Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is here, which means it’s over.
J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker is now in theaters, marking the end to Disney’s sequel trilogy and the trilogy of trilogies which came to be known as the Skywalker Saga. And while Star Wars will certainly never end, this particular story is over. Or so we’ve been told.
The fact is the movie poses a lot of unanswered questions, so we’ve gone ahead and picked out several of those to discuss, as well as the biggest questions it does actually answer. Suffice to say, there’s nothing but spoilers from here on out.
The Rise of Skywalker starts with the revelation that Emperor Palpatine is back and has sent a galaxy-wide transmission announcing as much. OK. But didn’t he get thrown down a huge shaft on a Death Star that was subsequently blown up? Where’s the connective tissue?
The movie covers its tracks by quoting a line from the prequels: “The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” Palpatine tells Anakin this when he tantalizes the young Jedi about a Sith named Darth Plagueis who, apparently, was able to conquer death. That was the primary reason Anakin went the Dark Side—and yet, Darth Vader was never successful in achieving that particular power, so we’ve never been exactly sure if Palpatine was being honest or not (though if The Rise of Skywalker is any indication, it seems he was). The general idea here, we think, is that Palpatine did whatever Plagueis did; there have been many hints of this in canon up to this point, and the word “cloning” is thrown around briefly, but the specifics of this resurrection remain mostly a mystery.
Palpatine explains to Kylo Ren that he’s built a new fleet, called the Final Order, that’s almost ready to take over the galaxy. And, if Ren kills Rey, he can have it. That’s all well and good but there are a lot of ships, followers, and troopers that are part of this Final Order. Where did they all come from? Where did the supplies come from? Have they just been sitting around for 30 years? How does Palpatine know that now is the time for this? The whole plan doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
At the start of the film, Rey calls Leia “Master,” showing that she’s been training as a Jedi with the General. There’s also a brief scene where she uses the ancient Jedi texts from Ahch-To to pick up the film’s narrative. But we’re left wondering: How much of Rey’s abilities came from her time working with Leia and how much did she glean from the books? Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter. By facing her biggest fears, herself and the Emperor, Rey triumphs and becomes a Jedi.
One of the biggest answers we get in The Rise of Skywalker is that Rey is the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine. Her father was his son. More on that below, but the revelation brings up a whole other branch of questions. Questions such as, who was her grandmother? Palpatine was obviously a very powerful man. He literally ruled the galaxy which, you assume, might be attractive to some women. And while he hasn’t been a looker since Order 66, he certainly got it in at some point. Let’s do the math.
Rey is 19 years old at the start of The Force Awakens, which is 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Assuming her parents are, rough estimate, 25 or 30 years old when the leave her on Jakku at, another rough estimate, age eight, that would have Palpy doing the nasty a few years before the battle of Yavin in A New Hope. Early Emperor days. Almost Supreme Chancellor even.
If your father was the most powerful, most evil man in the galaxy, it makes sense that you’d reject him. But it could make equal sense if you adored and worshiped him. We assume the former has happened between Palpatine and Rey’s dad (which is how the role is credited in the credits) because he took his wife and daughter away. However, the story of this Emperor and his son is mysterious and tantalizing. Why wasn’t the son chosen as the heir apparent? What happened to his mother? Was he not Force-sensitive? It all seems like a story very worth telling at some point.
When Rey visits Ahch-To with the thought of going into exile, she encounters the Force Ghost of Luke Skywalker. During their conversation, Luke reveals that both he and Leia knew she was related to the Emperor. Um. How? When? The Force...we guess? The only hint we have before this moment is that Luke a) very clearly doesn’t know who she is when they meet in The Last Jedi but b) certainly begins to suspect something during their training. So maybe that’s how Luke found out, but how did he know Leia knew? Had they been communicating through the Force since Luke’s death? Is that possible? Lots of questions here. Thought not sharing that info with Rey does make sense.
Exegol is the ancient Sith planet at the heart of The Rise of Skywalker. As Rey and the crew are searching for a Sith Wayfinder that will help them find the way, they run into an old friend—Lando Calrissian—who tells them he and Luke were also looking for Exegol together and it led them to Pasaana, though that’s where the trail ran cold. But...why was he looking for it in the first place? Were Luke and Lando on the hunt for Exegol because Luke sensed that Palpatine was coming back? And if he did, doesn’t that make his decision to go into exile even worse? Granted, in this movie he admits he was wrong to do so, but if he didn’t know Palpatine was back, you have to wonder what he expected to find on Exegol.
