“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” will come out later this month. Photo from IMDb.
I remember when my father showed my brother and me “A New Hope” on VHS when I was about 6 years old. It wasn’t like anything that we had seen before! You got the epic space battles with the fantasy epic motifs, but set in outer space. The characters were memorable and the practical effects were excellent. It was like we were transported into another world.
My brother and I would bond over “Star Wars” for years to come. We would watch the animated series or play with the official toys as kids, unironically stan the prequel films as teenagers and create theories about the sequels today.
So with the main saga supposedly ending with “Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker,” everyone has their predictions about what will happen, as well as opinions on what should. Considering that 2017’s “The Last Jedi” was the most polarizing film yet, theories are quite mixed.
I was personally not a huge fan of “The Last Jedi” because of the film’s out-of-character writing of Luke Skywalker, its bloated subplots and the seeming lack of moving the plot of the saga going forward. As such, I am not completely sure where “The Rise of Skywalker” will go, and not in a good “sitting on the edge of your seat way,” but in a “we’re making this up as we go along” way. However, I am willing to keep an open mind.
What we do know is that Emperor Palpatine will return in the new film in some form. His laugh appeared in the first teaser trailer, and Disney is certainly hyping his return. This is probably because Snoke was killed unceremoniously by Kylo Ren in “The Last Jedi,” and Kylo is not a particularly threatening villain, at least not in the way Palpatine is. While I think Palpatine was an excellent villain in both the prequel and original trilogies, having him return seems like a last-minute saving throw. Not only does it seem to come out of nowhere, but it makes all of the events of the first six “Star Wars” films seem pointless. Perhaps I will change my mind when I see the film.
We haven’t seen Palpatine physically appear in any of these trailers, leading me to wonder if he is actually not coming back to life, at least not in the way we would expect. I think the film could pull a cop-out and have him just be a voice “calling” to Rey or Kylo. Others have speculated that he could return as a Force Ghost, but I am not sure if this is a skill that only Jedi can use, not the Sith. Regardless of form, I am looking forward to seeing Ian McDiarmid return as Palpatine. He always nails the performance, from the subtly ambitious senator in “The Phantom Menace” to a maniacal tyrant in “Return of the Jedi.”
One of the biggest theories regarding “The Rise of Skywalker” regards a possible Kylo redemption arc. “Star Wars” has had themes of redemption since Darth Vader, so I would not at all be surprised if Kylo got the same treatment. However, I don’t think that Kylo should be redeemed. Yes, Darth Vader has done horrible things such as commit child murder yet still died a hero. But Kylo has rejected redemption multiple times throughout the past two films. It would take a lot for him to change.
Beyond that, I have read online and heard from others that some people would not be very invested in a Kylo redemption arc. I am one of those people. Sure, he showed some vulnerability in “The Last Jedi” by refusing to kill his mother Leia, but beyond that he has not been particularly interesting or sympathetic. His relationship with Rey also does not feel very interesting to me. The chemistry seems forced (haha, get it). I think that him killing Snoke and taking over the First Order on top of killing his own father cements his intentions. So although I think a redemption arc is fairly likely, I’m not sure if I would like it.
I do have one prediction that I am very confident in. I am quite certain that Kylo will die. Whether it is through a heroic sacrifice a la his grandfather or through being struck down by Rey, I think his fate is clear.
Rey’s family has remained a topic of discussion even after Kylo told her in “The Last Jedi” that she was “nobody,” along with her family. Was Kylo lying to her, and she is actually his long-lost sister? Is she actually not the child of anyone who has played a major role in the “Star Wars” mythos? Or does she have a more out-there relationship? I think that “The Rise of Skywalker” is going to stick with Rey as being unrelated to anyone, especially since it seemed to be a major theme in “The Last Jedi.”
Ultimately, I am not totally sure what will happen since “The Last Jedi” subverted expectations. However, subverting expectations just to surprise people is not always the best way to tell a story. Narratives need to be woven in a way that is organic to the story, not just for the shock factor.