After Devouring the Rise of Skywalker Trailers, We Have Some Questions and Theories
In December, Disney and Lucasfilm will be releasing the final installment of the main Star Wars trilogies, the final trilogy of which it's dubbed the Skywalker Saga (you know, until 20 years from now when we do this all again). While there's a plethora of Star Wars content coming our way on Disney+ and to the big screens in side trilogies and one-off stories, this seems to close the book on the story that began in the deserts of Tatooine in 1977. While The Last Jedi put many fans through a tizzy of unexpected reveals and plot moves, the two trailers for Episode IX have been putting fans through another ringer as it's clear JJ Abrams intends to go out with a bang. After two trailers of epic scenes, dramatic music, and some eyebrow-raising shots, we've got a roundup of some of the hottest theories about how it all ends.
Palpatine Is Back
No one's ever really gone. The first trailer gave us an eerie sendoff with Palpatine's iconic chuckle closing out on a dark screen. In the most recent trailer we got actual lines from him, seemingly directed at Rey or Kylo Ren. For those who have delved into the wider universe of Star Wars media, the survival of Palpatine may not be all that surprising. After all, in Episode III, he flat-out told us he was the apprentice of a Sith Lord capable of cheating death (and potentially creating life itself, but we'll get back to that in a second). There are more concrete hints as to how Palpatine may have achieved this, however. In one of the recent Darth Vader comics (volume 22 of Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith), a previous Sith Lord called Darth Momin preserved his own consciousness in his helmet before death. Said helmet actually made its way to Disney's Galaxy Edge park in Disneyland, hanging as a prop in Dok-Ondar's gift shop. Could Palpatine be haunting the ruins of the Death Star we saw in the trailers?
Rey Could Be a Skywalker
Despite Rian Johnson attempting to shut down any further debate on Rey's origins in the previous film, most fans didn't buy Kylo Ren's assured proclamation that Rey came from a couple of anonymous, drunk desert-dwellers. After all, Star Wars is a story about family and generations and making our hero for a new age someone completely unrelated to the previous heroes? Seems a bit odd. But, it's 2019 and we've got new sensibilities and Star Wars' source materials (The Hero With a Thousand Faces) are a bit out of date at this point. So, our options are Rey could be a Skywalker — she had a strong connection to Leia and regarded Han as a father figure — or she also could be something else entirely.
Midichlorians Are Back
Everyone's least favorite addition to the canon might be making a comeback. The concept of midichlorians was introduced in The Phantom Menace as a more concrete, scientific explanation for the Force (subatomic particles that acted as the liaison between the Force and matter, not so different from our real-world Higgs-Boson particle). It was met with pretty negative backlash as many felt it was an unnecessary explanation for the spiritual elements of the series. But midichlorians were further explored in Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine subtly hinted that he and his master harnessed the power of midichlorians to create human life (specifically Anakin). If Rey is not a Skywalker, the theory that she is some sort of clone or artificial creation of Palpatine (who we know from the Aftermath book series had a secret base on Rey's home planet of Jakku, aimed at clandestine scientific experiments) is starting to gain a lot of traction. If Palpatine is talking to her in the most recent trailer, it certainly lends itself to the theory.
Darth Maul Might Also Be Back
The one-time character from Episode I became a fan favorite over the years owing to his unique look and performer Ray Park's commitment to fans and Star Wars events. He made a return in the series Clone Wars and Rebels as well as Solo: A Star Wars Story. He then went on to get his own comic series and appear in some tie-in novels. While nothing so far in the trailers blatantly indicates Darth Maul is important or even present outside the tertiary stories in the wider mythology, Rey's use of a double-sided lightsaber certainly draws images of Darth Maul's epic duel entrance in Phantom Menace, and his character has been on the rise across other Star Wars media.
We'll Learn More About Dark Rey
Possibly the most talked about part of the trailer was Rey's appearance at the end where she sported some classic Sith clothes and an angry-looking red lightsaber. While some have speculated she's going to turn out to be the Big Bad of all of this, I, on the other hand, don't see Star Wars making the same blunder that Game of Thrones did earlier this year. Most likely, this is Kylo Ren's vision from The Last Jedi that Snoke tried to manipulate him with. It is interesting to note the lightsaber in this scene has the same crackling, unstable energy as Kylo Ren's. Showing this in the trailer also negates really any shot of this being more than some nice pre-movie hype. When The Last Jedi was in its marketing phase, there was a list of what previews and trailers could and absolutely could not show, and I imagine it's the same with Rise of Skywalker. But it still looks pretty awesome.
There Are New Sith Troopers
When The Force Awakens came out, JJ Abrams made a point to hammer home that Kylo Ren and Snoke were not Sith, but affiliated with another sect of Dark Side users known as the Knights of Ren. And yet, here we are with some new villains, called Sith Troopers, revealed this Summer at San Diego Comic Con. Traditionally, Sith operate very minimalist: one master, who holds the power and attempts to retain their place importance, and one apprentice, who covets the power and seeks to kill and replace their master. Only two exist at any given time, and this weird tension of mutual trigger fingers keeps it all in balance. Now, it seems the Sith have put together an army. I think these guys are most likely affiliated with Palpatine, a known Sith Lord, rather than Kylo Ren or his folk. Perhaps Palpatine, in whatever form he survived, put together an army on his own, quietly waiting for his moment to strike? Perhaps the one thing going against that theory is how much these guys stylistically look similar to the First Order troopers. But maybe Palpatine is also up on contemporary Storm Trooper fashion?