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Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: Rogue One (the second time around + novelizations)

I've now seen Rogue One for the second time, and it turns out I have enough thoughts to make an entirely new post about it. Here's my first review, in which I point out that I had something of a delayed reaction to the film: I enjoyed it while it lasted without being blown away – and yet on mulling it over in my head over the next few weeks, I ended up really enjoying it in hindsight.
The second time around was a different experience. Knowing what would happen took the suspense out of the film, but conversely allowed me to pay more attention to what was actually happening. So though my first review states that I preferred the second half of the movie to the first, this time around I had the exact opposite reaction. This time it was much clearer what was going on in the rather chaotic first half when it came to characters and events, whereas I grew a little restless once things streamlined into the final act. 
And it really surprised me how much I missed during the first viewing. For example, events on Jedha make so much more sense now: the Empire was mining the planet for khyber crystals to power the Death Star. Saw Gerrera's people were trying to prevent their removal from the planet's surface. The ensuing skirmish between them involved Jyn/Cassian getting caught in the crossfire, with Cassian shooting one of Saw's men in order to save Jyn's life (after saving that little girl she ducked behind a tank that was about to get hit by a grenade).
That explains why all of them were held in so much suspicion when they were taken by the guerrilla fighters to see Saw. It all makes sense now! At the risk of sounding a bit dense, all this happened too fast for me to fully grasp what was happening the first time around.
(And if you think about it, what a harrowing conceit this is: that the Empire would confiscate the very crystals that the Jedi held sacred in order to power their own Death Star. It's the ultimate "fuck you!" to the Jedi Order).
None of this added insight makes the movie perfect. I still think we were owed a scene in which Galen reaches out to Bodhi and enlists his help in taking his message to Saw. Cassian's emotional arc remains a little shaky, especially as he goes from yelling in Jyn's face to enlisting soldiers for her mission without any conciliatory scene between them in the interim.
And although it's now obvious that Baze and Chirrut were once closely linked to the Jedi Order (I caught the exposition this time), creating the poignant situation of two protectors without anything to protect, it's not made clear what it means to be a Guardian of the Whills. Perhaps we're not meant to know, but without clarification they still feel more like cool character concepts than actual characters. (Baze calling Jyn "little sister" may be cute, but it's still completely unearned).
And it bugs me that we never find out why Jyn was in Imperial custody when the Alliance busts her out, though having read this article, I can guess why. Both Jyn and Cassian's introductory scenes were part of the extensive reshoots: Jyn's to bridge the gap between her childhood and her meeting with the Rebel Alliance on Yavin (which means the writers probably didn't give much thought as to why she was imprisoned – the entire sequence served another purpose entirely), and Cassian's to give him a more striking Character Establishing Moment.
I always felt that the exposition given to Cassian by the informant in his opening scene was a little redundant – yes we find out along with Cassian that there's a superweapon and a defector and a secret message, but it all gets repeated to Jyn at the first Alliance Council just a few minutes later. Which makes sense since in the original cut it would have been at this point it was all imparted to the audience for the first time.
To share the exposition earlier and place it in a more fraught context means it's relayed in quite a jumbled, confusing manner. Everything we learn here could have been delayed until later, with Cassian's murder of the informant taking place entirely off-screen. Which is all to say that the scene solely exists for the benefit of Cassian's characterization; to show us how far he was willing to go for the sake of the Rebellion.
If you couldn't tell already, I'm pretty fascinated by the process of storytelling and the choices that are made to convey information to an audience, so I've been equally fascinated by the huge amount of deleted scenes prevalent in the Rogue One trailers. There's so much that didn't end up in the final product.
According to this report, the DVD release will have no deleted scenes, which is disappointing but not surprising. Much of what we saw in the trailers were not so much deleted scenes as alternative scenes that suggest a drastically different plot trajectory (especially in the third act) so I can understand why Disney wants to sit on them for now. Deleted scenes fit into the told story and can be easily returned in special editions, whereas these alternative scenes are the result of extensive reshoots that occurred quite late in the game.
