Whatever Happened to….Riyo Chuchi?

2023 UPDATE: Senator Chuchi has made an appearance in The Bad Batch season two, episode seven and eight “The Clone Conspiracy” and “Truth and Consequences” and is still fighting the good fight for the clones. Her efforts unfortunately did not yield results but we now know that Chuchi is still in the Senate during the time of the Galactic Empire (before Palpatine dissolves the Senate). There are still questions on where she ends up after this series but for now, this question is answered-ish.

One of the most intriguing species introduced during the Prequel Trilogy was the Pantorans, identified by their blue skin and yellow face markings (or tattoos similar to the Tortugas). Even though Pantorans (and Pantora) has become more prevalent in Star Wars canon, Pantora itself is not a planet but a moon orbiting Orto Plutonia. The Pantorans, long believed to live on the only inhabited world in their system, claimed Orto Plutonia as a protectorate (under their government given no inhabitants). When a Republic base is attacked and clone troopers are killed, the Pantorans and Jedi investigate whether there is life on the ice world. The discovery of the Talz on the planet threatened a war between the Talz and the Pantorans, whose leadership was unwilling to give up the territory. And this is where we meet the young Senator Riyo Chuchi.

Chairman Cho introduces Obi-Wan and Anakin to Senator Chuchi | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

As a Senator, Chuchi is young, comparable to Amidala in age (probably younger) but very timid, which made her susceptible to being used by Pantoran Military Leaders and the Chairman of the Pantoran Assembly, Chi Cho. Chairman Cho uses her age as a way to dismiss her questioning whether the Separatists are initially involved in the attack. He then uses her inexperience to dismiss her approach moving forward for a peaceful resolution. She often played buffer between the Pantorans and the Jedi (namely Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker). Throughout the episode, she is challenged by the Jedi to speak up and try and avert a civil war with the Talz, who want autonomy and have been attacking a Republic base established on Orto. Chairman Cho almost starts a war with the Talz and gets himself killed in the process, while Chuchi gains authority to negotiate peace with the Talz. Chuchi even doubts herself, requesting Kenobi negotiate with the Talz on Pantora’s behalf. She eventually finds the strength to take leadership in the situation, resulting in peace. Obi-Wan has some parting words of wisdom for the young Senator:

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Now that you have created peace between your people and the Talz, remember one crucial thing...

Riyo Chuchi: Yes, Master Kenobi?

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Make it last, Senator. Make it last. And be an example to others. So not only this war but every war waged may come to an end as well.

Riyo Chuchi: I will. I promise you.

The Pantorans withdraw from the planet, and Pantora gets a new Chairman Notluwiski Papanoida. The next time Senator Chuchi is central to an episode is “Sphere of Influence” in season four. Chuchi has become a strong voice for Pantora in the Senate, working with Ahsoka to rescue the kidnapped daughters of Chairman Papanoida by the Separatists, and putting pressure on the Trade Federation to release a blockade on her planet. And that is in one episode. After she and Ahsoka get caught breaking out one daughter, Chuchi finds a way to leverage it into a peaceful solution.

Senator Chuchi learns from Chairman Cho’s mistakes | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Senator Riyo Chuchi shares similarities with two other young Senators during the Prequel era. Senator Amidala, like Chuchi, is a young Senator that grows in confidence and has also dealt with the Trade Federation blockade. Even though Padme was Queen, both took matters into their own hands after Senate votes in their favor failed. Like former Senator Lux Bonteri, Chuchi comes from a planet that harbors some anti-Republic sentiment. Lux also switches loyalties between the Separatists and Republic, then the Empire and the Rebellion. However, both Padme and Lux are more developed characters than Chuchi. Padme’s story, unfortunately, ends in Revenge of Sith, while Lux Bonteri’s fate is up in the air. Sometime between Ahsoka’s trial and the Jedi Purge, Papanoida’s daughter Chi Eekway succeeds Chuchi as Senator, so the possibilities of Riyo Chuchi’s whereabouts in the galaxy are endless. But let’s stick to the two likelihoods.

