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I think spoiler-wise, this is an all-or-nothing question about events near the end of the film.

I understand that the Final Order Star Destroyers (the ones built in secret by the Emperor) are left stranded and vulnerable because the guidance beacon has been disabled then destroyed and they can be blown up by shots to their Death Star cannons.

But what I don't understand is how the First Order Star Destroyers across the rest of the galaxy e.g. the ones at Bespin and Endor, are defeated so quickly and easily? I don't see how the events at Exegol would suddenly make all these other Star Destroyers vulnerable?

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    I think the implication is that the Galaxy rose up against them. A Star Destroyer is an amazingly powerful ship, but as we've seen in the earlier film, a concerted effort from a swarm of fighters is able to bring one down and without the fear of retaliation, local planetary defences could swat one.
    – Valorum
    Dec 21, 2019 at 19:30
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    Agreed with @Valorum. In RotJ, all it took was an A-Wing smashing into the command tower of Vader’s super star destroyer, and with some battery fire from a rebel ship, that thing was toast..... Dec 21, 2019 at 22:08
  • Also, it seems that in typical Imperial design (which tends to have more architectural and security problems than your average Internet unicorn) targeting those planet-buster cannons seemed to blow the whole cruiser up.
    – Marakai
    Dec 22, 2019 at 0:14

1 Answer 1

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Several things are to be kept in mind.

To start, we are not told how much time has passed between the Emperor's defeat and the following post-Exegol scenes. We mostly infer that it was not that much because Rey still looks exhausted and dirty. Long term exhaustion after that battle could be easily explained, but why she seems to still be wearing the same battle-stained outfit is less explicable (she's cleaned it up by the time she arrives on Tatooine, though).

Second, the entire movie made it clear that it was possible to traverse virtually any distance in a matter of seconds, even without a mystical Force connection. The Rebel fleet could have easily moved on to other systems without needing any appreciable amount of time to pass. There was also a significant delay between when Poe was expecting reinforcements to arrive versus when they actually did. And it was never said that everyone who responded to the call to fight against the Emperor did so by arriving at Exegol. Remember, "there are more of us than there are of them". The idea to attack the cannons was also thought up before they left for Exegol, to my recollection. So even if we buy that the scenes you are concerned about occurred shortly after the fight on Exegol, there was still time and manpower for local rebellions to occur.

Indeed, for those systems under threat from the already-departed ships, there is strong incentive to deal with the immediately obvious threat from Palpatine, and potentially limited options for bypassing it (they might just be shot down, have their systems jammed to prevent safe jumps to light speed, etc.).

Moreover, throughout the series we have seen that these ships are extremely weak to direct attacks. They seem wholly reliant on the intimidation effect: that resistance will result in subjugation or, in this case, wholesale obliteration. Their defenses are limited almost entirely to TIE fighters and mounted surface cannons, while the rebels use a wide variety of ships and attacks. They also provide a target rich environment: the rebels are explicitly trying to hit the giant ship, while the giant ships and their TIE fighters are trying to avoid hitting themselves, which gets difficult when the rebel ships are so much smaller and so close.

And they have critical weak points. Clearly their most clever and defense-minded engineers were working on the Death Star to cut its weakness to a single exhaust port, rather than, say, an easily located load-bearing signal tower or obvious explosion-prone weaponry. And it apparently couldn't be blown up by a small payload of bombs on a relatively miniscule section of the surface. We also see Finn take out an entire destroyer with a single shot from just one of its own mounted canons. And how he only managed to take out a chunk of the ship when blowing up the tower with an explosion from 500 feet away, instead of just taking out the entire ship, is nigh inexplicable.

In all honesty, the ships appear to be made of explodium, so all you have to do is get past some TIE fighters and they're pretty much doomed.

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  • The film would take too long as well if the ships were flying fortresses invincible to anything. Dec 22, 2019 at 3:34
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    @MissouriSpartan It's too bad that they are actually described as invincible flying fortresses; single dreadnoughts are called fleet killers. Otherwise, yes, it's somewhat required as a storytelling device, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. Dec 22, 2019 at 3:40
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    Granted, one could say that maybe Fin and his companion knew of some of the ships’ general weaknesses, them both having been former FO troopers. Even the Final Order ships apparently used similar design features to the First Order/Old Imperial Navy designs. That was the other weakness of the Imperials overall strategy: use the same exact design with just a few upgrades (planet killer guns), hoping somehow this time it’d be different....... Dec 22, 2019 at 3:44

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