Their existence suggests a lack of creative discipline, and I've no doubt Disney wants to keep tight control over its own narrative: both the movie's canon, and the assumption they know what they're doing at all times. But I'm still intrigued by what could have been, as well as the ripple effect that no doubt contributed to some of the film's somewhat messy structure (if you change one small thing early on, it has an effect on everything that comes afterwards).
So here's my take on the original structure of Rogue One, as deduced by what's in the trailers and supplementary materials (yes, I really am this obsessed).
We know that Jyn was originally conceived as already being part of the Rebel Alliance when the story begins, as toy production began so early that some of her action figures are still labelled "Sergeant Jyn Erso" on the packaging, as seen below:
(As it happens, the novelization covers for this inconsistency by having an Alliance officer bestow Jyn with the rank of sergeant on the way to Scarif so that she has the authority to address the troops as their leader).
And in the early trailers, there's a definite sense that she's somehow involved in active duty against the Empire, with General Draven telling her to "state your name for the record" and reading her list of offences, Mon Mothma saying she's been on her own since she was fifteen, and Jyn infamous line: "this is a Rebellion isn't it? I rebel."
It suggests she was already well-known to the Alliance, if not a part of it. Mon Mothma goes on to say: "we have a mission for you" before describing the major weapons test, while Draven asks her: "is that clear?" to which Jyn gives a snarky: "yes sir." There's also another missing line from the second trailer – Jyn's dismissive: "let's just get this over with, shall we."
The dialogue suggests leaders addressing a subordinate rather than an outsider, albeit one who is something of a loose cannon (and therefore more expendable). Heck, I'm tempted to say that in these early scenes Jyn was still being played as an Alliance sergeant – were it not for the fact the Rebels bring her to the table in handcuffs in both versions.
The scene plays out differently in the movie we saw on the big screen: the mission isn't as clear-cut and Jyn is less confident about what's going on. There's not much talk about the Death Star; instead Mon Mothma wants to use Jyn to intercept the message from the defecting pilot by finding Saw Gerrera.
But the biggest change is in Jyn's attitude. Let's be honest, her characterization was a little weak in the final product, and I can't help but feel that a lot of her trailer persona (brash, insouciant, sarcastic) ended up on the cutting room floor. And I prefer my original take on Jyn: that she was already a rogue element in the Rebel Alliance, a known but unpredictable quantity that made unsanctioned strikes against the Empire when others were still too timid to openly engage.
Moving on, we know from this article that the introductory scenes for Bodhi, Cassian and Jyn (in the desert, meeting the informant, and in prison) were included in the reshoots. In the case of Bodhi and Cassian the inclusions don't make a huge difference beyond stronger Character Establishing Moments, but in Jyn's case we're given what is also a new introduction – for both her and us – to Kaytoo.
Specifically, she makes a run for it and Kaytoo grabs her by the neck and flings her to the ground, saying: "congratulations, this is a rescue." I feel this scene is significant due to the "ripple effect": that if you change something small early on, it naturally has a larger effect on events that take place later on.
In this case, I'm fairly confident that in the original cut Jyn didn't meet Kaytoo until Jedha. First there's this scene:
Jyn is in the co-pilot's seat and the "good/good" exchange between her and Cassian (possibly the two of them clarifying the situation and agreeing to what they expect from each other) occurs without any Kaytoo in sight, whereas the finished film has him consistently sitting where Jyn is now.
More pertinently, there is this scene that has Kaytoo telling Jyn: "The captain says you are a friend. I will not kill you," and Jyn giving a dry: "thanks."
This is clearly the original first encounter between the two of them, though I don't think anyone would argue that the change didn't benefit their dynamic: it sets up their animosity and Kaytoo's personality perfectly.
(Though it surprises me that they didn't insert Cassian into Jyn's jailbreak – the first time I saw the movie, I thought the guy who unlocks her shackles was Cassian).
