In the original Star Wars movie, the capture of Princess Leia is a key tactical objective for the Empire because she alone can reveal the location of the Rebels’ secret base. “Now she is my only link to finding their secret base,” says Darth Vader in the opening scenes. That fact is why she is taken to the Death Star and interrogated, and why Tarkin orders the destruction of Alderaan: her singular knowledge is worth the destruction of a world.
But then Rogue One came along and messed all of that up—by making the Rebels’ secret base not much of a secret.
Rogue One reveals that the Rebel Alliance is a shitty rebel insurrection because it does not use a proper clandestine cell structure. Need-to-know is nowhere to be seen; Yavin 4’s location is the opposite of closely guarded. Just about everyone in the Alliance seems to know where the hidden base is. Not only that, but travel to and from said base by high-ranking Rebel leaders—leaders that are almost certainly under surveillance by Imperial security services—appears to be routine.
Here’s the thing. If the Millennium Falcon could be traced to Yavin 4, then so could any other ship carrying someone suspected of being a Rebel. Anyone, from Mon Mothma down to the lowliest private, could be captured, interrogated and compromised—and should have been long before the events of the first film. As depicted in Rogue One, the Rebels are extremely vulnerable to a decapitation strike.
Fortunately, the Empire seems to be run by fricking idiots. If they were dead serious about finding the hidden base, they would have made capturing alive any operative—any soldier, any pilot—a top priority. Leia’s resistance to the mind probe was considerable—the Force runs strong in her family, after all—but the same could not be said for every ground-level Rebel.
Instead, they shoot them down, throw grenades at them, vaporize the general area in which they are found with a Death Star superlaser, and, well …
Pretty sure this guy knew where the secret base was too, Darthie-boy. Nice going.
The original Star Wars1 made sense if the Tantive IV practiced good operations security—if it never visited the secret base on Yavin 4, and its personnel were unaware of the base’s location.
But thanks to Rogue One, they’ve been there. This is a problem, because Leia isn’t Vader’s “only link to finding their secret base.”
Look at what we have here! Prisoners! Half a dozen or so of them, plus two astromech droids whose memory banks are probably full of actionable intel.
Unless Imperial intelligence is as much of an oxymoron as precision stormtrooper sharpshooting, the Empire doesn’t need Leia at all.
DARTH VADER: You will tell me the location of the secret Rebel base. (does hand-wavy Jedi thing)
REBEL REDSHIRT: I will tell you the location of the secret Rebel base. Ah, it’s Yavin 4. Here, I’ll give you the exact coordinates. It’s longitude—
DARTH VADER: No need. Seriously. No. Need.
What can I say? The new movies strike the right emotional notes, but they don’t do plot logic or continuity very well. It’s one of the few things the prequels did better. (Possibly the only thing.)