Warning: This post contains spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The last thing I want to do is be the Sith who stole Life Day. If you haven’t seen Rogue One, then I recommend that you make this the last sentence that you read in this article. For the rest of you, let’s get started.
“War! There are heroes on both sides. Evil is Everywhere.”
These are some of the words from the opening crawl of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, but they also describe the men, women, creatures, and droids participating in the war between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
What impressed me about the film was the depth and complexity it added to the galactic conflict. An imperial pilot defects. A brave scientist builds the ultimate weapon because it allows him to lay the groundwork for its destruction. A militant splinter cell of the Rebellion that lacks a moral compass and attacks the Empire with such tunnel vision that they are scarcely better than the enemy they oppose. A Rebel Alliance whose operatives comprise of mercenaries, saboteurs, and rogues.
Rogue One definitely put the war back into Star Wars and it wasn’t just on the battlefield. The fight to rid the galaxy of tyranny is righteous and noble, but how one goes about doing it is equal to the cause itself, and that’s where the Rebellion struggles in Rogue One.
On the Ring of Kafrene Rebel operative, Cassian Andor murders an injured informant to ensure his information stays secure. General Draven gives Cassian secret orders to assassinate Galen Erso, a direct violation of the Alliance council’s order to capture Galen and have him brought before the Imperial Senate.
Saw Gerrera’s group takes the fight to the Empire to such an extreme level that the Alliance does all it can to distance itself from them without outright disavowing them.
It’s understandable why the Alliance wants to distance itself from Saw’s group. Just look at what Saw did to Bodhi Rook, the Imperial pilot who defects with Galen’s important message. Using the Bor Gullet to probe Bodhi’s mind to extract information is no different than what Kylo Ren did to Poe and Rey in Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. You could argue that if Kylo had a Bor Gullet as a backup, he would be on his way to Luke right now.
War makes strange bedfellows and when the Alliance finds itself in need of Saw’s help they capture Jyn Erso in hopes that her past relationship with Saw will get the Alliance the audience it so desperately needs. This is not a request, and the Alliance strong-arms her into helping them.
On Jedha Saw’s band of extremists attack an Imperial convoy in the heart of the city. During the fray, Jyn rescues a crying girl from certain death. Not only is this a great heroic moment, but it reveals the flaw in Saw’s tactics and the overarching problem with those waging war against the Empire. They’re too willing to sacrifice others, but not themselves.
When Jedha is destroyed and rumors of the Death Star are confirmed, the Alliance caves. They vote to raise the white flag and disband rather than attempt to steal the Death Star plans from the Imperial installation on Scarif. Better to save themselves and just not look up at the Imperial flags flying high above every planetary capital.
When all hope is lost it’s not the generals and leaders who rally to the cause, but the aforementioned assassins, saboteurs, and rogues, who as Cassian says, have all done terrible things. They are ones seeking to add meaning to their lives. They are ones who stage their own rebellion against the Alliance and invade Scarif.
This is where Jyn shines, and why she is such a great hero. She’ll always be remembered as the one who stole the plans that enabled the Alliance to restore freedom to the galaxy, but her real heroics were in giving the Alliance a purpose, and bringing them together. She took a weak and divided group and turned them into Rebels with a cause. She saved the dream. She saved the Rebellion.
The Cantina Cast
The wretched hive your Jedi Master warned you about!