It's at this point things get really difficult to track; snippets of scenes that in most cases are more difficult to place. They include:
Jyn looking back over her shoulder when she first arrives at the Rebel Base
Vader reflected in/standing in front of a radar screen
Stormtroopers in front of a blazing building – almost certainly the Erso farm
Rebel prisoners being marched through Jedha
The statue of the fallen Jedi (presumably on Jedha)
The exchange between Cassian and Kaytoo in which the latter states the odds and the former responds: "he means well" (followed by Bodhi's bewildered face)
Krennic standing by himself on the Death Star, blaster in hand
Baze firing on Eadu and shouting: "you destroyed our home!"
Mon Mothma: "Our Rebellion is all that remains to push back the Empire."
Draven: "Can you be trusted without your shackles?"
Cassian: “I’ve been recruiting for the Rebellion for a long time.”
Saw: “The world is coming undone. Imperial flags reign across the Galaxy.”
Jyn: "This is our chance to make a real difference."
Krennic: "The power we are dealing with here is immeasurable."
Jyn: "If my father made this thing, we need to find him."

Chirrut: "Take hold of this moment."

Jyn: "This is our chance to make a real difference."
Jyn/Cassian: "Are you with me?" "All the way."
Cassian: "If you're really doing this, I want to help."
Rebels running through the surf and across the beach on Scarif:
Jyn in the Imperial facility, turning to face the camera (though the director is on-record as saying this was just an experimental shot that was never going to be in the film itself):
Perhaps strangest of all is the fact that Saw Gerrera is bald in the trailers while having hair in the finished film. I've no idea what that could signify – perhaps a flashback Jyn has on the way to Jedha, one that depicts their parting – which might well have included that signature line from the trailers: "what will you do if they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight, what will you become?"
At the time it hinted at a transformative arc for Jyn that never materialized on-screen; in hindsight it's probably Saw referring to his own mangled cyborg body. Heck, it might even be referring to the Alliance as the "they", with an increasingly paranoid Saw suspecting that the Rebels would torture and kill Jyn if they knew she was Galen's daughter (which he cited as a the reason for abandoning her).
And when the heck did THIS happen?
And now we get to the battle of Scarif, where things get a little easier to map out considering the plot is straightforwardly: distract the Stormtroopers, find the plans, and transmit them to the Rebel fleet. It's easier to see how the alternative scenes would have fit into the overall story.
Most telling is the fact that the records facility and the transmission tower were clearly in two separate locations. In the finished film we watch as Jyn/Cassian retrieve the plans and start climbing up through the depository to the satellite tower as Kaytoo perishes to buy them some more time. The rest of the team are elsewhere, dying one by one.
In the original cut it seems the following happened: Jyn/Cassian retrieve the plans and escape with Kaytoo back through the facility undetected:
(Presumably they broke in by wearing the Imperial uniforms, but just as in the filmic version, they change back into their civilian clothes for the final stretch. You can see Cassian is wearing his own shirt with the Imperial pants/boots, just as he did in the filmic version right up until his death).
They get outside and start dodging AT-ATs...

In the background of these shots you can not only see the transmission tower, but also Alan Tudyk in his motion-capture suit (on the far right), proving that Kaytoo was still with them at this point.
At some point they and the other rebels take cover in a shallow trench, having met up again with Baze (the absence of Chirrut suggests he's already died):
We see Baze take aim at the AT-AT (note Cassian on his left), a scene that was clearly reconfigured in the filmic version. There Baze also fires at an AT-AT, but in a vastly different context. He does very little damage, only for an X-Wing to come soaring in, which was presumably also the conclusion to this scene.
Though this may have just been promotional stuff, it's possible the transmitting tower was situated across a body of water which would account for these pictures...

And this shot of Krennic crossing debris-filled water...

Then there's this behind-the-scenes clip, depicting a very different demise for Cassian and Kaytoo at 0:45 (though it's possible Cassian isn't quite dead yet; I have a feeling that beach scene with Jyn was set in stone quite early on).
