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“There’ll be no one to stop us this time.”

In the original Star Wars (1977), the following conversation happens near the end of the first scene after the Star Destroyer Devastator captures Tantive IV and Darth Vader—and his troops—have boarded the captured ship looking for the stolen Death Star plans:

Another Imperial Officer approaches Vader and the Commander. They stop and snap to attention.

SECOND OFFICER

Lord Vader, the battle station plans are not aboard this ship! And no transmissions were made. An escape pod was jettisoned during the fighting, but no life forms were aboard.

Vader turns to the Commander.

VADER

She must have hidden the plans in the escape pod. Send a detachment down to retrieve them. See to it personally, Commander. There’ll be no one to stop us this time.

COMMANDER

Yes, sir.

Given that Rogue One (2016) now attempts to retcon the whole backstory of, “…Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star…” is there some explanation/clarification (official Disney canon or “Legends”) as to who or what has has ever somehow stood in the way of Darth Vader (or the Empire) in the past before any of these specific events depicted in the original Star Wars (1977)?

PS: Yes, I am well aware that Rogue One (2016) is considered official canon, but adding “Legends” just in case something there hints at something that might not be explicitly addressed elsewhere.

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    Sorry, what was the retcon? And how do the events of Rogue One not directly answer this? – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 10 '17 at 0:27
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit Waaaay back before Disney, there were a few—if I recall correctly—attempts to provide more depth to the story behind the first Star Wars (1977) such as in the 1981 radio drama. Episodes 1-3 of that show were the prologue to the main story and included details on how the plans were stolen. “While on the planet, evidence of Imperial atrocities influences Leia to take a stand against the Empire. She also makes contact with a Rebel spy who reveals intelligence about a secret Imperial project, codenamed Death Star.” – JakeGould Jan 10 '17 at 0:31
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    You mean the time that just happened? Where the rebels on the Tantive IV held off the Empire forces to give Leia time to get the plans onto an escape pod? Which stopped the Empire from retrieving the plans on the Tantive IV? – DBPriGuy Jan 10 '17 at 1:10
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    I'm with Jake - I always thought this referred to some noodle incident which prevented total galactic domination in the near past. It didn't seem like a continuation of the current problem (i.e. "I have recovered my password - there'll be nothing to stop me this time."). Not Leia had just "stopped them" by sticking the plans in an empty escape pod. – Hannover Fist Jan 10 '17 at 17:06
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    i think it's ok to say this is just bad writing. star wars is full of that. – ell Jan 10 '17 at 18:43
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My assumption was always that he meant the senate; his later conversation with Tarkin is that the senate had been dissolved, giving total power to the Moffs. Given that Leia and her (adopted) father Bail, as well as others in the senate (Mon Mothma, etc) had presumably caused problems for the empire the past, I figured his line about being “stopped” related to the diplomatic red tape which had prevented the Empire from outright doing what they wanted in the past.

There are vague hints to this in a few legends sources; I don’t have the book with me at the moment but in Jedi Search there is mention of Mon Mothma being one of the first senators to openly suggest Rebellion, and Bail being reluctant at first to go this far. Leia’s secret support of the rebellion while still a senator is seen in a few sources, such as the Rebels cartoon and the original Force Unleashed game. Especially in the Rebels episode, she is ordering the imperials around using her diplomatic weight. Vader’s dialogue with her in the beginning of Star Wars (1977) —at least to my ears—alludes to previous instances where she’s hidden behind red tape and used diplomatic privileges to impede the Empire:

LEIA

Darth Vader, I should have known. Only you could be so bold. The Imperial Senate will not sit for this, when they hear you’ve attacked a diplomatic…

VADER

Don’t act so surprised, Your Highness. You weren’t on any mercy mission this time.

And then later:

VADER

Send a distress signal, and then inform the Senate that all aboard were killed.

Which implies that Vader is still answerable to the Senate (or at least still needs to keep them apprised of the situation; he’s not simply free to do what he wants at this point).

Then later aboard the Death Star:

TAGGE

The rebellion will continue to gain support in the Imperial Senate…

TARKIN

The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the old Republic have been swept away.

TAGGE

That’s impossible. How will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?

TARKIN

The regional governors now have direct control over their territories.

So a reasonable amount of dialogue in the movie is spent just explaining that now with governors who are loyal to the Empire, and the Death Star to back them up, that there will be no one to stop them anymore.

