MANILA, Philippines — A lot has happened since the previous episode of the current Star Wars trilogy, The Last Jedi. And we’re not just talking about story — during the time between the two episodes, Lucasfilm has released one movie (Solo) and a critically-acclaimed TV series (The Mandalorian).
There was also a bit of fan backlash over the The Last Jedi — particularly its treatment of Luke Skywalker’s character arc. While we’d rather not revisit the controversy, now is a good time to recap what happened within the story itself.
The previous episodes
The Rise of Skywalker is preceded by two movies: The Force Awakens (Episode VII in the Star Wars Saga — sometimes referred to as the Skywalker Saga for reasons we’ll get into in a bit) and The Last Jedi (Episode VIII).
In The Force Awakens, we learn that Luke Skywalker attempted to rebuild the Jedi Order, but exiled himself after a student turned to the Dark Side and killed the other students. That student is Kylo Ren, the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo. Kylo is one of the leaders of the First Order, an organization founded on the ashes of the Galactic Empire.
We also meet Rey, an enigmatic scavenger with Force abilities; Finn, a former Stormtrooper who defects to the Resistance; and Poe, a hotshot Resistance pilot. The movie revisits familiar tropes from the original trilogy, such as Starkiller Base, which is reminiscent of the original Death Star. By the end of The Force Awakens, the Starkiller Base is destroyed, and Rey finds Luke just moments before the end credits roll.
We get to spend more time with Luke in The Last Jedi, but the bright and optimistic Luke we met in the original trilogy is long gone. Old Man Luke is reclusive, sullen, and racked with guilt. He eventually agrees to train Rey in the ways of the Force. Kylo, speaking to Rey through the Force, reveals that Luke had driven him to the Dark Side of the Force. Rey believes Kylo can be redeemed, and leaves Luke to seek him out.
Meanwhile, the First Order corners the Resistance in Crait, a salt-covered planet that bears a similarity to Hoth. Finn, Poe, and Rose Tico attempt to stop the First Order from firing their siege cannon. Luke also makes an appearance and duels with Kylo Ren. But Kylo discovers this isn’t Luke physically; Luke had projected himself through the Force. After defeating Kylo, Luke dies peacefully and becomes one with the Force.
The remnants of the Resistance have no choice but to flee. Towards the end of the movie, Leia asserts that the Resistance can still overcome this defeat.
Keeping up with the Skywalkers
The Rise of Skywalker will be the final installment in the Skywalker Saga. All of the main Star Wars films spanning the prequel, original, and sequel trilogies have had heavy involvement from members of the Skywalker family.
The prequel trilogy explored the fall of Anakin Skywalker into the Dark Side, and his transformation into Darth Vader. The original trilogy was about the ascent of Luke Skywalker into Jedi knighthood and Anakin’s eventual redemption. The sequel trilogy — which is ending with The Rise of Skywalker — is about Rey’s journey, but also devotes time to Kyo Ren, who is Luke’s nephew.
Even after two movies, there’s a lot we don’t know about Rey and Kylo. The Rise of Skywalker will hopefully shed light on some of the mysteries surrounding the characters — particularly Rey’s origin.
One of the big things to look out for in Episode IX is how the movie will wrap-up the entire Skywalker story. After nine movies spread over four decades, it’s about time this family gets some peace. This will also be the last appearance of Carrie Fisher as Leia. Carrie passed away in 2016, and the movie will serve as an emotional farewell to our beloved princess-turned-general.
The end is the beginning
On a personal note, I’m looking forward to the Skywalker Saga ending. I’ve been a fan of the franchise since the original trilogy. As much as I loved Luke growing up, I think it’s time for Star Wars to move on from the Skywalkers. The end of the Skywalker Saga opens up the possibility of exploring even more stories. (“We can now move in just about any direction we want,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy during a recently-held fan event in Japan.)
We’ve already seen Lucasfilm flex their creative muscle with non-Skywalker-related stories. And the results are great — Rogue One, Solo, and The Mandalorian can all stand toe-to-toe with some of the best movies in the saga.
The Mandalorian connection(?)
If you’re on a Baby Yoda high — and who isn’t? — you’re probably wondering if there are any connections between The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker. You’re not alone — Reddit is full of fan theories about Baby Yoda’s origins, and his relation to the Skywalker Saga.
There’s a theory that Baby Yoda is a clone of the actual Yoda, created by Emperor Palpatine or Supreme Leader Snoke as a vessel to transfer themselves to. It’s a great theory, and who knows? It could be spot-on. But until we see The Rise of Skywalker (and later episodes of The Mandalorian), we can’t be sure. I’m content to sit back and wait for all these secrets to be revealed in due time. – Rappler.com
Iñigo de Paula is a writer who lives and works in Quezon City. When he isn’t talking about himself in the third person, he writes about pop culture and its peripheries.