*Spoiler Alert: This post contains extensive spoilers for the new film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and several other books and media from the Star Wars Canon.*
Rogue One was incredibly rewarding for the die-hard Star Wars fan. Dig in and get ready to examine Rogue One on a deeper level in the context of everything we know about the entire canon universe.
To get ready for Rogue One, I read, watched, and listened to the entire canon in chronological order preceding the story of Rogue One. I watched it twice within 12 hours of its premiere, and will watch it multiple times before it leaves the theater. I was confronted with numerous nuances, easter eggs, cameos, and sub-themes in Rogue One that connected it to the rest of the canon, resulting in a unique, incredibly rewarding Star Wars experience. In this post I will outline 16 of the most rewarding connections.
1. Hera Syndulla — Right after Jyn Erso’s speech in the Rebel HQ on Yavin IV, we hear the overhead com calling for General Syndulla to report, no doubt a reference to rebel leader Hera Syndulla. Hera Syndulla is the daughter of Cham Syndulla, who is the Twi’lek leader of the Free Ryloth Movement. We first encountered Cham in the tv series The Clone Wars as a young man fighting to free his home world. His daughter inherits his rebellious spirit, and we see her part in building the rebel alliance in the novel A New Dawn and then as the leader of a rebel cell in the tv series Rebels.
2. The Ghost — Multiple times during the space battle above the Scarif shield generator, we can see a Corellian VCX-100 freighter engaging the Imperial Fleet. This is the infamous ship from both A New Dawn and the tv series Rebels that Hera pilots with her rebel cell. One can only assume it is Hera in the cockpit.
3. Chopper — This cameo is so well hidden it took me three times watching the film to find it. When the Rebel Alliance intelligence operator gets wind of Jyn Erso’s rogue mission to Scarif, he runs to tell Mon Mothma that there were rebels on the ground in Scarif. It is right then, on the left part of the screen that you can see the droid Chopper moving left out of screen, and if you listen carefully you can hear one of his “beeps.” Chopper is the lovable droid from Rebels that Hera rescued from a downed starfighter on her homeworld of Ryloth, and he has been part of Hera’s cell ever since.
4. The Hammerhead Corvette — The Mon Calamari Admiral Raddus orders a Hammerhead Corvette on a kamikaze attack run to push the disabled Star Destroyer into the second destroyer and into the planetary shield generator. This is the same freighter that the rebel crew “steals” from Princess Leia in the tv series Rebels. We learn that Alderan has a pattern of getting its ships stolen by the rebel fleet during its relief mission. This David vs. Goliath element of the battle is pivotal to the operation to steal the death star plans.
5. The Tantiv IV — At the very end of Rogue One, we see the Tantiv IV peel away from the Mon Calamari cruiser with a mission to recruit Obi Wan Kenobi and deliver the Death Star plans back to Rebel command. I may be mistaken, but I didn’t see the ship in the docking area of the cruiser when it first arrives. We know this ship has been used in the past to carry out covert rebel actions while officially going about official senatorial consular operations. It would make sense that Leia flew in during the battle, making their claim to be on a diplomatic mission in Episode IV more plausible.
6. Gold Squadron — The backstory of how the rebel fleet obtained at least some if its Y-wings comes from the tv series Rebels. In a recent episode, Ezra gets tipped off by his questionable aly Hondo Onaka of an imperial installation stripping a destroying an old squadron of Y-wing fighters. He leads a mission to steal the remaining intact ships to add it to the Rebel Fleet’s arsenal.
7. A Lasat in Saw Gerrera’s Hideout? — I have yet to confirm this, but I believe there was an old Lasat sitting by the holo-projection of the dancing Twi’lek (throwback to Jabba’s palace). This could be significant, because in the tv series Rebels when Zeb and Agent Kallus work together to survive on the moon near Geonosis, we learn that Agent Kallus gained a hatred for the species when his unit on Onderon was attacked and killed (except for him) by a Lasat mercenary who was part of Saw Gerrera’s band of insurgents. Could this be a cameo by that same nameless Lasat? [Update, it isn’t a Lasat in the film, but I like to think he is there and just isn’t shown].
8. Fulcrum — This is speculative, but in the novel Ahsoka and the tv series Rebels, we learn of the pivotal role of “Fulcrum” in the rebel alliance. These are secret intelligence agents that work to provide vital information to the rebellion from the shadows. We learn that Cassian Andor was an intelligence agent (spy) for the rebellion, and have to wonder how his role is connected to the role of “fulcrum” in the early rebellion.
9. Defecting Pilots — In the tv series Rebels, we recently learned that Wedge Antilles joined the rebel squadron after he defected from the empire with the help of Sabine. It is plausible that because of previous defections, the stakes were even higher for Bodhi Rook, making his role in the operation even more inspiring.
