It’s not news to say Star Wars has a divided fan base, and not every Star Wars property is loved. A mere half-decade ago, George Lucas‘brainchild (after a $ 4 billion + sale to Disney) was back on top, as legacyquel The Force Awakens force-choked box-office records. Following the divisiveness of The Last Jedi, the fan and critical failure of Rise of Skywalkerand hit-or-miss movie and TV entries, Star Wars and its dedicated but polarized fandom are all over the map. One property in recent years has been universally hailed, though: EA, Respawn and director Stig Asmussen‘s action-adventure game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Following the massive critical and commercial success of the game (over 10 million units sold), the lore of Fallen Order has been widely accepted by fans, and has expanded to comics, toys and beyond. A sequel game, Jedi: Survivorhas been announced for 2023.
There’s a rumor circulating (and right now there’s no reason to treat it as more than a rumor), much to the delight of Star Wars fans: a Cal Kestis series may be in development, with actor Cameron Monaghan attached. Especially given some plot and thematic crossover with the Obi-Wan Kenobi series’ first season, such a move on the part of Lucasfilm and Disney Plus seems plausible. Handled correctly, a Fallen Order series has massive potential.
A Boy Who Becomes a Man – Cameron Monaghan as Cal Kestis
Like the original Star Wars (or A New Hope), Fallen Order is as much a bildungsroman as anything. Cal Kestis (Cameron Monaghan) was a youngling when Order 66’s genocide ripped apart the galaxy. Five years later, The Force calls upon geeky, good-natured Cal to come out of hiding to meet a rising threat, and become a Jedi Knight.
Monaghan is a brilliant actor who’s often the best part of whatever he’s in. Fans love Cal Kestis; if anything, Monaghan’s performance and contribution to modern Star Wars is underrated. The actor performed a lot of action in the game, resulting in a more immersive, emotional connection to the character. Did anyone feel emotions in Rise of Skywalker? Shameless and Gotham alum Monaghan absolutely has the chops to carry his own show.
The Haunted Ally — Debra Wilson as Cere Junda
Opposite Monaghan, and at least as crucial to the success of Fallen Order, is fallen Jedi Knight Cere Junda, in a gripping motion-capture performance from Debra Wilson. Order 66 struck Cere in a uniquely harrowing way, and Wilson takes Star Wars lore through mature, grim thematic territory.
Wilson has over 250 acting credits on IMDb, and she’s best known for her work on Mad TV ‘‘s first eight seasons from 1995-2003. A Fallen Order series could present the multitalented actress with a high-profile starring TV return.
A Fresh Start … That Honors the Past
Fans are divided on the characters of the sequel trilogy. Not so much the cast, in fact a widely shared opinion that the actors in the sequel films were a highlight, and deserved better writing. But the characters did not amount to much. The leads were handled in a disappointingly anticlimactic fashion, and several supporting characters were sidelined with virtually no arcs.
The Last Jedi‘s “let the past die” mantra wasn’t exactly a terrible idea, risky for sure, but the execution of these elements was clumsy at best. The Rise of Skywalker‘s apologetic backtracking was flat-out cringe. The crew of Fallen Order‘s The Mantis is a scrappy and likable lot who could totally translate to live action, taking Star Wars on TV in a new direction without disrupting or disrespecting canon.
Exploration and Expansion of the Galaxy Far, Far Away
Though The Mandalorian gets major credit for planet-hopping that broadened Star Wars horizons, the franchise historically has felt unafraid of branching out to new reaches of space, not just playing it safe on sand planets or giant planet-killing weapons. This sameness was most apparent in the sequel trilogy, especially the bookends.
From the lush Bogano, to the massive, icy Zeffo to the desolate ghost-ridden red planet of Dathomir, Cal’s journey has already wowed in the visuals department. One of Fallen Order‘s key locations, the underwater Fortress Inquisitorius, appeared in one episode of Kenobi. Frankly, it was more spectacular, far more ominous and mysterious in the game. It would be worth visiting again.
The Friendship of Man and Droid – The Lovable BD-1
So much sci-fi makes AI the enemy, often to chilling effect. Ever since the opening scenes of A New HopeGeorge Lucas’ space saga has generally taken an alternate, more optimistic approach, with man and machine forming mutually beneficial bonds and even friendships.
After meeting on the green planet Bogano, Cal and BD-1 (“BD”) form a symbiotic, affectionate bond. As Cal is coming into his own as a Jedi and realizing just how powerful he is, compact, enthusiastic hacker BD does everything Cal can not. The robot’s design emulates a delighted puppy, and he has the gravitas to stand up to Darth Vader. What’s not to love?
A Young, Hungry, Angry, Scary Empire
Fallen Order and Cal Kestis’ rise is set at one of the most dramatically meaty moments in the established Star Wars timeline: between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. After Order 66, Jedi are hunted across the galaxy. Many are executed; Some of the Force-sensitive are turned to the dark side and the Empire.
The game and comics of Fallen Order depict a threatening hammer of an Empire. The Inquisitors and other villains here (notably an outstanding motion-capture performance from Elizabeth Grullon as Second Sister Trilla) are more chilling, reserved, and believable than a lot of the screaming, cartoony punks of the First Order in the sequel trilogy, or the TV shows’ Empire.
More Screen Time For Darth Vader
Nitpick the uneven Kenobi apart all you want: everyone but everyone was happy to see Hayden Christensen back under the cape and breathing apparatus. A good actor unfairly criticized for handling wooden dialogue in the prequels, he has been welcomed back with open arms.
Kenobi mostly served Vader well, some questionable, hit-or-miss production values aside. The greatest villain in all of fiction appeared in the final moments of Fallen Order, as an unbeatable boss fight. Just after the fall of Anakin Skywalker, this early era sees the Sith lord’s infamy spreading across the galaxy.
Some Romance In ‘Star Wars?’ Finally?
In Fallen Order, it’s heavily insinuated Cal and Nightsister Merrin have the hots for each other, and they make an inspired pairing. Both come from war-torn, violent backgrounds. They’re adversaries for most of the game, and their climactic team-up against fallen Jedi Taron Malicos is the game’s most exciting moment. It’s past time for romance and sexual tension to return to the galaxy far, far away. Not all of these characters are robots.
One of the most frustrating, even uncanny and chilly parts of the sequel trilogy was the near-total lack of romance. Reylo was half-baked and squandered, one of countless disappointments in the thunderously bad Rise of Skywalker. Elsewhere, there’s a case to be made that The Empire Strikes Back is the most romantic film ever made not in the romance genre. Cynical Han and headstrong Leia let down their guard in the darkest of times. For all the clunky dialogue in the prequels, fans look back on Padmé and Anakin fondly. It’s time to heat things up and swoon again.
A Cal Kestis Show Could Pave the Way to TV For More Fan-Favorite Characters
There’s no shortage of characters that diehard, devoted Star Wars fans want to see in live action. If a Cal Kestis show was a success (which, if handled as well as the game and comics it definitely would be), this could bring us further to more of what fans really want to see from Star Wars live action. It’s hard to overstate how much potential there could be in bringing Kyle Katarn or Galen (Starkiller) Marek to life with good writing and production values. They’re goldmines. They’re great characters that embody the spirit of Lucas’ original creation.
What about a proper Shadows of the Empire on the big or small screen? What about giving Thrawn the treatment he deserves? There is no shortage of brilliant, established storylines and characters for Lucasfilm to adapt, with care. The fan base is certainly there.
NEXT: Fan-Favorite ‘Star Wars’ Characters Who Are No Longer Canon (But Could Be)