Presenting OTP Tuesday! Every Tuesday I will introduce you to a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple you need to agonize/squee over next. In honor of The Last Jedi coming out this month, all December OTPs will be from my original fandom: Star Wars. This week is the ship I never meant to ship: RebelCaptain!
Who Are RebelCaptain?
RebelCaptain refers to our daring leaders from the ever fantastic first Star Wars anthology movie, Rogue One. The Rebel part is Jyn Erso, and Captain is her partner the Rebel Intelligence Captain Cassian Andor.
What can I say about Jyn Erso? She’s flawless, an icon, the heroine all heroines should aspire to be. We first meet Jyn as a young child, living with her parents on the planet Lah’mu. Jyn’s father Galen was a prominent scientist for the Empire, but having discovered that his work is developing superweapons, Galen takes his family into hiding.
Of course, the Ersos are found by Orson Krennic, the worst person ever. Jyn’s traumatic story begins with her mother being gunned down by Krennic and her father being taken back to the Empire. Jyn is rescued by Saw Gerrera, a violent anti-Imperialist. Gerrera led the Partisans, a group of rebels. Jyn becomes a valued Partisan after her rescue but is abandoned when the rebels begin to realize her true identity, putting her in danger.
After losing all parental figures, Jyn gets into trouble. We next meet her in an Imperial prison camp, where Rebels unexpectedly rescue her. The Rebel Alliance recruits Jyn to set up a meeting with Gerrera, who has a message from Galen. Jyn does not want to get involved, having lingering resentment toward Gerrera, but agrees in the end.
It’s only fitting that Jyn’s counterpart should have as tragic a backstory as Jyn herself. Cassian Andor is a part of the Rebel Alliance. We learn during the movie that he has been fighting since he was six years old. As a child soldier, Cassian is recruited into Intelligence. He’s very good at what he does, but we later learn that it has taken a toll on him.
It takes a toll because Cassian is frequently in situations that are morally very murky. Our first introduction to Cassian sees him meeting a contact to gain valuable information… only to then murder his contact when the guy spooks. Cassian does what needs to be done, but you can see how it wears on him.
Later, Cassian gives a moving speech in support of Jyn on the basis that he cannot give up. The Rebellion has been his entire life, yes. But more than that, he has done terrible things in the name of the Rebellion. If they give up now, everything he has done has been for nothing. It’s an incredibly touching scene, to realize that these are soldiers in a long and dark war, but they still have hope.
Jyn and Cassian are forced to work together, first to find Saw Gerrera, then to storm Scarif to find the Death Star plans. From the start, their interactions are charged. Jyn is jaded and closed-off, much like Cassian, but the two of them find something to respect in each other. A fantastic moment occurs when Jyn absolutely destroys some stormtroopers in hand-to-hand, leaving Cassian in awe.
Our two heroes (or anti-heroes) have a climactic fight when it is revealed that Cassian was assigned to assassinate Galen Erso. Although he didn’t fire, Cassian went out with his rifle. Jyn blames him for her father’s death at Rebel hands. Cassian is harsh in return, claiming that Jyn may have the luxury of apathy, but he doesn’t.
Later, Cassian comes through for Jyn like no one else ever has. Jyn tries to get the Rebels to go to Scarif to find the plans. If they get the plans, they can destroy the Death Star. Unfortunately, the Rebel Council decides against action, choosing fear instead. Cassian recruits other spies, saboteurs, and assassins to help. He tells Jyn that he believes her and that he has her back.
Unfortunately, Jyn and Cassian both die on Scarif. However, their death is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen on screen. They succeed in their mission, Cassian coming back to rescue Jyn one last time when Krennic tries to kill her. They stumble down to the beach, beaten down and prepared to die. With the Death Star approaching, they hold each other, watching the blast come towards them, secure in the knowledge they did all they could.
Why is RebelCaptain OTP?
