Here’s an idea: What if Leia transmits the plans from R2 to the Rebel base right after they escape the Death Star? Then as the Falcon desperately tries to hold off the sentry ships, we cut to Yavin 4 where they are briefing the pilots on the Death Star’s weakness. The ships arrive at the Death Star as the Falcon is still holding off the TIE’s, and Red leader immediately heads to the trench while Vader flies out to intercept. Red leader manages to hit the target and it destroys most of the station, killing Tarkin.
In this version of events, Leia never suspects that the Empire is tracking the Falcon. Our heroes then go to Yavin 4 for the medal ceremony, which is what leads the Empire to drive them out.
I like the idea of Red/Gold Leader trying a lone-wolf mission, and putting the failed attack between Chapters 1 and 2 also explains why there’s no real Death Star oriented stuff in Chapter 2, the Rebels are weakened, and the Empire is working on repairing the Death Star, especially the laser. But unfortunately the only real place I see that fitting is in a narration, putting it an actual scene messes feels like it would mess with the pacing.
Although, killing off Tarkin in a narration would feel like a cop-out. I might wanna have Tarkin killed in this attack, because him not being in Chapters 2-4 is a little problematic, but maybe I can just pepper Tarkin scenes in 2 & 4.
For the Luke vs Vader scene, after Vader says ‘It is the only way you can save your friends. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for…’ Cut to Leia being injured and troops coming up behind Han. Luke snaps.
I like it, and it also lets me not use the “The Princess” sound bite. I’ll try it out.