According to a new Star Wars canon novel, Rebellion leader Mon Mothma planned to surrender to Emperor Palpatine in the event the Death Star destroyed Yavin IV in A New Hope. First appearing onscreen in Return of the Jedi, the character has benefitted greatly from Lucasfilm's wider franchise canon, factoring into a number of non-movie stories set in both the Galactic Civil War and New Republic eras. Along with Bail Organa of Alderaan, Mon was at the forefront of the Alliance, helping build it from the ground up shortly after the Empire rose to power. Though her role in Jedi was brief, Mothma is arguably one of the most important figures in Star Wars lore.
These days, it's difficult to tell a tale of the Rebellion without featuring Mon in some capacity, which is why she showed up in last year's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Given the chronology of the movie series, some found it odd that Mothma was at the Yavin IV base in the prequel, but was absent during A New Hope's conclusion. The easy answer to that question is the character hadn't been created yet, but there's now an in-universe explanation for her whereabouts while the Rebels forged their attack on the Death Star - and it's actually quite surprising.
Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View is a recently published book that consists of 40 short stories set during the events of A New Hope - told from the perspective of side/supporting characters. The chapter "Contingency Plan" stars Mon Mothma as she leaves Alliance headquarters as the Battle of Yavin starts up. While Mon would like to stay, she goes for two reasons. First, even if the Rebels win, they need to relocate since the Empire knows about the Yavin base, and if the Death Star destroys the moon, the Alliance needs Mothma alive to continue the resistance. While en route to Coruscant to speak in front of the now-defunct Imperial Senate, she hastily planned a speech which would see her publicly confess her involvement in the Rebellion and "disavow her life's work." She leaves Alliance secrets hidden on her ship so her assistants can find them and do with them as they please.
Even with the stolen Death Star plans proving Galen Erso had planted a weakness in the battle station to exploit, Mon Mothma was never confident in the Alliance's chances at victory. All the scenarios that played in her head lead to unimaginable destruction, since Mon didn't consider the possibility of destroying the Empire's ultimate weapon. While she was able to tolerate "sending children into battle," the thought of countless planets being wiped out was a burden too great for her to bear. She felt it was best to give herself up and put faith in youngsters to find "their own means of rebellion" and restore freedom to the galaxy. Of course, Luke Skywalker's fateful shot into the exhaust port renders Mon's contingency plan moot and she rejoins Alliance High Command, preparing herself for the great war that lies ahead.
Star Wars canon has done an admirable job of fleshing out both factions in the original trilogy, adding layers to the Empire and Rebels that make them feel more realistic. Even though Mon wanted nothing more than to see the Imperials vanquished, she understood that having prominent members of the old Senate leading the charge would mean other worlds would suffer the same fate as Alderaan. It's arguably quite noble Mothma was willing to sacrifice herself, as it was the best way to ensure planets like Mon Cala stayed safe from the Death Star's wrath. Luckily, things didn't have to come to that, and Mothma was able to see her ultimate victory through to the end.
Source: Star Wars - From A Certain Point of View
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