Clip It: Each day, Jon Davis looks at the world of trailers, featurettes and clips and puts it all in perspective.
In the new trailer, the battle droid K-2SO (and new fan favorite?) warns Jyn Erso and her Rogue One crew that there's a “97.66% chance of failure.” That's pretty bad. In fact, it's terrible. This means they won't get the plans, they are all going to die, and the whole thing is going to be a tragedy. That's a rough movie going experience (although not as rough as Going the Distance with Drew Barrymore, trust me on this).
It's true that droids are not always the best at making calculations. In Empire Strikes Back, C-3P0 famously told Han Solo the “chance of successfully navigating an asteroid field was 3720 to 1.” We know that Han Solo defies the odds, that's why you never give him the odds. But are droids usually wrong? Droids are engineered beings, with incredibly accurate programming and operating systems, and they get things right more often than not, otherwise no one in the Star Wars universe would use them.
It's a common storytelling trope that if someone tells the heroes that no one has escaped Cave of Death, then these guys are the one who are going to escape the Cave of Death. And that makes sense. Why else would an audience watch?
However. 97.6 percent chance of failure is really bad odds. So we must entertain the idea that everything goes sideways and disappointment abounds. What would happen to the Star Wars universe if the Rogue One mission fails?
1) All continuity is thrown out the window. None of the movies or TV shows count. They're going to all need to be redone with the rebels finding a different way to take down the empire. Something even more laborious and multi-pronged than one simple force shot into the core of the Death Star. Longtime fans might protest. I can't say I like the prospect, myself. I really enjoyed most of those movies and I'd hate to see them retconned out of existence. But we can't deny that Lucasfilm is not above tinkering.
2) A separate timeline is created. This is something that Star Trek has done in recent years. We will have a Star Wars Prime universe where the plans were retrieved and a Star Wars Alternate universe where they weren't. Every time there's a new Star Wars project, we will have to call our parents and grandparents and debate with them: “Is this Star Wars Prime? Or Star Wars Alternate?” It makes everything more complicated but then again, if we can all handle that the third Fast & Furious movie takes place after the sixth Fast & Furious movie, then we can handle this.
3) There will be a sequel to Rogue One that takes place before A New Hope and after Rogue One, and this time, they get right. So when the Rogue One characters all fail and die, the audience is shocked and the kids are crying, there's a message during the end credits: “Don't worry, a new cast of characters will try again two summers from now!” Do we like the idea of a sequel with the exact same plot as the first movie? Of course we do. That's what sequels are all about. Maybe this will be a trilogy. Maybe the third movie of this saga will be called Rogue One: Third Time's a Charm.
Either way, no matter if Jyn Erso and company wins or loses, I'm going to this movie. Please join me. I will buy your ticket but you have to pay me back.