Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Part 1)
Welcome, friends! Today, Snark Wars goes back to the movies. By popular demand, we’re going to settle in with the Story of The Events Leading Up To The Destruction of Death Star the First (again, still my personal favorite Death Star, of all the Death Stars we’ve had). No no, not the part where it actually blows up, but the part just before it, which as we’ve recently come to learn, involved a bunch of Imperial backstabbery, and a WHOLE LOT of people dying.
Yes, the end of 2016 had many things NOT going for it. I know I sure white-knuckled my way through the remaining days of the year with a glass of wine in hand, for one thing. That said: something last winter DID have going for it is that our friends over at Lucasfilm had a little gift up their sleeves for me and you in the form of this movie. Star Wars Sads! Callbackery! Villainous Bitchery! A delightfully salty robot, a TCW tie-in, shout-outs to our friends from Rebels, my second-favorite pair of Space Monk Husbands, and and and as if all of that wasn’t enough to sell me on it, our friend Anakin Skywalker achieves new heights of ridiculousness in this thing, which given the treasure trove of Anakin content that existed prior to this seemed nearly impossible to achieve. (Many things about Anakin may have been destroyed over the course of his life — his hair, his marriage, his and Obi-Wan’s plans for a peaceful retirement — but one thing that remained blessedly untouched from start to finish and I presume beyond was his evergreen zest for drama.)
Perhaps soured by the many things that had been disappointing in the time immediately prior to this film’s release, I will admit to having been somewhat wary going into my first viewing. In the end, I would up teary-eyed, turning to my son and saying “I just loved it so much,” as though it had done me a personal favor. Which, really, it had.
So: off we go, then. Let’s go meet some of our new friends, all of whom will obviously be living long and happy lives and nothing bad will ever happen to them, because this is Star Wars and stuff like that never happens.
Recurring Theme: Star Wars Doesn’t Have To Explain Itself To You
This movie decides to kick things off by taking us just one step beyond the Rebels approach — we’re not getting any kind of setup beyond the “long time ago…” spiel. No Famous Opening Crawl, or even Voiceover Recap Guy to tell us what the deal is. Instead, we’re dropped right off on an unlabeled planet, and watching as a menacing shuttle approaches, and even the music sounds surprised to see us — oh! Sorry! We didn’t know we had company! Shit, someone get an orchestra together and start selling this dramatic bullshit!
We see a small girl, who we’ll later learn is Angsty Smudged-Eyeliner Aficionado Jyn Erso, tearing off away from the incoming craft:
…while meanwhile, it some kind of home/doomsday bunker, her parents watch some CCTV footage with concern as she bolts in through the door:
I love that there appears to be very little middle ground for housing options in the Star Wars universe — everything falls into one of three categories:
- Ostentatious and/or Just Balls-to-the-Wall Crazy: e.g. Padme’s family home(s), actual royal palaces on Mandalore or Alderaan or Naboo, the Jedi Temple, Padme’s apartment on Coruscant, the Death Star, Jabba’s Palace, Maz’s castle, Vader’s Insane Lava Fortress of Emo Tears and Anger
- The Space Equivalent of a Heavily-Armed, Beat-Up RV: e.g. the Ghost, the Millennium Falcon, the Un-chipped Clones’ Retirement RV
- Basically Used to Be a Root Cellar/Abandoned Car/Storage Locker That Someone Turned Into A Dwelling: e.g. the Lars homestead, Obi-Wan’s house, Shmi’s house, the Erso household, Rey’s hideout on Jakku, Maul’s Batshit Shrine to Kenobi Vengeance
I think we see like, one or two regular peoples’ homes in TCW. Maybe. Do they even HAVE suburbs or modest condos in Star Wars, or is every single real estate listing like “FSBO. Enjoy old Imperial charm with this unique property! Used to be part of a superweapon. Current owners have remodeled. May or may not be cursed w/Sith ghost. Walk-in closets, 500 BD, 700 1/2 BA. Bacta tank in basement has been calibrated w/in last yr. 1 trillion credits OBO. Appliances included.”
