During my first viewing of Rogue One I noticed that there some obvious connections and tie-ins with Return of the Jedi. For example, in both movies there are Mons (Mothma and Calamari), shield generators that need to be destroyed, Death Stars that become operational, and stolen Imperial ships and codes that the rebels use to infiltrate an Imperial stronghold. But after multiple viewings it is clear that there are even more similarities, connections, and juxtapositions between Rogue One and Return of the Jedi.
The hero’s dying mentor.
In Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker returns willingly to visit his mentor Yoda just moments before Yoda dies. Luke previously chose to leave Yoda with his training incomplete to try to save his friends, but the master had wanted the learner to stay for his own good until his training was complete. In Rogue One, Jyn Erso returns (not necessarily by her own free will) to see her former mentor and father figure, Saw Gerrera, shortly before he dies. Saw chose to leave Jyn for her own protection, but Jyn didn’t want to be left. Also, Yoda and Saw were veterans of the Clone Wars, and they were passing their batons to Luke and Jyn in the midst of the Galactic Civil War. Before these father figures die they help confirm that the heroes’ fathers are actually still alive: Yoda by telling Luke that Darth Vader really is his father, and Saw by showing Jyn the hologram of Galen Erso that was given to him by Bodhi Rook.
The hero’s dying father.
Earlier in their lives Jyn and Luke both thought their fathers were dead, but in Rogue One and Return of the Jedi, respectively, they are actually present for their father’s dying breath on an Imperial base. Luke is tearful as he holds Anakin on the second Death Star, and Jyn is also tearful as she holds Galen at the Tarkin Initiative Lab on Eadu. Shortly before the father dies, the joy on his face can be seen, while there is sadness on the child’s. After their fathers’ deaths, Luke and Jyn both escape on a stolen Imperial ship just before the Imperial base explodes.
Fathers saving the day.
Galen Erso and Anakin Skywalker both came to be servants of the Empire by trying to help others. Prior to Rogue One, Galen’s research was meant to discover a way to provide clean energy to the citizens of the galaxy. Director Krennic used Galen and his research of Kyber crystals to create the ultimate super laser for the Death Star. Anakin came to be an apprentice of Palpatine because he wanted to find a way to save his wife Padme from what he thought was certain death. Emperor Palpatine then used Anakin (now Darth Vader) to be the ultimate enforcer in the galaxy. Galen and Anakin both lost their wives and children, which may have made them more controllable. After years of being in the service of the Empire, only their children seemed to believe Galen and Vader had any good in them. Many in the Rebel Alliance wanted them both dead. Jyn knew Galen did not support the Empire’s desire to create a planet-killing weapon. And Luke knew that Vader still had some good left in him and that the Emperor hadn’t driven it from him fully. In order to redeem himself, Galen lays a trap in the center of the Death Star so that the Rebel Alliance can destroy it. And Vader is redeemed by saving Luke from death when he throws Emperor Palpatine into the center of the second Death Star.
Star Destroyers go down.
In Return of the Jedi during the space battle over Endor, Admiral Ackbar tells his starfighters to focus their firepower on the Empire’s Super Star Destroyer. After the Super Star Destroyer's shields go down an A-wing pilot guides his disabled ship into the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer, effectively causing it to crash into the second Death Star and rallying the rest of the Rebel fleet. In Rogue One another Mon Calamari admiral, Admiral Raddus, saw an opening during the battle over Scarif. When a Star Destroyer is disabled Admiral Raddus calls in a Hammerhead Corvette, which pushes the unresponsive Star Destroyer into another next to it. The Star Destroyer and the Corvette both plummet into the shield generator over Scarif, thus allowing the Rebels below to transmit the Death Star plans to the Rebel Alliance ships. Both situations are the turning points in their respective battles. And in both cases Rebels die doing their duty.
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