The 2016 Trailer Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is one of the coolest pieces of star wars content that The Walt Disney Company has never released. The film itself, unfortunately, is a bit of a mixed bag. Although director Gareth Edwards wanted to create the Saving Private Ryan of the star wars the universe, intensive reshoots and post-production work completely changed the direction of the film. Screenwriter and Director Tony Gilroy was brought in to save the movie, saying that “they had so many terrible problems that all you could do was improve their position.”
Although A thug turned out not to be a complete embarrassment, the film feels like a collection of mismatched scenes that were strung together at the last minute. One of the main criticisms of the film is that the characters don’t have time to fully develop as individuals. There is no instance where this is more true than with the character of Saw Gerrera. Performed by the Oscar winner Whitaker Forest in one of the most disconcerting performances of his career, Saw is an extremist resistance leader, who has broken away from the Rebel Alliance.
Saw’s role in the film is odd; he saves Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as a child, but then disappears from history. Ultimately, Saw meets his untimely demise during the Imperial attack on the planet Jedha. Spectators were left puzzled. On paper, Saw represents a fascinating type of character. It shows that just because someone hates the Galactic Empire doesn’t automatically guarantee they’re a good person. However, Saw has an interesting story to tell. it’s just not the one you saw in A thug. star wars the animation helped flesh out a character that showed the universe wasn’t so black and white.
Prior to Whitaker’s appearance in the live-action spinoff, Saw was born in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In a Season 5 arc set on the planet Onderon, Saw (Andrew Kisino) and her sister, Steela (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) begin a rebel movement on their home planet. The King of Onderon, Ramsis Dendup (Barry Dennen), had attempted to remain neutral during the war between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Saw and his sister are loyal to the king’s position. It is an understandable position; both sides represent different forms of fascism.
However, Saw and Steela begin to disagree when Dendup is knocked down by Sanjay Rash (Kirk Thorton), a malevolent objector who rises to power through a deal with the separatists. Saw wants to see the Separatists eliminated from Onderon as much as his sister does, but he doesn’t want to use the help of outside forces. This sparks a sibling feud when Anakin Skywalker (matt lanter), Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), and Ashoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) come to Onderon.
Saw’s perspective helps diversify how the Jedi Order is viewed and lends credence to the idea that the Empire could blame them for the entire war. Saw sees the Jedi as conquerors, not saviors. Unfortunately, Saw’s independent streak comes to an end after he fails to save the former king. Saw eventually comes to the aid of both his sister and the Jedi, but his allegiance immediately takes its toll. During the battle for Onderon’s freedom, Steela is killed.
Instead of viewing his sister’s sacrifice as the ultimate price of freedom, Saw’s gaze on the galaxy only darkens. He is ultimately dissatisfied with his role in the battle; once again, Onderon is under occupation. Unfortunately, Saw’s opinion turned out to be correct. He is among the first to begin organizing rebel forces once the Galactic Empire takes over.
While the animated shows lend credence to Saw’s skepticism, he is shown as someone who refuses to join any causes. His desire for total independence vis-à-vis any external resource is on the verge of psychosis. Saw only trusts those he knows personally, but obviously his small band of mercenaries can’t save an entire planet. star wars has always been about trust placed in people; Saw cannot accept this truism.
We also see that Saw is ready to use any means necessary to devastate his enemies. He is unlikely to hear anyone. In The Clone Wars spin-off series The bad lot, Saw and his gang come into conflict with the titular Specialist Clone Troopers (now Storm Troopers). The Bad Batch had been sent by the Empire to take out Saw, and Saw has a “prisonerless” view of war. Both parties are at fault; neither is willing to listen to the other until the last minute, and they barely come to a peaceful solution before realizing they are on the same side.
Whitaker’s performance in A thug felt like it was just a weird acting choice, but throughout the anime shows arc, we see why Saw had become so divorced from reality. He has conditioned himself to think of everything in absolute terms; in star wars rebels, Saw nearly destroys a Geonosian egg in order to gain critical information. Saw knows that the Geonosians are associated with the creation of the droid army and considers every member of the species to be the same.
One of the most disconcerting scenes of A thug is a sequence where Saw uses an octopus-like creature called “Bor Gullet” to torture Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Rice Ahmad). Bodhi claims to have information about the Death Star, and Saw doesn’t want to take any risks. This is another instance where his point of view is valid, but his tactics get too extreme. Saw is so cynical about everyone’s true nature that he nearly destroys the Rebel Alliance’s opportunity to steal the Death Star plans. While Bodhi is ultimately rescued after Jyn arrives on Jedha, Saw’s suspicions doom him.
Out of context, it’s a random scene. However, it makes more sense given the context of Saw that the animated shows have established. It’s not confusing why in the end Saw just stays on Jedha and is consumed by the explosion. He clearly sees that the Rebel Alliance is the future of hope. He is addicted to the “dream”. He would rather let himself die than admit his mistakes. “Save the rebellion,” he tells Jyn. “Save the dream.
The story of star wars is that of forgiveness. Even the most evil characters in the galaxy have goodness in them, and few characters have passed the point of redemption. Saw’s refusal to forgive anyone (including himself) shows that despite his hatred for the Empire, he is no hero. A thug didn’t give Saw the chance to upset the politics of the universe. Hope Andor’s role in the Disney+ series Andor will do justice to its history on the small screen.