At the end of The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker gave his life to both save the Resistance and also inspire the galaxy to rise up and join them. When The Rise of Skywalker begins, though, the Resistance doesn’t seem to be that much bigger and Luke’s sacrifice is never mentioned. It certainly meant something to the people on Crait whose lives it saved, but the idea of young kids passing along this legendary story, like we saw with Broom Boy, seems to not have worked. Or, if it did, maybe fear of the First Order overshadowed it? Many things in The Rise of Skywalker are seemingly at odds with The Last Jedi and this is arguably the biggest one. A great moment is all but forgotten.
Speaking of Broom Boy, what happened to him? And if not him specifically, the idea of him? The idea that Force sensitivity can be anywhere and even a no one can be a hero? We may never know what happened to that character, but the crumbs of that idea are seen in another character: Finn.
Moments from certain death in some Star Wars quicksand, Finn tells Rey he has something to tell her. He never does, though, and it’s teased throughout the rest of the movie. We can only guess what he was going to say but we think it’s that Finn is Force-sensitive. Throughout the film, Finn continues to explain that he has these instinctual feelings or knowledge that where he is is where he’s supposed to be. Then, in the final battle, when Rey “dies,” Finn feels her death. These are all clues that Finn could be on his way to becoming a Jedi, which is certainly a secret he would want to share with Rey.
Oh, and this:
Another character who gets some curious additions to his backstory is Poe Dameron. Though he was a New Republic pilot before going to the Resistance, here we learn that he also was a spice runner on Kijimi with Zorii Bliss and the rest of her crew. When did he have time to do that exactly? Zorii says he left to go to the Resistance, not the New Republic. So maybe it was during his time as a New Republic pilot, but just on the side because he didn’t believe in it anymore? We don’t know but, considering how popular Poe and his ancillary stories are, I’m guessing we’ll find out.
While talking to Zorii, Poe explains he’s still upset that the Resistance allies didn’t come to help them during the battle of Crait. It’s set up for arguably the biggest moment in The Rise of Skywalker which is when Lando and Chewbacca arrive at Exegol with a galaxy’s worth of help in the form of basically every Star Wars ship ever. And yet, there’s some disconnect. Are these just civilians, as is suggested by a First Order officer, or military allies as well? And if it’s both, why come this time, but not the last time? The new novel Resistance Reborn touches on some of this, explaining a bit of how the First Order continued to bully Resistance allies, but the film doesn’t mention it. It’s just a bunch of ships flying around. All we really know is it makes for a very dramatic, exciting moment, just as help not coming was an equally important, dramatic moment in The Last Jedi. So both choices work movie-wise, if not logic wise.
Before Rey triumphantly defeats Palpatine, she hears the ghosts of Jedi past, something she’s been trying to do the whole movie. Among the voices she hears are those of Anakin Skywalker, Luminara Unduli, Aayla Secura, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Adi Gallia, Kanan Jarrus, and Qui-Gon Jinn. What do all those people have in common? They are dead, which is why Rey hears them. That’s worrisome for the other voice she hears: Ahsoka Tano. Her inclusion here leads us to believe that whatever happens to the character after Star Wars Rebels won’t turn out so well.
Kylo Ren reveals, and Palpatine later confirms, that he and Rey are a Dyad in the Force. It’s a rare, generational occurrence where two people are bound together in the Force. What it exactly means beyond that, we aren’t sure. Nor do we know when or if it has happened before in Star Wars canon. What we do know is it’s almost a slightly unnecessary explanation for their connection which, up until this point, has been rather well-explained. Dark rises, and light to balance. Snoke connected them through the Force which is why they can communicate with their thoughts, etc. In the end, it’s really just a fancy term so Palpatine can gain a new form and get a new shirt.
Kylo Ren giving up that mantle to once again become Ben Solo is one of the best arcs in all of The Rise of Skywalker. Eventually, though he’s near-death himself after being thrown off a cliff by Palpatine, Ben finds his way back to a possibly dead Rey, and transfers his life essence to her, bringing her back to life. He then disappears—a surefire Star Wars sign that you’ve become one with the Force and will live in the Beyond.
