On Tuesday, the book Catalyst — an in-canon prequel for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — has revealed a new important connection between Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her family. In the book, Saw meets Jyn when she is just a child and helps the Erso family flee from the Empire on Coruscant.
Saw Gerrera first appeared as a Rebel character in The Clone Wars TV series before the events of the upcoming standalone Star Wars movie Rogue One. And the new book Catalyst provides a small bridge between the younger Saw of the Clone Wars and his role in Rogue One.
The book’s primary storyline involves the evil Director Krennic recruiting Jyn’s genius scientist father Galen to something called Project Celestial Power, the Imperial code name for the construction of the Death Star. Krennic initially sells Galen some spiel about how his research will be used for a renewable energy project before it’s revealed his know-how will help crack the superlaser problems the Empire has been dealing with in Project Celestial Power.
Galen decides to leave Coruscant with his family in tow, but since he’s a marked man it’s virtually impossible getting through Imperial checkpoints. Enter: Saw Gerrera.
The grizzled freedom fighter is tasked by a former Imperial friend-turned-Rebel-smuggler named Has Omitt to fly the family off the increasingly harsh city-planet, and Saw ends up meeting the character who he’ll join up with in Rogue One.
Excerpted here is their first meeting as the Ersos are trying to find a way off the planet:
They were two steps from merging with the crowd streaming toward the checkpoint when a tall, thin human with a streak of color in his thick black hair stepped into their path
“I’m a friend of Obitt’s,” the man announced in a self-assured voice.
Galen looked at Lyra.
“You’re from Onderon,” she said, as instructed.
“Onderon it is.” The man smiled broadly. “I’m called Saw Gerrera. You’re Lyra, Galen, and…”
“Jyn,” Galen said, stroking his daughter’s hair.
Eventually, towards the end of the novel, Saw ferries them to a safe haven planet called Lah’mu, which is definitely the same planet well see the family hiding on before Krennic finds them in Rogue One:
“I think I’ve found the perfect place,” Saw told her parents. “Remote. A bit desolate, but tranquil. He nodded his chin towards Jyn. “Plenty of room for this one to run around.” He pulled his datapad from his pant pocket and showed them the image of a green, black, and blue planet with a wide ring. “Its called Lah’mu.”
Papa looked at the image and said, “It looks unspoiled.”
“It’s getting harder and harder to find worlds the Empire hasn’t swept into its grasp,” Saw said. “More and more star systems are knuckling under; more and more planets are being ravaged and sucked dry for resources. Lah’mu is one of those exceptions.”
So we know now that Saw and Jyn have known each other for a very long time heading into Rogue One, and perhaps have been in contact for years as well. Before Saw leaves the Ersos on Lah’mu, he tells Lyra Erso: “In the meantime, take this comm card. It will allow you to contact me if you ever need my assistance.”
Since Jyn has known the Rebel Gerrera since she was a child, it explains why she seeks him out for her mission to steal the Death Star plans. Saw knows how to fight against the Empire and knows her father and might be able to tell her where he is. He might not be in the movie for long, but Catalyst shows how important Saw is to the events of Rogue One.
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