The First Order may have surprised the Resistance, as well as the audience, with its latest rebel scum-stopping device. But if Rogue One was any indication, it was a technological development we should have seen coming from light years away.
The Resistance spends most of Star Wars: The Last Jedi fleeing just out of reach from the First Order’s cannons when they realise they can no longer escape using lightspeed, as the First Order has figured out how to track ships in hyperspace. This was pretty shocking, for both the rebels and the series. Normally, Star Wars puts the Rebellion on a planet until they get attacked. But here, director Rian Johnson chose to have them engaged in a tense movie-long chase sequence akin to Mad Max: Fury Road or the first few episodes of Battlestar Galactica.
However, as one Twitter user pointed out, it isn't actually all that shocking, as the Empire had already been working on developing that technology. During a scene in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story where Jyn Erso is searching the Empire's archives for the Death Star plans, there's an important file she's heard briefly mentioning:
— Des (@kyleauxren) December 17, 2017
Resident Star Wars expert Pablo Hidalgo later confirmed on Twitter that this wasn't a coincidence, sharing a passage from his latest book, The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary, which came out on December 15.
The next technological terror in Hux's arsenal is ready to be deployed - active hyperspace tracking. Originally explored in its infancy by the secret Imperial think tank known as the Tarkin Initiative, it has now evolved from theory to reality. Hux's engineers have perfected the system.
It's a cool Easter egg that connects Rogue One with the newer franchise in more ways than one, since Finn and Rose's infiltration plan mirrors Jyn and Cassian's. Plus, it gives us an indication of how the hell the First Order came up with this technology - but I am curious why the Empire hadn't already finished making this technology themselves. I'm assuming they hadn't because otherwise they would have tried to use it earlier on the Millennium Falcon. Granted, the Death Star was a huge project, but you'd think being able to find any ship at any time would be something to commit a few scientists to for some ASAP work.
The only explanation would be if the destruction of the Imperial base on Scarif destroyed the files, meaning the First Order had to start from scratch, but I can't imagine the Empire wouldn't have back-ups somewhere, right?