I’m sorry, I started talking about something stupid and forgot to recap the movie again, didn’t I? Oops. OK OK, on we go.
Recurring Theme: Hello Old Friend
So the Family Erso scrambles around, grabbing their belongings and panicking, and Lyra, Jyn’s mother, takes a moment to regular-Skype with a mysterious man:
Oh good, it’s Saw Gerrera! His life wasn’t already enough of a bummer, so I’m glad to know this movie will be on hand to show me how well everything’s been going for him since Team Handsome and their daughter last saw him.
Galen takes Jyn aside for some Traumatic Parental Memory-Making just before sending Lyra and Jyn out. Damn, this movie isn’t wasting time:
Lyra Erso, Jedi Fangirl
Lyra and Jyn start heading for the hills, and Lyra stops to give Jyn her instructions on where to hide. As she does, she hands Jyn a kyber crystal on a chain:
This movie doesn’t have time to go into it, but the backstory here (via the canon EU novel Catalyst) is that Lyra Erso is a MAJOR Jedi fangirl. She used to go hang out by their Temple to do her workouts and stuff and MAN I didn’t even know that was a thing regular people could DO? Well, I know what I’d be doing with my time in the GFFA, then. They’d have to pay me to leave. I bet the Order had fangirls and fanboys waiting outside the door like it was a hotel the Beatles were staying at.
She tells Jyn to trust in the Force, just like everyone does when they’re about to be murdered or otherwise suffer horribly. Jyn nods, and they hug, and I’m already sad for these people.
Recurring Theme: Our Bromance Ended Badly
Galen, meanwhile, heads out to confront his fate. The ominous ship from before has landed, and marching towards the house are a bunch of Deathtroopers (yes, that is legit what the Empire called them. No evil going on here!) and one Orson Krennic, yet another in the long line of Wonderfully Entertaining Evil Star Wars Characters. The man is wearing a CAPE. A cape! WHY. Bless Star Wars fashion. It is somehow at once incredibly gorgeous AND delightfully dumb.
So the two of them go to stare each other down, as the Force demands.
Recurring Theme: Star Wars vs. The Farming Community
Krennic gets things started by making sure to get in a dig at farmers, which as regular readers know is a well-established pattern with people in this universe. It’s somehow better knowing an actual farmboy is gonna save the galaxy with this in mind, although God knows said farmboy wasn’t all that enthused about being one, either.
Galen, the only person willing to go to bat for the noble farmer, replies:
Recurring Theme: I Just Figured Murdering Everyone Might Save The Galaxy, OK?
Galen then lies and tells Krennic that Lyra’s dead, which Krennic clearly 5000% does not buy at all.
He sends his guys out to search the house, and then is like “Galen. My guy. I need you back.” Galen, in response, is like “…hard pass, thanks,” and Krennic is all BUT BUT BUT:
…LOL. Well this little spiel sounds vaguely familiar! Did Anakin have it printed up on business cards? Is this part of the Empire’s marketing campaign? “Peace” and “security” are definitely in their Brand Identity Tag Cloud.
Galen is decidedly not impressed, and Krennic throws back this line, which cracks me up:
I wish Anakin had gone with this approach. (“Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil!” “Meh, well, y’know, nobody’s perfect.”)
So this carries on a little longer and then Jyn starts watching them from a distance and Lyra shows up, intent on making Krennic eat laser-lead:
She is very much Not Having Any Of This Bullshit, and Krennic is all like HOLD UP LADY — you’re ALL invited to join us over at EvilCo…
Lyra, like most of her Jedi heroes WITH ONE VERY OBVIOUS EXCEPTION, is not interested in what’s on offer here:
Krennic has her taken out, getting shot in the shoulder in the process. As he leans over, he instructs his troopers to go find their child.
Recurring Theme: I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight
At this, Jyn takes off for her hideout, and Galen, not 7 full minutes into this thing, gets to hold a dying loved one in his arms. Man, Star Wars is such a sucker for this shit.