  • 3
    Excellent answer. Makes the most sense considering. – JakeGould Jan 11 '17 at 3:10
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    This doesn't track for me, because as you allude to in your answer, the Senate (as far as he knew) still stood in his way to doing whatever he wanted. I think it makes more sense that since he simply expected the stolen plans to be in the escape pod unaccompanied. – guenthmonstr Jan 11 '17 at 23:25
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    @guenthmonstr Leia was one of the members of the political structure of the Galactic Republic that stood in the way of Vader. The Rebellion was covert and efforts to destroy the Rebellion were covert in nature. This is well established in “Legends” as well as canon works. Also, in Star Wars (1977) Vader orders a cover-up by stating a distress signal should be sent and the Senate should be informed that everyone aboard was killed; note that doesn’t mean everyone aboard was actually killed. Vader—at this point in the saga—was clearly acting covertly. – JakeGould Jan 12 '17 at 0:32
  • @JakeGould Hmm, I think I get what you are saying. Vader thinks that because of his cover up, the Senate would have no way of knowing to stand in the way of his recovering the plans? Or would he be saying that since he is preventing the release of the Death Star plans, the Senate won't be able to stand in the way of deploying the Death Star? – guenthmonstr Jan 12 '17 at 0:42
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    @guenthmonstr With the Senate in belief all on the ship were killed—including Leia—Vader and the Empire would lose a strong oppositional voice in the political structure the Empire had to deal with. Remember, they had to build the Death Star in secret. Leia is their prisoner so when the commander says this to Vader during that scene, “Holding her is dangerous. If word of this gets out, it could generate sympathy for the Rebellion in the senate.” That concern is real: Remember, the Rebellion was secret but Vader’s efforts to destroy them were equally secret. – JakeGould Jan 12 '17 at 1:37
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You are overthinking this. He just means Leia, who he has correctly inferred stopped him from getting the plans when he captured the ship. Vader evidently did not reckon on the possibility of a droid having possession of the plans, and expects them to be simply there for the taking on the planet below.

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    Even though they were once his droids. I find his lack of faith in his own machines disturbing. – Mindwin Jan 10 '17 at 15:11
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    @Mindwin Then again, who in their right mind would expect a 30 year old droid built by a child using only scavenged parts available on an isolated, rogue-infested dustball would still be in the employ of royalty? That's like modern day celebrities walking around with a 1980's cell phone. – zibadawa timmy Jan 11 '17 at 1:43
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    1980's cell phone? More like a 1980's junior kit radio! – colmde Jan 11 '17 at 12:39
  • I figured basically this, except it was the soldiers who prevented him from getting to Leia/the plans before they were put in the escape pod – Izkata Jan 11 '17 at 15:01
  • I feel like reclaiming the plans should inspire more a "they won't get away" kind of evil dialog than an "no one can stop us" kind of evil dialog. – Devsman Jan 11 '17 at 21:31
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The impression I've always gotten is that Vader is saying this in an ironic (storytelling) way. Send troopers down, grab the droids, and come back. This should be a piece of cake for Storm Troopers.

I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

1

The Death Star plans were stolen and a large battle ensued, the rebels had won their first great victory according to the radio drama. Now Vader wants the plans back and he has traced them to Leia, who he knows is a rebel sympathiser, on the Tantive IV. One of the first lines of dialogue in A New Hope is Threepio saying that "There will be no escape for the princess this time". It's not the first time Vader has been in a battle to recapture the stolen plans.

Simple as that, although Rogue One answers it perfectly: After boarding, Vader battled through rebel soldiers on the big rebel ship, trying to get the plans, but Captain Antilles escaped and handed them to Leia, and the Tantive IV then blasted away from the large rebel ship it was docked with. Then we join A New Hope where vader has caught up with the Tantive IV, and there's that scene.

  • 1
    "There will be no escape for the princess this time" That is a fairly generic line and could refer to any number of events Leia was involved in in the past. “It's not the first time Vader has been in a battle to recapture the stolen plans.” Star Wars was made in 1977. There is no indication prior to Rogue One (2016) that Vader was in battle to recapture the plans. The answer I accepted—as well as repeated references to the Galactic Senate in the original *Star Wars*—mesh together to give Vader’s quote context: Political maneuvering had stopped the Empire in the past. Not any more. – JakeGould Jan 11 '17 at 23:40
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I think also that I have not seen mentioned yet is that, as the plans were taken from Scarif to the ship, and attempted escape, you can say that there has been road blocks for them recovering the stolen plans. Each time that they were close to getting it.

Taking into account the last scene from rogue one where vader goes ham and kills the rebel just as he hands off the plans and his attempt to get the plans were thwarted.

He finally catches up to the ship and again, the plans were jettisoned off of the ship into a desert planet again being thwarted.

