Saw Gerrera Becomes a Rebel in Star Wars Catalyst

Saw Gerrera becomes inspired to rebel against the Empire in Star Wars Catalyst

2016 was a big year for Saw Gerrera! After having appeared in four episodes at the beginning of the fifth season of Star Wars The Clone Wars in the fall of 2012, Saw Gerrera had not re-appeared until 2016, in which he pops up several times.

Saw Gerrera first appears in several episodes of the fifth season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where we see him as an anti-Separatist fighter on Onderon. In those episodes, we glean that he is brash, aggressive, a good fighter, fiercely loyal to Onderon, and not emotionally well-connected, amongst other character traits. However, we don’t know what happens to him after the Clone Wars, once the Separatists depart from Onderon.

Saw Gerrera
Saw Gerrera fought against the Separatists on Onderon during The Clone Wars

Following those episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we don’t hear about Saw Gerrera until late in the second season of Star Wars Rebels (first aired in February 2016), when Agent Kallus describes an encounter following the Clone Wars trying to “bring peace and security” to Onderon.* Later on in 2016, we hear about “the campaigns of Saw Gerrera’s partisans” in Star Wars Bloodline (released in May 2016),** so we know that Saw Gerrera continued to not only fight against the Empire, but also led partisans who engaged in terrorism.

Now we come to Star Wars Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, which was released in mid-November 2016, in which Saw Gerrera plays a small, but not unimportant role in the latter half of the book. This book (henceforth, referred to as Catalyst) came out shortly before Rogue One – in which Gerrera also appears – and mostly follows Galen and Lyra Erso, but also Orson Krennic (as well as Wilhuff Tarkin, amongst other characters). Saw Gerrera’s scenes in Catalyst take place shortly after The Clone Wars, although it’s unclear from the book exactly when. Saw Gerrera appears several times in this book (pages 235-238, 244-247, 273-275, 320, 324, and 328-330 {pagination that of the Del Rey 2016 hardback version}), in which he is no longer on Onderon.***

{Spoiler warning: please don’t read ahead if you don’t want spoilers about this book.}

In Catalyst, Gerrera appears to be more sympathetic of a character than he was in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Introduced with such descriptors as “tall, imposing” (236) and “charismatic” (237), Gerrera is a character who is no wallflower: “Rarely without an opinion and frequently at the center of spirited conversations about galactic politics, Saw had become a popular figure in the Wanton Wellspring” (236).****

Gerrera is recruited by a smuggler, Has Obitt, to take part in a mission that was ostensibly smuggling, but turned out to be something more involved, which yields Gerrera voicing his opinion:

Saw shook his head and got up out of his chair. “I’m right because where most of you have spent your careers steering courses around confrontation, I’ve flown into the thick of it. I’m not saying that your skills won’t come in handy, but if we’re going to embark on a joint mission, the last thing we want is misadventure.” Has tracked Saw as he wound through the assembled group, punctuating his remarks with grimaces and commanding gestures. His hair was thick and black, but emboldened by a streak of color. He wasn’t shouting, but he might as well have been, such was the force of his personality. (236)

This clearly shows Gerrera as being outspoken, confident, and confrontational (both in terms of fighting, but also in terms of the conversation). We then read of him discussing his experience during The Clone Wars:

”If you have a chance to fight, you take it,” Saw said. “That’s what we did on my homeworld when the Separatists took control.”
The humanoid looked at him. “Were you victorious?”
“Eventually,” Saw said. “But we paid a price – a terrible price.” (245)

In this exchange, we see that Gerrera is ready to fight whenever and wherever, but he also acknowledges that there was a terrible price to pay – whether that simply means the loss of his sister, Steela, or more broadly, the many others who gave their lives in pursuit of independence from the Separatists. In another scene, we see another lesson Gerrera learned during his fighting of the Separatists:

Alongside Has was Saw Gerrera, doing the same at his own craft, shouting orders, organizing activities, making everything run smoothly and efficiently.
“You told the Hiitian commander on Salient Two that you’d done this sort of thing before,” Has shouted to him between breaths.
Saw nodded and paused to mop his brow. “On my homeworld, during the war.”
“Was it as bad as this?” Has asked, lifting his chin.
“Worse, because it was my own people fighting one another. But we had outside help in making things right. My being here is recompense.”
“Did it work?”
“Did what work?”
“Defiance. Was that enough?”
“That wasn’t the point.”
“What was?”
“Believing that your actions mattered, and believing that a good end would come of them, even if you didn’t live to see the results.” (273)

Here, Gerrera is clearly doing some significant leading and doing so quite well, but also that he is doing so for some quasi-altruistic reasons, helping others in giving back, as well as not assuming that he will survive their actions. In addition to this leading, he shows that he has a mind for strategizing:

“Just remember to keep him guessing; strike, withdraw, and re-group,” Saw added from nearby. “When his troops advance, you attack from behind. When he sends his ships to reinforce his troops on the moon, you open up new fronts on Salient Two or here. You need to keep him as off balance as you can, so he can’t gain a foothold.”(275)

While we don’t know what happens during the battle, how Gerrera fights, or even how he survives the fighting on Salient, we see that he does, as he next appears picking up the Erso family from Coruscant. In saving the Ersos from being pursued by Orson Krennic (arranged through Gerrera’s comrade, Obitt), Gerrera is the one to suggest the planet on which Rogue One opens, Lah’mu:

“I think I’ve found the perfect place,” Saw told her parents. “Remote. A bit desolate, but tranquil.” He nodded his chin toward 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. “It’s 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 the exceptions.” (329)

One wonders how much this last sentiment derives from Gerrera’s time with Obitt and taking part in the rebellious actions in the Salient conflict. Then, Jyn asks her father if Saw can stay in their lives (even though they just met):

“Can Saw come and live with us?”
Papa looked at Saw and smiled. “Saw is a very busy pilot. But I’m sure he’ll visit us. Right, Saw?”
Saw nodded and made his eyes smile. “Someone needs to keep an eye on you three.” He looked at Papa. “I applaud you, Galen. I applaud all of you for taking a stand. You’re my heroes. It’s people like you who continue to inspire me to play a part in exposing the Empire’s machinations.” He considered for a moment, now looking down at Jyn. “Not everyone understands the sacrifices necessary to stop them. If we don’t use every opportunity, every secret, every weapon available to stop them, how can we face our children? How can we hand them a future filled with such injustice?”

When Saw Gerrera is introduced in this book, he simply seems like a boisterous denizen of a cantina, perhaps not being involved in any conflicts. By the end of the book, as we see in these interactions with the Ersos, it seems he gets inspired to take part in the rebellion against the Empire. Perhaps the spark was seeing what the Empire was doing, alongside Has Obitt, and fighting for Salient’s freedom against the Empire (as well as coming to discover that “more and more planets are being ravaged and sucked dry for resources”). Following this, he seems to be inspired to “play a part in exposing the Empire’s machinations” and that he needs to fight such injustice.

Of course, it may be that Gerrera was itching to get back into fighting and didn’t know where, how, or why, following the end of The Clone Wars. But once sparked by what he saw, experienced, and heard, he knew that he needed to get involved in rebelling against the Empire. With his experience during The Clone Wars on Onderon, Gerrera is not only ready to fight whenever and wherever, but that he has a mind for strategizing and is talented at doing significant leading. And, of course, his is forthright, confident, and confrontational. This is the Saw Gerrera we see in Catalyst in the early years of the Empire, 17-18 years before he appears in Rogue One and 15-16 years before he appears in the recent Star Wars Rebels episode(s), “Ghosts of Geonosis”, which aired this month. He appears to be a sympathetic character, new to the rebellion.

* In “The Honorable Ones”, aired 24 February 2016, Agent Kallus says,

“I remember my first unit. The boys and I were deployed to Onderon to bring peace and security to a troubled world. We were on a routine patrol and ran into one of your rebel friends, a Lasat mercenary who worked for Saw Gerrera. I was lucky, knocked out by the first blast. I came to, but found I couldn’t move. And then I saw him. The Lasat calmly walk through smoke and fire to finish my unit off one by one. The injured never had a chance. Always wondered why he let me live.”

** This is one of the examples that Ransolm Casterfo brings up in the course of his discussing some problematic elements of the rebellion: “Obviously, the Rebellion was right to oppose Palpatine. Something had to be done. But, if you ask me, that hardly condones the terrorist tactics of the Rebel Alliance.” (Claudia Gray, Star Wars Bloodline (New York: Del Rey, 2016), 52. {pagination that of the hardcover version})
*** Is this before or after Agent Kallus is sent to Onderon? My guess would be that this book takes place before Gerrera takes part in the rebellion.
**** The Wanton Wellspring is decribed as

Owing to the never-ending traffic, Jibuto had hotels, cantinas, and casinos galore, but Has Obitt always eschewed the fancier places for a hole-in-the-wall cantina near the city center known as the Wanton Wellspring. In many ways it was no different from a thousand other cantinas on a thousand other worlds, and Has didn’t find it any nastier than the Malicious Moondog on Suba or any more inspiring than the Contented Krayt on Tatooine, but the drinks were strong, the wait staff attractive, and the company generally discreet. (156)

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