When the Senate Disbanded, She Took a High-Level Imperial Position on her Home Planet

The Senator in her Coruscant office | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

While in the Senate, Riyo aligned herself with people we are used to calling the heroes like Padme, Ahsoka, and Anakin. She is a protagonist in The Clone Wars, but her presence on the jury of Ahsoka’s trial also shows that most Senators were cogs in a Palpatine-operated machine.

The next time we see Pantora is in The Bad Batch when the group needs to repair their ship and end up running into a younger Fennec Shand. Before the shenanigans of the episode unfold, Imperial troops arrive on Pantora with applause from the crowd, signaling that the goodwill of the Republic has transferred to the newly announced Galactic Empire. 

The transition of the Republic Senate to the Galactic Empire has not been explored much outside of Senators Mon Mothma and Bail Organa’s perspective. There have been fewer instances of Senators who are sympathetic to the Empire, but we have seen some of the tension between Senators and Imperial Officers in The Bad Batch

Senator Orn Taa from Ryloth was less sympathetic to the Empire as he was more of an opportunist and tried to leverage his “power” to undermine General Cham Syndulla. Senator Avi Singh from Raxulon, the former Separatists’ capital, is not an Empire sympathizer and ends up escaping with the Bad Batch off-world.

With Pantorans initially being Imperial friendly, the Empire could have appointed Senator Chuchi to a Moff or Regional Governor of a sector of Pantora, a similar role to that of Quarsh Panaka on Naboo and Arihnda Pryce on Lothal. However, Panaka was loyal to Palpatine and Pryce loyal to the Empire. Ultimately, both characters die for them. Senator Chuchi’s loyalties were vaguer, just like her fate.

If that’s the case, The Bad Batch would be the series to see her again as it is the only content covering this period, and its animation style is the most similar to The Clone Wars given the proximity on the timeline.

Aside from The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch, we have not seen Pantora and what life is like during Imperial rule. Again, this could change in future seasons of The Bad Batch, but we could also get some idea in Andor, which brings up the next possibility.

She Kept in Touch with Bail and Ahsoka and Assisted the Rebel Alliance.

A more assertive Senator Chuchi faces the Trade Federation | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

This theory is not as far-fetched as one might think. It is revealed in the novel Heir to the Jedi that the Rebel Alliance fleet has a presence on Orto Plutonia. Heir to the Jedi takes place after the Battle of Yavin and, by The Empire Strikes Back, most of the Rebels are on Hoth. But the presence of rebels in the Pantora system hints that Pantora did not stay friendly to the Empire. If so, Chuchi could also have sided with the Rebel Alliance given her history with Ahsoka and possibly Bail Organa. It would also make sense that the rebels would go from one frozen planet to another since they already have the cold-weather gear. 

If the rebels were on Orto Plutonia, then something happened between The Bad Batch and Heir to the Jedi in their favor. And maybe Riyo Chuchi was a part of that. Or this is one big canon plothole. 

Future Pantora in the Sequel Trilogy timeline appears to be in the same situation as other systems: going from having New Republic dignitaries to, once again, becoming dangerous for the rebellious Resistance. Based on Chuchi’s characteristics presented in her short screen time in The Clone Wars, she could have used her influence on Pantora to help the rebels and undermine the Empire. She was perceptive and could have seen through the Emperor’s deception with some investigating (like in “Trespass”). It would be more intriguing if she sided with the Empire, inadvertently flipping from a protagonist to the antagonist (like Yularen).

Senator Chuchi convinces the Trade Federation to remove the blockade on Pantora | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

There was already little known about Senator Riyo Chuchi and her home moon, Pantora, but it has recently become a popular location for Dave Filoni’s Star Wars corner. And characters in Filoni’s Star Wars corner tend to reappear in unexpected ways. 

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