We already know the Rebel Alliance destroys the Death Star. Jyn Erso, or someone in her band of misfits, steals the plans to the Empire’s superweapon to ensure its destruction to kickstart the original trilogy in the Star Wars saga. It’s up to Rogue One to make that prequel adventure worth watching even though we already know the outcome. But a new fan theory spreading on Reddit offers up a pretty sinister explanation of where Jyn and her squad could end up in the standalone prequel.
The theory goes like this: What if at the end of Rogue One, Jyn and the surviving members of her team do manage to send Mon Mothma and the leaders of the Rebel Alliance the Death Star plans, but don’t manage to escape the clutches of Darth Vader and the Empire? Because he has Rebel spies in his custody, Vader does what we know he did in A New Hope and throws them into the detention area on the Moon-sized space station. Jyn and the survivors languish there in Block AA-23 only to have Luke and Han launch their Leia rescue and escape, leaving them there to eventually die in the explosive Rebel attack in the climax of A New Hope that she made possible.
Rogue One allegedly ends about 10 minutes before A New Hope begins, and if they did leave it at that with Jyn then it would be dark, downtrodden stuff.
It would definitely explain why after this daring mission that nobody in the Rebel Alliance ever mentions Jyn again. You’d imagine if she was the key to the destruction of the Death Star they’d immediately make her a general like they did with Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. What did he ever do to help the Empire besides leave and then show up at the right moment to help Luke once?
Still, something like Star Wars: Rebels goes out of its way to remind viewers that the Rebellion is a wide-ranging and scattered force. Even Rogue One implies that Saw Gerrera is a Rebel fighter operating with a faction sort of on his own. So it could make sense that Jyn or other members of her team get out alive and live on fighting the good fight elsewhere in the galaxy — or in potential Rogue One sequels.
Marching into the detention area might not be what you had in mind, but it’d be a particularly harrowing ending for Rogue One.