According to this, Alan Tudyk says Kaytoo was originally felled by Krennic, which seems a likely scenario for this scene – though the article also says the scene was never shot, so who the heck knows...
And finally, there's this infamous moment:
I've actually heard three different possibilities of what's happening here:
1. The TIE fighter was added specifically to the trailer, which is likely considering Jyn doesn't seem to be reacting to it. That is the exact same shot in the film which depicts her path to the console as completely clear.
2. Cassian is piloting the TIE fighting and she's heading toward it in order to make her escape. (Having been presumed dead along with Kaytoo at the base of the transmission tower, Cassian pulls a variation on the "not dead yet rescue" present in the final cut, only for the ship to malfunction and the two of them to have their final moments on the beach).
This is pure conjecture on my part, and probably not even close to being accurate.
3. The TIE fighter emerges only to be shot down by an X-wing just before it kills Jyn; a sequence which was removed due to its similarity to the earlier scene of Baze being saved from the ATAT by an X-wing pilot.
Whew. I think that's everything. 
A part of me is disappointed that so much of the trailer footage was either removed or reconfigured, as plenty of the shots were what got me excited about Rogue One in the first place. I was dying to see how the rebels outmanoeuvred those AT-ATs (for the first time I really felt the scale of those machines) and how Jyn was going to escape that TIE fighter. It's like reading bits of a book we'll never get to read in full.
And on that note, let's have a look at the context the supplementary novelization provides...
Catalyst by James Luceno
This is the novel that directly precedes Rogue One, largely detailing what Galen, Lyra and Krennic got up to during the Clone Wars and outlining the incredible amount of planning, organization and labour that went into the initial construction of the Death Star. That thing didn't just pop up overnight, it was years in the making.
To be honest, Catalyst is not a hugely exciting book; it has no reason to exist beyond the fact it's a direct precursor to the latest Star Wars movie, and I suspect Luceno's mandate was simply to lay the groundwork for what happens in Rogue One. In this it succeeds, but (much like Rogue One itself) it can't justify its own existence outside the context of the greater Star Wars universe.
That doesn't make it uninteresting – in fact, here are some of its most relevant tidbits:
Galen's research originally involved growing synthetic khyber crystals, knowing that the Jedi used them to power their lightsabres and believing them to be filled with strange energy. His goal was to harness this energy as an inexpensive power source for developing worlds.
Khyber crystals are rumoured to be sentient, and were a closely guarded secret by the Jedi. Many were annoyed by this, knowing their potential for warfare and believing that the Jedis' refusal to tap into that power only prolonged the Clone Wars.
Galen in particular didn't have a particularly high opinion of the Jedi: he thought they were stagnant traditionalists who favoured mysticism over science, and wrong to keep the secrets of the khyber crystals to themselves.
That said, he was also a staunch pacifist who refused to take sides during the war – and was threatened by both sides because of it.
On the other hand his wife Lyra was a big fan of the Jedi, and was almost certainly Force-sensitive herself. She benefits the most from Catalyst, revealed to be a much more interesting character than the film ever gives her credit for. Among other things, she gives birth to Jyn in a prison cell, was a geologist who led teams into khyber cave systems, worked as a translator, and was the first to realize that Krennic/the Empire was up to no good, convincing Galen that they had to escape Coruscant and hide out on Lah'mu.
She was definitely the pants-wearer of the relationship (forgive the dated expression) but it gives her actions at the beginning of Rogue One a little more context. Neither Luceno nor Alexander Freed (who wrote the novelization for Rogue One) are particularly kind to Galen: he comes across as deeply introverted and easily manipulated, traits that aren't particularly clear in the film itself, but which leave Lyra as the protector of the family unit. So when she chooses to leave Jyn on Lah'mu, her thought process was probably that her daughter could reach the cave safely, but that her husband wasn't capable of protecting himself against the man she single-handedly rescued him from last time.
