The first of the standalone Star Wars anthology films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is looking to flesh out the galaxy far, far away even more than the previous seven installments in the franchise. It features an assortment of new characters and planets for fans to learn about, and they’ve all been highlighted in the various marketing materials. One world that is of great interest is Jedha, a spiritual place that director Gareth Edwards has called the “Mecca” of the universe. The location has a strong connection to the Force, and is a place where believers in the hokey religion would pilgrimage.
Based on the trailers, it is evident that the Galactic Empire has occupied Jedha, exploiting the planet for its various resources during construction on the Death Star. Details about the locale have unsurprisingly been kept close to the chest, as Lucasfilm is not one to reveal too many spoilers during promotion. However, a recently released Star Wars book possesses several key bits of information regarding Jedha and its inhabitants, highlighting how they are connected to the main Rogue One narrative.
Per the Star Wars Galactic Atlas (hat tip Star Wars News Net), Jedha is in fact a small moon in the Inner Rim that is subject to cold temperatures due to a “lasting winter.” This would explain why Cassian Andor is wearing a heavy coat during his mission there. Jedha was home to the Temple of the Whills (which has been seen in trailers) and its earliest citizens were one of the first people to study the Force. Some believe that Jedha was where the Jedi built their first Temple. Following the rise of the Empire, the Imperials came to the moon to scourge for materials that were once used as “lightsaber component material.” This is most likely a reference to kyber crystals, which factor heavily into the novel Star Wars: Catalyst.
The Empire imposing its will on Jedha leads to the formation of a small resistance group spearheaded by Saw Gerrera. A veteran of the Clone Wars, Gerrera uses “brutal tactics” to take down his enemies and has a hidden base of operations in an area once used to store skeletal remains. Prior to the Battle of Yavin, Cassian and Jyn Erso arrive on the moon to recruit a member of Saw’s resistance team. Presumably, they are hoping Chirrut Îmwe and/or Baze Malbus join their cause. The atlas also mentions that the Alliance isn’t sure what to make of Gerrera, but Catalyst reveals an interesting connection between Saw and Jyn, so there’s a chance the latter vouched for the former.
Jedha’s ultimate fate is one of Rogue One‘s greatest unanswered questions. Some international trailers include a shot of the Death Star firing its turbo laser at the moon while our heroes remain on the surface. As most viewers know, the super weapon is capable of wiping out entire planets, so it remains to be seen if Jedha is completely destroyed or “merely” damaged after the strike. The Death Star was a project that took a great deal of time to complete, so it’s possible that the full extent of its capabilities were not realized until a later date. Alderaan was gone in the blink of an eye; perhaps that means Jedha’s fortunes were better.