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Spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story follow.
Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie of its kind. Largely detached from the Skywalker family, the film was a test to see if audiences were open to spinoffs set in a galaxy far, far away. The box office results prove that fans are indeed receptive to anthology films, even if they mostly feature characters we haven't met yet.
Not only does Rogue One answer some big mysteries from A New Hope — like why the Death Star is so easy to destroy — but it answers some really, really tiny ones.
The Empire's Office Politics
The absence of Skywalkers and lightsabers (save for one glorious, Vader-ific scene) allowed the film to focus on a fairly untouched part of Star Wars lore: the internal power struggles of the Galactic Empire. Not among the Sith, but among the militaristic Imperial ranks exemplified by Grand Moff Tarkin, the commander of the Death Star in A New Hope, and Ben Mendelsohn's Director Krennic.
Tarkin's ascension to that role was covered in Rogue One, where his hostile relationship with (the superbly dressed) Director Krennic led to professional oneupmanship between the two Imperial officers. But it turns out, A New Hope hinted at their struggle all along.
Fans Were Always a Little Curious: Why Are There Empty Seats at the Table?
Most Star Wars fans remember the meeting between Darth Vader and a group of Imperial officials in A New Hope. You know, the one where Vader Force-chokes a man? Well, there's always been something a bit off with that scene: the empty seats!
The assumption has always been that ol' Anakin made an example of them, but what if it was Tarkin who did the example-making? Let this clever Twitter user explain (in under 140 characters):
If you need a quick refresher, Tarkin sought to take over the Death Star project from Krennic, while Krennic sought backup from Vader, who refused his pleas. Later in the film, when Krennic is confronting Jyn and Cassian on Scarif, Tarkin fires the Death Star to get rid of the Rebels. Krennic, along with everyone else on the planet, perishes.
This leads to Tarkin taking over the project, which is where we find him at the start of A New Hope.
Now of course there's nothing that specifically denotes the chair as Krennic's, but it's interesting to note that the Grand Moff now sits right next to Vader, representing Tarkin's victory over Krennic in their competition for access and influence.
That's the great thing about Star Wars: it can add value to scenes 30 years later, making you rethink what you thought you knew about the characters and plot!