ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at Creators.co
MP staff. I talk about superheroes a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it.
Eleanor Tremeer

Unraveling the plot of upcoming Star Wars movies through speculation and dissection of trailers has become an annual tradition on the internet, and as we draw closer to the release of #rogueone the plot hints just keep coming. The final trailer was everything we hoped it would be — bombastic, full of hope, and quintessentially Star Wars-y — and it also contained a plethora of clues about the plot of the movie.

Recently, the folks over at Nerdist trawled through the trailer to put together a compelling fan theory, arguing that Rogue One could solve a major plot hole from A New Hope — as well as explaining why it took the Empire 19 years to build their most powerful superweapon.

If this theory turns out to be true, then Rogue One won't just be a neat little Star Wars story, but the final piece in a puzzle that has aggravated fans for decades.

Why Install An Exhaust Port?

There are many things to love about Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope — it's an exciting, rip-roaring mission to rescue a princess and save the galaxy from an evil, jack-booted empire. Playing off World War II nostalgia while introducing cutting-edge special effects, A New Hope's impact was astronomical as it inspired a new era of scifi.

However, the film is not without its flaws. The pacing is a little odd, the dialogue is often stiff, and the plot sometimes feels a little too convenient. After all, why would the Empire — renowned in their efficiency and control — allow the Death Star to have such a fatal weakness as an exhaust pipe that leads directly into the main power generator?

"It was kind of an aesthetic choice, and if you shoot a laser into this hole the station blows up." [Lucasfilm]
"It was kind of an aesthetic choice, and if you shoot a laser into this hole the station blows up." [Lucasfilm]

Well, as Nerdist posits, it's quite possible that this was never part of the original plan, but was added on later — and its purpose was to allow the Rebel Alliance to destroy the superweapon.

This is where Rogue One has the chance to rewrite Star Wars history as we know it. So here's the theory: Galen Erso, when recruited by Orson Krennic to work on the Death Star, installed the exhaust pipe so that his daughter Jyn could give the Rebellion a means to destroy this superweapon.

Thanks to the Rogue One prequel novel Catalyst, we know that Galen had worked with Krennic before, but we don't know the specifics of why he's recruited to work on the Death Star, only that he's a laser specialist. Considering Jedha — the planet where Jyn goes in search of her father — is a hotspot for growing laser-producing Kyber Crystals, it seems likely that Galen's work is to do with the laser on the Death Star.

The laser is assembled in 'Rogue One'. [Lucasfilm]
The laser is assembled in 'Rogue One'. [Lucasfilm]

This would allow him to request an exhaust port for the extra energy created by the laser when it is fired, and thus provide the Rebellion with a handy bulls-eye when they attempt to destroy the Death Star. It's all coming together.

A Route For The Rebellion

This makes so much sense it's almost certainly the plot of the film. But this theory is not without its problems. Even if Galen had installed the port as part of the laser weapon, that doesn't explain why no high-ranking officer took issue with how this created a huge chink in the Death Star's armor. It also doesn't explain why Jyn and her team are shown disguised as Imperial officers, or how they factor into Galen's plan at all.

So it might be that this is just a minor plot point, or a twist — instead of a reconnaissance mission to gather information, Jyn helps her father install the very thing that will allow the Rebellion to destroy the Death Star.

Jyn aboard the Death Star. [Lucasfilm]
Jyn aboard the Death Star. [Lucasfilm]

It's likely that this isn't all there is to the film, but rather a subplot that explains Galen's involvement while solving a plot hole in the saga thus far. Jyn's mission, and why she assembles her team of rebels, must be the wider story, and we'll just have to wait until December to discover what that is.

But if Nerdist's theory is true, this could neatly tie up something that fans have been arguing about since the '70s, as well as offer some poignant, heart-wrenching depth to A New Hope, allowing us to see an old favorite in a new light.

And yet, why Luke's laser blasts did a 90 degree turn to go down into the exhaust port still remains to be seen.

You can watch Nerdist's full breakdown of their theory here:

And tell us in the comments: Do you think Galen installed the exhaust port for the Rebellion?