Star Wars’ Terrifying Tales: Rogue One’s destructive quest to reclaim the Death Star plans

Darth Vader. Photo: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.. Copyright: 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™, All Rights Reserved.
Darth Vader. Photo: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.. Copyright: 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™, All Rights Reserved. /

This Halloween on Dork Side of the Force, we’re taking a look back at some of Star Wars’ scariest moments, be it the movies, books, TV shows, and everything in between. May the Terrifying Tales be with you!

The terror associated with Darth Vader does not get any greater than the sequence in the last moments in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. At this point in the history of Star Wars, everyone knows who Vader is and how deadly any encounter will be. The last moments of the brave rebels trying to get the secret plans to Princess Leia represent the starting point to A New Hope while emphasizing the larger mission of doing what’s right in the face of devastating and almost certain death.

As the Death Star plans get downloaded aboard a rebel ship, the anticipation of seeing those download markers tick down creep by slowly until the moment the memory disk is pulled out. In such a horrifying urgent scenario, the rebels instantly rush toward the exit and without fail, the door refuses to open completely. What else would you expect from a horror film? Although Rogue One is not a fully cemented horror flick, it most certainly grasps the impending doom you feel when watching such scary things on the big screen.

Though the door doesn’t completely open, there’s a sliver of hope that it might be pulled open. However, when there’s a feeling of hope in Star Wars, it is sometimes pulled away with the devastating realization that rescue does not come to those who see Darth Vader in their sights. As the red lightsaber blasts through the darkness at the end of the hallway, it is quite clear what is about to happen, and it’s even more horrifying that the Rebels understand it when you see the expressions on their faces.

Rogue One shatters hope into many pieces in the rebel’s frantic attempt to escape Darth Vader

Any fan knows that the Death Star’s plans reach Princess Leia as seen in the original Star Wars: A New Hope. What is incredibly powerful is seeing the price paid to make that happen. Yes, we can talk about the entirety of Rogue One and what all of those moments mean, but we only need to focus on those poor Rebels who did what they could to finish the job that was started by Jyn Erso and crew.

We see the imperial shuttle approach the damaged Rebel ship, and once we see the data being downloaded, there’s an understanding that time is not on their side. There’s an inevitable sense of doom that approaches this scene and as soon as that door doesn’t open to let the Rebel get through with the data disk, we realize that fate has already been destined against them. For the scary breath of Darth Vader is heard in the darkness, and once the red lightsaber is seen, the myth of his being is cemented into the hearts and souls of those witnessing the mighty power of the Dark Side.

Within the Star Wars universe, watching a film after what we have already come to know presents a certain type of experience. In some cases, we discover the history of Anakin Skywalker through The Clone Wars where we see the potential of doing good. In other ways, we experience the aftermath of Darth Vader, either from the original trilogy or in Rebels, where any encounter doesn’t present any positive outcome. In Rogue One, there isn’t anything other than the terrifying realization that anyone trapped behind that stuck door is irrelevant to the story moving forward, because they are most certainly dead.

If that type of storytelling doesn’t represent a “terrifying tale,” then it’s lost on me what does. It is the ultimate villain presented on his own against a group of Rebels with blasters. Despite the numbers and having some fire power, it doesn’t hold any weight to Vader or the viewer. We all know going in that it’s a pointless endeavor, and much like a specific scene in another film franchise, there wasn’t any doubt in what was about to happen.

Do you remember the scene in Jurassic Park when the Tyrannosaurus Rex devours the person who ran into the bathroom? Well, this final battle scene with Darth Vader in Rogue One is exactly like that. Once you see the dinosaur up close and personal, much like the Rebels saw Vader, there wasn’t any doubt that the dinosaur was going to eat you. This is exactly what happens in the closing moments of Rogue One, and it’s sad and scary in the same breath. There isn’t any help coming to save them from the deadly dinosaur. They’re stuck with their fate.

This intense sequence in Rogue One is excellent, and credit goes to the cast who pulled it off and the overall direction of these moments led by director Gareth Edwards. You feel the urgency from the Rebels, while also sensing the futility of their actions. Much like sitting on a toilet while staring at the most dangerous predator in earth’s history, there wasn’t any changing the fate of those rebels on that day in that moment.

Do you think there was more hope than fear in those last moments in Rogue One? Share with us what you thought of that final scene with Darth Vader and if there’s a more terrifying tale in the Star Wars universe.

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