Jyn makes her way into a cave, and peers out in fear while being pursued by the Deathtroopers. She narrowly escapes capture, and curls up into a little tiny ball.
Nightfall comes, and just as she turns on a small lantern, she hears a sound above her:
DUN DUN DUUUN! Oh my! Where could we be headed, I wonder if —
Recurring Theme: Time-Jump
Oh — all right! Hey, the title screen finally showed up! Well, better late than never, amirite? And with the arrival of said title screen, we bump ahead to 19 years after Obi-Wan and Anakin’s Trip to the Volcano, and we find an adult Jyn sleeping in a cell block in an Imperial prison:
She looks miserable, and annoyed, two looks she will wear for the vast majority of this film, so get used to them.
Recurring Theme: Delayed Realization Syndrome
After that, we’re bumped over to another shot with an on-screen caption (I feel so disoriented! No crawl? On-screen captions? Star Wars was reeeeeeally taking a gamble here with its fanbase of committed weirdos who have an absolute shit fit anytime anyone tries something different.) This caption informs us that we are now on the “Ring of Kafrene”, a trading outpost. All right then.
It’s actually pretty cool-looking — sort of like a street market in the Coruscant underworld kind of a vibe. It’s here that we meet up with Cassian Andor, who’s hustling to find this guy, Tivik, who’s got some Inside Info for him:
Well! That doesn’t sound so good. Cassian presses: what KIND of a weapon?
And OK, I get that it was sort of a Majorly-Guarded Secret and whatnot, but the Death Star? Is fucking HUGE. It took a SHITTON of people to build that thing. Am I actually supposed to believe that not ONE SINGLE PERSON, on purpose or by accident, told someone what was going on there prior to now? The Empire has been working on it SINCE BEFORE THERE WAS AN ACTUAL EMPIRE. Anakin and Obi-Wan already were finding out shit about people using kyber crystals for possibly-nefarious purposes TWENTY GODDAMN YEARS AGO. The Empire’s been mining the shit out of Jedha, Ilum, etc for years. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: everyone in this entire universe IS THE SLOWEST TO CATCH ON TO ANYTHING.
Cassian Andor, In It For Your Revolution
Anyways, Cassian is like WAS IT GALEN ERSO?! And the two continue to talk and things are getting heated and tense when a couple of stormtroopers come by, noticing the commotion:
Well, that’s one way to take care of a problem! Tivik is now like DUDE WTF THAT WAS A BAD CHOICE, and realizes that they’re going to get cornered back here in this little alcove they’re standing in by more troopers — and his arm’s injured, so he knows he can’t climb out to safety. Uh oh.
Cassian takes him aside, comforts him…
…and then pulls the trigger, looking mildly ill over having done so. This movie’s been on for eleven minutes and already so much misery has ensued.
Cassian collects himself, and climbs away to escape.
Recurring Theme: The Jedi Order, Totally Humble Understated Space Monks
The action now moves over to Jedha, an Imperial-occupied moon that used to be a hangout for the pompous, ridiculously Extra nerds known as the Jedi Order. Yes, we all know the Jedi eschewed material possessions and wore simple brown robes and were not at all into their own Look at all or anything. Which is why Jedha, like Ilum and the Jedi Temple on Coruscant and pretty much any place these guys ever slapped their logo onto HAD SHIT LIKE THIS LAYING AROUND:
Did the Jedi carve this shit into a mountain, Mount Rushmore-style? Or did that used to be a Jedi statue, standing up, that got knocked down (holy SHIT, if it was a statue at one point, it was fucking HUGE.) Either way, look at this thing. The Jedi Order, my friends: NOT SUBTLE IN ANY WAY. I love them so, so much.
Bodhi Rook, New Here
Here on Jedha, we see a gang of vaguely threatening-looking peeps standing around as Bodhi Rook, the aforementioned cargo pilot, is brought before them. He mistakes the leader of this group to be Saw Gerrera:
Now, really, Bodhi: did you think anything was going to be THAT easy? This is Star Wars. Welcome aboard.
