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Why Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’s Cal Kestis needs his own Disney+ show

As Lucasfilm finally seems to be getting the ball rolling again for Star Wars on the theatrical front, the video game space has been showing the franchise’s continued narrative strength. The latest example is Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. The sequel to 2019’s successful Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order fleshes out the journey of Cal Kestis (voiced by Gotham and Shameless actor Cameron Monaghan), with his story feeling every bit as worthy of a live-action series.

Shows like Dave Filoni’s Ahsoka look promising given Rosario Dawson’s pitch-perfect performance in season 2 of The Mandalorian and Filoni’s passion for the franchise. Should Lucasfilm want more Jedi-centric storytelling on Disney+, the Star Wars Jedi games have rich characters (all hail Turgle!) and intriguing storylines that could be an ideal fit for the episodic format that made Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor so compelling.

Note: The following article contains mild spoilers for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

Familiar yet fresh

Cal sitting with the rest of the crew on the Mantis in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

There’s something to be said about Lucasfilm’s continued refusal to let the Skywalker Saga go, so creating another Star Wars project set within the Empire’s reign is far from a novel concept at this point. Andor is doing an excellent job of making this setting exciting again in its own right, effectively by becoming a sci-fi spy-thriller.

Both Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and now Survivor, still manage to balance ingenuity with familiarity. As gamers know by now, they are set well within the heat of the Dark Times and Great Jedi Purge, forcing these light-siders into exile, but the games do well to use that premise within a curated slice of the universe.

These are all well-known concepts and settings explored with characters like Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, but Cal’s corner of the galaxy still feels all his own. Fallen Order did make Cal feel like a bit of a blank canvas for two-thirds of its runtime, but he’s become so much more layered and intriguing in Survivor.

His supporting cast has been endearing throughout both games, and they’d also more than justify their existence on Disney+. The Stinger Mantis crew captures the essence of the Original Trilogy’s group dynamic without trying to outright copy it.

Seamless transition from animation to live-action

Cal Kestis wielding his blue lightsaber and carrying BD-1 in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

Though not a one-to-one comparison, Lucasfilm has already shown some willingness in bringing characters from animation to live-action. It’s happened with several characters from Filoni’s animated Star Wars sandboxes — The Clone Wars and Rebels — including the aforementioned Ahsoka Tano.

Theoretically, that could make the argument stronger for bringing Cal and his supporting cast over to Disney+, as the motion-capture technology recreates the likenesses of Monaghan and Debra Wilson (Cere Junda in both games) so closely. They’ll be familiar enough faces for longtime fans, while taking part in stories just isolated enough to avoid alienating the non-gaming Star Wars audience.

And since the interconnected “Mando-verse” within the franchise has no problems introducing established characters with years’ worth of lore already, a potential series could take place partway into their adventures together.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor conveniently takes place five years after the events of Fallen Order, leaving a visual gap of what caused the Mantis crew to temporarily go their separate ways. It was a bold narrative decision to make from one game to the next considering its last member, Merrin (voiced by Tina Ivlev),

doesn’t join the crew until the last stretch of the story.

Connective tissue for other Star Wars eras

Cal wielding his blue lightsaber and walking with BD-1 in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor key art.

Connected cinematic universes have certainly been popularized due to the lucrative MCU, but not everything needs references, cameos, and setup for other projects. The Book of Boba Fett was guilty of this, but there has to be some kind of middle ground between feeling completely sectioned off and having countless crossovers shoehorned in.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has depicted this balance to some extent in its story, as the early hours of the game and a villainous reveal (relax, we won’t spoil it) show direct ties to the High Republic era. And even though the High Republic hasn’t existed as a concept until the last few years when Lucasfilm launched the publishing campaign for it, its inclusion in this post-Revenge of the Sith, pre-A New Hope time frame doesn’t feel out of place. Rather, it feels like a seamless expansion of the Star Wars mythos.

This is an example of connective tissue within a sprawling fictional universe done right. With the worldbuilding possibilities Survivor has flexed throughout its plot, there’s no reason a hypothetical Disney+ show couldn’t do the same by digging further into the past — or tastefully planting seeds for the future.

Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is available now for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC, while Lucasfilm’s Ahsoka premieres this August on Disney+. For more articles about Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, check out Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the culmination of the series’ rocky gaming history and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’s ending explained.

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Guillermo Kurten
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