Since the release of Rogue One people have been wanting to know more about the character Saw Gerrera (played in the movie by Forest Whitaker) – so we have dug deep into revealing all we can about him.
Saw Gerrera (voiced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars by Andrew Kishino) was a human male who was born on the jungle planet Onderon during the last years of the Galactic Republic. Growing up within the walls of Onderon’s capital city of Iziz with his sister Steela Gerrera, Saw learned to greatly respect Onderon’s monarch, longtime King Ramsis Dendup.
In 22 BBY, thousands of star systems seceded from the Republic and formed their own galactic government, the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Soon, the Republic and Confederacy broke into all-out war—a Clone War—and King Dendup sided with the Republic and its newly-acquired Grand Army of clone troopers.
In the year 20 BBY as the Clone War sustained itself on battlefronts across the galaxy, at the behest of the Confederate Head of State Count Dooku of Serenno, the Separatist Droid Army invaded Saw’s homeworld and subjected its citizens to Confederate law. If that was not enough, King Dendup was ousted from his royal throne and replaced with King Sanjay Rash, a “puppet leader” who answered directly to Count Dooku.
King Rash enacted a Royal Proclamation that declared any who tried to usurp him from his throne would be declared a terrorist. Deeply troubled for Onderon’s future and undeterred that he and Steela had banished from Iziz for openly defying King Rash, Saw and Steela began to gather resources and other like-minded individuals in the hopes of forming a resistance to fight against Rash and his battle droid forces.
“If you have a chance to fight, you take it. That’s what we did on my world when the Separatists took control – Were you victorious? – eventually. But we paid a price—a terrible price.“―Saw Gerrera reflects on the Clone Wars in 18 BBY with a Hiitian general.
Some time later, Saw had become the defacto leader of the Onderon rebels, and as a result of being banished from Iziz, the rebels took up residence in an abandoned outpost within a group of ancient ruins in Sector S-29 of the wilderness. Around this time, Lux Bonteri, the son of the late Mina Bonteri, the former senator of Onderon in the Republic’s Galactic Senate joined Saw and his resistance.
Having obtained enough armor, blasters, and various other small arms to supply their forces, Saw, Steela, and Bonteri plotted to take back Iziz for Onderon; the rebel leaders, however, after a number of small skirmishes with battle droid forces, came to the realization that they were both under-equipped and had neither the training nor skills to wage open war against the Confederacy. Therefore, Saw and Bonteri reached out to the Republic, requesting aid. As a result, the esteemed Jedi High Council on the Republic’s capital world, Coruscant, heard Saw and Bonteri’s story via HoloNet transmission. Grand Master Yoda promised that the Jedi Order would find a way to aid them.
“He fashions himself as our leader, though no one elected him.”―Steela Gerrera, on how her brother arose to lead the freedom fighters.
A short time later, the freedom fighters were alerted to an intrusion in jungle Sector S-11 and Steela led asquad to investigate. Steela investiagted and found that Yoda had sent Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, his Togruta Padawan learner, Ahsoka Tano, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, and 501st Legion clone trooper CT-7567, nicknamed “Rex” to aid them. Skywalker informed Saw that they couldn’t fight the Battle of Onderon for the resistance—Onderon, after all, was legitimately aligned with the Confederacy, no matter how illegitimate Saw viewed the situation—but he would train Saw’s resistance to fight well on their own.
Rex explained that as a clone trooper, he would assist the Jedi Generals, and after relocating a half-kilometer to a clearing in the jungle where a captured Separatist Armored Assault Tank was left dormant, Jedi Commander Tano and Clone Captain Rex instructed the freedom fighters on how to disable the tank: they had drop a pair of Electro Magnetic Pulse grenades—”droid poppers”—into both the tank’s cockpits, one for the pilot and one for the gunner, respectively. Saw and Bonteri teamed for the exercise, but sharing in a tense rivalry, incidentally sabotaged one another by refusing to cooperate. Disgusted, Saw ridiculed Bonteri for being a “terrible soldier;” which disappointed the Jedi advisors. As the day wore on, Saw grew increasingly frustrated, so he berated Steela for regularly attending to Bonteri, the two of whom shared a mutual attraction. The confrontation coming almost to blows, Steela diffused the two men, explaining that there would be both a time for the direct fight that Saw desired, and the political speeches that Bonteri excelled at.
