00:15:01 – 00:30:00
At the end of the first chapter of the Rogue Edition of 15-Minute Force, Captain Cassian Andor, the head of Rebel Intelligence famous during the first fifteen minutes for shooting an informant in the back, had just asked our new friend and strong female role model Jyn Erso when she had last heard from her father, Galen Erso, known Imperial collaborator and genius weapons designer.
“15 years ago,” she responds.
When Captain Andor asks where she thinks he’s been all this time, she responds that she prefers to think of him as dead. It makes things easier.
Andor, who’s not coming across as a nice guy so far, says, “Easier than what? Than he’s been a tool of the Imperial war machine?” Which has me thinking that Imperial War Machine is a great name for a band. A hardcore industrial ska band.
“I’ve never had the luxury of political opinions,” Jyn says.
Andor continues to grill Jyn, wanting to know when she last had contact with Saw Gerrera, which is the name Forest Whitaker is operating under in this film. A long pause follows while the camera cuts to other people in the chamber before Jyn answers, vaguely, “It’s been a long time.”
But the back-shooting captain continues to press the youthful Erso. Surely, Saw will remember her and agree to meet her as a friend. The other rebel leader in the room, whose name I do not know yet, threatens to return her to prison if she doesn’t cooperate. I’m not liking these rebels much. They seem as heartless as the Imperials.
And then we get some masterful info dumping in the dialogue. We find out the following things, in this order. Saw Gerrara saved Jyn and raised her, but she has no idea where he is because she hasn’t seen him in years. The rebellion knows where he is, they tell her, they just need someone to get them through the door without getting killed. Mon Mothma says that Saw Gerrara is an extremist who broke with the rebels, but, she adds, now seems like the right time to mend fences.
Saw Gerrara is a double-rebel. He rebelled against the Rebellion. This is adding to his mystique. I also want to point out that ‘Saw Gerrara’ has the same number of syllables and cadence as ‘Che Guevara.’ Coincidence?
Jyn wants to know what a reconciliation with the militant Gerrara has to do with her father. After Mon Mothma nods her assent, Captain Andor tells Jyn about the Imperial pilot defector who’s being held by Saw Gerrara, and who is telling everyone that the Emperor has created a weapon capable of killing entire planets. The pilot also says that he was sent by Galen Erso.
Mon Mothma adds that Captain Andor’s mission is to authenticate the pilot’s story and, if possible, to locate Jyn’s father. It appears Galen Erso is critical to the development of this super weapon, and they intend to stop it before it can be built.
So, Jyn has ties to both the rebellious rebel Gerrara and to her own father, and the Rebel Alliance wants to leverage this connection in both cases. Mon Mothma is hoping that her involvement will help convince Saw to assist in locating Galen Erso, so that he can return to testify before the Senate. I’m not sure what this is meant to accomplish. I thought the Senate was left figuratively toothless after Palpatine assumed the mantle of Emperor. He is in full control of the Senate, isn’t he? Or is this a Rebel Senate?
With these words, Senator Bail Organa steps into the frame. It’s been a while since we’ve seen him. I just glad Jimmy Smits isn’t hurting for acting jobs.
Jyn says, “And if I do it?”
Mon Mothma says that if she helps, they’ll make sure she goes free. Which implies, conversely, if she doesn’t help them, they’re throwing her back in prison. Back in the Imperial prison, run by the Empire, which they are actively rebelling against. Or maybe they intend to put her in some sort of Rebellion prisoner-of-war camp, although we’ve seen nothing that indicates they even exist. The only good Imperial is a dead Imperial, after all. This kind of blackmail seems a little dark. It seems that Mon Mothma is running her own little Suicide Squad.
But here, in a very quick scene that takes a little over two minutes, we get the rest of the plot laid out for us. The Rebel Alliance will use Jyn Erso to get close to Saw Gerrera, hoping to enlist his aid in finding Galen Erso, as well as leveraging the info gained from the Imperial defector to try to eliminate the planet-killing weapon before it can be built. If the weapon is the Death Star—which we know it is—we know that at least part of this mission fails.
