Saluting the female characters of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Let's appreciate the fascinating women that Fallen Order added to the Star Wars galaxy
This article contains spoilers for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
When Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was first announced, it seemed, at first glance, to be one of the less progressive entries in the post-Disney-takeover era of Star Wars. One white dude with a lightsaber facing off against the Empire is the stuff of Star Wars cliche by this point, and the new movies have mainly managed to avoid that trope and make fresher, more inclusive choices.
However, when you actually play through the game (all the way to its brilliant ending), it’s not difficult to spot a triumvirate of female characters that provide some of the most engaging storylines in the entire experience. Moreso perhaps that Cameron Monaghan’s Cal Kestis, who is arguably more of a cipher than a fascinating figure in his own right, these supporting characters bright intrigue, emotion and interesting backstories into the Fallen Order.
So, while we wait for a Fallen Order sequel (or any other new Star Wars game) to be announced, let’s take a minute to appreciate just how excellent the women within Fallen Order were…
Cere and her massive regrets
Initially introduced as a generic-seeming mentor figure, Cere Junda grows into a very interesting character. With strong writing from the team at Respawn and a multifaceted performance from Debra Wilson bringing Cere to life, it was easy as a player to get drawn into the mysteries of her backstory.
Although she went to great lengths to pick up Cal in the game’s opening level, we soon learn that Cere – despite being trained in the ways of the Force – has given up on being a Jedi. She wants Cal’s help to track down a Jedi Holocron that could help rebuild the Order, but she doesn’t want to rejoin the Jedi or use her own powers unless it is totally necessary.
Over the course of the game, we learn the reasons for Cere’s caginess about her past and her uneasy relationship with the Force. As it turns out, when the Jedi Order fell, Cere left her Padawan unattended, which led to the young Jedi being captured by the Empire and tortured into becoming a villain. Cere herself was tortured, too, and felt herself being tempted by the dark side. And all that mental scarring is still there.
Towards the end of the game, we see the source of Cere’s shame play out in flashback form, and we also see Cere revisiting the scene of her torture, coming face to face with her fallen Padawan, slashing through Stormtroopers and using the Force to try and crush Darth Vader to death. For a supporting character that mainly waits in the ship during the bulk of the game, this is a surprisingly weighty story arc that packs in plenty of emotion. It’s a great performance, too.
Merrin and the ghosts of her past
One of the first planets you’re able to visit in Fallen Order is Dathomir, which is home to another really memorable character. Merrin, played by Tina Ivlev, appears to be the only surviving member of the Nighsisters, a group of Force-sensitive women that were mostly wiped out by General Grievous during the Clone Wars.
This past trauma has caused Merrin to be very wary of lightsaber-wielding outsiders coming to Dathomir. One such interloper, a fallen Jedi named Taron Malicos, has already forced his way into Dathomir’s culture when Cal and the Mantis crew arrive on the planet. While you’re exploring the area in search of an important tomb, Merrin appears as a villainous presence, reanimating the corpses of her sisters to try and wipe you out (or at least scare you off). Her powers are more magical than that of a traditional Jedi, and her zombie-like army is a unique threat in the game, which makes Merrin a standout foe in the campaign.
And the fun doesn’t stop there, because Merrin also has a character arc that forces her to confront her past and forge new connections. She eventually decides to help Cal take out Malicos, and is inspired by Cal’s heroism to leave Dathomir for the first time. Merrin leaves her sisters to lie, unburdening herself of the emotional baggage of survivor’s guilt, and she joins Cal on his mission to find the Jedi Holocron.
All of a sudden, Merrin switches from foe to friend and becomes a very likeable character. She has a wry sense of humour, and a tendency to teleport around rather than walking anywhere or helping Cal out. She also gets a heroic moment in the game’s final battle (diving into the water to help the gang escape Vader) and she gives Cal an unexpected hug afterwards, proving that there are positive emotions hiding under Merrin’s tough exterior. She’s certainly a character we’d love to see in action again.
Trilla and her dark side woes
And finally, we’ve got to talk about Trilla Suduri. Played with smarmy charm by Elizabeth Grullon, Trilla is initially introduced as the primary villainous threat in the game. A member of Darth Vader’s Inquisitorius, she wields a red lightsaber, wears a black mask and carries the sinister title of Second Sister. She is dispatched to Bracca during the opening level, and instantly appears to be a genuinely challenging foe – she kills an innocent scrapper to draw Cal out, and the player’s first battle against the Second Sister is literally unwinnable. She’s also very strong in Force, to the extent that she can manipulate the controls of a ship from the outside.
Like all of the characters we’ve mentioned in this article, though, there is more to the Second Sister than surface-level coolness. During her rematch with Cal on Zeffo, the Second Sister takes off her mask and reveals her true identity as Trilla, the Padawan that Cere abandoned who ended up being tortured by the Empire and turned to the dark side. Trilla still carries so much hate for Cere, and she continues to outmatch Cal in combat. (She also taunts him with snarky audio interactions during one memorable segment.)
And just like that, the Second Sister goes from being a bad-ass baddie to a sympathetic character with a sorry backstory. But it is still the player’s job to stop Trilla from handing a list of Force-sensitive kids over to the Empire, which makes the overarching plot of the game much more engaging. The depth of Trilla’s characterisation adds extra layers of emotion to her final battle with Cal, and the game even gives us false hope that Trilla can be turned back into a goodie. However, just when she seems ready to return to the light and make peace with Cere, Trilla is brutally murdered by Vader. She manages to shout “avenge us!” before tragically carking it. That bit hit us right in the feels.
Cal Kestis himself may seem like a fairly traditional hero, then, but Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order manages to tell numerous interesting and intertwining stories through its trinity of female characters. All of them are haunted by their history and tempted by the darkness, and all three of them are powerful in the most literal sense of the word. You’ve got applaud Respawn for making this happen, and hats off to all of the actresses for putting in fine work. Now, where do we sign up for a DLC or a sequel that lets us play as these fierce and female Force-users?