Remember that scene in Rogue One?
You know the one I mean. The best scene in the movie.
The Darth Vader scene.
The one without choking puns, I mean.
Spoilers from hereon out: Vader basically butchers a bunch of Rebel soldiers on a spaceship, really slowly, having a bit of fun by bouncing them around with the Force. Ultimately, though, his fun costs him dearly, as the plans to the Death Star manage to escape with a Rebel soldier, who hands them to Princess Leia.
But hey, hang on. What was Princess Leia doing waiting around for the plans? Why was an important political figure, an ambassador for Alderaan, hanging out on a ship in the middle of an intense space battle?
Why didn’t Admiral Raddish or whatever his name is (it’s Raddus, but we might as well call him Ackbar Jr for all the difference it makes) invite the princess up onto the bridge, instead of keeping her stuffed in a docked blockade runner within the bowels of his ship?
Well, now we have an explanation, because if there’s one thing that’s at the core of the Star Wars experience, it’s supplementary texts that you have to read in order to understand what’s going on in a movie.
Pablo Hidalgo, who has the job you always wanted as a kid (he’s a member of the Star Wars story group, so he daydreams about Princess Leia professionally) has clarified what the creepy CGI Carrie Fisher puppet was doing hidden away inside Admiral Raddish’s ship:
“The plan was always that Leia was going to go to Tatooine to pick up Obi-Wan and Raddus was going to escort her. Then the news of Scarif came in, and that was deemed more important... [because] it’s the one warship that they have at this point.”
Yeah, okay, that makes sense, and it does fit with Jimmy Smits’ eight lines of dialogue in the movie, in which he winks at the camera and announces his plans to send someone awesome to go pick up Obi Wan. It’s one of Rogue One’s many unsubtle nods to the original Star Wars trilogy, and yet another chronic underuse of Bail Organa, but at least it makes sense.
Unless you pause to think about why Leia needed an escort for what was legitimately a diplomatic mission, considering that there was nothing shady or suspicious about making a visit to Tatooine, the back end of the galaxy.
Or, if you wonder why Leia continues on her journey to Tatooine to fulfil a fetch quest that’s not time specific, when she’s got literally the most important data tape in the galaxy in her sweaty palms.
But hey, we can nitpick all day over plot details.
So let’s do that some more.
The opening crawl for Episode IV states that Leia is racing “home”, not deliberately heading to Tatooine.
If Raddish’s ship is being diverted to the battle on Scarif, why not just let Leia make her own way to Tatooine instead of risking the death of an important member of the Imperial Senate?
Why isn’t Jimmy Smits in this movie more?
Okay, I’m reaching. Time to give up.
Ultimately, it’s probably not fair to be too harsh on Rogue One, especially considering the extensive reshoots and script changes that occurred throughout its production. It’s a miracle the story is as coherent as it is—plenty of modern blockbusters have far less turbulent development periods, and end up with far more plot holes.
Let’s all take yet another moment to appreciate that Rogue One isn’t a stinking pile of garbage, and move on with our lives.
Sure would have been nice to get more Jimmy Smits in there somewhere, though.