The rebels next returned to the encampment, where General Skywalker and Rex demonstrated how to most efficiently disable droideka Security droids. Protected by a deflector shield, droidekas were immune to blasterbolts. Skywalker, thus, indicated that a slowly rolled droid popper was the best way to disable the droids. Confident in his abilities, Saw stepped up and attempted the technique first; Saw, however, rolled the grenadetoo quickly and failed to penetrate the shield. Bonteri tried next and succeeded. Later, after many tries and much coaching from Tano, Saw managed to roll the grenade at the right speed and pierce the shield.
Shortly thereafter, the Jedi advisors moved on to coaching the rebels on how to properly utilize their blaster rifles. Steela, a very skilled sniper, impressed the Jedi, but while practicing, was alerted to see that their encampment was under attack: Separatist B1 battle droids and an Assault Tank pushed through the brush and opened fire on the rebels. Saw narrowly avoided by taken out by a missile blast from a B2 super battle droid, and advanced onto the very frontline of the skirmish and returned fire. At a signal from the Jedi and Steela, Saw and other rebels heaved disruptor explosives into the path of the droids, where they exploded. Still outgunned, Steela loosed the dalgos, falumpasets, and tee-mussmammals, which stampeded and trampled the remaining droids. Only the armored tank remaining, Saw and Bonteri tried once more to disable the tank. On this attempt, however, the rebels worked together and succeed in destroying the tank with a pair of thermal detonators. Elated in their first victory, Saw quipped that Bonteri look more the soldier than the politician from the grit that had come to cover him during the altercation. Knowing that their base location was compromised, a plan was made to infiltrate Iziz and pose as civilians to wage the guerrilla war from within the capital.
Later in the day, posing as hunters, the rebels and military advisors boarded a pair of dalgo-yoked Mandolorian transports and traveled to Iziz and fooled the “dim-witted” OOM command battle droid checkpoint in order to gain pass through the city’s ray shielded main gate. The rebels then split up; Saw alerted other rebels already within the city that the time to fight had come, while Steela, Bonteri, Tano, and others went in search of new recruits.
As time went on, many more Onderonians enlisted with the independence fighters, and they took shelter in a safe house deep in the city. Saw, Bonteri, and Steela received regular intelligence and guidance from not only Skywalker, Kenobi, Tano, and Rex, but the Jedi Masters on Coruscant, as well. Saw and the rebels took as many chances as they could to disrupt battle droid patrols and destroy droids harassing Iziz civilians; sometimes the rebels engaged in as many as fives skirmishes a day. Saw often opened fire on Separatist minions publicly, such as in Malgan Market, which caused fear to mount in the civilian population—despite the fact that civilian casualties sat a zero.
One day, Saw and his resistance held committee in their Iziz safe house, where Skywalker congratulated them on waging a thus-far successful campaign. Kenobi and Tano, however, believed that the public perception of Saw’s rebels had not been as planned; the people were fearful of the sudden violence that had besieged their city. Saw, however, believed that the people were fearful simply because the droids were still active—that he hadn’t done enough to demobilize the Confederates. Steela and Bonteri added that they had to assure the general populace that the freedom fighters were just that: fighting for the freedom of the people. Steela believed the rebels had to win the hearts and minds of the people took gain their trust, something Saw did not understand. In order to prove to the civilians that the rebels could oust the Separatists, Bonteri proposed that they strike the Iziz power generator. In agreement, Skywalker, Kenobi, and Rex returned to the Core Worlds, having outfitted the rebels as planned.
The Jedi Knights pledged that they would continue to provide credits to the Saw’s movement, and also stationed Tano to remain on Onderon. At dusk, Saw, Tano, Bonteri, and Steelascouted out the power generator complex. Lying prone on a rooftop, Bonteri explained that if they could manage to disable the power compound it would cause a city-wide power outage, that, given, time would bring the Droid Army to a literal standstill: the droids operated independently of a control computer, but still had to recharge periodically using power cells. However, before assaulting the generators, the rebels concluded that they needed to know more about the compound. Saw took it upon himself to garner the desired intel: he quickly descended the building and brutishly ripped the head off of a patrolling “clanker” in the street and returned to the rooftop where a robolobotomy was performed using a Republic-provided robolobotomy device. From the holographic images provided from the cranial unit, Saw and the rebels came to the conclusion that any attack on the compound would be futile; the droids were too numerous. Bonteri, however, saw an opportunity and added that if they had enough firepower it could be done—a Separatist Assault Tank needed to be hijacked.
