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In the scene in Rogue One where General Draven, Mon Mothma, and Cassian Andor are questioning Jyn Erso, at one point Bail Organa steps out from the shadows. The pace of the movie seems to take a pause, the music swells, and it seems as if Bail's appearance is meant to be dramatic and meaningful to that particular moment.

It feels out of place. His sudden appearance doesn't change the conversation, and Jyn doesn't seem to recognize him. It's not paced properly to be a moment of fan service.

I know Rogue One went through several re-shoots; is this a vestige from a storyline that didn't make it into the final cut?

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    We'll never know
    – Valorum
    Jun 10 at 17:09
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    It's unquestionably intended to be fan service, that the pacing is bad doesn't really change that. You're just supposed to clap because you recognize him. Jun 10 at 17:21
  • Maybe because the last time we saw Organa on screen he was taking possession of Princess Leia? Jun 10 at 18:05
  • Rule of cool- He’s one of the few characters that have been on-screen in the prequels, and we all know the prequels are great
    – Boolean
    Jun 10 at 21:06
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    Jyn: "The last time I got cross-examined like that, no-one wanted to post Bail" Jun 11 at 21:24
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I haven't been able to find any official commentary on the decision to draw attention to Bail during the scene, either from director Gareth Edwards, or actor Jimmy Smits. The closest I've found is just Jimmy Smits confirming that he liked his scenes and didn't do any alternate takes. However, here are some possible reasons:

His appearance is likely intended as fanservice.

He's the first character only seen in the prequels to appear in the film, so his appearance in the scene could be intended to draw a connection between the prequels and original trilogy. Bail appears in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and is mentioned in A New Hope in Leia's iconic message to Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the words of RedLetterMedia, "I clapped! I clapped when I saw [Bail Organa]!"

Why was the pacing kind of clumsy, if it's fanservice? It's unlikely this will ever be officially addressed, but it's worth noting that this scene as described in the official novelization, released at the same time as the film, doesn't include Bail at all. His appearance in this scene could have been a last-minute addition in editing.

The scene is establishing that Bail is involved with the Death Star mission.

The music that plays during his first appearance in Rogue One is the Force Theme, with a very similar orchestration to the version that plays during Obi-Wan's first appearance in A New Hope, indicating that the scene is meant to remind the audience that he's involved with the plot to get the Death Star Plans. As mentioned, his sole previous mention in the context of A New Hope is that he wanted to get the Death Star plans to Obi-Wan Kenobi, so the scene is establishing that 1) this is an important character you're meant to take note of, and 2) you've previously heard of him in the context of the Death Star plans.

He may be sympathetic to Jyn.

This is more speculative, since he doesn't actually interact with Jyn during the film, other than their eye contact during this scene, but in this scene, the Rebel command is interrogating Jyn about her relationship with her father, an Imperial collaborator. Since Bail's own adopted daughter, Leia, is about Jyn's age and also (secretly) has a father who's a high-ranking member of the Empire, the focus on his appearance may be meant to imply that he has some sympathy for Jyn, even though he's part of Alliance Command. (source)

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  • I'd agree it definitely is a bridge between the prequel film style/era and Rogue One's pastiche Original trilogy style/era. Jun 11 at 19:43
  • Additionally he is the most famous resident of the soon to be destroyed Alderaan. So it's like watching a ticking time bomb in a Hitchcock movie as we all know he will be dead soon. Jun 11 at 20:13
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    This is a fantastic answer, thank you! I felt like the pacing was weird because he's off in the background, presumably listening in, then all of the sudden he reveals himself... why not just have him around the table, or with a more substantial entrance? Or have him make a prophetic or foreboding remark: "We're concerned that the power of this weapon could be very... destructive." (I dunno, too obvious?) I like the thought about the parallel with Leia.
    – Thanarchon
    Jun 11 at 21:20

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