Much of the Star Wars timeline that we’ve seen on film is centered around themes of lineage, redemption, and rebellion. The Original Trilogy of the franchise put those narrative subjects front and center. The Prequel Trilogy delved deeper into the ancestry of the Jedi and etched out the full canvas of Anakin Skywalker’s decades-long redemption arc. And the recent Sequel Trilogy is re-investigating the meaning of rebellion in the modern context.
But while Star Wars stories are characterized mostly by those three themes, there is a darker side to the galaxy far, far away that we rarely see on film. It’s an era full of massacre and brutality, bereft of the sort of familial motifs and redemption stories that George Lucas’s films are known for. We don’t know exactly when the new video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (out Friday on PS4, Xbox One, and PC) takes place. But we know that, whenever it’s set, it’s sometime during this extremely dark period.
Order 66 and the Persecution of the Jedi
The events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith lead to one of the most treacherous time periods in Star Wars history. Following Emperor Palpatine’s hostile take-over of the Republic’s Senate, the Sith Lord enacts a military massacre called Order 66. Palpatine declares all Jedi “enemies of the Republic.” And, as we see toward the end of Episode III, the Jedi are annihilated by Palpatine’s clone armies. One by one, the religious peacekeepers are killed by the very battalions that they’d been commanding in the Clone Wars. Meanwhile, Anakin Skywalker goes to the Jedi Academy to mercilessly chop to pieces the young Padawans-in-training. For a kids movie, this shit was rough.
Revenge of the Sith concludes with two Jedi surviving the events of Order 66: Yoda, who fails to defeat Darth Sidious in a last-ditch effort to restore order to the Republic; and Obi-Wan Kenobi, who successfully vanquishes Anakin (or so he thinks).
With the rest of the leading Jedi killed by the newly instated Galactic Empire, Yoda goes into hiding, and Obi-Wan distributes Anakin’s newborn children—Luke and Leia—to two disparate places in the galaxy, hiding them away from the Imperial forces who wish to kill them. Other than those Force-sensitive folks, Revenge of the Sith doesn’t make it clear if there are any remaining Jedi in the galaxy. As it turns out, there are more than a few.
The Remaining Jedi
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is centered around Cal Kestis, one of the Jedi who survived Order 66. He may be the only Jedi in the game—but from more recent ancillary material in the Star Wars franchise, we know there are many survivors of Order 66. The canon is full of them. Kanan Jarrus, who appears in the Star Wars Rebels animated show (which also takes place near this time period). Ahsoka Tano, who’s another fan-favorite Jedi from the franchise’s animated series such as Clone Wars. And even a badass librarian at the Jedi temple who survived but eventually met a ghastly fate at the hands of Darth Vader.
Yes, that’s right—Vader is hunting the Jedi down. And it’s likely that Cal Kestis is on his radar, too.
Vader’s Hunt for the Survivors
In the 19 years leading up to Episode IV: A New Hope, Darth Vader is on the prowl, murdering Jedi and making a name for himself as the spookiest man in the entire galaxy. He’s personally training a group of baddies known as The Inquisitorius, who wield double-sided lightsabers and are obsessed with eradicating every last whiff of the Jedi religion. Along with brutally tearing the religion to pieces, Vader and the Inquisitors are also out there flipping Force-sensitive folks, trying to get them to join in the Dark Side.
What This All Means for Our New Friend Cal
So we don’t know exactly how long before A New Hope this upcoming video game takes place. By the looks of the trailers, it seems that it’s on the closer side to Episode IV than Episode III, simply because there are Stormtroopers, not Clone Troopers, afoot.
However, Saw Gerrera, the character played by Forest Whittaker in Rogue One, appears in Fallen Order, and he looks a heckofalot better in the screens we’ve seen from the game than he did in Rogue One. Just based on his get-up and hairdo, it could also be safe to say that this title takes place at least 10 years before the main events of Rogue One—so on the closer side to Episode III. For reference, Rogue One runs right up to the very end of this roughly 20-year span between Episode III and IV. Also set in this time period are the animated series Star Wars Rebels (five years before A New Hope) and Solo (somewhere around 10 years before A New Hope).
If this is the case, then the events of the Clone Wars are still very much on the minds of the remaining Jedi of Fallen Order, which means that Cal is likely still in a state of shock and fear. He’s in hiding. If all of my people had just been gunned down by an oppressive government force, I’d be scared too. But Cal’s story will be a familiar one for fans of Star Wars—it seems clear that Fallen Order, despite the darkness, is all about Cal’s return to the light. Another redemption tale.