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Rogue One’s end game:  Plot hole or Palpatine’s hubris?

Star Wars: Rogue One L to R: Actors Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Felicity Jones, Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley ©Lucasfilm 2016

Of course, before anyone starts reading, you know the standard spoiler disclaimers. If you haven’t seen Rogue One, then stop right here.  Everything coming after is very spoilery. It also requires that you remember specific plot devices here and in other Star Wars movies.

While I enjoyed Rogue One for what it was as an action movie, when I thought about how it fits in with the rest of the Star Wars movies, I realized that there was a plot device used that was either a hole huge enough to fly a Lambda class shuttle through or a serious flaw in Imperial protocols. Granted, some plot  holes can be overlooked because real life implications would keep movies from being entertaining but this particular issue cannot go unchecked.  Part of what I am about to address has a lot to do with the fact that since the original trilogy has been released, all of the movies that have come out since then have in one form or another contradicted things that took place in the Original Trilogy.

Let’s talk about that shield

For the third act of Rogue One, Jyn and her crew have acquired an Imperial cargo vessel and are on their way to an Imperial  data stronghold to steal the Death Star plans.  It’s heavily guarded by Star Destroyers, battalions of Imperial fighters of different shapes and sizes, all terrain walkers and so forth. The biggest thing protecting this base is a planet wide shield array which keeps everything including transmissions from getting through.  Furthermore, there is only one access point where ships could get in and pilots needed an access code to get through.

Bodhi, the defected Imperial pilot, lets the group know that while he has a code that may get them through, it’s an older code and if the Imperials suspect that this was a ruse, they could die.  Yet, they risk it all and thus what results is a full scale battle on the planet’s surface which not only results in the destruction of a military installation, several starships, but eventually the loss of a Death Star.

Again, this was all because someone with an old code managed to slip though without follow up.

Does this sound familiar?

In Return of the Jedi, we have the same thing occurring. Luke and company have a shuttle, stolen codes and a small force to infiltrate Endor, take down the shield thus allowing the Rebels to blow up the 2nd Death Star.  Remember the scene; Vader is standing aboard the Executor as the shuttle is passing perilously close. Admiral Piett tells Vader, that it’s an older code but it checks out.  Meanwhile, Vader is using the Force and detects his son.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME????   You have the linchpin of the Rebel Alliance on one small shuttle and you let them through???  When you consider Rogue One in hindsight to what happened in Return of the Jedi, someone like Palpatine or Vader  after losing a secret  Imperial science base,  a data center along with countless men and weapons, along with at least 2 Star Destroyers, which eventually lead to the destruction of the 1st Death Star, should know better. Don’t you think an investigative committee would have looked into this huge loss and changed security protocols for  ships gaining access to sensitive areas?  That has to be a lot of Imperial credits you had to lose because of one random shuttle with old codes. Or maybe, this was a cover up by Tarkin to take out Krennic and cover it up.  Krennic was standing in the way of Tarkin commanding the Death Star…right?

Overconfidence is a Weakness

Still not buying the plothole?  For the movie’s sake it works because sure you can’t have all of the principal characters hemmed up because Vader made the smart play to take that shuttle.  But a little common sense wouldn’t have hurt either.

I kind of think the conversation between Palaptine and Vader would have gone something like this:

P: OK Vader, look, we have been fighting this war for years and it’s been costing us a lot in money that we are just hemorrhaging.  We already lost one Death Star, we are behind on this second one and really, I am just ready to get my emperor on. So I got an idea, let’s leak the plans and get the Rebels to come to Endor and take them out.

V:  Sounds fair, how do you plan on getting them here?

P: ‘Membah that time the Rebels snuck onto that planet with the data center using old codes and stole the Death Star plans?  You ‘membah!  I say we do it again and this time all of them are going to show up because we leak that I am here.

V: Sounds like a great idea, but ‘membah the last time we did that we had to nuke the base and eventually the Death Star got blown to bits. But suppose all we have to do if we want an end to the war is capture the shuttle.  Because the main stars of the story are gonna be on that shuttle.

P:  Nah, it’s cool. Let them in.  Remember, we have a legion of our best troops on Endor.

V: I am not so sure because you know they can’t hit anything.  The most they can do is wing someone or hit an astromech.  Plus the 2nd Death Star isn’t even finished yet.  What’s the hurry, it will be about another 10 years before we pop back up in people’s consciousness. But seriously, we are gonna allow them to do this again?  You realize that this isn’t a random crew, these guys escaped us at least 3 times in the other movies, right?

