid by a lightsaber strike through his chest at the hands of Ventress.
Once more a free Neimoidian, Gunray helped lure Jedi Master Kit Fisto, Jedi Knight Nahdar Vebb, and many clone troopers into a trap for General Grievous, where only Fisto survived. In addition, he dispatched several Trade Federation vessels to assist bounty hunter Cad Bane’s escape from the planet Devaron, only to lose the entire fleet. Following the death of Count Dooku, the Republic overwhelmed the Separatist forces, pushing them back to the Outer Rim. Gunray and his comrades on the Separatist Council found themselves fugitives, shuttled from one planet to the next ahead of Republic troops by General Grievous. Although the viceroy began to doubt Grievous’ ability to protect him, he still wound up on Mustafar. When the war ended, Sidious contacted the leaders ahead of the arrival of his new Apprentice, Darth Vader. But Sidious’ promise of peace had been a lie since he no longer had use for the Separatists. When Vader arrived, he butchered Gunray and the others (RIP Poggle the Lesser). Although Nute never saw his demise coming, all the signs were there: his invasion of Naboo led to the promotion of Palpatine to Supreme Chancellor, his assassination attempts on Amidala led the Jedi to the cloning facility on Kamino, his increasingly aggressive moves against the Republic led to their use of the clone army, and, ultimately, he helped spring the Clone Wars into life, which resulted in the downfall of the Republic and the rise of the Galactic Empire. Gunray was played like a fool…
If you want to learn more about Nute Gunray’s personality and traits, then click the link on screen or the one in the description. Now it’s time for this week’s question: should Darth Sidious have utilised the skills of Nute Gunray in the ranks of the Galactic Empire? Let me know in the comments below.