Work on the Death Star actually began during the Clone Wars, under the jurisdiction of the Republic. The original plans were stolen from the Separatists (in mysterious circumstances) and rumoured to be the property of Count Dooku – but of course, we the audience can see puppet master Palpatine at work in all this. By deliberately "leaking" the plans into Republic hands, he riles up enough paranoia to ensure they get to work on their own superweapon to match that of the Separatists. He essentially tricks the Republic into building the Empire's weapon for them.
Naturally the creation of a giant space station with a world-destroying laser attached to it is no easy feat, and we're shown the challenges that went into its completion. For instance, Krennic finds it necessary to place the various engineering teams on different worlds so they don't realize they're working on a weapon of mass destruction, though their inability to compare notes means that progress is extremely slow.
The Empire also has to deal with funding the project and mining for the necessary resources, which results in destroying several Legacy planets (worlds that are meant to be protected under Republic law). This in turn requires a massive cover-up and the hiring of untrustworthy smugglers to transport the essential supplies.
And if you thought the absence of Geonosians was an odd omission from Rogue One given their importance to the initial design of the Death Star (as revealed in The Revenge of the Sith) then this book bridges the gap between their involvement and the Imperial project takeover.
Jyn's nickname derives from the fact that the irises of her eyes looked speckled, like stardust. (Unfortunately, she's too young to be a proper character here, though Luceno does relate the book's last paragraph from her point-of-view).
There's an exceptionally chilling scene in which Galen and Lyra (having been brought aboard Project Celestial Power by Krennic without fully understanding what it is) are given an array of khyber crystals to study. At first they're delighted to finally get their hands on such rare specimens: then Lyra realizes by the shape and size of the crystals that they've been taken from Jedi lightsabres.
Unless I missed it, there's no origin for Lyra's crystal necklace.
You have to give him credit: Krennic is a master manipulator. Because he and Galen were friends at school, he knows how to best handle him: "Only when Galen was halfway toward persuading himself to do something could he be coaxed the rest of the way. Galen would need to be convinced that it was his destiny to contribute to the battle station, and Krennic was determined to see to it that he didn't miss his calling. He hoped he had planted the seeds and that chaotic Coruscant would provide the water and nourishment."
But all this creates a powerful contrast to how Galen manages to manipulate Krennic in Alexander Freed's novelization of Rogue One: whereas Krennic knows he can't rush Galen in his decision-making process, Galen bets on Krennic's impatience in getting the Death Star completed as soon as possible – but I'll go into more detail on this later.
So Catalyst is a bit of an odd duck: technically a prequel to the prequel of A New Hope, but one that sets the scene for the entirety of Rogue One. It would have been an interesting experience to read it before seeing the movie, as it very much feels like a setup up to Rogue One rather than its own story.
It also set me wondering as to how these different authors keep track of Star Wars canon. Here for example, Tarkin mentions his captivity in the Citadel – something that was featured in The Clone Wars (I watched it just a couple of weeks ago) suggesting that Luceno is well aware of the contributions other writers have made to the existing continuity. So... do the writers have to watch all the supplementary material or do they get briefed on what to add? Is there a Star Wars Bible that they all have to study, or just an all-knowing editor that can sprinkle in these details?
Whatever it is, it's impressive that everything remains consistent over so many different publications.
Rogue One by Alexander Freed
What I was most curious about when I picked up this novelization was whether or not Alexander Freed would base his story on the film we saw, or whether he was working from an earlier script (as Alan Dean Foster seemed to be when he penned the novelization for The Force Awakens). And if the latter was the case, would we perhaps get a sense of what the alternative ending was like?
Turns out: no. This adheres very closely to what we all saw on the big screen, and the differences are simply in the level of detail involved. Freed takes the opportunity to get into the heads of the characters, explore their motivations and decision-making process, and expand their conversations. He also provides more clarity to the action sequences, and adds plenty of extra world-building.
