The following post contains spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But didn’t you know that from the headline?

When pals asked, “What was your favorite part of Rogue One?” and I responded, “The part at the end when they all died,” it sounded like a bitter joke. But it’s true — the choice to take advantage of the film’s standalone nature by concluding with the cast’s noble, obliterating sacrifice was a bold and decisive storytelling choice that helped distinguish Gareth Edwards’ film from the rest of the franchise. The characters meant more in death than they ever did while living, and the selflessness of their risky suicide mission attests to the power of the human spirit in wartime. But this wasn’t always the plan.

Rogue One screenwriter Gary Whitta always wanted to do the blaze-of-glory ending that made it to the final cut, but in the earliest stages, he was skeptical that Lucasfilm would let him get away with it. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, the writer reveals that his earliest draft had some of the characters making a clean getaway before everything went kablooey, satisfying his presumed studio demands. The EW piece states that “In that early ‘happy ending’ version, there was no Bodhi Rook, Chirrut Imwe, or Baze Malbus. Jyn was an enlisted Rebel soldier instead of a street criminal recruited on a spy mission.” And of the alternate lineup, not everyone met with fiery doom — while lovable droid K2 did indeed perish, Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor (then going under a different name) both survived.

The article goes step-by-step through the proposed ending, laying out how Jyn and Andor make a getaway in an escape pod that blends in with the other rubble from the explosion. Lucasfilm made the right move, yielding to Whitta’s original vision — the ending outlined here feels like something of a cop-out, a betrayal of the film’s military principles just to set up a sequel. Disaster, narrowly averted.

More From ScreenCrush