Following on from my moderately spoiler-filled review of Rogue One yesterday, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at how the Rebel Alliance originally got hold of the Death Star plans in the old, now-Legends canon! Sit back and enjoy the crazy!
First of all, it’s important to note that the story was told over a number of years and via a number of media, including video games. This is important, because of the nature of such things.
Back in The Force Unleashed, Vader’s secret apprentice captures the leading senators behind the rebellion and takes them to the skeletal Death Star building site to, well, kinda gloat. Over the next couple of years, the rebellion learns of the battle station’s capabilities and decides to steal the plans in the hope of finding a weakness and destroying it. This whole process was called Operation: Skyhook.
Initial rumours of the project were passed to Princess Leia while she was on a mercy mission to Raltiir, and investigations were carried out by Captain Raymus Antilles – with the unlikely assistance of none other than Han Solo… Anyway! The investigations turned up the location of the plans for this station at Danuta, and so Mon Mothma assigned the mission for their recovery to the Imperial defector, Kyle Katarn. In addition to this, plans were also recovered on Polis Massa, where the 501st Legion attempted to recover the leaked information. Datacards with information about the Death Star were also sent to Darkknell, where they were recovered for the Alliance by Garm bel Iblis.
These plans were discovered to be incomplete parts of the whole schematic, which was said to have been split for security purposes. A fourth part of the plans were recovered on Toprawa, where the superlaser had been developed, and were recovered by Bria Tharen and Red Hand Squadron, where they were beamed to Princess Leia aboard Tantive IV shortly before Darth Vader’s flagship, the Devastator, arrived in the system and began the chase that concludes over Tatooine in the opening of A New Hope.
This whole story is principally told in the Dark Forces, X-Wing and Battlefront video games; as well as the novella, Interlude at Darkknell, and the end of the Han Solo trilogy, Rebel Dawn. The video games have gone over this material so often because it is a pivotal episode of the Star Wars saga that has “game opportunity” written all over it. Needing to have a reasonably open-ended storyline has also led to a few problems, and the whole situation has caused the almost-endless retcons that have happened over the years, in turn causing the story of the theft of the Death Star plans to have become a weirdly mutable part of the overall storyline. The storyline outlined above has actually been told over the course of several years, and painfully refined to allow for the inclusion of any new scrap of information as it became published.
Thankfully, with the release of Rogue One, we have one coherent narrative that shows us what is now considered to be the true story, and I have to say, it’s actually a lot better than I thought it would be!