Much has been made of how the story threads and protagonists of Rogue One A Star Wars Story exist and strive to win against the Imperial horde in a world without Jedi, without The Force. A concept, a religion, already slipping into distant memory. Yet The Force subtly weaves its way throughout heroine Jyn Erso’s journey, perhaps even culminating in a way for the character to return.
During the story development, at one point Jyn’s mother Lyra was to be a Jedi. This eventually changed to a planetary explorer with a deep respect for other cultures and belief in the Jedi Order’s connection to the Force, and their role in stabilising the warring nature of the galaxy’s disparate causes. She wears as an amulet a kyber crystal, the Force channelling object that powers a Jedi’s lightsabre. Lyra bequeaths this to Jyn in her last desperate moments on Lah’mu, beseeching her then young child to “Trust the Force.”
Jyn’s path evolves from this upending of isolated idyll to child soldier under Saw Gerrera, before he abandons her as it becomes apparent her heritage as the offspring of Oppenheimer figure Galen Erso will become known. She carries the crystal still, even smuggled into the Imperial labour camp on Wobani that the Alliance spring her from. On Jedha, blind Guardian Of The Whills Chirrut Îmwe is seemingly a seer, sensing the Force channelling talisman around her neck. He cryptically calls to her as Cassian Andor pulls her along on their mission, “The brightest stars have hearts of kyber.”
As Jyn receives the holographic message from her father in Saw’s base, she breaks down, realising the man she believed to be a coward, an Imperial stooge, never lost heart, never stopped believing in her, and also in the hope that the weakness he disguised in the Death Star’s black heart, could be exploited, pummelled, obliterated. She is guided to the Imperial data facility on Scarif to locate the Death Star plans, codenamed “Stardust” – the affectionate nickname he gave his daughter. Scarif’s incongruous tropical paradise reflects her growing clarity of purpose and drive to deliver the means of tipping the odds in the almost splintering Alliance’s favour, of galvanising hope.
As she succeeds in transmitting the plans to the orbiting fleet battling above the planet, she and Cassian, who has redeemed his previous shadowy intelligence actions with an act of faith in Jyn, collapse on the beachfront, and watch Tarkin’s targeting Death Star laser wipe the archive from the planet, to avoid any further leaks. Could her crystal, acting in tandem with the blossoming kyber powered destruction, channel that “bright star” energy into something positive? In the novelisation, Jyn “finally at peace,” believes, as in Chirrut’s mantra, that she is “one with the Force.” Even if Felicity Jones never reprises her Rogue One character (that multi-film contract was obviously a standard option signed before the bold step of killing her and her squad off) is it too fanciful to imagine that with these story breadcrumbs, Jyn could become a Force spirit? Qui-Gon Jinn told Yoda in animated series The Clone Wars that “The ability to defy oblivion can be achieved, but only for oneself. It was accomplished by a Shaman of the Whills. It is a state acquired through compassion, not greed.”
Could the teachings of The Whills, working mysteriously through the unprecedented sacrifice of someone brought up around the study of Jedi and their crystals, albeit tangentially, grant that person eternal consciousness as a spirit of the Force? Not a fallen Jedi, but a “rogue” one? The kyber fuelled fusion of dark and light scarifying the surface with the seed of “a new hope,” an inspiration for others to follow.