Captain Cassian Andor leads Jyn to a smallish ship, where she is introduced to K-2S0, the lanky droid who clotheslined her outside the prison transport vehicle in the prison breakout sequence. The droid tells her that he’s a repurposed Imperial droid. He also notes that apparently the Council is sending Jyn with them to Jedha. Jyn acknowledges this. K-2S0 says he thinks that is a bad idea, and so does Cassian. But what does the droid know? His specialty is just strategic analysis.
The Rebel leader whose name I didn’t know before is talking to Captain Andor outside the vessel, and presumably out of earshot of Jyn. His name is General Draven, it turns out. He tells Andor to forget what he heard during the Council meeting. There is to be no extraction. If Andor finds Galen Erso, he is to assassinate him, not bring him back. We already know that Andor has no problem assassinating people, so this is a genuine possible outcome. Which further raises the stakes.
When Andor returns to the shuttle, he warns Jyn that the droid—who he calls “K-2”–has a tendency to say whatever comes into his circuits, a product of his reprogramming. K-2 demonstrates this trait by asking why Jyn is allowed to have a blaster and he isn’t. Andor is shocked that Jyn has a weapon and asks her where she got it. She found it, she says. The captain wants her to relinquish it, but Jyn doesn’t want to. They are going into Jedha, which is a war zone. She needs to be armed.
Andor relents and let’s her keep the weapon. K-2 asks the captain if he wants to know the probability that she ends up using the blaster against him. It’s high, he says. It’s very high. K-2S0 may be a pessimist, but I’m with him on this one.
Our trio take off from the planet while General Draven looks on.
Now, 20 minutes into the movie, we get our second look at Saw Gerrera. He’s older. He has robot legs and a walking stick. He occasionally breathes into an oxygen mask that makes sounds like Darth Vader’s respirator. And, he doesn’t trust that the defection of Bodhi Rook, the Imperial pilot, is a genuine one. He doesn’t trust the Empire, it seems.
Hey, with the robot legs and the respirator sound effects, I get the feeling that he is the Anti-Darth Vader. Anyone with me on this?
Bodhi Rook tries to convince Saw that Galen Erso sent him. Then, Saw says, “Bor Gullet,” which means nothing to anyone. At least, it means nothing to me.
The next scene is at the Death Star. Let me repeat this, in case any Star Wars nerds didn’t hear me. We’re at the Death Star!
In point of fact, the scene opens with a TIE-fighter roaring across the screen, in front of an Imperial Star Destroyer, with the Death Star in the background, in the process of being assembled. The big round divot, the only circular dish-like object on the Death Star, is in the process of being installed. This is a Big Moment.
Then we are inside the Star Destroyer, and Director Krennic is being read the Riot Act by none other than Grand Moff Tarkin. Peter Cushing died two decades before this movie came out, but here he is, giving Krennic what-for. On Krennic’s watch, a rather talkative cargo pilot has defected to the Rebellion. The Emperor wants an immediate test of the weapon, before countless systems join the Rebellion. Krennic says he will not fail, and then he leaves with his shiny black stormtroopers.
Do we have time for a flashback? Apparently we do.
We cut to what appears to be an Imperial cocktail party, and a young Jyn Erso is entering the scene. Krennic is there, taking an appreciative drink from a rocks glass. Then Galen Erso is there, in his Imperial uniform, picking Jyn up and promising always to protect her. As he tosses her into a chair, she is suddenly in the bunker where she hid out from Krennic’s SS soldiers. Then Galen is suddenly in the picture again, calling Jyn “Stardust.” I imagine this will be important later, since we’re being beat over the head with it. We see Lyra putting the necklace around Jyn’s neck. And, she’s hugging Galen again. Then the hatch opens and there’s Saw Gerrera overhead.
And, then Jyn wakes up, apparently from a dream. She fingers her necklace, which she still wears around her neck.
