Folks picking up Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order this weekend may be surprised to find that it takes place well before the timeline of the current movie trilogy. As Cal Kestis, players will step into the Skywalker timeline dozens of years before Rey, Finn, or Poe even existed. To get up to speed — or to refresh you, if you’ve blocked the prequel films out of your mind entirely, as I have — we need to talk about The Purge, or The Great Jedi Purge (which also happens to be referenced in Disney Plus’ new series The Mandalorian).
That means we need to discuss the infamous “Order 66.”
During the era of the Galactic Republic, a Jedi Master you’ve likely never heard of organized the creation of the Grand Army of the Republic. It is this army — composed entirely of clones crafted by a slender gray alien species known as the Kaminoans — that gives the Clone Wars their name.
The Grand Army was tremendously successful in its purpose of prosecuting war against the Separatists. There was one major flaw, however. Turns out that the Dark Side-worshiping Sith spoiled the entire batch by implanting each of those clones with a mind control chip. Those chips made it impossible for individual soldiers to disobey the orders of Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, also known as the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. In the year 19 BBY (before the Battle of Yavin), Sidious issued Order 66 in secret to all Grand Army units under Republic command. That order made every living Jedi a traitor to the Republic, and the punishment for such treason was death.
Fallen Order takes place just five years after Order 66 was issued.
Those interested in reliving the lowest point in the history of the Jedi should check out Star Wars: Episode 3 — Revenge of the Sith. The brutal murders that follow order 66 form much of the climax of that film. By far its most most gruesome moment comes when a fledgling Lord Darth Vader strides into the Jedi Temple on Coruscant to murder everyone inside. That includes master Yoda’s own class of force-sensitive children, also known as younglings.
Oddly enough, you can find a few youngling helmets inside Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities at the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. They make an odd accessory to what are respectively the most magical and the happiest places on Earth.
The killing didn’t stop with Order 66, of course. The purge of the Jedi was a fairly arduous affair, and required a specialized group of Jedi hunters called Inquisitors. You can catch snippets of their work in the long-running Darth Vader comics from Marvel, various Star Wars cartoons, and now the latest game from Respawn.