In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, General Leia and the Resistance are in peril thanks to some shocking new First Order technology. The bad guys’ newfound capabilities put the Resistance in a really dire position, but the development seems to have conveniently come out of nowhere for the sake of the plot. That’s not exactly true, as it turns out, as there’s a moment in last year’s Rogue One that sets-up The Last Jedi in one sentence.
This post contains spoilers for The Last Jedi and, uh, also Rogue One.
The Last Jedi opens up with Leia and the Resistance making a quick exit from the base they operated out of in The Force Awakens, because the First Order is headed after them to avenge Starkiller Base and wipe out their hated foe once and for all. The evacuation works, and the good guy ships all make the jump to hyperspace. Normally, this is a perfect exit, as when Star Wars ships travel that far, that fast, enemy ships can’t track or predict where they’re going to end up. However, in The Last Jedi, the First Order pops out of hyperspace right after the Resistance does, as they were somehow able to track their fleeing prey through hyperspace.
This is supposed to be impossible, but the Empire was working on it for a while, it turns out.
In Rogue One, when Jyn Erso is looking for plans to the Death Star on the Empire’s massive database on Scarif, she mentions a few other top-secret developments the Empire’s scientists and engineers are working on. Among them? Hyperspace tracking.
Apparently, the Empire had a backup of that file Jyn mentioned, since the nascent technology survived the planet’s obliteration via Death Star at the end of the movie.
Lucasfilm executive Pablo Hidalgo confirmed on Twitter that the Rogue One moment was connected to the First Order’s hyperspace tracking tech in The Last Jedi, and shared some additional background. Apparently, hyperspace tracking originated in the Empire’s secret think tank known as the Tarkin Initiative, so named for the intimidating Grand Moff Tarkin. General Hux’s engineers perfected the system, giving them a technology that leaves the Resistance with nowhere to run.
For what it’s worth, though, the Resistance was able to develop a pretty effective countermeasure. Hyperspace tracking is really pointless when you’ve got a massive spaceship making the jump to hyperspace in your direction at point blank range.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now in theaters.
If you liked this article, check out this video about the super complicated mo-cap technology they used for Rogue One.