The group throws a bag over his head and leads him away to Parts Unknown, and as we pan out we get an extra, magnificently humorous shot of Mount Jedi:
Recurring Theme: Thanks For Rescuing Me, Loser
Our next stop on this tour de GFFA is Wobani, a planet that is host to an imperial labor camp, whose name I immediately love because it is an anagram of Obi-Wan, and if you think I believe that wasn’t intentional, you are wrong. I am going to go ahead and presume this place was renamed Wobani by Darth Vader, along with the planets Anibow, Woniba, and Iloveyouobiwancomeback.
We meet up again with Jyn, who’s in some sort of transport vehicle en route to who knows where. The ride comes to a stop, and before the guards can check things out some rebels come blasting through the door, looking for a “Liana Halick”, Jyn’s pseudonym. (Hey, she did a WAY better job coming up with a fake identity than most people around here do, OBI-WAN.)
They uncuff her, asking if she wants to be rescued, and in the grand tradition of everyone who has ever been rescued in this series ever, she fails to thank them — and in this case, she goes the extra mile and starts wailing on her saviors.
She makes for the door to run out to freedom, but then…
LOL. Nice. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is K-2SO, the saltiest robot Star Wars has EVER created, and YES I AM INCLUDING CHOPPER.
Recurring Theme: Tying It All Back Together
With Jyn now in Rebellion custody, we AGAIN switch planets to Yavin 4, home of the Famous Hidden Rebel HQ of Much Acclaim. Jyn is interrogated, and told that the rebels know who she really is:
…and, so, uh, given that they know what her name is, and whose daughter she is, and they just rescued her from an Imperial prison, they’re thinking maybe she could be of some help to them? Enter Mon Mothma, long-suffering Senator, leader of the Rebel Alliance, future Chancellor, and BIG TIME fan of white:
With that, Cassian comes in to ask a few pointed questions: how long ago did Jyn last see her dad?
…and where is he now, missy?
Recurring Theme: I Screamed
After some pissiness on both sides of this conversation, eventually they get down to it: they need Jyn, who was raised by Saw Gerrera after the events we saw at the beginning of this film, to help them get an audience with him, because Saw is currently holding Bodhi captive, and they need to do some interrogatin’ in the Senate to figure out if Bodhi’s crazy-ass story about Galen Erso and a superweapon is real or not.
…and as soon as Mon mentions the Senate, another of its members appears and OH MY GOD IT’S BAIL ORGANA (yes, I knew he was in this movie ahead of time BUT STILL. YES. BAIL BAIL BAIL.) He pretty much just shows up now to look Serious and Pensive and also to bring the Binary Sunset Theme Remix along with him. Jyn looks at all of them: so what happens if I help you get into Saw’s den of lunacy?
Jyn makes a face like “well shit, I guess I’m doing this,” and with that, the crew gets working on packing up to hit the road!
Recurring Theme: The Family That Snarks Together Will All End Up Dead
Jyn heads out to a U-wing, where K-2 is getting things ready for their departure. He re-introduces himself:
…and then pronounces that neither he nor Cassian want her to be sent along with them. Ha! Hey, at least he’s honest. And really, no one in this universe has ever really WANTED to be with any of the people they’re on a mission with.
As this happens, Cassian gets a clarification on his mission: they don’t actually want Galen Erso alive, if they find him…
Well, I’m sure that won’t make things awkward later!
Cassian returns to the ship and K-2 shit-stirs by asking how come JYN gets a blaster when he doesn’t?
Eventually Cassian relents, and K-2 is Distinctly Unimpressed, sighing that this whole exchange was “vague and unconvincing” and man, K-2 should come write this blog with me. He then proceeds to badger Cassian about this further in classic Star Wars Droid fashion:
…so, with that, our latest Ragtag Crew of Unlikely Heroes is off to face their destiny!
Join me next time, when we will find out that, as expected, the years have not been any kinder to Saw Gerrera than anyone else in this wretched series, the bad guys will gear up for a test run, and, as always, a couple of space monk boyfriends are gonna kick some major ass. See you then!