In order to secure the tank, the resistance concocted a ruse: on a nearby street, rebel Dono detoneated a EMP-loaded airspeeder in the path of droid Patrol 118, beginning the attack. Saw, utilizing droid poppers and a DC-15A blaster, took down the entire patrol, with the exception of the commander droid. The rebels let the commander call for reinforcements, hoping that the Separatists would deliver aid in the form of an Assault Tank. First, however, a pair of droidekas were sent in. Outmatched from the front, Saw and Bonteri navigated behind the droidekas in a flanking maneuver.
True to his training, Saw rolled his EMP grenade into the droideka’s bubble shield and successfully disabled it, but Bonteri’s went too fast, and alerted the other droideka that there was danger behind. The droid turned and fired at its adversaries, but Saw acted quickly, shoving Bonteri to safety. Saw dove behind the disabled droideka, but was pinned down, so Steela leapt into action and deposited a droid popper gently into the droideka’s shield bubble; disabling it. Just then, the desired Assault Tank rumbled onto the street and fired on the rebels. Saw and Bonteri rapidly closed the distance between them and the tank, taking down its B2 super battle droid escorts on the way, and disabled the repulsor craft using the duel droid popper strategy, just as they were trained. Saw then boarded the tank and attempted to get it running again, but to no avail. Steela, however, having a self-described “woman’s touch,” and being the better pilot of the two of them, managed to start it up once more.
Saw piloted the tank to the entrance to the generator compound and blew in the compound’s two metal gateways. Steela sniped the droid guards while Saw waited for the tank’s laser cannon to recharge. Bonteri and Steela fought off several BX-series droid commandos before Saw was able to target the generator itself, and when he fired on it, the ensuing explosion plunged the entire city into darkness. Saw donned night vision goggles in order to see, and was pleased to see that the freedom fighters were being cheered on by the Iziz citizens. Saw, Steela, Tano, and Bonteri returned to the safe house and celebrated, raising drinks for Onderon. Skywalker, Kenobi, and Rex appeared via the HoloNet and a holoprojector and congratulated the resistance troopers. Kenobi added, however, that the time had come for the movement to elect an official leader. Confident that he would be elected by popular vote, Saw was disheartened when instead Steela was chosen by the Onderonian soldiers. Angry but not irrational, Saw stormed off.
As leader, Steela sent out a broadcast to the people, speaking out against Rash and the separatist occupation forces. When news came that Rash planned on executing Dendup, Steela knew they did not have the resources to rescue him right away. She planned on rescuing him during his execution, but then Saw was captured by General Kalani’s guards. During the execution, Steela and the others were able to stop the execution, but were then surrounded by battle droids. However, Saw was able to convince Royal Militia General Tandin and his men to help them escape and free Onderon. Steela, the resistance, and the Royal Militia then fled to the Highlands.
Steela, Ahsoka and Lux arrive just in time to save the king from the droids. On the nearby battle field, Saw shoots down the last of the enemy gunships, but the damaged unit careens, out of control, right into the rebel camp. Steela is trapped on a collapsing rock on the edge of a cliffside, broken loose by the droid’s impact, and while trying to jump to safety, she is caught hanging from the cliff. Lux rushes to save her, but nearly falls off himself. Ahsoka uses the Force to float him to safety, but as she tries to do the same for Steela, the not yet fully disabled gunship wounds her with a laser blast, causing Ahsoka to inadvertently drop Steela to her death. Saw was left to mourn his sister—feeling responsible for her death.
Following the Republic’s transformation into the Galactic Empire, Gerrera fought against the Imperial Military, organizing a group that became known as the Partisans. During this time, he hired a Lasat mercenary and fought an Imperial platoon under ISB Agent Kallus when they were sent to Onderon to bring peace.
In 2 BBY, Saw led a investigate mission to the planet Geonosis. His Partisan group become one of the many cells that would form the Rebel Alliance. Saw was later involved in the Rebel mission to steal the plans to the Imperial superweapon known as the Death Star, by which time his more-extreme tactics had come to stand in stark contrast with those of Alliance leaders Bail Organa and Mon Mothma. Later, Saw brought Galen Erso, Lyra Erso, and Jyn Erso to the uninhabited planet of Lah’mu. When Orson Krennic took Jyn’s parents away from her, Saw found her and raised her until she was a young adult. He then created a rebel group on Jedha, where he met Jyn again. When Jedha City was destroyed by the Death Star, Saw told Jyn he was done running and stayed on Jedha, and was believed to be killed by the aftermath of the blast.
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