Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens later this week and I’m excited. And when I’m excited, sometimes I think too much. Which is what happened this morning. I had a thought that about something that could happen in Rogue One that would be simultaneously very, very interesting, and also ruin Episodes IV-VI for all time. And I’m not talking here about how someone remakes Herbie the Love Bug and you claim that it ruined your childhood. This thing could actually ruin the original trilogy.
Now, before I go deeper into my own madness here let me stipulate that the internet is a big place, filled with weirdos, so I’m probably not the first person to have thought of this, but I did not google what I’m about to present here, even after I had this thought, because I wanted to play the string out in my own head first. It was just more fun for me that way.
Now, on to the thing they could do in Rogue One that would be interesting, but also ruin all of Star Wars.
‘Member in Star Wars when Darth Vader had that argument in the board room where he told Admiral Motti, “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force” and then tried to force choke him? ‘member.
Yeah, I ‘member.
The ruination stems from this scene.
In its original context this scene sets up the conflict between religion and technology, faith and science. It shows that Vader not only has magical powers, but that he answers to a higher authority – voiced here by Grand Moff Tarkin.
What it also does is tell us that Darth Vader thinks the Death Star is stupid. He likely questions the expense, in both imperial credits, manpower, and presumably an incredible loss of life (though admittedly this last part is probably of less concern to him). Vader likes technology. He used to be a pod racer. He created a sentient droid capable of lying about his own ability to tell stories and then whether he’s a god or not, as well as suffer severe bouts of anxiety. He was a pilot during the Clone Wars. And is being kept alive by technology. So, to claim that Vader has both an external and existential conflict between faith and technology isn’t much of a stretch.
Knowing that Vader is still fighting with himself and with the other higher ups in Empire about the Death Star after it was completed and fully staffed, why wouldn’t we assume he’d been fighting this same fight through the planning and building stages of the Death Star?
And if he was still mad enough about it to force choke poor old Admiral Motti, couldn’t he have been mad enough to want to sabotage the entire endeavor?
Isn’t it possible that Vader gave the rebels the plans to the Death Star?
And if that’s what happens in Rogue One, it will pretty much ruin Star Wars. It would mean that Leia was never really in danger and she was never really rescued, though it would explain the ease of their escape.
It would also explain why Vader decided to get into his own TIE Fighter and dogfight with the rebels, getting him off the base before it exploded, killing a bunch of dudes he didn’t like anyway.
It would also give more weight to his dying words, “You already… have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister… you were right.”
It might make it slightly more tragic that Vader sacrificed himself before his children ever knew the role he’d played in bringing down the Empire.
But, it would destroy the hero’s journey that Luke went on. All that stuff you read about how Star Wars is a mythic quest of good vs. evil, light vs. dark, and the connection between Star Wars and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces would be completely undercut by this piece of information. Go read this. It’s easier than me retyping it.
Also, how strong is the Dark Side if Vader spent his entire existence as Darth Vader trying to undo the damage he did in his turn to the dark side?
It would make all the other evil things Vader did, like all of the people he killed or allowed to be killed both in the Empire and as part of the Rebellion less clear-cut evil and more unnecessary murder done in pursuit of his own aims which were what? Exactly?
When did he know about Luke? Was Leia really a surprise to him in Jedi? Was he trying to help the rebellion and protect his children, or was he just a really terrible coworker who wanted to be right more than anything else, so much so that he’d allow hundreds of thousands of people to be murdered just to prove a point?
And if he’d spent all that time trying to convince the Emperor not to build the Death Star, only to be ignored – which lead him to have it destroyed – and then the Emperor decided to build another one over – what we can only assume were – equally strong objections, doesn’t this call into question his entire relationship with the Emperor?
Could anyone in the Empire really have had any respect for Vader if they knew the Emperor put this little stock in his opinion? And did Vader kill the Emperor to save Luke or because he was tired of being ignored? Was Vader just Milton Waddams and Death Star just his red stapler?
And what about the second Death Star? Did he provide that intel too? And were all those Bothans that died to provide the intel on the second Death Star just murdered to cover Vader’s tracks.
It’s not a boring idea, but it does kind of ruin everything, the symbolism, the motives, the logic, the import of people’s sacrifices, everything.
So, Rogue One, do me a favor and don’t do this, K?