Pour One Out for Tivik, the Most Important 'Star Wars' Character No One Talks About
(Welcome to The Galaxy-Wide Star Wars Character Guide, where we give proper due to the smaller figures in Star Wars history.)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story begins with a child witnessing the murder of her mother and only gets more fun and exciting from there, culminating in a conclusion where (spoiler!) all our main characters die and Darth Vader slaughters a bunch of Red Shirts just for an added dose of carnage. Love it or hate it, this is the Star Wars movie that most thoroughly stresses the “War” half of the title. The Empire is terrifying, morals are grey, and life is hard for everyone.
If you don’t believe me, I invite you to chat with my good friend Tivik. He’s super duper dead.
Which Character is This Again?
Tivik was a Jedha snitch working for Cassian Andor. Early in the film, the two have a sneaky meetup at a slummy outer space trading outpost called the Ring of Kafrene, one of Rogue One’s two thousand chyron locations. It’s a strange scene. Tivik’s job is to inform Cassian, yet Cassian has to pull each reluctant bit of information out of him piece by piece until he has the whole story. (The whole story: here comes a Death Star!)
Tivik is a bit of a nervous wreck. He doesn’t want to be there and needs to get away from Cassian as fast as he can. He’s not fast enough though. Two Stormtroopers interrupt their rendezvous and Cassian shoots them dead in a fashion that once again makes you question the worth of their armor. With the jig firmly up, Cassian and Tivik need to escape but Tivik’s broken arm prevents much mobility. So Cassian shoot him dead, too. Tivik, we hardly knew ya.
Does this Character Warrant a Toy?
In terms of design, Tivik is not toy-worthy. He’s just a dude. I suppose to us, all Star Wars characters are aliens, but he’s a human alien. They do throw some intriguing details on him, though. He has some kind of breathing device dangling around his neck, for one. Unlike Saw Gerrera, he doesn’t use it, so we’re left just dying to know what that’s all about.
But more curious, what’s up with his broken arm? Obviously, the scene requires some physical impairment that keeps Tivik from running away with Cassian, but that’s writer’s room stuff. It’s a silly look, no matter how you explain the narrative necessity. Did he simply fall down? An arm wrestling mishap? You can replace limbs with robot versions in Star Wars. Perhaps that might seem extreme for a broken bone, but Tivik’s bad arm ultimately ends up being a mortal wound. I’m sure if you asked, he would prefer one of those cool robots limbs to being dead in a trading post alley.
How Important is the Character?
Every character in Rogue One is important. Should one tiny thing go wrong in this film, A New Hope ends in a huge bummer and following Star Wars films don’t happen. The information Cassion gets from Tivik allows him to go free Jyn Erso and on and on and on until the day is saved with Luke’s fateful shot. It all matters. Tivik is a darn hero and we should all show him more respect. The Rogue One novelization at least tries by telling us his breath smells like cinnamon. It’s not much, but way to go on having nice breath, Tivik. I know plenty of people who don’t.
Tivik’s more immediate function specifically serves Cassian Andor’s character, however. Introducing a primary hero by having him murder a guy in cold blood is a bold move, especially for a Star Wars film. Yet it establishes the moral compromises Cassian’s made to fight this war. When he speaks later of wanting to help Jyn against the Rebellion’s orders, we don’t have to imagine what nefarious deeds he wishes to absolve. We saw him murder a guy. A guy named Tivik. His breath smelled like cinnamon.
Is this a Secretly Great Star Wars Character?
Despite Tivik’s importance, he is not a secretly great Star Wars character. He is simply too bland. Furthermore, he lacks charm and is too nervous to like even with his nice breath.
But then, we don’t really want to like Tivik because that would hurt our ability to hang with Cassian. Even if Tivik were some evil-looking alien creature, his death would still garner too much sympathy because evil-looking alien creatures are cool and sometimes remind you of your dog.
For Tivik to serve his very specific function, he must unfortunately sacrifice likability, charm, memorable features or really anything else that draws us to a character. So instead he’s a nervous nobody, doomed to move along the plot and support a more important figure. It’s not justice, but as Rogue One is so happy to teach us, not everyone gets what they deserve. Sometimes you sacrifice your life to save the whole galaxy and don’t even get a movie about it for forty years.
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