The Rebels didn’t deserve to win
Rogue One and the Empire versus the Rebel Alliance
Spoilers within, take care if you have NOT seen Rogue One or The Empire Strikes Back.
Prep your flamethrowers Internet!
In a purely modern context, I think Rogue One is the best of the Star Wars movies, with Empire Strikes Back a close second.
Both took risks with their characters, there were ups and downs and some jaw-dropping moments including Han’s carbon freeze, and Luke’s hand; and in the newer movie, well, the stakes were so high that none of them walked away to a happy life in a non-extradition country.
And speaking purely for myself, K-2SO is a better droid than the rest put together. It doesn’t whinge at the slightest thing (c-3po) and speaks so you can understand it (unlike R2-D2/BB-8). It’s not cute either. If it wants to hurt you, it doesn’t flip out a gizmo to zap you, it whacks you on the head or flat-out shoots you. It’s a droid written like a person. And it doesn’t ruin perfectly good action scenes with blather (see also Empire Strikes Back and trying to rescue Han).
But I digress.
My problem with Rogue One, and indeed Star Wars as a whole is tactical; the Empire has utter incompetents in command, while the Rebels don’t take advantage of tactical advantages when they arrive. Rogue One’s attack on the shield gate is a case in point.
To set things up: our heroes are heading to Scarif to get the plans of the Empire’s latest battle-wagon, The Death Star. They set up a distraction to get the troops out of the facility to allow three of them to access the plan archive.
So far so good. And completely logical.
The rest of the Rebels upon hearing there’s a fight going on at Scarif do exactly the wrong thing. They launch everything they’ve got, with no plan, no tactics and no idea. Stealth be damned, let’s throw everything into it and hope for the best.
Because “hope” is apparently what Rebellions are built on.
Protip: If you’re flying into enemy territory, you go in with a bloody plan otherwise people start dying very fast. If you’ve got the element of surprise, you hit tactical targets as soon as you arrive, like fighter bays and guns. You don’t just sit there discussing who’s with you and what to do next.
Similarly, if you see enemy ships suddenly appear over a territory you’re protecting, you don’t panic and ask for guidance from the ground. You open bloody fire there and then.
I get that Star Wars is more about pew-pew-pew, and spectacle, but that’s cinema; you can create a spectacular battle that’s plausible. One example is the Battle at the Ragnar Anchorage, in the Battlestar Galactica miniseries. Unfortunately no videos are available, so I’ll do my best to explain.
The Galactica was a single ship up against three opposition battleships and had no element of surprise. Their objectives were simple: protect the civilian ships, defend themselves and escape.
The first order of business was to defend themselves and engage the opposition battleships. They started cover fire which intercepted enemy ordinance and fighters that might slip past. Second, fighters launched to engage enemy fighters, and keep them away from the civilian ships. Third, they positioned themselves to protect the civilian ships so they could escape.
Now, whether or not you believe they should have survived is neither here nor there, they at least had a plan, engaged the enemy in manner that improved their chances whilst minimizing the enemy’s tactical advantage. Unlike the Rebels at Scarif who clearly had no plan and no idea. They should not have won.
And yes, you can argue they encountered heavy losses, but they still got away with the plans. And yes, without the plans, there’d be no Star Wars or anything else; I get that. I just wish the writers had made more of an effort, because if they had, that battle would have been truly astonishing, and deserving of the title “Star Wars”.
The bottom line is that you can have spectacular battles which are also logical and tactically sound, and don’t rely on the other side being morons.