Since this escape pod showed no signs of life in it, the assumption was that the plans would just be embedded into the escape pod waiting for it to be recovered. Since Vader was right there over the planet, he would naturally be able to get there first before anyone could interfere. This would be where the line "there will be no one to stop us this time" comes into play.

It wasn't until after they got to the planet that the storm troops discovered possible droid interference with "Look sir, droids" while holding up a droid part.

  • Again, this is a case where if the scenario you describe would be a factor, Darth Vader would say something specific to the events such as “They won’t get away from us this time.” But instead says, “There’ll be no one to stop us this time.” To me, saying that means he’s talking about something larger than the specific events of that scene. Especially since this was Darth Vader’s response to the commander’s query about Galactic Senate was being upset about this. Remember: The Galactic Senate still had power at this point in the film. – JakeGould Jan 12 '17 at 23:21
  • good point, referring to the fact he told them to tell the senate that the ship sent out a distress signal and everyone aboard was killed. By reporting it as such, the senate would be less likely to investigate because they were just "responding to a distress signal" and there was no need to mention of them chasing after the escape pod. – ggiaquin16 Jan 12 '17 at 23:35
  • Exactly. The Rebels were covertly stealing the plans for the Death Star, but on the other side Darth Vader’s hunting down of the Rebels was equally covert. Leia did not want to be outted as a Rebel, and Darth Vader was conscious of the fact his efforts were “bold” but needed to be kept undercover. When he says, “You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor! Take her away!” He’s basically saying, “Bullshit on your mercy mission and bullshit on you. I own you now.” – JakeGould Jan 12 '17 at 23:43
-2

Honestly, so many complicated answers. It's much easier than all those --> It's the actual escapees themselves that keep avoiding his capture that are 'thwarting him'. So who is 'stopping him'? Why it would be Princess Leia and whoever other anonymous characters running with her.

They've been successfully slipping away. Now he finally has them.

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    Possibly, but if so, why would they not be there to stop him? – Adamant Jan 11 '17 at 22:38
  • @Adamant because he presumes that the droids sent to the surface will be stranded there and will be picked up by troopers. He has no idea that anyone (i.e. old Ben Kenobi) has any capability of stopping them from retrieving the plans. – The Great Duck Jan 12 '17 at 3:45
-3

All these answers are tip toeing around the actual answer.

"There will be no one to stop us this time."

…refers to two things.

The first thing it refers to is that the rebellion has secret, unknown members all around the Empire. The second thing it refers to is that Vader has no idea that Obi-Wan Kenobi is on Tatooine. The Empire would track a suspected rebel to some planet, or some area on some planet, but someone else on that planet, who was secretly a rebel, would end up helping the individual the Empire was tracking, or, someone within the senate, who is also a member of the rebellion, would secretly help a rebel the Empire was tracking.

Meaning, just when the Empire thought they had the rebel cornered, someone would "magically" come out of the woodwork and help this rebel in some way. Just as in the Phantom Menace when they say that The Trade Federation would have no control over Tatooine because it was controlled by the Hutts, the Empire knew that no rebels would be on Tatooine because the rebellion had members all over The Empire, and since the Empire did not control Tatooine, there would be no rebels on Tatooine, also because the Empire did not control Tatooine, Vader also knew no one in the Senate could have any influence over Tatooine.

Which is also the reason Vader thought that recovering the plans from Tatooine would be easy, he knew that Leia could not be sending the plans, via escape pod, to another rebel on Tatooine.

Given Nahdonnis Praji's line:

"Lord Vader, the battle station plans are not aboard this ship, and no transmissions were made..."

When Vader said:

"There will be no one to stop us this time."

Meant that because Vader knew the Tantive IV could not have sent any transmission(s) to another rebel who could potentially help, and also because he knew no rebels could be on Tatooine, he thought he knew that it was impossible for anyone to "magically" come out of the woodwork and help the rebellion this time.

But he was wrong, even though no rebels were stationed on Tatooine, someone sympathetic to the rebellion - Obi-Wan Kenobi - did live on Tatooine, and did "magically" come out of the woodwork to aid the rebellion.

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  • I don't understand how "no one to stop us" can possibly mean "there may be many unknown people to stop us." At least that's how your first few sentences read. Are you saying Vader is speaking ironically? Why would he do that? – DavidW Jul 18 at 2:45
  • If you read the entire message, rather than just the first sentence, Vader's comment means "There will be no one to secretly or "magically" come out of the woodwork to aid the rebellion this time" – DarwinsStepChildren Jul 18 at 2:51
  • I also said it refers to. Referencing something is not providing a meaning. There's a reason why reference and meaning are different words. – DarwinsStepChildren Jul 18 at 3:12

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