Director Orson Krennic is our newest Imperial face. Debuting in Rogue One, Krennic represents an ambiguity to the Imperial War Machine. While still rising through the Imperial ranks, Krennic also feels an allegiance to his pre-Empire friends. While imploring Galen Erso to join the Death Star’s construction, Krennic feels pressure from the Moffs to keep the Death Star construction on schedule. So, he forcibly kidnaps his friend and destroys Erso’s family life.
Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin began his career as a Captain in the Republic Navy. After encountering the Jedi during the Clone Wars, Tarkin’s opinion on them sours. Near the end of the Clone Wars, Tarkin has risen to Admiral. While he becomes friends with Anakin Skywalker via Palpatine, Tarkin chooses to prosecute Ahsoka Tano on murder charges. Anakin eventually clears his Padawan’s name. Shortly after Emperor Palpatine turns the Republic into the First Galactic Empire, Tarkin rises to the top of the military complex and rests comfortably at Palpatine’s side.
Darth Vader enters into Rogue One, after Director Krennic chooses to gloat to him about the Death Star’s near completion. Vader resides in a castle on Mustafar, where he bides his time in between the Emperor’s requests. When Tarkin demotes Krennic after Galen Erso compromises the Death Star, Vader is called in to solve Krennic’s mess. For those that have seen Rogue One, the world now knows how Vader cleans up a mess.
What about the Empire?
Emperor Sheev Palpatine doesn’t appear directly in Rogue One, but his influence is felt. The Death Star was designed as the ultimate weapon for Imperial control. A moon-sized space station that could travel at light speed and destroy entire planets. There is no Rebel weapon, no massive Army or coalition that could slow it down. Plus, the use of Jedi Kyber Crystals to create an extinction level turbo laser for the Death Star is so Palpatine. Still, it would’ve been great to see a monkey-eyed hologram cameo from the Emperor.
The soon to die over Yavin IV
Remember A New Hope? That Death Star conference room with all the Admirals and Moffs? None of them appear in Rogue One, but the Imperial military machine is commanded by them. General Tagge‘s first lines in A New Hope make reference to the growing threat of the Rebels as seen in Rogue One. By definition of the Imperial Military Hierarchy, Tagge lost scores of troops and ships over and on Scarif. But, who were the rest of the guys in the room?
Admiral Motti was the first Imperial officer to downplay Tagge’s assessment of the Death Star immediately following Rogue One. Admiral Motti was a member of the Joint Chiefs that died during the Death Star’s destruction over Yavin IV. Chief Bast was the Imperial Officer that begged Tarkin to leave the Death Star before it was destroyed, but Tarkin chastised him for cowardice. Wullf Yularen served as Colonel in the Imperial Security Bureau. That’s why Krennic and Yularen have the same cool white suits. Yularen formerly served as the Admiral of Anakin Skywalker’s flagship during the Clone Wars.
General Tagge was one of the strongest Imperial Army leaders. While best remembered as the British guy that Vader did not force choke, he remained wisely skeptical of the Death Star’s power. Following the Death Star’s destruction, Emperor Palpatine would promote Tagge to Grand General. From there, he would take over the Super Star Destroyer Executor and become the new Tarkin style foil to Vader. During the lead-up to The Empire Strikes Back, Tagge would eventually be slain by Vader.
What does it mean for the future?
When the first Death Star exploded, the Empire was bankrupted. The time between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One was spent mining worlds and enslaving less civilized alien cultures. Couple that with the cost related to keeping the Death Star a secret, the Imperial Hierarchy would’ve naturally collapsed following the Death Star’s destruction. There are only so many Imperial citizens to enslave and there is a finite source of income for Palpatine to plunder.
Most of the pilot superstars defected from the Imperial Academy to the Rebellion. 90% of the military officers died aboard the Death Star. The few surviving Moffs took over spending what was left of the Imperial Economy to create the Death Star II. Many Star Wars fans could argue that the success of the Rogue One squad only ramped up Vader’s plans to overthrow the Emperor. Honestly, the Emperor should thank Vader for eventually chucking him down that reactor shaft.
Just imagine an alternate world where we’re getting an Arab Spring style Star Wars Anthology film where the people of Coruscant rise up against the Emperor. First, that sounds amazing. Second, that idea could work as a Battle of Algiers style film. Finally, isn’t it amazing the doors that Rogue One has opened for the Star Wars Saga?