Amid the hubbub around Rogue One as it builds to its December 16th release is the question of whether this will be a one-and-done story. Obviously, the next step in the plot is A New Hope, but since we never hear the name “Jyn Erso” in the original trilogy, it’s unclear what happens to her. One possible answer: she turns out to be a crucial part of Episode VIII.
It may seem a bit odd at first, but the stars align if you look at it a certain way. One of the underlying missions of Rogue One is to bridge the gap between trilogies, with Forest Whitaker playing one of Anakin’s lieutenants from the Clone Wars animated series, the actress who played Mon Mothma in the prequels returning for the same role here, and Darth Vader playing a small but crucial role in the proceedings. It also seems odd that Jyn Erso, who appears to be an edgier sort of Han Solo, would just vanish from the galaxy in the midst of an enormous war, especially when she pulls off a major intelligence coup for the Rebellion.
Next, consider that Laura Dern has been cast in Episode VIII in an undisclosed role, and could easily pass for Felicity Jones, thirty years behind her. It would make sense for Erso to disappear after the end of Rogue One, as the Empire’s reach is far and its thirst for vengeance impossible to satisfy. This could also have something to do with the central mystery of The Force Awakens: Why was Rey abandoned on Jakku, and who are her parents? It would make sense that if Erso would be on the run from the Empire, she’d also want a child, especially a Force-sensitive one, well away from the Sith.
Another point worth considering is there’s not really a satisfying way to answer just who Rey’s parents are and give it some real meaning, unless she’s intimately tied to a character we’ve already met somehow. It’s hard to see that working with the current canon. There aren’t a lot of nominees, and of those in question, not many make much sense. Finding out she’s Obi-Wan’s granddaughter doesn’t have the narrative oomph a reveal like this would need. But an old supporter of the Rebellion coming out of the woodwork in their time of need? Forced to reconcile with the daughter she abandoned? That’s just good Star Wars.
We’ll find out soon enough, as Rogue One arrives December 16th and Episode VIII is a year away. But don’t be surprised if Episode VIII is a sequel in more ways than one.