Our stalwart trio of heroes are in orbit around Jedha. Captain Andor points this out to Jyn. Their ship lands, and they use binoculars to look at an Imperial Star Destroyer that’s hovering above a huge rock formation. Andor says that this is because of Jyn’s friend Saw Gerrera. Apparently the Imperials are stripping all of the Kyber crystals they can find from the site. They need them to power their weapon. Enough with the Kyber crystals already. I think they’re this year’s midichlorians.
And, I think I have a title for this chapter now, too.
Jyn convinces Andor to leave K-2 behind. She refers to him as “target practice.” Jyn thinks that the droid will make them conspicuous, and Andor agrees. The droid stays behind.
Cut to Saw Gerrera’s hideaway. As it turns out, Bor Gullet is a slimy-looking, tentacled beast with telepathic abilities. Gullet wraps its many tentacles around the cargo pilot, Bodhi Rook, while Saw delivers a soliloquy. The militant rebel leader says he’ll soon have the info he needs from Rook through Gullet’s abilities, but that an unfortunate side effect is that usually the subject is driven mad.
Cut to, the top of the rock under the Imperial Star Destroyer. There’s a congested city or village or flea market up there. And Captain Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso. There’s a funny split second where our two—for lack of a better word—heroes bump into a belligerent pair who remind me of the two that Old Obi-Wan and Young Luke Skywalker bump into at the cantina bar in Mos Eisley. But, that was on Tatooine, not Jedha. These could be meant to be their younger versions, though.
We get a glimpse of a holographic wanted poster showing the missing cargo pilot. The Empire is offering an award for information about his whereabouts.
Captain Andor tells Jyn that he had a contact, one of Saw’s rebels, who has gone missing. His sister is looking for him, though, and will meet them at the ruins of the old temple. Andor says they’ll give her Jyn’s name and hope that gets them a meeting with Saw.
“Hope?” says Jyn, incredulously.
“Yeah,” Andor responds. “Rebellions are built on hope.”
More local color. We see stormtroopers roughing people up in the alleyways. They are actively seeking information on Bodhi Rook. Then, we hear someone saying, “May the Force of others be with you” repeatedly.
The Force of others? What is that? Would the others be the Jedi Knights, and, by giving the traditional Jedi blessing in this manner, is the speaker telling everyone that he is not a Jedi? Since the Empire has made eradicating the Jedi a major part of its mission statement, this makes some sort of sense. I’ve just never heard it this way before.
The same person talking about the Force of others offers to tell Jyn’s future for the trade of her necklace. Jyn is wearing a heavy scarf, as one does on a desert planet, and her necklace is hidden from sight. From normal sight, I should say. When she figures out that the speaker is talking to her, he introduces himself to Jyn as Chirrut Imwe. He appears Asian, which means absolutely nothing in the SWU. And, by the way he acting, and pointedly not looking at Jyn, I’m going to assume that he is blind. He can tell she’s wearing a necklace through souped-up Daredevil powers, or maybe through that “Force of others” he keeps yammering about.
At any rate, we’ve been introduced to a new character. Chirrut Imwe.
Jyn wants to know how Imwe knows she’s wearing a necklace, and he says for that answer she must pay. Then, appropos of nothing, Imwe asks her what she knows about Kyber crystals. The closed captioning on my screen says “kyber” with the small-k, but I still think it sounds like a proper noun. Jyn answers that her father told her that Kyber crystals were used to power the Jedi’s lightsabers.
As this chapter of the Rogue Edition of 15-Minute Force ends, Captain Andor is calling for Jyn to come join him and leave the nosy blind beggar behind.
If we’re looking at classical three-act structuring of the story here, we must be near the end of the first act by this point, which means that Chirrut Imwe would be the last of our main characters introduced, assuming he’s a main character. Which I do assume.
Of course, these rules aren’t absolute, and our first act may be longer. We’ll know more when we watch our next chapter.
Until then. . .Always Refuse a Hug from Bor Gullet, and May the 15-Minute Force Of Others Be With You.