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The most important Star Wars character of all time is Unkar Plutt, Jakku's junk boss

By Vanessa Armstrong
Unkar Plutt and Rey

Unkar Plutt (Simon Pegg) has a good life at the beginning of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens; he’s living large on Jakku as a junk boss, doling out fractions of portions for parts that Rey and other unfortunates are able to scavenge. And although as a Crolute, his tiny head and bulbous body would be more comfortable bathed in saltwater than in Jakku’s hot desert air, Plutt has carved out a nice little fiefdom for himself, a place where he’s the big bully in charge.

We are introduced to Unkar Plutt relatively early in The Force Awakens, soon after we meet Rey and get a glimpse of her hand-to-mouth existence on Jakku. Plutt is a miserly fellow and a memorable one, not only because of Pegg's rumbling baritone performance, but also because his on-screen getup was the first time fans saw J.J. Abrams follow through on his promise to use more practical effects. It's this combination of Pegg's acting and the Crolute's imposing (and relatively realistic) physical presence that hammers home to us that Rey will live or die based on what he’ll pay her.

Plutt’s driving force is greed, and he’s willing to let Rey starve if the alternative will hurt his bottom line. He’s made sure he’s the only junk boss in Niima Outpost, after all, and his hold on the scrap market allows him to pretty much pay out what he wants.

We see this when he only gives Rey one-half portion for a bunch of parts that each earned her one-half portion just a week prior. The fact that he’s tough with Rey — who, we later find out in a Force-fueled vision, was raised by Plutt when her parents left her on Jakku — shows that money and power are the only things that truly matter to him.

unkar plutt ham hock arms to the sky

We also see his mercenary proclivities when he offers 60 portions for BB-8; he knows the droid is immensely valuable, and he also knows Rey well enough to know she’d need a lot of portions to be tempted. And Rey is tempted — she makes a grab for all those sweet, sweet portions, but ultimately stops herself from selling the droid. She’s too kind and too good to sell BB-8, whether or not she wants to admit it.

But back to Unkar Plutt. His day goes from bad to worse after he tries to buy BB-8 and then has his minions abduct him (which Rey summarily stops). Soon after those failures, the droid, Rey, and Finn (with the help of the First Order) end up destroying much of Niima Outpost and stealing Plutt’s beat-up Corellian YT-1300 Transport, also known as the Millennium Falcon.

He’s none too happy about the ship being stolen, and we see him shaking his ham hock arms at the sky as Rey flies away to meet her destiny. He doesn’t know at the time, of course, that Rey will become one of the most powerful Force-wielding beings in the galaxy and that the Falcon will unite her with its former owners, Chewbacca and Han Solo.

While we didn’t see it in the theatrical release of The Force Awakens, Unkar Plutt does run into Rey again.

In a released cut scene from the movie, Plutt shows up at Maz Kanata’s establishment to find Rey and get his “stolen” ship back. Rey’s new friend Chewy, however, is having none of it, and Plutt makes the foolish move of poking the Wookiee’s wounded arm. Chewbacca responds in classic Wookiee fashion by ripping Plutt’s arm clean off and throwing it across the room.

This scene is in the novelization of The Force Awakens, and we learn more about the junk boss Crolute in other Star Wars media as well. He even has his own short story titled "True Love" in the collection Tales From a Galaxy Far, Far, Away: Aliens. In this unexpected tale, Plutt’s minions attempt to Catfish him by creating a comely female Crolute AI. The two goons hope Plutt will fall in love with the fabricated female Crolute and reveal his secret stashes of wealth to her (and thus, them). Unkar, however, is too crafty for them — unbeknownst to the reader, he's suspicious of the email from the Everlasting Love Company from the start, and ends up turning the tables on the two henchmen who are trying to swindle him.

Star Wars canon makes it clear that Unkar Plutt isn’t a very nice or good person. But even though he lacks morals and ethics, his imposing appearance and portrayal by Simon Pegg make him a memorable character. He’s also arguably the person who knows Rey best during her time on Jakku before she meets BB-8 — does he know the secrets of her past? Does he even care, if he does?

Whatever the answers, he has influenced Rey’s life in more ways than one, which makes him one of the most unsung influencers on her destiny. Perhaps a one-armed Unkar will show up in The Rise of Skywalker when it finally opens Dec. 20. I, for one, will be excited if he does so.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.