And yet, in the film’s final moments, as Rey decides to take the name of the only true family she’s ever known (the Skywalkers), Ben is not there. We don’t know why. We can only surmise because he spent so much time on the Dark Side, he hadn’t trained properly to attain that power. And yet, he still disappeared. Maybe he’s out there in Force limbo, just waiting to figure it all out.
Upon visiting Tatooine, Rey buries the sabers of her surrogate parents, Luke and Leia, to wait for another day. She then reveals she fashioned her iconic staff into her own, personal lightsaber, having finally faced her fears and become a full-fledged Jedi. She also has a yellow blade, meaning she has a yellow kyber crystal in there, which is a quest all Jedi must go on for themselves. Obviously, that happened off-screen, but we’d love to see it go down and why she got a yellow.
Like most Star Wars movies, Rise of Skywalker has a ton of random, throwaway lines to new, mysterious battles or species to give the world some realism. But, for us, one stood out, and it’s when Poe and Finn talk to C-3PO about the Pits of Griq. It happens for an instant, then never comes back, but it sounds like some kind of Sarlacc pit type of place for torture and pain. Very interesting to say the least.
A mystery that’s been floating since The Force Awakens is how Maz Kanata ended up with the Skywalker lightsaber that fell into oblivion on Bespin. She even says in that film that’s a story for another time. Well, time is pretty much up now, unless we read it in a comic or book down the road.
After the Resistance’s victory, Jannah and Lando talk about where they’re from. Jannah says she doesn’t know where she’s from, Lando turns around and says “Let’s find out.” The whole thing is a little awkward, to say the least. Is he hitting on her? Are they related? Early rumors were that they were related, and some new books suggest that’s the case, but the film leaves it up in the air.
The Rise of Skywalker ends much as Return of the Jedi did. The small team of good guys has saved the universe from the big group of bad guys and one Jedi remains who knows the ways of the Force. That person is also, once again, a Skywalker. Will Rey train more Jedi as Luke couldn’t? Her taking on her own saber may suggest that. And with the defeat of the Final Order, did the First Order also fall? Are there still First Order pockets in the galaxy? Will the Resistance try to make a New New Republic? With Palpatine and Kylo gone, shouldn’t a dark power rise up to bring balance to the Force? Will we see any of this story and, if so, how would it be different this time around? Our best, completely unresearched guess, is yes. Maybe after another decade of unrelated Star Wars films, an Episode X can pick up with the remnants of what an old Jedi woman named Rey Skywalker left behind.
What The Rise of Skywalker did do more than the previous two films is answer some of the biggest questions. Such as...
Snoke was merely a clone created by Emperor Palpatine to take control of the First Order. To what degree Palpatine controlled Snoke, or if he was an independent thinking being, is unknown, but it was Palpatine all along.
As mentioned above, Rey’s father was the son of Emperor Palpatine. A son who chose, along with Rey’s mother, to hide their daughter from her grandfather for fear of retribution, and were then murdered because of it. Kylo saying they were no one in The Last Jedi was because they thought of themselves as being no one, even though they really were someone.
“There is another” was always a rallying cry at the end of Return of the Jedi and, so far, the sequels haven’t shown that other, Leia, diving too deep into the Force. In The Rise of Skywalker though, we learn that Leia did train with Luke, and actually got quite good, even constructing her own lightsaber. But she had a vision that she was meant to train someone else down the road and the death of her son was part of her path. As a result, she gave up on being a full-fledged Jedi.
Yes, they are! Two of the biggest heroes of the Rebellion, Lando Calrissian and Wedge Antilles, both make their sequel trilogy debuts in The Rise of Skywalker. Turns out Lando helped Luke a little bit after Endor and, eventually, answered a call from Leia asking him to help Rey on her quest. Wedge, who was one of the best pilots in the Rebellion, is seen briefly controlling the turret on the Millennium Falcon here, after some events in a recent book. It was great to see them back.
The question of Kylo’s redemption has long been debated. Here, we finally found out that, yes, Kylo would be redeemed. It only took the dying breath of his mother, reaching out across the galaxy, to begin the process—followed by the sacrifice of Rey to heal his potentially fatal wound, and finally his subconscious personifying his father, Han Solo, to prove to himself he was ready. These all came together to make Kylo Ren throw away his red lightsaber and once again become plain old Ben Solo.
We finally saw this group in action but there’s not really much to know. They’re just...acolytes. They come back, sort of help Kylo, and then all die very easily at his hands. RIP KOR, we hardly knew ye.
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