Survivor Pulled Off The Greatest Betrayal Of 2023

Betrayal has always been a core theme of Star Wars. Anakin Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader to Emperor Palpatine, Ben Solo to Snoke – the list goes on.


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And yet, despite being as important to the series as the message of hope and the struggle between light and dark, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor managed to gut-punch players with one of the most memorable betrayals of 2023, one that fans are still reeling from more than half a year later.

Warning: Spoilers for Star Wars Jedi: SurvivorTowards the end of Jedi: Survivor, Cal Kestis and his new best pal Bode Akuna take down Dagan Gera and find the map to Tanalorr. What should be a moment of celebration turns sour the next morning as Bode guns down Edo Cordova and races away with the compass to Tanalorr, sealing his fate as Survivor’s true villain and ultimately tempting Cal towards the Dark Side for the first time.

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Considering Dagan Gera was set up as the main villain of Jedi: Survivor, Bode’s sudden betrayal comes as a big shock, but it’s something the team at Respawn was subtly building up to as early as the first time Cal meets him, and a core foundation of Jedi: Survivor’s story and themes from the game’s inception.

Bode with Cal and Bravo on Coruscant In Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

“Bode was always part of the story,” lead writer Danny Homan tells me. “When we were talking through Survivor, we viewed Bode as Cal’s central conflict and a continuation of some of the themes from Fallen Order where Cal is trying to understand the legacy of the Jedi and how to continue it”.

“We always wanted to show a logical extreme of Cal’s actions, a potential endpoint for Cal’s actions,” senior writer Pete Stewart adds. “Bode was always that on a foundational level. What if Cal made some really horrible choices to preserve what he wanted to preserve, like Merrin?”

As a Jedi on the run, Cal has seen more than his fair share of turncoats and dishonest scoundrels throughout his adventures (Taron Malicos from Fallen Order instantly comes to mind), but Bode’s treachery is the first to feel personal, something that the team attributes to Noshir Dalal’s portrayal of the character and how he managed to bring the tortured father to life.

Bode betraying Cal in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

“Noshir did an incredible job highlighting those moments where his decisions break,” cinematic director Dori Arazi says. “Where he really hopes that Cal and the crew can have a life together on Tanalorr as this newly built family. But he finds that an impossibility”.

Although the narrative team describes the process of writing Bode’s story as “grey-hair-inducing” and admits that they “lost years” putting together the betrayal, they still had confidence in the moment and its impact on the story, mostly because they knew there was an even bigger surprise up their sleeves.

“They’ll never see the Jedi thing coming. There’s no hints, there’s no notice of that. It made me feel a little safer.”

Cal being betrayed by the closest friend he’s made since BD-1 is already enough of a shock, but the real surprise comes after he chases down Bode. The new villain reluctantly reveals that he’s not just a spy for the Imperial Security Bureau – he’s also a fallen Jedi like Cal, bringing the subtext of Bode being a “dark mirror” for our hero even closer to the surface.

Bode wielding a Lightsaber against Cal in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

“Knowing that we had that double betrayal, you’re very paranoid. I was the primary writer on the Lucrehulk level where you spend the whole time with Bode, and the goal is to make people love him. Don’t make people feel suspicious of Bode. And it’s hard. He is incredibly earnest, not out-and-out lying to Cal, but he is also trying to convince Cal of his point of view while also being genuine in his affections. So that’s hard, but knowing at least that when we get to the actual betrayal – they’ll never see the Jedi thing coming. There’s no hints, there’s no notice of that. It made me feel a little safer.”

Although it’s easy for some players to dismiss Bode and Cal’s relationship throughout Survivor as just being a front for the former Jedi to get what he wants, the devastating part is that his affection towards Cal and the Mantis crew was genuine, and not “smoke and mirrors”.

“In one of the Force echoes you can find where he calls Vader, he does for the briefest glimmer think ‘maybe I shouldn’t do this’,” Stewart points out. “When we see him on Nova Garon and Cal meets Kata and he says, ‘This is my best friend’, that’s legit. It also shows how warped he’s become because he holds these thoughts in his head and thinks ‘you are my best friend’ but also that he’s justified in what he’s doing.”

Bode’s betrayal is even echoed by his lightsaber stance, which Arazi points out is a subversive position, noting that “how he fights is how he lives”. It’s not inspired by Starkiller from The Force Unleashed, though.

Following their confrontation on Jedha, Cal is slowly twisted by the Dark Side after the death of his master, going on a revenge journey that leads him to Tanalorr to confront Bode. Despite everything that the rogue Jedi has done, Cal and Merrin still try to talk him into surrendering and living peacefully with them. Sadly, a redemption arc was never on the cards for the character.

“He’s too far gone at this point, there’s blood on his hands,” Homan says. “Even if he could justify those actions, they still have a cost. As Cal and Merrin go to confront Bode, it’s not that they necessarily think that Bode can be saved, it’s because they have to try for Kata, the innocent. Someone who deserves a future. You don’t get to choose your family. They’re trying not to repeat mistakes of the past.”

Ironically, Bode’s refusal to back down from creating a safe space for his daughter is what ends up fully turning him to the Dark Side, leading him to Force Push her away. This, combined with Bode’s several attempts on Cal’s life even after he’s downed, is what leads Cal to killing him with two brutal shots from his blaster.

Cal and Bode aiming their blasters at one another in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

This betrayal isn’t just felt by the shocked player, nor does it set up a new challenge for the story. On a character level, Cal is deeply affected by it, and this reflects in his gameplay and narrative from there on out. Not only does Cal dip into the Dark Side for the first time on the Nova Garon base, but he also has to be one to put Bode down personally.

“Cal is always hopeful, he always wants to give someone another chance, and this is really the first time that we see him proverbially pull the trigger on something that he can’t take back,” Arazi says. “Bode fired first. He lifted the gun up and Cal did not have a choice. That torment that Cal portrays after that gunfire, he shoots him once and there’s a dying Bode there and he doesn’t want to kill him and we bled that moment out. We really wanted to torture Cal. It’s a scar. It’s a deep scar.”

It speaks to how well Bode is written that, despite his betrayal stinging like a DL-44 shot to the heart, the Jedi: Survivor community still loves his character and wants to see more of him. Fans have been calling for Bode spin-offs and prequels and, while that might just be wishful thinking, the team at Respawn is aware of and grateful for the positive reception.

Cal and Merrin fighting Bode in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

“Bode means a lot to me personally,” Stewart says. “For me, he’s like the main character of Survivor. It’s very heartening that people share the same feeling that we have about Bode. We’ve made him do horrible things, definitely, but we hope that we’ve explained that he’s broken for a reason. He’s a victim of the galaxy.”

“We really wanted to torture Cal. It’s a scar. It’s a deep scar.”

Even if Bode doesn’t show up in the future, the effect that his friendship and betrayal had on Cal will undeniably shape his journey, something we’ve already seen as he adopts Kata. While Jedi: Survivor is a much darker story than Fallen Order, there’s still some light left in our favourite ginger Jedi.

“Cal is stubbornly hopeful,” Homan says. “Despite his past and everything he’s seen, there’s that kernel of hope that is maintained, but it’s like a flame that’s died down and we don’t know what will extinguish it or how it will stay lit. We’re always trying to create situations in which we really don’t know where Cal is going to go from here and if he’ll maintain hope.”

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