Star Wars: Catalyst & 10 Things to Know Before Watching Rogue One
By Joshua Monroe
We are just a few short days away from the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and excitement levels are galactic! One of the incredible things about Star Wars has been always been its ability to allow fans to take ownership of the level of fandom they to which they wish to commit. For the casual fan, one can simply watch the movies and be satisfied with a complete and entertaining story. For those of us slightly more obsessive, there is a plethora of books, television shows, and video games that can supplement and enrich our movie going experience as we immerse ourselves into that galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: Catalyst is the newest canonical book to be released in the Star Wars Universe, and it brings back to the helm one of my favorite Star Wars Expanded Universe (non-canonical) authors, James Luceno. Luceno has crafted a masterful story that serves as a direct prequel to Rogue One. While the casual fan, probably doesn’t need to read the novel before seeing the movie, there are a number of plot points and references from the book, I believe might be useful in knowing before you see the movie. Spoilers follow for Star Wars: Catalyst and these might be potential spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, so read at your own risk.
The book begins at the end of the Clone Wars and spans about 4 years. At the end of the book Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is just a toddler.
2) Kyber Crystals
These Crystals are the very heart of the story. Found all across the galaxy, though very rare, these crystals are used to power a Jedi Lightsaber. With the Jedi gone from the galaxy, the Empire wishes to make use of the power of the Kyber Crystals for its own nefarious purposes.
3) Galen Erso: The Galaxy’s Leading Expert on Kybers
Galen Erso (played by Mads Mikkelsen) is a brilliant scientist who has made a career of studying Kyber Crystals. He is a family man, who loves his wife Lyra and daughter Jyn deeply, but often becomes obsessed in his work, as many brilliant scientists tend to do. Galen has no true love for the Republic or the Separatists during the Clone Wars and tries to remain neutral, as the Empire takes control of the galaxy, Galen views this as no more than a simple regime change that has nothing to do with him or his work.
4) Orson Krennic
Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is a rising officer in the Engineering Corps of the newly founded Empire. He is highly ambitious and self-preserving. He is also one of Galen Erso’s closest friends. It is he who pushes Erso to further his research into Kyber crystals. He is currently in charge of Project Celestial Power.
5) Project Celestial Power
Project Celestial Power is the official government program for the construction of the Death Star. The labor for this project is vast and diverse and the majority of the people in this program, Galen Erso included, believe they are working on a project to provide cheap sustainable energy to war torn worlds. Little do they know that the Krennic plans to weaponize the research to power the superlaser of the battlestation.
6) The Rivalry of Tarkin and Krennic
Governor Tarkin and Krennic are chief rivals throughout the majority of the book. Both want control over the Death Star and see the other as a thorn in their flesh. While both are fiercely loyal to the Empire, they have highly different approaches to how the Empire should operate. The end of the book sees Project Celestial Power still under the control of Krennic, albeit with his influence somewhat weakened. However, A New Hope shows us the Death Star fully under Tarkin’s control. It is highly likely that Rogue One will tell us exactly how that switch in power comes to be.
7) Legacy Worlds
It is unlikely that this will appear in the movie, but it was a highly fascinating portion of the book. Legacy Worlds are worlds that were given permanent environmental protection status by the Republic. The Empire still holds the illusion that it is operating within the realm of the Republic, leaving the Senate still intact (remember it won’t be dissolved until A New Hope). The Empire, however, needs the resources on these Legacy Worlds to complete the construction of the Death Star. To circumvent Legacy Status, the Empire hires smugglers to ship Separatist weapons and technology to these worlds, which the Empire can then swoop in and collect. As “traitor” planets, the Empire can legally revoke status and strip mine these worlds as they see fit.
Stardust is the nickname given to Jyn by her father Galen. While this may seem like a fairly irrelevant detail, one of the tracks on the official soundtrack is called “Star-Dust”. It seems like too much of a coincidence to not be important.
9) Saw Gerrera
Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker) first made an appearance as a freedom fighter for his home planet of Onderon during the Clone Wars cartoon television show. Saw makes an appearance at the end of the book to help the Erso’s escape Coruscant and set up their new home on Lah’mu (possibly that tall grass planet from the trailer?). This means Saw will have known Jyn since she was a toddler and will probably act as a sort of guardian for her during Rogue One.
The book ends with the Erso’s realizing that Krennic planned all along to weaponize Galen’s research. They flee Coruscant and set up a new life. Galen decides not to erase all of his data, however, believing that if a majority of the data is there, the Empire will not hunt him and his family, as another researcher could, given time, put all the pieces together the way Galen has. The only bits he takes with him, are the ways to actually successfully weaponize the Kybers. This is a major blowback for Krennic, who loses standing with the Emperor, as it sets back completion of the project by a number of years. Its highly probable, that no other researcher is ever able to duplicate Galen’s research which is why Krennic kidnaps Galen (and murders Lyra? Is Jyn raised by Saw?) in the events which will kick off Rogue One.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theatres December 16, 2016. Star Wars: Catalyst A Rogue One Novel is available now wherever books are sold.