Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – A Theory


Photo Credit to Disney/Lucasfilm

An Imperial Navy recruitment poster from the pre-Yavin era, as seen in Star Wars Rebels

Nicholas Silva, Editor -in- Chief

The final trailer for the final film in the Skywalker Saga has debuted, and with it arrived a massive amount of information, including the Emperor and a clearer look at the fleet of superlaser-equipped Imperial Class Star Destroyers.

Now, with all of these literal Star Destroyers appearing in the trailer, a major room for innovation has been revealed, and -some might argue- demanded. Both Episode VII and VIII –The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi– received their fair share of criticisms, and one of the most common complaints was that much of the plot seemed to bear striking parallel to the Original Trilogy. While this nostalgic undercurrent may have served The Force Awakens well in easing the audience into the Sequel Trilogy, such similarities grow more tiresome and harmful as the narrative progresses. While The Last Jedi, for its part, did begin to introduce many new, innovative, and mightily controversial concepts and ideas, The Rise of Skywalker needs to break free of the mold if it is to grow into its own right and simultaneously provide Disney with the means to continue the narrative and continue the flow of money.

Perhaps the best way that The Rise of Skywalker could prove itself amongst the Star Wars films is a very drastic one: let the bad guys win. The common thread amongst almost every Star Wars movie -and most movies in general- is that the bad guys -be it the Sith, Confederacy of Independent Systems (a.k.a. The Separatists), the Empire, or the First Order- create an awesome weapon and the good guys -the Republic, the Rebellion, or the Resistance- must destroy it by the time the iconic end credit score rolls. In both A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, the Rebels managed to defeat a Death Star. While this worked from a narrative perspective, if not a realistic perspective, it cannot stand to be repeated for the saga’s conclusion. The Force Awakens already saw the destruction of Starkiller Base -a Death Star 3.0- and now the aforementioned Imperial Star Destroyers are re-emerging with their Emperor; except this time refitted with super laser arrays. If the Resistance manages to defeat this gigantic fleet, filled with hundreds of Star Destroyers, then it is, once more, proving to be a repetitive, cliche clone. As ironic as that would be for a universe that has such a high concentration of clones in its lore, it would prove potentially fatal to a franchise that Disney is so heavily betting on. That is why the bad guys must win, and most likely will win in the form of the resurgent Empire. From a narrative standpoint -drawing, admittedly, potentially erroneous conclusions from the trailer- this would make sense. If Reylo truly becomes a thing, then the First Order would reasonably be presumed to have lost the last of its true leadership, unless Allegiant General Price has something to say, which he certainly will but not to much effect. Hux, while he had promise, has been relegated to the role of a B-list baddy at best, and it is unlikely that any of his cronies fare much better. 

And now for some lore. The First Order was conceived by Emperor Palpatine as part of his contingency plan, in the event of his apparent death. It saw the restructuring of the most brutal and deadly pawns of the fallen Empire summoned into the Unknown Regions in the wake of bloody conflict to form an instrument to enact the Emperor’s plans. However, by either design or the greed of this corrupt elite, the First Order itself floundered until arriving in a suitable state from which to efficiently conquer the galaxy. This is not all, however. The First Order, no matter what drove it to its present state, never seemed to be a permanent fixture. In fact, it was -and was even alluded to as being- a blunt instrument by which to cleanse the galaxy and open it up to a renewed Imperial conquest. Perhaps the Empire would even be seen as the underdog, or the savior, freeing the galaxy from the fist of the First Order. The Emperor has almost certainly returned, and with him a fleet of ISD’s, now bigger and badder than ever. It is almost certain that the intent of the Emperor is to reclaim his dominion, and continue his conquest of the Unknown Regions. Thrawn, too, his Chiss grand admiral and adviser, is rumored to have a mysterious appearance. All canonical signs point to an Imperial victory, or at least a victory for the villain. 

Now, the case for this unprecedented victory is not solely rooted in the canon that Disney has been meticulously constructing since it purchased the rights to the kingdom, but in the kingdom of the Mouse House itself. Disney has expressed interest in continuing the story of the wars of the stars past the end of the Rise of Skywalker, even though it has also been promised that this will be the end of the key figures the audience has come to know and even love. A victory of the Empire, First Order, or villainy in general would allow the slate of heroes to be wiped, and perhaps even the Emperor himself would go down with the ship, part of his plan finally realized. In addition, Disney has placed billions of dollars and much excitement into its twin Galaxy’s Edge theme parks, and has, again, promised that these parks are equipped to evolve with the expanding and continuing narrative. The parks are rooted to their core in the conflict between the First Order and the Resistance, to the point where half of the park is devoted to a massive TIE Echelon fighter and a First Order recruiting/merchandising facility. While Disney could easily give the park a face lift after Rise of Skywalker has concluded, this is a very unlikely proposition. Not only would such renovations of the park’s existential infrastructure and lore, likely result in the closure of the park for an indefinite period- but the park seemingly has more stories to tell on its current trajectory. At the core, even, one of the rides is based entirely around the fight between the two factions. Such massive restructuring seems doubtful, and to waste the lore that has been deftly crafted with purpose for much of the last decade seems amateur. 

Now, one argument amongst many that may exist, is that the title of the film itself would guarantee a heroic victory. However, this is not so. Two easy explanations come readily to mind. One, the title could be an intentional misnomer and there is recent evidence to support the validity of this consideration. The Last Jedi did not necessarily see only one last Jedi. While it can be argued that Luke was the titular character, Rey took the sacred Jedi texts which are basically a DIY guide to the Jedi religion and order. The galaxy is shown to be populated by benevolent force users, and some legitimate Jedi could still exist in the form of Ezra Bridger who is greatly suspected to be alive. Lastly, Luke and Yoda are not gone, and will almost certainly play a role in the ninth film. Therefore, The Last Jedi’s title was likely misleading. Second, and more solid, is that the word Skywalker has been shown in the modern canon to mean many things other than a great force using family surname. In the Thrawn novels, the Chiss are explained to have force sensitive individuals that navigate their ships through the tumultuous hyperspace lanes of the Unknown Regions. One early theory is that the Skywalkers that could rise in the ninth film are in fact the members of a new order that blends aspects of the light and the dark side, potentially founded by both Rey and Ben Solo. While this is certainly a great possibility, it suffers in that it does not provide an adequate response to the problem of vitality for the franchise. However, it should not be dismissed out of hand, because the next major multimedia push from Lucasfilm has been revealed as being named “Project Luminous”, which could indicate the presence of these new force users. Finally, one last title-based argument is the abbreviation of the title. Rise of Skywalker, abbreviated would be ROS, the same as Revenge of the Sith. While this is admittedly another stretch, that is to be expected from Star Wars theory at this point. Though, accepting this as a potential argument, it would greatly support this conclusion. Revenge of the Sith saw the fall of the Jedi and the rise of the First Galactic Empire. Very few parallels in Star Wars, a universe that is meticulously patrolled by the Lucasfilm Story Group, are true coincidences. Every detail is fleshed out and carefully considered, so two movies sharing even something as small as a title abbreviation could have potential significance and indicate an aspect of the plot, such as the resurgence of the Empire.

Ultimately, only the film’s release in December will reveal the true fate of Star Wars and our beloved characters, but it would certainly be an interesting twist if the bad guys finally gained the upper hand. At any rate, Monday’s trailer provided some interesting moments and the promise of good things to come.