This post will contain spoilers for the movie Rogue One. Read on at your peril.
I recently saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I thoroughly enjoyed it; it may even be my favorite of all the Star Wars movies (which is saying something). I liked how it put the struggle between the Rebels and the Imperials front-and-center with only casual references to Jedi and the force. My favorite part of Star Wars - the battles - were quite intense and well-drawn. I also liked how the tragic flaw of the Death Star was explained, though some may find it hokey.
Alas, there was one part of it that didn’t jive with me: Darth Vader let the rebel plans get away too easily. We knew it was going to happen; the beginning of A New Hope spells that out for us. The scene started of strongly enough, and we get to see Vader be the ominous badass he is, but I think it could have been handled a little better. Here is my take:
The airlock opens and the team of rebel troopers stares into the darkness. We hear the hiss of Vader’s respirator, a veritable death knell for our nameless rebels. His saber snaps to life, bathing the corridor in hellish red light.
This is mostly how the scene begins in the movie. At this point, Vader could have used his force powers to crush the entire squadron with a single gesture. I’m okay with him picking them off one by one, savoring their terror and basking in their futility. They have stood up to the implacable might of the empire, and they must die. But the plans are of paramount importance. He should have used to force grab them first, then gone on his little killing spree:
Plans in hand, Vader makes the Rebels pay for daring to defy the Emperor. He takes exquisite pleasure in watching the light go out of the eyes of a hapless captain as the crimson saber slices through his heart. The rebels deaths were not in vain, however: the Corellian Corvette escapes from the docking bay of the Profundity. Vader gazes after it; we cannot see his face, but we can sense his fury nevertheless.
An Imperial officer strides into view and Vader gives him the disc. We see stormtroopers flooding into the ship, off to dispatch rebel scum. The officer looks up, stricken. No one likes to give bad news to the Sith Lord. He’s heard the rumors.
“My lord,” he says, swallowing, unsure how to say it. “The plans are fake.”
For a long moment, Darth Vader glares at the open void. We still sense his anger, but we know, deep down, he sensed something else on that ship. A presence he hadn’t felt since…
“Ready my ship,” Vader booms, and we know the chase for the Tantive IV is on. The credits begin after a classic Star Wars wipe.