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What They Grow Beyond: Saw Gerrera

If you continue to fight this war on the Empire’s terms, not yours, you are going to lose.”

Saw Gerrera

From his beginnings on Onderon, to his fight on Jedha, Saw Gerrera never compromised. I was fascinated by Saw Gerrera’s story when we were introduced to him in The Clone Wars. Saw and the rest of the rebels on Onderon were trained by Jedi to fight the Separatist leadership. It’s such an interesting concept that stems from real life things like the American government supporting and arming regimes to overtake communist governments, before eventually having to fight the movements they’ve helped create. Saw’s journey across storytelling mediums from young freedom fighter to rebel extremist is layered and profound and one of my favorite journeys we’ve been given.

Here is where you can follow Saw Gerrera’s story! (Click for links)

Insurgent

  • The Clone WarsA War on Two Fronts, Front Runners, The Soft War, Tipping Points
  • The Bad BatchAftermath
  • Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

We first meet Saw and his sister Steela leading a guerrilla resistance on Onderon. The monarchy has been deposed and the Republic refuses to intervene as the illegitimated leadership has sided with the Separatists. Officially nothing would be done, but the Jedi decide if they can train the local rebels, they can turn the tide of the battle against the Separatists in the sector. Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka head to the planet to train the resistance fighters to reclaim their own planet. Outside of council approval Ahsoka stays to help even when the other Jedi return. Saw eventually becomes the leader as they retake their planet, but loses his sister. Even as a young man, Saw is headstrong, unflinching, and unwilling to back down.

After the rise of the Empire, Saw’s fight turns from the Separatists to the Empire. The Bad Batch are sent to put down separatist insurgents on Onderon. There they encounter Saw and other refugees, and are confused as to their orders. Saw makes it clear his people won’t be ruled by the Empire. The Bad Batch questions their orders.

After the Clone Wars, Saw helps Galen Erso and his family escape Imperial clutches and hides them on Lah’mu.

Terrorist

  • Jedi: Fallen Order
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story Expanded Edition
  • Rebel Rising
  • Star Wars Rebels – Ghosts of Geonosis

The next time we catch up with Saw is on Kashyyyk. Cal Kestis follows clues to Kashyyyk and helps Saw free wookiee slaves from a refinery and connecting with Tarrful’s rebellion there. Saw and his Partisans are one of the sparks of rebellion across the galaxy.

As the Imperials finally close in on the Erso family, Saw shows up to find only Jyn remains. He takes the young girl with him and begins training her to be a part of his Partisans. In the Solo novelization, Saw connects with Enfys Nest for the stolen coaxium. There Enfys speaks to a young Jyn about being underestimated.

As the Empire would expand it’s rule by fear, Saw began to match their brutality. He would torture prisoners and often put innocents in harms way to sow more fear than the Empire. On a mission against a newly Imperial occupied world, the Partisans would infiltrate a festival to assassinate the governor. The partisans massacred the guests along with attending Imperials as a show of force. Saw’s Partisans began to divide and some would leave to other less ruthless rebel cells. When Jyn was 16, Saw left her behind on a mission. Fellow Partisans had begun to unravel Jyn’s true identity and an increasingly paranoid Saw abandoned Jyn to protect her identity.

As Saw continued to fight the Empire he would find evidence of massive amounts of resources unexplained. He began to suspect the Empire was building some kind of superweapon and focused all of his efforts on finding it. On a mission to Geonosis, Saw felt he was closing in on answers before his team was wiped out. Alliance command sent Phoenix Squadron to rescue him. Reuniting with Rex, and meeting Kanan and Ezra, Saw tried to uncover why the Empire had wiped out the Geonosians and what they were trying to hide. Although Saw lived to fight another day, Saw only found evidence of massive construction but no answers to what was being built. During the mission, Ezra found a holo of Steela that Saw dropped. As Saw continued to fight, he never forgot his sister. His obsession with the superweapon and paranoia would chip away at Saw’s stability.

Extremist

  • Star Wars Rebels – In the Name of the Rebellion
  • Guardians of the Whills
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Soon after, the Rebel Alliance refused to work with Saw and his Partisans. Bail Organa and Mon Mothma were appalled by Saw’s terrorist tactics and would no longer recognize him as a part of their Alliance. Saw sent a message to Yavin 4 telling Mon Mothma and her rebels that if they continued to fight fair, the Empire would destroy them all. Saw’s intel pointed him to a relay station where he once again encountered Phoenix Squadron. Ezra and Sabine would find out firsthand that in order to accomplish his mission, Saw would even sacrifice his allies.

Saw continued to follow the trail to the Empire’s occupation of Jedha. Saw brought his Partisans to the Holy Moon and fought the Empire as they collected Kyber Crystals. He would connect with local rebels and bring them into the Partisans. Here, his Partisans captured a defecting Imperial pilot who was sent by Galen Erso. The pilot, Bodhi Rook, spoke of the superweapon the Empire was building and brought a message for Saw and Jyn. Jyn arrived with the Alliance looking for the message from her father just before the Death Star fired on the planet. Saw would finally find the weapon he had spent his years searching for, and it was the last thing he would ever see.

The Dream

Even after his death, Saw’s legacy would remain. A faction of his followers calling themselves The Dreamers, would continue to attack Imperial targets before being destroyed by a newly created Imperial special forces team called Inferno Squad.

After the destruction of Jedha, Benthic Two-Tubes would take command of some of the remaining Partisans who would continue to fight the Empire as they returned to mine kyber from the dying moon. Although Saw was dead, his followers believed in his dream and continued to fight for it. At all costs.

It would be Saw and his Partisans who would enforce the belief the the Rebels were terrorists. They would go down in history for their brutal tactics, even years into the New Republic, centrists like Ransolm Casterfo, would point to the Partisans actions as being the Alliances bloodstained legacy.

The Fire Still Burns

Saw is one of the first characters who would make the leap from animation to live-action. In a world where we now are seeing Bo-Katan and Ahsoka on Disney+, Saw was the first character to make that transition. Saw’s story is something of a parable. In some ways he is the antithesis of Darth Vader, a man who has fought so long for his beliefs that he has lost himself. Like Vader, Saw loses parts of himself along the way. By his final days on Jedha, Saw is depending on cybernetics, a respirator, and a pressurized suit to survive. His paranoia from all sides, Rebel and Imperial, would increasingly isolate him. Saw gave everything to the cause, including his humanity.

The performances by Andrew Kishino (The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch) and Forest Whitaker (Jedi: Fallen Order, Star Wars Rebels, Rogue One) bring depth, determination, and the rebel fire to life. Saw has been one of my favorite characters, not necessarily because of his actions, but because of his complication. Because his story makes us think about the line, and how far is too far. In our world where things are so often put into black or white, how far on one side do you go until it becomes the other? Saw fights for a dream that will bring peace to the galaxy. And he isn’t afraid to become the monster to achieve it.

What’s your favorite part of Saw’s story?

I’m fighting for you and everyone else, not to lose what they’ve got. And I won’t apologize for how I do it.

Saw Gerrera

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