Jane Austen’s Rogue One Space “Persuasion”
Jyn Erso and Captain Cassian Andor fall in love when Jyn is 19 and Cassian is 23, but Jyn’s foster father, Saw Gerrera, thinks it a bad match–the Partisans and Alliance don’t see eye to eye, and he doesn’t think highly of Cassian’s prospects for surviving anyway. Her father, Galen, is too distracted by his work to notice; her mother long ago passed away, dead from a blaster bolt. Persuaded by Saw to break off their engagement, Cassian leaves embittered and Jyn is left heartbroken.
In the intervening years, Galen is captured by the Empire, and Jyn learns the craft of guerilla warfare from Saw, but fighting wears on a person and she loses her youthful bloom, but she takes some consolation in the fact that if she has to lose the brightness of youth, she can at least replace it with righteous conviction and the steady hands of a sniper.
And when life seems settled in the very tenuous way it can only be during war, Cassian shows up again in her life, invited to Jedha to the home of Saw’s Partisan allies–former Guardians Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus.
Cassian is there as an olive branch from the Alliance to the Partisans. They need to work together to stop the removal of the Kyber crystals from the Jedi Temple on NiJedha. He seems unsurprised to see her there, but remains cold and aloof toward her.
Not unexpectedly, the Captain stirs up daydreams of romance amongst some of the younger, less hardened Partisans, including Jyn’s friend, Maia. Then there is Shara Bey, an Alliance fighter who came along with Cassian on the mission. Saw still disapproves of Cassian and thinks if he has romance on his mind, he should stick with his own kind.
During a raid of an Imperial hanger, as she is eluding a garrison of Stormtroopers on her tail, Jyn is almost blasted to bits by a thermal detonator, but Cassian pushes her away and shields her in time. He helps her to her feet but says no more than a cursory, “Are you okay?” leaving her side as soon as she nods her head yes, as though he doesn’t care for her beyond the fact that she is a fellow soldier.
But when they regroup at Chirrut and Baze’s home, his eyes betray him, she thinks. They are soft when they look at her, in a way she remembers from when she was 19, and she thinks, this is how if feels to burn.
But Maia is her friend and she seems intent on snaring Cassian’s affection, so Jyn tries to forget those eyes and focus instead on the next plan of attack. She is Saw’s right hand, after all, and her skills as a fighter are unmatched. Also, since the pact was made between the Partisans and the Alliance, she’s felt more alive than she has in year, and the fire she once had is blazing once more.
Then something goes wrong during the next raid. Jyn leaps from a building onto an Imperial transport ship, in order to draw fire away from Shara Bey and her X-wing–the Partisans and Alliance need the little air support they can have. But then Maia, who has seen the way that Cassian has started looking at Jyn, feels emboldened and tries to follow suit. She is determined to do this. But Maia neither has the skills or the experience Jyn has, and she falls two stories to the city floor. She survives, but is in a coma for days.
Maia is left to recover under Chirrut and Baze’s care. They are assisted by a new recruit, Imperial cargo pilot and defector, Bodhi Rook.
In the meanwhile, Cassian is called back to Yavin IV, but with a caveat–he needs to bring Jyn with him. The Alliance has gotten word from Director Krennic of the Empire. He’s an old “friend” of Galen’s, he says. He’s thinking of defecting, and if he does, he will also bring Galen back with him to join the Rebellion.
Jyn is leery of Krennic, but Mon Mothma seems to have wild hopes that this could be a turning point for the Rebellion. As they fly through hyperspace, it becomes clear to Jyn that Cassian has something he wants to say to her, except that he can’t. Instead he says, “Maia. That was my fault,” but before he can finish, Jyn quiets him with a touch, tells him to be still, that Maia is her own person and that he should think of his own person now as she smears Bacta gel on a wound on his cheek. They spend the rest of the trip in silence.
As Jyn had suspected, Krennic is a liar and her father is still a hostage, and the Rebellion learns that the Empire is building a super weapon capable of destroying worlds. Jyn tries to persuade the Senators to send a fleet to Scarif to capture the plans, but they are not convinced. But Cassian is, and they form a small troop to go themselves.
They find the data file but almost die trying, but they transmit the plans. They make it out alive. But then there is more:
In the turbolift down to the waiting ship (Bodhi Rook is waiting for them–the Imperial defector is now a full-fledge rebel, and at his side is a now-recovered Maia), the lights flicker on their faces, and their physical pains are forgotten.
“Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant,” he says. “Tell me now that it’s not too late.”
And Jyn tells him the answer he’s been wanting to hear for so many years; the answer she’s wanted to give to him since she first saw his face again on Jedha. And the rest of the trip is spent in silence, but only because their mouths are otherwise occupied.
They sail off into the stars and fight for the Rebellion. They win. And they do it together.