Rogue One & Catalyst: How They Complement Each Other

Well you may not have heard but a new Star Wars movie came out this weekend (I know right!?) but it just so happens that Rogue One wasn’t the only recent piece of Star Wars media that was released…

Rogue One’s prequel novel, entitled Catalyst was released last month and offers not only a wonderful story to lead fans into the story of Rogue One, but it also sets up some pretty interesting relationships and character developement that can make you appreciate some of the seemingly smaller things that happen in Rogue One that much more.

So let’s get into it, how exactly do Rogue One and Catalyst compliment each other!? *WARNING – Slight spoilers ahead*…

The Ersos

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Galen Erso, played in Rogue One by Mads Mikkelsen, is the protagonist of the prequel novel and the book focusses on his personal and professional life in the lead up to the formatoon of the Galactic Empire more than anything else. In the book, he and his wife Lyra, start to become suspicious of Galen’s old friend and Imperial Commander, Orson Krennic and what he is doing with the research Galen is conducting into kyber crystals on the planet Coruscant.

As we find out, Krennic is using Galen’s research to develop the iconic super-laser of the Death Star without the scientists knowledge. Reading Catalyst, we come to care for the Ersos and their small daughter, Jyn from the height of the Clone Wars period and into the beginnings of the reign of the Empire and Mads Mikkelsen’s performance in Rogue One perfectly captures the conflicted and tragic nature of the character of Galen from Catalyst. It also makes his (and Lyra’s) death in the film more impactful for those who have read the book.

Speaking of Lyra, in the film, she’s gone before we even have a chance to learn her name properly but for myself and others who have read Catalyst, that sudden killing at the command of former Erso family friend, Orson Krennic had so much impact. She is one of the standout characters in Catalyst and is the first to voice suspicions about the kyber crystal research Galen is conducting. We also find out that she is familar with the Force and is able to feel it, which makes her desire to keep kyber crystals pure (the way the Jedi used them) more significant.

As for Jyn, the protagonist of Rogue One of course, she is the reason Galen defies the Empire’s wishes. Both in the book; at the end when the Ersos escape to the planet we see them on at the beginning of Rogue One, and in the film itself when it is revealed Galen sent out instructions on how to destroy the Death Star when back being forced to work for the Empire.

Galen’s death scene, where he and Jyn finally reconnect after many years apart meant so much more after reading Catalyst as we know the story of these characters; we know how much Jyn means to Galen. Not to mention the significance of the name ‘Stardust.’ When it is revealed in Rogue One that Galen named the Death Star plans after the affectionate term he used for his daughter, the loving father of Galen Erso was made even clearer and the quote: “Remember…whatever I do, I do it for you” that appears both in Catalyst and Rogue One is already a clear indication of that.

The Ersos are vital characters in Star Wars history and having both the book and the film present this story of them to us in such an interesting and heartfelt way was just one of many, many reasons why the new Star Wars canon continues to impress.

Krennic’s Relationships

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As is mentioned above, Orson Krennic holds a very intriguing relationship with Galen Erso. On the surface, they are old friends. Krennic even lead a rescue party to the planet Vallt where the Ersos and month old Jyn were being held against their will by the Seperatists during the Clone Wars. In Catalyst, we are quickly aware that Krennic is a very manipulative individual; a man that will lie and decieve in order to further his own gain. We see this also in Rogue one during the scene when he visits Darth Vader claiming he should be in command of the Death Star over Tarkin.

His relationship with Galen is certainly the most interesting though. Old friends that become suspicious of each other through the events of Catalyst leading to a standout scene in Rogue One where Krennic confronts Galen and other imperial scientists on the planet Earo about a supposed message that one of them sent out. That message of course is Galen’s instructions on where to find the Death Star plans. Krennic’s intense search for the Ersos that appears to take place between the ending of Catalyst and the very first scene of Rogue One looks to have taken a couple of years and is a perfect way to realise that if Krennic wants something, he will not rest until he has it.

The intriguing nature of the character from Catalyst is again, perfectly captured by Ben Mendelsohn in Rogue One and the couple of scenes he has interacting with Galen, you can see a man that is beyond disappointed with his old friend and that will do what he has to in order to make things right in his eyes. What’s most intriguing however is that it Krennic did not order the kill on Galen on Earo when it most felt like he had reached his limit. This scene for me showed that Krennic still had the slightest faith in his old friend. Either that or he knew that the Empire would never have as good a scientist as Galen Erso on their team again. A sentiment that is also made clear in Catalyst. It can be read both ways but it undoubtedley shows the many sides of Orson Krennic. Ruthless imperial, disappointed friend or ambitious commander??