But none of the alternative scenes turn up here. The book mostly sticks with the points-of-view of Jyn, Cassian, Bodhi and occasionally Baze, with a few paragraphs devoted to Mon Mothma, General Draven and Admiral Raddus. Chirrut and K2-SO get less attention, possibly because they were the characters with the least internal conflict throughout the film (as well as the audience favourites, which conversely meant less time had to be spent on them in the novelization).
As I did with Catalyst, here are some interesting insights from the text:
During the Clone Wars, Cassian was on the side of the Separatists.
That blaster K2-SO complains about Jyn having when she boards their ship? She nicked it from Cassian's bag.
Cassian's decision to shoot his informant had more to do with sparing him from inevitable torture than ensuring his own getaway or protecting the Alliance's source of information. Which granted, doesn't make the guy any less dead, but the decision wasn't totally self-serving.
That said, Cassian is seriously ice cold. On racing to get Jyn out of Saw's hideout on Jedha, he stumbles over an unconscious young woman who he assumes knocked herself out in the chaos – and just leaves her there. He doesn't even try to revive her. Later he refuses to give Bodhi a weapon on Eadu, telling him he won't need it but secretly knowing that if the truth came out about his assassination attempt on Galen, Bodhi would almost certainly side with Jyn and shoot him in the back.
Jyn is also pretty hardcore: after realizing the Alliance's complicity in her father's death, she seriously considers getting back to the Yavin base and killing as many people as she can, including Cassian. It illustrates what I ended up loving about the Jyn/Cassian dynamic – they really did go from two people who utterly mistrusted each other to (whether you read it as romantic or not) people who chose to die in each other's arms.
That romantic component between them is still up for debate, as Freed remains pretty coy on the subject – but if you are a shipper then it's pretty funny to read Cassian's point-of-view chapters. There's a constant internal dialogue going on in his mind about how he should abandon Jyn, shoot Jyn, distrust Jyn – all while he's simultaneously rushing to save her life at every possible opportunity.
On reaching Saw's hideout, Jyn asks a soldier what happened to some of her old comrades, and discovers they've all been killed.
Jyn's indifferent reply to Saw's question: "you can stand to see the Imperial flag reign across the galaxy?" was an attempt to hurt him after he abandoned her. Which I'd figured anyway, but it was nice to see it confirmed.
It's still unclear how exactly Bodhi and Galen met each other. Bodhi tells Cassian at one point that they spoke to each other for the first time while queuing in the lunch line, but (for whatever reason) Cassian doesn't believe this is the true story. So I still maintain the Bodhi/Galen relationship should have been filmed.
One of the best chapters is when Freed actually describes what it was like on the ground for the victims of Jedha City. As you may have assumed watching the film, that little girl Jyn saves is indeed killed by the Death Star's blast – she dies in her father's arms, and neither one ever knew what hit them.
It also takes out a squad of Stormtroopers that aren't able to get off the planet in time. Krennic considers them dispensable collateral damage, but their leader dies feeling as though she failed the rest of her team.
Despite what the writers/producers say, Chirrut is surely Force-sensitive. He not only intuits that Cassian is a captain without ever being told, but senses the Dark Side around him just before he heads out to shoot Galen.
Apparently there was a woman among the defecting rebels of Rogue One, though she's not given a name. It's a table scrap, but hey – next time you see the film, remind yourself that she's in there somewhere.
In the seconds before he dies, Bodhi was heading to the cockpit of the shuttle with a half-baked plan to pick up Jyn and Cassian from the transmission tower. 
Just before Baze's death he sees the explosion that killed Bodhi and so assumes the entire mission was a failure. All that's left to do is look at Chirrut one more time before dying.
In tears yet? Well here's something even more heart-breaking: you've probably read the widely spread quote about how K2-SO runs a simulation in his final moments that depicts Cassian escaping from Scarif unscathed, but what isn't explained as often is that his plan for Jyn and Cassian to climb to the top of the control tower involves him "deprioritizing their survival" in favour of the mission's success.
