Sci-Fi Fridays, Episode 53: Dissecting the ‘Rogue One’ trailer


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Disney sure knows how to lift our spirits for the weekend, don’t they? Last Thursday, the studio released a teaser trailer of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to rabid fan approval. Theories have abounded in an attempt to connect this spin-off with last December’s The Force Awakens. Are we closer to finding the truth behind Rey’s upbringing? Will an event or character introduced in Rogue One somehow spill over to Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII? These nerve-wracking questions are keeping the internet restless and full of hot anticipation. I’m here to take an objective, analytical and realist perspective on what the teaser signifies for not just the film itself but the saga as a whole. May the Force be with me as I attempt to dissect this highly engaging teaser frame by frame – lightsabers at the ready!

First, absorb this non-delusion of grandeur…

00:00-00:14 — This first sequence we witness Felicity Jones’s Jyn Erso (who introduces herself) being led by Rebel Alliance troops into what appears to be a Rebel base. She’s in handcuffs, so I have to assume the Rebels caught her doing something illegal (smuggling perhaps) or working for the Imperials as a mercenary.

00:15-00:23 — Based on the holocharts, docking bay and overall setup of the base, the layout is reminiscent of Yavin 4’s Rebel headquarters, but this might in fact be a base on Dantooine, the planet Leia falsely offered up to Darth Vader and Tarkin in order to spare Alderaan from the Death Star’s might. We also hear a Rebel sympathizer’s voiceover detailing all the crimes Jyn has committed over the course of her life, many of which seem to be anti-Imperial in nature…making her a prime candidate for Alliance recruitment. Anyone else think the voice might belong to a young Crix Madine, a general during the famous Battle of Endor? It would make sense since Madine was a former Imperial officer who defected to the Rebel Alliance, so if anyone knows how to ease someone into supporting their former opposition, it’s Madine.

00:24-00:28 — In this brief scene, we get some background on Jyn’s upbringing. Sounds like she was your typical street urchin just trying to get by in the galaxy without a friend or care in the world. We also see a younger Mon Mothma played by Genevieve O’Reilly, who portrayed the same character in a deleted scene of Revenge of the Sith. It appears as though Mon Mothma is about to offer Jyn a new lease on life as the leader of an upcoming Rebel Alliance mission. Diego Luna’s character is seen slouching in the background with a look of intense interest in the newest defector.

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00:29-00:37 — The next segment cuts to Jyn’s reply to Mon Mothma’s call to duty. She aces her job interview by stating quite simply that she’s literally what the Alliance stands for (“I rebel”). The confident stare down is intercut by action bits featuring Jyn fighting off stormtroopers in the streets of some unknown city. The moisture vaporator decor suggests it’s yet another dry or desert planet, possibly Tatooine, Jakku or Star Wars Rebel’s Lothal.

00:38-1:01 — Mon Mothma lays out the mission at hand for Jyn: the Death Star is about to become operational and a reconnaissance team needs to be assembled in order to asses how to destroy it, a team Jyn would be in charge of. We see a shot of Jyn looking out the viewport of either a speeder or train, as well as the Death Star itself being constructed — the fearsome turbolaser is being placed into its slot. Also making an appearance to lecture Jyn some more is the voice I mentioned earlier. Now this middle-aged Rebel leader might or might not be Crix Madine, but he’s certainly someone of importance in the chain of command. After a caption interlude and some immersive alarm-ringing musical cues by composer Alexandre Desplat, we see Jyn and Diego Luna’s character walk out to the hangar while Rebel fighter pilots dart past them…perhaps in preparation for an Imperial siege? Dantooine was said to be abandoned in A New Hope, not destroyed by Imperials – perhaps the base detected nearby fighters patrolling the system and so the decision was made to immediately flee.

1:02-1:03 – A glorious shot of Ben Mendelsohn in full Grand Admiral regalia (he is wearing the uniform designated to Imperial officers with that title). Is this Disney’s way of paying respect to the Legends timeline, which featured a blue-skinned alien Grand Admiral named Thrawn? Thrawn was known for his brilliant strategic mind on the battlefield, so perhaps Ben Mendelsohn’s villain shares a similar mental fortitude.

1:04-1:10 – A hooded figure is seen standing next to a stormtrooper and his troops’ speeder during what looks to be an Imperial patrol of the town. The next shot reveals who is underneath the hood — Forest Whitaker, who appears ready for a fight against the onslaught of stormtroopers parading around the city in intimidating fashion. I have no clue who he is, whether he’s a Force wielder or not (it’s rumored that there are no Jedi in the film), or perhaps he could be the head of a secret resistance cell opposed to the Empire and sympathetic to the Rebel Alliance. In another shot, we see black-armored stormtroopers, a clear nod to the Dark Forces PC game which featured similar enemies called “Darktroopers.” The game is also set right before A New Hope and similarly deals with the theft of the Death Star plans. The final segment of this sequence features Rebel fighter pilots led through the city in handcuffs by their Imperial captors. Perhaps these fighter pilots are meant to serve as a distraction while Jyn and her mercenary group sneak into town unnoticed?

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1:11-1:57 – This final stretch of the trailer is guided by the sagely advice of Forest Whitaker’s character, warning someone – likely Jyn – about the lethal dangers that come with going directly against the Empire, including the potential loss of identity if captured. Think about those sentiments for a second. If Forest Whitaker is addressing Jyn, and the final shot of this sequence is her in an Imperial uniform, could it be that Jyn winds up somehow defecting back to the Imperials and…*gulp*…becoming one of them? What if it’s actually Jyn who is the hooded figure (another Sith acolyte/Dark Jedi/Inquisitor?!) seen bowing to someone in a bacta tank? If we’re really to believe Jyn is Rey’s mother, perhaps Jyn became a protege of Emperor Palpatine (these “non-Jedi” reports might be a total bluff) and is forced to give up Rey to protect her from both the Dark Side and the Sith. Or Jyn might be a member of the Knights of Ren, whom along with Kylo slaughtered the members of Luke’s Jedi Academy in Rey’s flashback. Jyn would technically be a few years older than Luke if their paths were to cross, potentially pulling a Romeo & Juliet forbidden romance despite being on opposite sides of the war. This segment also features the rest of Jyn’s team, which includes Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen, all of whom face an AT-AT in the trailer’s most visually enticing action moment.

That’s it for the in-depth teaser trailer dissection of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Please post your theories and queries below as I would love to start an open discussion on this very exciting topic.