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In A New Hope, Darth Vader on Tantive IV says: “several rebel transmissions were beamed aboard this ship from rebel spies…”.

Except that, in Rogue One, we see that the plans were NOT beamed onto Tantive IV - it was docked inside Mon Calamari flagship, and the plans were physically sneaker-netted through a door from one rebel to another as a data tape - witnessed by Darth Vader!.

Vader clearly knew what the tape was from the novelization:

The voice of a stormtrooper spoke to him through his comlink. “A data tape was recorded on the bridge just before we boarded. No sign of it here.”

[...]

The security door opened a mere crack and rebel hands shoved the tape through. Vader reached through life and matter and air and by will alone he pulled. He fueled his will with rage and fear and need. It was enough to tear the rebel from the door and drop him at Vader’s feet.

But it was not enough to claim the tape.

He grasped the rebel sprawled before him by the throat, lifted him and stared at him through bloody lenses. “Where,” Vader demanded, “are they taking it?”

Is there an explanation for this discrepancy?

  • 7
    I asked Hidalgo personally. His response wasn't helpful – Jason Baker Dec 21 '16 at 2:40
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    Maybe it was a setup. "...transmissions were beamed-" "No, they weren't beamed, they were handed-" Vader cuts off Rebel's hands "You were saying?" Vader likes his jokes, but not all of them work out. – DaaaahWhoosh Dec 21 '16 at 3:28
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    They'll probably retcon this in the Digitally Remastered Digitally Remastered Special Collector's Edition being released some time during the next years using the power of CGI to fix this discrepancy. – Mario Dec 21 '16 at 6:44
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    A continuity error? Surely not. – Steve Ives Dec 21 '16 at 8:09
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    Because Episode IV was written 40 years ago, and things have been retconned/fleshed out a lot since then. – KorvinStarmast Dec 23 '16 at 16:23
13

Either he thought Tantive IV was an escape vessel, not its own ship, or he didn't see the data tape

Pablo Hidalgo has been asked this question several times on Twitter (once by yours truly), but his most helpful response is probably this long Twitter thread from late December 2016; in it, Hidalgo pretty much confirms that this is an inherent contradiction between the film and the novelization:

enter image description here

@TheDonkeyDrip "As particle bolts shot toward him, he watched a data tape pass between desperate soldiers."

@pablohidalgo Yeah, it has the stormtrooper tell him as well. I was referencing the movie.

He does provide a rationalization for this earlier in the conversation:

enter image description here

@TheDonkeyDrip but then why is he so adamant about "beamed transmissions" if he saw the physical data tape?

@pablohidalgo Did he see it?

@TheDonkeyDrip The official novelization says he did.

@pablohidalgo Novel also has him view the Tantive as an escape vessel of the cruiser. Cuts on either side of semantics.

The passage he references is probably this one from the novel:

"Where," Vader demanded, "are they taking it?"

The reply was a strangled whisper. "Away from here," the rebel said. "Away from you."

Vader clenched his gloved hand until the man's neck snapped. Then he tossed the body aside. He activated his comlink and barked to his stormtroopers, "Find their escape vessel."

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Official Novelization Epilogue

So you have two options:

  1. He didn't see the tape. Wouldn't be the first time a novelization got something wrong; they're normally based on early drafts of the script, so perhaps this was an error that just got caught too late to fix in both versions. As Hidalgo reminds us:

    enter image description here

    Think of a novelization as an adaptation of canonical events.

    Because of how and when they're written, there will always be differences.

    In cases of contradiction, defer to the movie.

  2. He didn't see Tantive IV as an independent vessel. This is an admittedly weak rationalization, but if Tantive IV is an extension of the Profundity, then Vader's statement makes perfect sense.

  • 2
    Also, I now feel really bad for Hidalgo. This is what he has to deal with all day. At least he's got a sense of humour about it – Jason Baker Dec 23 '16 at 15:46
  • In Star Wars land, ironically, novelizations are typically far superior to script's final versions (where details differ) - that was true for ROTS and TFA, at least. Absent more updates from Hidalgo, this seems as good as an answer i'll ever get, so you get the accept. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 23 '16 at 15:48
  • @DVK-in-exile You won't get an argument from me; I do wish they could be more in-sync sometimes, but then I also don't want to wait six months to a year for the novel, so here we are – Jason Baker Dec 23 '16 at 15:51
  • while it wouldn't ever happen due to unlikely prospect for good profit margins, an ideal solution would be a 2.0 version of novelization based on latest on-screen script, released separately. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 23 '16 at 15:54
38

There certainly were transmissions from Rebel spies on the planet's surface to a Rebel ship in orbit.

It is true that the transmission was to the rebel flagship, and from there it was brought on a data tape to the blockade runner in one of the flagship's hangar bays.

There are a couple of plausible explanations:

  1. Vader simply does not care about such details. There was a rebel transmission, and the data from that transmission ended up on the blockade runner. His goal is to intimidate the Rebel officer, not provide an accurate technical report.

  2. Vader is angry with the failure of the Imperial forces on the planet's surface to prevent the transmission. It would be in character for him to focus on this instead of

his own failure to stop the Rebels from handing the plans through the airlock

because as we all know, Anakin/Vader is not very good at taking responsibility for his actions.

  • 3
    I agree. Vader most probably knew the data was originally transmitted, although it was later saved on a physical device. It's still confusing, though, that he says "beamed aboard this ship" when the transmissions were reportedly received by the Mon Calamari flagship. He must have known the difference between those two. – Essen Dec 21 '16 at 9:30
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    @Essen Knowing and caring are two different things... – Royal Canadian Bandit Dec 21 '16 at 9:31
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    "It is true that the transmission was to the rebel flagship, and from there it was brought on a data tape to the blockade runner in one of the flagship's hangar bays." Excellent point. +1 – Neow Dec 21 '16 at 11:35
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    Blaming Anakin always gets an upvote from me :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 21 '16 at 15:40
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    I agree with this answer that this is a distinction that Vader simply would not care about while slaughtering rebel scum, nor is it even consequential. It is almost as silly as asking "Why did Vader end this sentence with a preposition?" – J Doe Jan 4 '17 at 19:31

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