To be honest, the first time I saw Rogue One I loved the fact that there was not an overt romantic subplot. I was happy that Jyn and Cassian don’t kiss at the end. It was nice to see a story where the male and female leads don’t have to get together. Rogue One is more about family than anything else, and these two formed a lovely unit, even if not romantically.
Now, of course, I’m all in RebelCaptain. I still think the movie is wonderful, and I don’t think there needed to be a romantic gesture at the end. However, the connection between Jyn and Cassian is one of the things that makes the movie so compelling.
“Rebellions Are Built On Hope”
RebelCaptain is beautiful because we have these two damaged, dark, broken people. Both Jyn and Cassian have been through the wringer. They have suffered, and they have lost. Together the two of them find something beautiful: hope.
It is because of Cassian’s faith in the Rebellion that Jyn can move past her bitterness. She starts off as an apathetic character, but quickly becomes heroic and inspiring, all because of Cassian. The pivotal moment occurs when Jyn gives the speech to the Rebel Council. She quotes Cassian — “Rebellions are built on hope!” — and you see how much of an effect this war-torn soldier has had on her.
Even more than that, however, RebelCaptain gives the galaxy hope. By working together, they can strike the first blow towards destroying the Empire. They saw a galaxy filled with death and destruction, with almost certain doom on the horizon, and refused to give up. At the end of Rogue One, when Leia receives the plans, you really feel how successful Jyn and Cassian were.
RebelCaptain isn’t just OTP because of their impact, however. Jyn and Cassian are heroes, and they did change the fate of the galaxy. But they are also individuals, people with real lives and backstories. They mesh together so well and really encapsulate the phrase “other half.”
Jyn is a lonely individual. She has been left behind by everyone she’s ever loved. Her mother died, her father went back to the Empire, and Saw Gerrera abandoned her. So she’s turned inward, relying only on herself. When Cassian comes to her with volunteers, she remarks that she’s “not used to people sticking around.” Cassian represents fidelity and dependability, something Jyn desperately needs.
Cassian, on the other hand, is so devoted to the cause that he’s given up on himself. He tries not to think about what he has done, the darkness in his soul, because he knows it’s worth it, in the end. But Jyn shows him that it’s okay to be individual. At first, Jyn seems to be Cassian’s antithesis: she devotes herself to no cause, has no allegiance. But Jyn comes through in the end because when she does believe, she does so wholeheartedly.
RebelCaptain is great because these two damaged people don’t need each other, but they become better together. When they work together, they accomplish amazing things. They also achieve the smaller but no less important thing of making each other feel valued.
What’s Next for RebelCaptain?
There is no next, sadly. Both Jyn and Cassian die at the end of Rogue One. The whole team dies, having succeeded in their mission but also breaking the hearts of everyone in the audience. While there is a chance we might see them again at some point, in flashbacks or something, it’s unlikely. RebelCaptain is a one-and-done situation.
Luckily for the die-hard RebelCaptain fan, there is always fanfiction! There are tons of great RebelCaptain stories online. Many authors take a “fix-it” approach, finding some way where Jyn and Cassian survive Scarif. If you’re looking for RebelCaptain hope, there’s no better place than the magical world of fanfiction.
Is RebelCaptain Canon?
RebelCaptain is another case where it isn’t not canon. Nothing in Rogue One contradicts Jyn and Cassian being together. However, nothing also explicitly confirms it. Like StormPilot, this is a case where there is overwhelming chemistry between two characters, but that’s as far as it goes.
At no point do Jyn and Cassian overtly display romance or romantic tendencies. All RebelCaptain fans can do is read (probably too much) into the interactions we see in Rogue One. To be fair, these interactions are definitely charged. There’s definitely something between Jyn and Cassian. But, alas, with no more of them in canon, we may never know.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop shipping it. A year after Rogue One, I’m still hopelessly in love with these two lovely characters, and hopelessly caught up in the idea — however far-fetched — of them finding some happiness together.