WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you have not seen the movie yet and want to go in completely cold, come back after you have seen it.
After two years of waiting, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is finally in theaters and people have opinions about it. One of the complaints about the film is that it perhaps didn't build enough on The Force Awakens and went down a different path than the one its predecessor laid out for it. Regardless, while Rian Johnson's film eschewed much of what came before, one of the central obstacles in The Last Jedi was actually teased during last year's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, according to a new report from Pablo Hidalgo. In the first Star Wars spinoff film, Jyn Erso is searching for the plans for the Death Star in the Empire's Citadel mainframe on Scarif. While searching through the database, she reads off some of the other files she sees. One of the ones she mentions winds up becoming a huge crux of The Last Jedi. It specifically read: "Hyperspace tracking. Navigational systems."
The hyperspace tracking provided the dramatic tension for the parts of The Last Jedi that didn't focus on Rey, Luke and Kylo. The First Order's new ability to track the Resistance through hyperspace meant that the heroes could not jump away to fight another day. Instead they had to simply use their thrusters to stay out of range of the First Order ships until help arrived, an escape presented itself, or they ran out of gas and a noble end was met. Was this meant to connect or was it just a happy accident? It is possible that this line was added during Rogue One's reshoots after The Last Jedi's story was established. Now some may find it strange that hyperspace tracking has existed in canon since before A New Hope and all these years later it was still a surprise to the Resistance. But there could actually be quite a few reasonable explanations for this.
Pablo Hidalgo, creative executive at Lucasfilm and master of all things canon, responded to the fan who noticed and pointed out this connection on Twitter. He showed that active hyperspace tracking was originally explored under the Tarkin Initiative, but was only a theory until The Last Jedi. In other words, the Empire has long thought, "Hey, it would be super great if we could follow our enemies when they run away, let's work on that." As we saw in The Force Awakens with Starkiller Base, the First Order's Oppenheimers are even more savvy and ruthless than those of the Empire. So what was once a theory, Hux and his team brought into reality, much to the dismay of Leia and the Resistance.
Jyn Erso couldn't have informed the Rebels of this technology. While she transmitted the Death Star plans to the Rebels outside of Scarif, she had enough trouble accomplishing that and couldn't worry about all of the Empire's other projects. And given the way things end for her and her team, its not like she was going to be telling Mon Mothma in person. While some fans have cited that the heroes are tracked through hyperspace on Star Wars: Rebels, Pablo Hidalgo also explains the distinctions and why the two instances are not the same technology.
While the First Order's ability to track through hyperspace did create for a dire situation and race against the clock, visually the pursuit through space was more snail-chasing-turtle than a breakneck, high-stakes chase. The magnificent Battlestar Galactica used a similar plot device, except the good guys continued to jump away only to be found every 33 minutes. This created a slightly more compelling and intense dynamic than the Resistance ships slowly running out of gas before being blasted.
SPOILERS: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Ending - What Happens And What It Means
While fans like myself can nitpick the finer points, it is cool to see things connecting in this new Star Wars film universe. When films have small connecting threads to one other, those are fun Easter eggs that inform the cohesiveness of the universe. To see the First Order's hyperspace tracking firsthand, check out Star Wars: The Last Jedi, currently dominating the box office and come back and let us know what you thought of the film.