Can't Get Any Respect

All images used courtesy of Lucasfilm, Ltd. 

Throughout The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, General Armitage Hux is the butt of so many jokes. From Kylo Ren constantly teasing him about the weakness of his army and Poe Dameron calling him by the adorable nickname “General Hugs” to how Supreme Leader Snoke gives him a formal dressing down into a Force faceplant right on the bridge of the star destroyer, Hux just cannot get any respect. Even his subordinates mumble insults about him once the coms are shut off, talking about how they should have scrambled fighters ages ago. It’s almost enough to make me say, “Poor Hux!” until I remember that this man is also an unrelenting, unapologetic psychopath. Despite all the grief he gets, General Hux is actually the most efficient member of the First Order we’ve seen. More than Captain Phasma, more than Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke, Hux gets stuff done.

Recent novels have helped build up the twisted legend of Armitage Hux as we find that he was afflicted from a young age with the most incurable malady facing many a male Star Wars character: daddy issues. We find out in Chuck Wendig’s novel Empire’s End, that Armitage Hux was born out of an affair between his father and a kitchen worker. Armitage was constantly abused both physically and mentally by his father. Given the ideology of the First Order, it’s likely that Brendol Hux abused his son because of his shame at having a child with someone he felt was beneath his status. Armitage learned his father’s lessons well though, and we find out in Delilah Dawson’s novel Phasma, that he conspired with Captain Phasma to eliminate his father and take his place. After a childhood filled with torment, Armitage took his revenge.

The Last Jedi starts with the First Order having nearly complete control of the galaxy, and that’s not because of something Kylo Ren or Supreme Leader Snoke did. General Hux did that. In The Force Awakens, he’s the one who stood before Snoke’s massive, inferiority complex feeding hologram and told him that it was time to use Starkiller Base. Who knows what Snoke or Kylo Ren were waiting for, but Hux saw the moment and seized it to get stuff done. He wiped out millions of people and eliminated the New Republic in one shot. He’s terrifying in its efficiency. Compare this with Kylo Ren’s performance of executing the unarmed Lor San Tekka and killing Han Solo, a man who’s literally a few feet away from you and just wants to give his boy a hug, and you have to wonder why Kylo gets all the attention. Hux did much, much more.

With all the accomplishments of The Force Awakens behind him, you might expect Hux to have earned some respect. Nope. After the Resistance escapes in the opening moments of the film, Snoke humiliates Hux in front of the rest of the bridge crew. It’s only shortly later that Hux is shown explaining to Snoke how he has the Resistance “tied on the end of a string.” Hux has a master stroke planned. He has the Resistance vessels tagged. They can follow their prey through hyperspace. It doesn’t matter that their enemies escaped because they can no longer really escape. How does Snoke react? By applauding, cackling in glee, and then explaining to Kylo Ren exactly why he keeps this cur around before the doors to the elevator Hux is taking down even close.

Later on in the film, Snoke gets his comeuppance at the duplicitous hands of Ben Solo, and following a lightsaber tug of war between Ben and Rey that leaves Ben unconscious, Hux is nearly able to wipe out Leia’s traitorous son. The First Order would have been better off. Ben Solo is too unstable to lead the First Order. When Ben sees Luke appear on Crait, he orders every gun to be trained on his old master and pleads for more and more carnage to be rained down upon the wizened Jedi. When this miraculously doesn’t kill Luke, Ben doesn’t stop to think about why. He ignores the warnings of Hux, Force throws him into a wall, and goes down to duel a man he doesn’t even realize is only a phantom. Ben’s inability to make the cold, calculating decision lets the Resistance get away. Hux would have left the old Jedi standing in the salt while he led the troops into the broken bunker and destroyed the remnants of the Resistance.

General Hux is a terrifyingly real look at a very real threat. He’s a privileged young man who’s been abused his whole life and is now just looking to take out all those years of anger, fear, and resentment on someone else. He succeeds beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, and the galaxy pays for it. He’s a horrible person, but he certainly gets stuff done despite the constant wisecracks and insults thrown at him. It will be interesting to see if Episode IX finds Hux getting any more respect, or if he will have to endure Kylo’s arrogance while waiting for that one specific moment when “General Hugs” can take his new master by the throat and squeeze... then he should die too because he is a good villain but a really horrible person.

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