Sadly, we do not get any action with Darth Vader in Catalyst but in Rogue One…well…yeah. His first scene with Krennic was astounding and the fear on Krennic’s face, in his eyes and in his voice is very evident and we see on screen the man from Catalyst who is terrified of doing anythig wrong in front of those in a higher power to him. This is the major reason of another of Krennic’s most interesting relationships…

That with Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin…

Grand Moff Tarkin

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Tarkin has always been a personal favourite Star Wars character and is easily one of the most quotable for fans. He also plays a big part in Catalyst and a surprisingly and gloriously big part in Rogue One and it is his relationship with Krennic that makes for some of the best parts of both the book and the film. In Catalyst, Krennic and Tarkin are essentially trying to sabotage each others plans in order to further their own gain. Of course, we know who comes out the victor in the end. There is one particular character in Catalyst (who we’ll discuss shortly) who plays a key role in the games played between the two imperial officers.

Without spoiling too much of Catalyst, Tarkin and Krennic have some conversations that will make any Star Wars fan smile. Tarkin mentions the Emperor and how displeased he is with Krennic and his lack of progress in developing the laser for the Death Star and its not difficult to see Peter Cushing give a wry smile while reading that. It’s wonderfully clear that these two are battling for the same spot and again, it’s another example where a relationship from Catalyst is brought to its destructive end in Rogue One.

The scene in Rogue One where Krennic is shouting at Tarkin about how he was the one who created the Death Star; how he was the one who saw the Emperor’s dream come alive (also a sentiment instilled in Catalyst) was incredible to watch knowing the prior relationshio between them and this also made Krennic’s meeting with Vader more significant too. It showed that Vader’s clearly a bigger Tarkin fan than a Krennic fan and the relationship between the Grand Moff and the Sith Lord is another that is played upon in other Star Wars canon novels.

 Death Star Development

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Death Star Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL

Rogue One shows us the first Death Star very near completion but Catalyst shows us the beginnings of the construction of it above the planet Geonosis, where the first battle of the Clone Wars took place during Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. This construction is headed by the younger Krennic, then working for the Republic Corps of Engineers and the capture of Geonosian Archduke Poggle the Lesser by the Republic ensures the construction can take place above Geonosis with the aid of Geonosians themselves.

There is much fear in Catalyst from within the Republic that the Seperatists, lead by Count Dooku are creating their own battle station but as any fan of Star Wars knows, Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious/The Emperor is playing both sides perfectly. Catalyst is full of manipulation surrounding the construction of the Death Star from Poggle the Lesser and Krennic to the presence of Palpatine but this brings us back to Galen Erso, the man Krennic goes to to make the ‘Emperor’s’ dream a reality and gets us back into all the manipulation that goes on there.

The original Star Wars: A New Hope sees the absolute culmination of these construction events that begin towards to beginning of Catalyst but Rogue One shows just how far the former Republic developed the Death Star when they became the Empire. The strikes of the Death Star on the planets Jedha and Scarif show the development of the destructive power as well as the first instances of what Krennic and the Empire were really using Galen’s research for.

Again *ROGUE ONE SPOILERS*…

In one of the most ironic events in Star Wars history, Krennic gets destroyed by his own laser. The thing that for an entire novel and an entire film he has been so dedicated to creating ends up straight up killing him. This is a mirror of Tarkin’s overconfidence in A New Hope: “Surrender? In our moment of triumph. I think you over-estimate their chances!” as well as Vader himself being the one to kill the Emperor in Return of the Jedi.

So much good stuff.

Where Is Has Obitt??

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There’s a subtitle that will mean absolutely nothing to those who have not read Catalyst but the Dressellian smuggler, Has Obitt plays a huge role in the novel and is himself playing both Tarkin and Krennic by the end of it. He is used by Krennic in order to transport the Ersos to wherever Krennic wants them and is also used by Krennic to track the Ersos down after they escape Coruscant at the end of Catalyst.

Has is joined by fellow smuggler, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker in Rogue One) for a job in the Salient system but he ends up being captured by Tarkin’s imperial forces who are there battling for control of the system. Tarkin allows Has to live due to finding out about his relationship with Krennic and the Moff asks Has to spy on Krennic and report back to Tarkin.

Ultimatley, Has ends up not following through on either of his promises to either imperial officer and instead fakes reports to both of them and lives quietly due to his becoming fond of the Ersos during their trips together. We also get to see Has interract with his fellow smugglers and again, without spoiling a great deal of Catalyst, he is pretty influential which leads to his teaming up with Saw Gerrera.

We saw Saw Gerrera in Rogue One after he was the one who, on Has’ asking, helped the Ersos escape Coruscant after Has was stopped at a spaceport by Krennic who had suspicions he was going to help the Ersos escape. But seeing as Has is alive and well at the end of Catalyst, living a quiet life decieving two of the most senior members of the Empire and that we see Saw Gerrera, a character who is far less important to Catalyst than Has…where is he??

Not even a mention, let alone a scene?? Perhaps we are just to beleive that Has is living happy but it seems odd to me that such a likeable, interesting character from Catalyst would be left out of Rogue One entirely.

And there you have it…be sure to let me know if you have read Catalyst and your thoughts on it and how it compliments Rogue One and you can also check me out on Twitter and Instagram!

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