We've been living with the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer for a few days now so it's time to start speculating about a few things. I'm going to start with the shot that really got my juices flowing: Who is in the cloak, and is that a Bacta Tank?
Lets start with what's onscreen. Firstly there are two Royal Guard, now, we've only ever seen them accompany the Emperor in the Star Wars movies, so I guess this could be Palpatine's introduction and it's possible that it's Darth Vader in the cloak. But we've never seen Vader wear a hood, so I'm willing to rule him out here. Also I expect Vader's reveal in a later trailer, and indeed in the movie, to be a major "thing". It also seems to me as though that is a Bacta Tank up on that stage being flanked by the Royal Guard, what would Palpatine need with a Bacta Tank? We will circle back to that in a moment.
Could the cloaked figure be the Emperor? I really doubt that this is the case. We discuss this a little bit on our Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer review podcast this week. I don't think the blocking in this shot would support the cloaked figure being Palpatine. We probably wouldn't see the biggest baddest bad guy in Star Wars from behind, nor would we see him kneel before anyone. Would we? Unless there's a bigger bad? I'll speculate wildly at the end. Spoilers; I don't invest to much in this wild theory...
There is an obvious option here, especially if you watch Star Wars Rebels. This theory places a slight wrinkle in the accepted mythology, in as much as it would retcon the use of the Royal Guard, but it's a theory of like. Here goes.
I suspect, what we are seeing in this amazing shot is a private chamber on the Death Star, reserved for Darth Vader. I believe the Bacta Tank we are seeing on the stage is where Vader can disrobe and attempt to heal his battered body. I believe we will get an extended cameo from Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker as he tries to undo two decades of injuries using the Force. That is why he has the Royal Guard flanking him, they are there to protect him from assassination at the hands of a wannabe, whilst he is most vulnerable. The cloaked figure who enters the chamber and kneels before the Bacta Tank may be an Inquisitor. We have seen a lot of Inquisitors in Star Wars Rebels, and I believe they will make the move to the big screen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Stoty. This is the wannabe that Vader needs protection from when vulnerable (hence the Royal Guard).
Seeing Anakin under that armour is something I've been desperate for since the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story announcement. Now the fact that we know exactly who Vader is (after the prequels etc) means framing Vader in the same way as Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope would be a bit of a waste. We can see the fearsome Sith Lord on the battlefield and that would be awesome, but seeing Anaking licking his wounds would also be incredibly touching.
Now, if there is something to this theory, I guess we need to ask who that Inquisitor might be? Will this be Mads Mikklesen's Galen? Remeber Mads was signing autographs as Galen? Galen was Vader's apprentice in (the now Legends) Star Wars The Force Unleashed video game? Is this character being retconned? Could the new version of Galen be an Inquisitor that Vader uses to carry out his bidding? Might Galen be Vader's proto-Luke, as he prepares to overthrow Palpatine? There's a lot of potential here don't you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Here's some wild speculation I promised earlier. You know I said that cloaked figure isn't the Emperor because you don't reveal him by shooting him from behind and you don't have him kneel, unless there's a bigger bad. What if this is Palpatine and he is taking a knee before Snoke? That would reframe the entire saga wouldn't it? Making Palpatine Snoke's puppet. I don't like this idea because it robs the Emperor of any power in the saga, and by extension, it robs Vader and Anakin, of any real triumph. I only mention it to be clear, I've considered it, but I think it would be an enormous mistake to make so early in the A Star Wars Story movies. No, my money is on an Anakin trying to heal shot and an as yet unmentioned Inquisitor kneels before The Dark Lord Of The Sith...
Thank you for reading,