Note: This post will contain spoilers for both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the tie-in novel Catalyst. Read at your own risk!
In the days leading up to the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I scrambled to read the tie-in novel, Catalyst by James Luceno. Finishing the book about an hour before the Rogue One premiere, I settled into my seat at the theater, ready to see what would become of Galen, Lyra, and Jyn after the novel ended.
I am not sure how many others in the packed theater had read Catalyst, but for those of us who had, the opening scene was tragic. I knew exactly where the characters were and who was coming for them. While my wife prepared to watch the film “blind,” I had already spent a week with these characters and I cared for them.
The book delves greatly into the relationship between the Ersos and Orson Krennic, a tenuous relationship that is depicted over the course of several years. Thanks to James Luceno’s terrific writing of this relationship, the opening scene of the movie seems earned. By the end of the novel, Krennic hates Lyra, feeling that she is the primary obstacle in his attempts to manipulate Galen into creating the Death Star’s ultimate weapon. The two, along with their young daughter Jyn, finally evade Krennic’s grasp, thanks to the assistance of Saw Gerrera and another new character named Has Obbit. Krennic, we learn, will not stop looking for the Ersos. He is obsessed with cementing his legacy through the Death Star project, and Galen is his ticket to immortality. There will be no escape for the Ersos.
Back to the film – as Krennic and his troopers approached the Erso homestead, the ending of the novel, as well as the deep history between these characters, played in my head. When Krennic ordered his men to shoot Lyra, I was stunned. To other theater-goers, her death was nothing but a plot device to move Jyn and Galen along on their journeys. To me, it was saying an abrupt, yet poignant, goodbye to one of my favorite new characters.
Catalyst had done its job.
I was never a big fan of the old “Expanded Universe;” for me, there was simply too much to keep up with and I recognized that it was, at best, a “pseudo canon.” Now, everything released is considered “canon.” This was an important, albeit controversial, decision by Lucasfilm, and it is paying dividends. Now, novels like Catalyst are just as “true” as the films. They help to tell a deeper, more cohesive story that enlarges, and enhances the saga we love. Saw Gerrera’s appearance in Rogue One even helped to validate and acknowledge the canonicity of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.
Could Lucasfilm, at any time, do another reset and declare what is and isn’t canon? Of course. But the “Lucasfilm Story Group,” as it is called, is made up of a group of conscientious, devoted people who take Star Wars canon very seriously. The saga is truly in good hands. There has never been a better time to be a Star Wars fan; with each piece of canon media, the Star Wars universe only gets larger and deeper. I, for one, am excited to consume as many novels, comics, and animated series as I can.
Like my favorite character Obi-Wan once said, the saga has just “taken its first step into a larger world.”
The Cantina Cast
The wretched hive your Jedi Master warned you about!