Rogue One is out in just a couple days and while we won’t be posting major spoilers for the movie prior to release, there’s one mystery that deserves explanation as some speculation is seriously over-hyping fans before the movie comes out.
The scene with the Bacta tank is one of the earliest bits of footage we’ve seen from the movie, and it does exist in the final cut of the film hitting theaters this week. However, previous speculation about the scene is both wrong and right…from a certain point of view.
Confirming the earlier rumor, it is Darth Vader in the Bacta tank. However, he didn’t get put there by his suit being blown up in some big action scene. It seems like Vader going into the Bacta tank is something he does on a regular basis due to the extent of his injuries suffered on Mustafar.
This opens up a really cool dimension to Vader. We know from ESB that he doesn’t keep that helmet on all the time. But that chamber in ESB must be some kind of portable maintenance thing he can have on Star Destroyers, which the Bacta tank is his main regenerative place.
As for the kneeling figure? It’s not Darth Maul or even Palpatine, but rather some random underling who serves Vader. He looks very much like one of Palpatine’s advisors that we see in Return of the Jedi. Hopefully the books and comics flesh these guys now that they’ve been seen more. Perhaps they’re an advanced form of Inquisitors?
While a big action scene destroying his suit could explain the different suits between movies, this is actually a cooler dimension to give Vader and a really interesting little bit of the story that adds to the larger mythos of one of the major Star Wars villains. When Vader isn’t in the suit, he’s chilling in a Bacta tank.