10. Destruction of the Scarif base — I was a bit surprised at how eager Tarkin was to destroy the imperial installation on Scarif. From Tarkin and Catalyst we learned that the construction of the Death Star originated in orbit around Geonosis. And from Rebels we learned that the empire destroyed the entire population of Geonosis after its use in the Death Star’s construction waned. From Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide, we learn that the Death Star moved to Scarif to finish construction. Perhaps it was in the plans all along to destroy any of the witnesses to its construction on Scarif. Either way, there certainly is a precedent of the Empire destroying its own installations to prevent their misuse by the rebellion, as seen in Rebels when Ezra momentarily takes control of the imperial long range transmission station.
11. Vader’s Castle on Mustafar — We get a glimpse of one of Vader’s personal residences when Krennic visits Vader in Rogue One. The significance of Mustafar is emphasized in Rebels when the grand inquisitor captures Kanan Jarrus and takes him to Mustafar because that’s where “Jedi go to Die.” This is reemphasized in the novel Aftermath, where Wedge mentions that Vader took captured Jedi who somehow evaded order 66 to be interrogated and killed at Mustafar. Mustafar makes a lot of sense to be Vader’s HQ. In the novel Lords of the Sith, we get a window of how pain and hate fuel Vader’s power. Nothing like living at the place where you killed your wife and unborn kids (at least he thinks he did), killed dozens of unarmed political leaders, and confronted your best friend and old Jedi Master only to be defeated, burned alive and left for dead. Plenty of pain and hate to go around.
12. Non-jedi Force Wielders — Chirrut Îmwe accomplished some pretty impressive things as a simple blind man with a staff. Sure, his attuned remaining 4 senses and extensive training in martial arts could explain some of his moves, but a blind man shooting down a moving TIE fighter with a bow rifle at the precise moment so it also collides with an anti-air battery? Dodging fire multiple times on the beach on Scarif? Sensing that Cassian Andor is intending to assassinate Galen Erso? He is obviously heavily guided by the force. This is the first overt character we’ve seen in the films that uses the force without being a jedi. But there are multiple examples of this in the canon, including the force wielders of Mortis (Clone Wars), the force priestesses that teach Yoda (Clone Wars), The Nightsisters of Dathomir (Clone Wars, Dark Disciple, Rebels), Bendu (Rebels) and even to some extent Lyra Erso (Catalyst) to name a few.
13. Saw Gerrera — Saw is the first character in Star Wars who originated as an animated character before being introduced in live-action. In the Clone Wars TV series, Saw leads a group of insurgents on his home planet of Onderon to fight against separatist occupation. Although he receives help from the Jedi, they aren’t allowed to intervene in the internal conflict. This may explain Saw’s reluctance to “play nice” with larger military organizations, like the Rebel Alliance. Also, we learn that Saw is instrumental in relocating the Erso’s as they turn fugitive running from being forced into Imperial employment in the novel Catalyst, which explains his backstory with Jyn Erso. Now we are pumped to see Saw show up on the upcoming episode or Rebels.
14. Krennic’s Manipulation of the Ersos — The beginning scene of Rogue One showed the vital transition between Krennic pretending to be a friend to Galen and becoming a task-master. When Galen lies to Krennic about Lyra’s death, Krennic feigns remorse for about a second until he orders Galen’s house ransacked. Also, it’s possible Krennic didn’t even remember the sex of Galen’s child, when he orders his guards to “find it” instead of “find her.” This interaction takes on much more meaning after reading in the novel Catalyst, and learning how Krennic has been manipulating his relationship with Galen for years to get him to help with the Death Star’s weapon system.
15. Feud between Tarkin and Krennic — The competition and friction between Tarkin and Krennic was palpable in the movie, especially when Tarkin seizes command of the Death Star claiming Krennic as an unfit military commander. This particular feud has significant roots in the novel Catalyst, as they both jockey for position in the emperor’s favor, but the idea of competition among the imperial ranks is a recurring theme in the canon. The novel A New Dawn shows a bitter rivalry between Count Vidian and Baron Danthe in their operations to supply the empire with necessary materials for its war machine. The novel Tarkin shows the rivalry between Vader and Tarkin to win the emperor’s favor. The novel Lords of the Sith shows Belkor Dray undermining Moff Mors to replace her as Moff over Ryloth. The emperor creates competition to weed out the weak, and we see it time and time again throughout the canon.
16. Darth Vader’s Fury — The last few minutes of Rogue One show some of the most intense Darth Vader action that we have seen in a Star Wars film. My jaw dropped as Vader relentlessly destroyed the rebels in between him and the Death Star plans. This scene definitely helps me appreciate the desperation of the Rebel forces, and their incredible courage to continue fighting against such inconceivable power. But we have seen this before, most notably in the novel Lords of the Sith. Vader baffles possibilities as he performs incredible acts, such as using his fighter to punch a hole in an enemy vessel, launch through space to enter and board the ship through this hole and annihilate the entire crew. He also was able to defeat a horde of giant insect monsters (lyleks) and even take rebel starships down single handedly. Vader has certainly earned his reputation as a revered dark lord of the Sith.
Written by Jacob Burdis
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