As we draw closer to the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, more and more information is coming to light, even if we're not totally aware of its meaning at first. The only thing to do, naturally, is to pick over everything Lucasfilm releases, from videos to promotional pictures. And sometimes, we can find a clue that unravels a whole universe of possibilities.
This is one of those times.
There's plenty of interesting things about this photo, which was released a few weeks ago. First off, that's a Deathtrooper — the shiny new Stormtroopers who are Director Krennic's personal guard. But it's the location — and the item the trooper is holding — that's really important, even though it doesn't seem so at first. This still is taken from Star Wars' very first flashback scene, and one which could provide a vital clue to connecting Rogue One with Star Wars Episode VIII.
Grab your tin foil hats, folks, because this one's a doozy. Oh, and there are huge spoilers for Rogue One ahead, along with potential spoilers for Star Wars 8.
The Ersos Are Hunted Down By Director Krennic
Before we get to the toy in the Deathtrooper's hand — and believe me, we will definitely talk about that — let's break down how we know this is a flashback scene. Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Jyn's father Galen Erso, revealed that many of his scenes were retrospective, telling the story of how his family was set upon by the Empire.
Mikkelsen spoke to the Evening Standard about his role in Rogue One:
"I spend a lot of time with [Jones] and she’s a wonderful actress. I play her dad at the time of Felicity and I play her dad when she’s younger, so we jump back and forth in time."
So far so good, but how is that connected to this image? SWNN — a popular Star Wars fansite — put this all together, pointing to the fact that Mikkelsen filmed many of his scenes in Iceland. The country is known for its striking landscapes, and the Rogue One filming location just happened to feature black earth, green grass, and rocky outcrops. We can see that in the Deathtrooper still, but we also caught some glimpses of it in the trailers and sizzle reel.
Here's the Deathtroopers approaching the Erso homestead:
And here's a young Jyn, presumably trying to escape the troopers:
The plot synopsis for Rogue One's tie-in prequel novel revealed that the Erso family have a complicated history with Director Krennic — as an old family friend, Krennic recruited Galen to design the energy weapon at the heart of the Death Star. This went south when Galen realized how much damage the Death Star could do, and presumably the Erso family have been running from the Empire ever since. That might be how the Ersos ended up on the black soil planet in the first place, as Jyn's accent makes her sound like she was brought up on the Central Planets.
So it seems that this flashback scene will feature Krennic finally catching up with the Ersos, as we can see in this snippet from the sizzle reel:
And what happens from here on in is a mystery.
Connections To Star Wars Episode 8
To return to the photo that started this whole string of investigation off, let's focus in on one other crucial element: The Stormtrooper doll. Now that we know the context, it's clear that this is Jyn's doll, which her mother Lyra (mentioned in the prequel novel synopsis) may have made for her. What's interesting is that Entertainment Weekly, who often reveal plot points in their release of promotional images, pointed out a similarity between this doll, and the one Rey has in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
The filmmakers didn’t want to explain exactly what’s happening here, but they confirm: yes, that’s a Stormtrooper doll, a galactic version of a toy soldier. And it will have special significance in the story. Decades later, an abandoned girl name Rey will also fashion a doll for herself — this one an X-wing pilot.
Still got that tin foil hat? Now would be the time to put it on.
Ever since Jyn Erso's casting was announced, fans have been wondering whether the protagonist of Rogue One is actually Rey's mother, as Felicity Jones (Jyn) and Daisy Ridley (Rey) look remarkably similar. There's more evidence to support this theory than you would expect, especially when you factor in the Star Wars saga's penchant for symmetry, iconography, and symbolism. Here's a video that breaks the theory down:
While the doll could just be a visual parallel, there's a couple of points that counts against that. Firstly, it slots in nicely with the rest of the Rey Erso theory — Jyn may have made the doll for Rey, or Rey may have made her own doll and modeled it on her mother's doll. Then there's the hint from EW, and the fact that they pointed out the doll's "special significance" in the Star Wars saga.
However this all plays out, it would seem as though Rogue One isn't just a standalone film — it's still part of the greater Star Wars theory, and could provide some vital backstory for Episode 8, as well as leading in to the original trilogy.
Do you think Jyn could be Rey's mother? Tell us in the comments!