That said, he could have rerouted his systems and managed to delay his final shutdown – but doesn't, as he calculates this would have raised the risk of Cassian and Jyn being captured.  
As with K2-SO's final moments, there are plenty of book quotes floating around on Tumblr that pertain to Cassian's arc – but it wasn't until I read them in their proper context that I fully understood what was going on in his head throughout the film. It's also pretty tragic, because although Cassian wants to believe that he's been redeemed for all the crimes he committed as a spy and that the transmission did get through to the rebel fleet – he doesn't. Yet despite assuming that they've probably failed and realizing that he can't ever fully atone for his past actions, he feels at peace because he knows that Jyn believes they succeeded.
Having identified a need in her from the first time he sees her, Cassian's arc is simply allowing Jyn to find peace in place of his own inability to do so. Suddenly his tunnel-vision regarding Jyn makes sense, since he was aiming for redemption on a microcosmic level, believing that if he could just help Jyn, he could make things right with himself. Feeling he achieved this, we're given the oft-quoted phrase: "her faith carried him with her."
As for Jyn, it was all to do with reclaiming her identity. The text regularly points out how she hid behind dozens of aliases, how she truly believed Galen had joined up with the Empire, how distant she felt from who she was and what she was supposed to be. There's a rather overworked metaphor used throughout the novel about how her mind is a dark cave (that's clearly symbolic of the one she hid in as a child) which gradually forms cracks and fills with light as the story goes on.
It's a pity that they couldn't convey this progression more clearly in the film itself, as it's really a story of a young woman healing herself. There was no easy way of establishing that she hadn't heard her real name in years, or that she honestly believed her father had betrayed her, but it would have given weight to her introductory declaration to Krennic in which she finally identifies herself to him by her real name, as the daughter of Galen and Jyn Erso: "she couldn't remember ever saying that before, let alone with pride."
I remember reading at least one complaint that Jyn's gloating about how she's told the entire galaxy about the weakness in Krennic's Death Star was a little pre-emptive (after all, she hadn't sent out that transmission at that point) but the novelization makes it clear that she was just stalling for time at this point, hoping to catch Krennic off-guard and avoid getting shot.
Another complaint was that Jyn didn't check her comlink to see if there were any other survivors on Scarif – actually she does, but there's no reply. Also, she takes Cassian to the beach partly because there's nowhere else to go, and partly because it reminds her of Lah'mu.
Throughout the novel Krennic is haunted by Lyra's words: "you'll never win", and after seeing Jyn on Eadu, he finds her strangely familiar (presumably it's her resemblance to Lyra). It niggles him all through the book, and though he realizes the rebels are going after the Death Star schematics once the attack on Scarif begins, he's totally bewildered as to why. He doesn't believe there are any weaknesses in the Death Star, and keeps trying to figure out what Galen is posthumously attempting by sending the Alliance there. But then, in the final seconds of his life, when he's trying to comfort himself with knowledge that the Death Star's power will subjugate the galaxy and his name will forever be conflated with the destruction it wrecks, he remembers the exhaust shaft and dies screaming with rage. It's awesome.
If you thought the race against time to get the plans away from Vader wasn't harrowing enough, we also learn that Captain Antilles's ship was still being repaired during the fight on Scarif and the engine only just declared flight-worthy when the plans are put into his hands, carried by a badly burned middle-aged woman.
Finally, I want to share just how Galen managed to sneak that now infamous exhaust port into the Death Star right under everyone's noses. Included in the novel is a series of communications between Galen and his engineering staff in which he draws their attention to a design flaw, comes up with a number of time-consuming and expensive solutions, and barrages everyone with a neverending stream of apologetic and self-effacing emails until they just sign off on his "simple" exhaust port.
That's right, the success of the entire Rebel Alliance began with Galen betting on his colleges' frustration with neverending bureaucratic red tape. It's pure genius.
And if you haven't seen it already, here the How It Should Have Ended take on Rogue One:
Even in the alternative happy ending Cassian and Jyn don't get to kiss!

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