Cal Kestis is one of the best original characters to come out of the Disney era of Star Wars. He’s the Jedi protagonist of two highly acclaimed video games—Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor—he wears a sweet poncho, and he has an absolutely adorable little droid companion by the name of BD-1. For all those reasons and more, Kestis seems like a no-brainer addition to the Disney+ family of live-action Star Wars shows, except that would be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad decision on Lucasfilm’s part.
We’re not going to lie; Cameron Monaghan showing up as Cal Kestis would make a fun addition to a show like Ahsoka. Having the Jedi survivor jump out and reveal himself during a dramatic moment when Ahsoka and Sabine are in a tight jam with no one to save them would—as they say in the wrestling business—get a lot of heat from the audience.
Having Cal Kestis show up in live-action just so fans can have a 30-second serotonin high while screaming, “I know that guy!” from their couch is insulting to Kestis and the audience.
But it would also be—to steal another wrestling term—a cheap pop. It’s the Star Wars equivalent of a standup comedian mentioning the name of the city they’re performing in to get some easy applause.
Star Wars has been engaging in a lot of “cheap pops” in the Disney era. Luke Skywalker showing up in The Book of Boba Fett, Boba Fett joining The Mandalorian, and even Darth Vader’s appearance in Obi-Wan Kenobi, they’re all the television equivalent of the Leonardo DiCaprio-pointing-at-the-TV-in recognition-meme.
Having Cal Kestis show up in live-action just so fans can have a 30-second serotonin high while screaming, “I know that guy!” from their couch is insulting to Kestis and the audience itself.
Could it be a coincidence that Andor is the one Star Wars series not to use cheap cameos to stir up fan interest and is the best-reviewed live-action Star Wars series so far? Sure, anything is possible…but it’s highly unlikely.
To be blunt, the more Jedi that survived Order 66, the more Darth Vader looks like a chump, and the more it weakens the original trilogy.
Cheap pops aside, the current time period that most of the Disney+ shows exist in—less than a decade after the events of Return of the Jedi—doesn’t need any more Jedi. Even Andor and Kenobi, which are set after Revenge of the Sith but before A New Hope, don’t need more Jedi. To be blunt, the more Jedi that survived Order 66, the more Darth Vader looks like a chump, and the more it weakens the original trilogy.
Yoda and Obi-Wan considering Luke their only hope doesn’t make much sense when you have tons of other force-users out there just galavanting around the universe. At the rate they are going, Lucasfilm will have to release a new version of The Empire Strikes Back where Obi-Wan now tells Yoda, “That boy was our only hope…except for Anakin’s old apprentice Ahsoka Tano, oh and Kanan Jarrus, plus this kid Ezra Bridger, a few inquisitors are still around, lets see…oh and that guy Cal Kestis!”
Yes, we know that there are canon reasons for most of those characters not helping out during the original trilogy, but that’s part of the problem. Put Cal Kestis in something like Ahsoka, and now you have to come up with some convoluted reason that he wasn’t around when the Rebellion really needed him.
Another reason not to bring Cal Kestis into live-action is because it makes the Star Wars galaxy look really small. When everyone important knows each other, it can make what’s supposed to be a sprawling universe filled with millions of inhabitable planets seem very claustrophobic. Keeping Cal in his own separate story is far more interesting than just adding him to the evergrowing cast of live-action characters who all keep bumping into each other.
Put Cal Kestis in something like Ahsoka, and now you have to come up with some convoluted reason that he wasn’t around when the Rebellion really needed him.
While Cal Kestis falls under Disney’s proclamation that all their Star Wars projects are canon—from comics to books to video games—keeping him in his own video games away from the live-action Star Wars universe makes it easier to pretend that his adventures are their own thing separate from what’s going on with everybody else—it’s a big galaxy after all.
Disney will most likely end up taking the cheap fan service route and eventually fold Cal Kestis into the ongoing Dave Filoniverse, and yes, we’ll all cheer and point at our TV screens—but most of us will feel a little dirty afterward. Hopefully, we’ll get at least one more solo video game featuring Cal and BD-1 before then.