P:  Vader…dude relax!!!  I got this, let them come and trust me,  your son will come to you and screw everybody else. He is the key to everything. Reality shows, Nike sponsors, we will even get Trump on board. Besides they are only bringing what…10 or 15 men?  What’s the worst that could happen? Once their ships arrive, we can pick them off with the Death Star because you know…something something something Dark Side…something something something complete.

V: I got a bad feeling about this.

It’s an older code…

Vader had them dead to rights but paid the price because he followed orders.

We all saw what happened next.  Vader is standing on his ship.  Probing it with the Force and you know he has to be saying to himself,

“Man, I got the entire crew right there: Luke is on it, that dude I just froze in carbonite about 3 years ago, his hairy boyfriend, that pesky princess who just might be my daughter (I tortured her  didn’t I? No Father of the Year award for me.) , and then there are those two droids that I had since The Phantom Menace. But no, boss man said let them go through…because nobody listens to me and I am supposed to be like, this great Sith lord.  I could just tractor them in and we can hold them for like, ransom or something.  Maybe this time even kill them so we don’t have to make people wait for  The Force Awakens 30 years later. However, I don’t get paid to think for myself but when all of this goes to hell, I will be the first to tell him, ‘I told you so’ and then I will quit.”

After that, the rest is history.  The Empire fell for the okey doke a 2nd time in 4 movies with even more disastrous results for Palpatine and Vader.   Not only that, it’s done in the same fashion: a stolen shuttle, old codes, and under estimating the crew and yes, those Ewoks. Plus smebody should have been out searching for the shuttle when it didn’t dock…o wait. “Leave it to me…”

Your miles may vary on this, but while Rogue One was an enjoyable movie, when combined with all of the stories that we have gotten for the past 40 years,  it’s kind of hard to believe that the bad guys allowed themselves to fall for the same trick twice, intentionally or not. How arrogant and short sighted do you have to be?

So what do you think?  Was this a plot hole or Palpatine over reaching?


About Harry C. (1174 Articles)
Founder of The Next Issue Podcast and Pop Culture Uncovered, Harry has been reading comics since he could reach a news stand. He is also a cosplayer with his current favorite role as being Bishop, of the X-men. He is a fan of Marvel, Image and DC and is really passionate about making sure that kids get the opportunity to read. This leads him to getting out to places with comics that others no longer need and putting them into the hands of kids who will treasure them. His favorite comic characters are Batman, Spider-man, and Tony Chiu.

4 Comments on Rogue One’s end game:  Plot hole or Palpatine’s hubris?

  1. Really, you could say this plothole existed without Rogue One. All that ROTJ has on its own is the extra mystery of Vader’s intentions letting the ship go. But when you think about it, regardless of what happened in the past, it is a lost opportunity for two villains to not take the ship on board. Palpatine would still get Luke, and Vader and Palpz could bully him into accepting the Dark Side whilst demoralising, torturing or killing the others.

    I always felt Vader let Luke go because of a lingering sense of familial care. The point is that it’s hard to tell what it is. Luke thinks it’s odd. Vader tries to cloud it later when he’s debating with Luke, but Luke is saying he sees through it. Palpz’s hubris is probably part of the answer given he says he released the plans. I think Palpz wanted to get the whole Rebel alliance in a pinch and crush them so there’s no resurgence. If they captured the shuttle, they’d kill big players, but the alliance would live on. They’d be crippled, but yeah Palpz wants control.

    I mean, you could say that Vader could have captured the shuttle, imprisoned them on Endor and then coaxed out the alliance force through lies and crush them anyway. So maybe the familial care is the weak spot that allows the main characters to be at least functional and fight back. It could be Vader’s secret good side coming through.

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  2. It’s not a plot hole. In ROTJ what we are seeing is Palpatine’s determination to draw the Rebels into a final, decisive battle. He’s been chasing these guys for the better part of a decade, unable to crush them definitively. He needs something that wil draw them out, and knows the combo of a new super weapon with him aboard is too tempting a carrot for them to resist. And let’s not forget that he basically has it in the bag until those bloody Ewoks showed up. Up that point his plan is going like clockwork. Rebel strike team captured, Rebel Fleet trapped, last Jedi in his clutches. It’s all so perfect, and then a buch of teddy bears unleash holy hell. DOH!

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