Microcosms #4: An Earnest Defense of the Jedi Poncho

Microcosms is an essay series that deals with games and art in both the direct and the abstract in 500 words or less.

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Begin Holotape: I stand before the Jedi Council as the only one who sees the truth. Your robes are meaningless, they weigh you down and must be shed from the body before a duel. So I ask all of you—quiet now, Ki-Adi-Mundi, the time for responses has not yet arrived—to please embrace the poncho. Do not balk at it. It is a utilitarian marvel for all Jedi, just ask young Anakin, for he understands.

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Even Master Luke, none of you know him yet but one day you will, those of you who survive Order 66, I mean. What is it? Now is not the time for such questions, the matter of the poncho still stands. End Holotape.

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Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a bountiful Star Wars experience—its gameplay is as rich as its narrative, and in exploring the time just after the fall of The Republic it emerges as arguably the most interesting Star Wars story of the Disney era. Yet, it is held back by its lukewarm protagonist. Cal Kestis is to Jedi what Hershey’s Bars are to chocolate—bland, not very good, but they get the job done in a pinch. What makes Cal stand out is not who he is, but what he wears—a poncho. I’ve always loved the Jedi poncho because it, well, it is just cooler than a big dumbass, potato-sack robe. I can see Jedi wearing them to stave off the elements, and they can fight in them, as well. Uncumbersome in structure and leaving the arms free to wheel about with a lightsaber, the Jedi poncho just makes sense. And its use in Jedi: Fallen Order is a tribute to that—a visual element that almost no one agreed with.

The poncho holds a spot on the customization menu. Respawn’s commitment to it is weirdly strong. It is Cal’s only real customizable article of clothing, and new poncho skins are hidden in chests all around the various worlds that stage the game’s narrative. They all tell a story, their colors speak to the environments they can be found in, and changing them to fit the areas Cal visits helps to ground the player in a galaxy far, far away. Though one can only wish that they informed the game’s meager stealth elements a la Metal Gear Solid 3’s camo system (a boy can dream, okay). The guerilla camo poncho perfectly accents Cal’s time spent on the muddy, densely-forested Kashyyyk. I always equip him with it before I arrive on the Wookie homeworld.

Function can be fashion, and a poncho cannot be deemed ugly if Anakin Skywalker also wore it. That is just a fact. The way the poncho flaps in the wind as Cal crests a cliff-face one hand at a time is beautiful—the fabric is free and yet it still clings to him, it never lets go. Cal, too, may be free from having to truly hide his Jedi ways, but the threat of the Dark Side & The Empire will always cling to him; the teeth of evil will forever seek purchase there.

Written by

Cole is an Atlanta-based writer concerned with games, cinema, and media literacy. Support the Cole Writes Words Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/colewriteswords

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