Before TFA was released there was quite a bit “Disney is going to ignore the prequels” talk. Some considered that a good thing some a bad. We now know that this just isn’t true, Rebels has brought back several Clone Wars characters and comics and novels have also delved into the prequels. Now with Saw Gerrera joining the live action in Rogue One we have a definite link from the prequel era on the big screen. Let’s dive into what makes Saw the best fit for this and why we are so excited to see him on the big screen.
The character of Saw Gerrera began as an idea of George Lucas to create a “Rebel extremist” to appear in the live action Star Wars TV show. This show, which was largely scrapped, has recently gained some traction with recent reports that a live action TV series is being considered by ABC. He was then reworked into the Clone Wars show as a freedom fighter on Onderon that fought beside Anakin and Obi-wan.
“I’m not a terrorist. I’m a patriot. And resistance is not terrorism.”―Saw Gerrera
This quote from The Soft War episode shows how Saw thinks. He works from a position that ends justify the means as long as you are fighting for the right cause. Even after he lost the most important person in his life he continues down that path. When the Empire was born he was one of the first to start a cell of resistance fighters known as the Partisans. His tactics were known to be brutal and considered terrorism even after the war by some.
Or the campaigns of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans? Can you condone that?- Senator Casterfo
There is another character who believes the ends justify the means and is willing to do anything to make those ends happen. Darth Vader. He turns to the darkside and kills 100s to save his wife. When that fails he kills 1000s(10,000s? more?) to preserve the Empire a form of government he advocated in AotC.
There are two distinct looks for Saw that we’ve seen. The first one we saw in the teaser has him with a shaved head. The second, seen in the recent trailer, shows Saw with longer hair and a longer beard. There was an indication from Amanda Ward in the latest episode of MSW Rebel Grrrl that in fact the shaved head was later in the film. It would appear that Saw shaves his head to get in “battle mode”. This indicates that at the start of Rogue One Saw is not as active in fighting, and held up in his bunker. Perhaps his tactics have forced the leaders of the Rebellion to push him to the side or he has taken a role of mentor and adviser and stepped back from “getting his hands dirty”. Either way he is obviously not in the fight like he was a youth. We’ve speculated that Saw is Jyn’s mentor in someway so this would fit that narrative and would explain his lines in the trailers so far. So what does it mean when he gets a haircut? Just speculation based on the Rebel Grrrl information but I suspect that after Jyn is recruited and maybe even after the Death Star is known about Saw gets prepped for battle because he knows that he cannot hold back, everyone must get involved as much as possible or all will be lost.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Forest Whitaker stated that there are some similarities between his character, Saw, and Darth Vader. At first he caught himself with the following
“There are some similarities, I don’t know if I should tell you that.”
but he later elaborated by saying
“This is his armored suit for flight, but also for maintenance, He’s been through many conflicts and many wars, so it’s also about [repairing] some of the many injuries he’s had. He wears it all the time.”
Given the tubes present on his chest in this later image, there is a possibility that part of the suit has the function of helping him breathe. Consistent with this is the line from the Star Wars databank entry for Saw:
Saw’s ailing health has not withered his resolve to fight.
And in many ways this points to the “similarities” with Vader. Saw continued fighting to the point where his health was damaged, and he has lost a bit of his humanity in the process. You can see a tube in both of his “looks’ in the images above, with the top one showing a close-up of what looks like could be a breathing mask.
The other pieces we get from the databank entry mentioned above is that
Gerrera is bunkered on the ancient world of Jedha, coordinating a prolonged insurgency against the Imperial occupation.
So why would he be bunkered on Jedha? I would suspect that the aforementioned experiences with Jedi such as Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi have given him some reverence for the Jedi way.
We actually speculated before about his Lasat Mercenary friend, who was mentioned in Rebels by Agent Kallus. I personally think that if his “bunker” has a team of rebels that includes a Lasat, this would be a very cool connection to Rebels. This may not be likely, but there are opportunities for other connections. Could we see a photo of Saw’s long lost sister, Steela? Could we hear Saw make mention of the fact that he once knew Obi Wan Kenobi? There are a lot of possibilities here, and speculation is half the fun.