Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is positioned as the final film in the “Skywalker saga”, a unique trilogy of movie trilogies: the conflict between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in the original trilogy showed us the key middle chapters in a story, before the prequels elaborated on Anakin’s backstory, and now the sequel trilogy has shown Ben Solo’s turbulent tussle with the Dark Side.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, director JJ Abrams described the upcoming Rise Of Skywalker as a singular challenge: “It wasn’t just to make one film that as a stand-alone experience would be thrilling, and scary, and emotional, and funny, but one that if you were to watch all nine of the films, you’d feel like, Well, of course—that!”
Quotes like this, and the much-touted return of Ian McDiarmid as Darth Sidious, have led fans to believe that The Rise Of Skywalker could well pull together narrative threads from the originals, the prequels and the sequels to bring this saga to a cohesive close. With this in mind, we had a think about the loose threads of the saga that could do with a bit of tying up.
1. “There was no father…”
In The Phantom Menace, Anakin’s mum seemed to imply that her son was an immaculate conception. We never got a canonical explanation for Anakin’s existence, but fans have long guessed that Palpatine manipulated the Force to bring his apprentice to life and/or imbue him with an off-the-chart Midi-chlorian count. Is Palpatine secretly Kylo’s great-grandfather?
A recent comic book run entitled Darth Vader: Dark Lord Of The Sith – Fortress Vader, penned by Charles Soule, seemed to play up to the fans theories regarding Palpatine’s meddling prior to Anakin’s birth. In the midst of a trippy vision, Vader saw Palpatine standing behind his pregnant mum and summoning dark energies around her womb. Hopefully, when the Emperor shows up in Episode IX, someone will directly ask him if there was any truth to this vision.
2. “The tragedy of Darth Plagueis the wise”
In Revenge Of The Sith, Palpatine told Anakin a story about a Sith Lord who could “create life” and “keep those he cared about from dying.” In the current canon, it hasn’t been confirmed that Palpatine was Plagueis’ apprentice (who, in the story, turned on his master and killed him). If he was, though, it could explain how Palpatine has managed to defeat death and return for Episode IX.
Also, some fans remain convinced that Darth Plagueis and Supreme Leader Snoke were linked, or perhaps even one and the same. If Palpatine could fire up a PowerPoint presentation during Rise Of Skywalker to clear all this up, that would be great.
3. “An old friend has learned the path to immortality”
Qui-Gon Jinn worked out how to live on a Force ghost, but we haven’t yet seen him teach this ability to Obi-Wan. If a cameoing Liam Neeson was going to pop up anywhere, though, it would probably be in the Obi-Wan TV show. It would be cool to see that lesson at some point.
The closest we’ve come so far is a canonical short story, penned by Claudia Gray and published on the official Star Wars website, which shows Obi-Wan checking in with Qui-Gon during the events of A New Hope. This is a lovely exchange, but it’s clearly not their first post-Phantom Menace chat.
4. “A good question, for another time”
At some point between The Empire Strikes Back and The Force Awakens, Luke’s blue lightsaber (last seen with his severed hand, tumbling out of Cloud City) ended up in Maz Kanata’s basement. She deliberately dodged the question when Rey asked for extra info.
If there’s an interesting story here, fans would love to hear it. However, with galaxy-saving stakes to tackle and trilogy-ending housekeeping to handle, Abrams may not have time to tell it in Rise Of Skywalker.
5. “You have that power, too”
We saw a glimpse of Leia’s Force powers when she was thrust into space during The Last Jedi, but the full extent of her training and abilities is still unclear. We know that she can sense things over a great distance and propel herself through space, but could she hold her own in a Force-fight or project herself like Luke?
Thanks to the canonical novel Bloodline, by Claudia Gray, we know that Luke encouraged Leia to develop her abilities in the years between Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens. Perhaps Carrie Fisher’s final Leia performance, in Rise Of Skywalker, will shed some extra light on how powerful she became.
6. “Show me again… grandfather”
A tantalising line of dialogue in The Force Awakens suggested that Kylo Ren had been in some sort of contact with his grandfather, Darth Vader. Kylo seemed to want some evildoing advice from his grampa, but we didn’t hear a response from the dead Dark Lord.
How does this dynamic work, though, considering that Anakin turned back to the light before dying? In the tie-in picture book, The Art Of The Force Awakens, there is a piece of unused concept art that shows Anakin’s conflicted Force ghost flitting between light and dark – wouldn’t it be cool to see something like that in Episode IX?
7. “These are your first steps”
Ewan McGregor uttered this mysterious line in The Force Awakens, with Obi-Wan’s voice echoing out during Rey’s lightsaber-induced Force vision. If Old Ben’s ghost is still knocking about, we’d love to see him manifest again with some sage advice before the saga concludes.
Has Obi-Wan been keeping an eye on the galaxy from beyond the grave for decades? It would be fun to find out, especially with McGregor now confirmed to be reprising his role for a Disney+ series set before A New Hope.
8. “Before you called yourself Kylo Ren”
Ben Solo’s rebrand as Kylo Ren is a huge missing chunk of the Skywalker saga, even though it was teased during those flashbacks in The Last Jedi. A new comic by Charles Soule, entitled The Rise Of Kylo Ren, will kick off on 18 December – it promises to fill some gaps.
Kylo’s enforcers, the Knights Of Ren, will appear in Episode IX. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Ben Solo’s downfall elaborated upon in the saga-ending movie. But will we also see his redemption?
9. “There has been an awakening”
Snoke mentioned in The Force Awakens that the Force had, well, awakened. And The Last Jedi‘s final shot, of a boy and a broom, implied that Rey isn’t the only newbie discovering their powers.
It’ll be interesting to see whether The Rise Of Skywalker sets up a new status quo for Force-users. Could “the rise of Skywalker” in the title refer to “Skywalker” being adopted as a new term for light-side Force users? Will there be a new sort of Jedi Order founded to house them? Of course, we’ll just have to wait and watch to find out.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker hits UK cinemas on 19 December. And if you were wondering, this article originally appeared in issue 5 of Den Of Geek magazine, printed for MCM London Comic Con.