Written by Sarah Hanisko, December 19, 2019
You’ve been warned. This article contains massive spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker. Turn back now if you want to avoid them.
The Rise of Skywalker is the last in the series of the Skywalker Saga, which started in May of 1977. During the last 42 years, we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the film, comics, novels, animated series and more. The Rise of Skywalker successfully manages to bring nearly every aspect of everything we’ve loved together in 2 hours and 22 minutes’ worth of storytelling.
While overall I loved the film, there were several choices Abrams made that made me feel as if he was giving into much of the toxic Star Wars fandom many of us have been subjected to over the past few years. If you’ve studied myth, as I have, you know that myths very often take a cyclical nature, stories are repeated, tales are retold with different characters and plots, but the cycle is the same. We see this in The Rise of Skywalker, though in tipsy-turvy fashion.
Palpatine voice was heard broadcast throughout the galaxy, and Kylo Ren, with his knights, worked tirelessly to find Wayfinders (which look suspiciously like Holocrons) to locate the very alive, though battered Palpatine. Let’s just say he was definitely hurting after being thrown in the core of the Death Star.
We all knew Palpatine was going to return for this installment, though none of us really knew if he was just going to be there in spirit, memory, or full body. Oh, no…he’s there. And still pretty damn powerful.
Rey is being trained by Leia and is finding herself haunted by visions which lead her to try to find Palpatine as well, the chance ensues and Kylo Ren and Rey encounter each other multiple times (both in their weird connection visions and in-person) throughout. Eventually, Ren reveals to Rey her true lineage. Her father was Palpatine’s son, murdered after they hid Rey on Jakku trying to hide her from her grandfather. This was one of the plot points I take some major issues with after The Last Jedi. We were told that it doesn’t matter who were parents were, anyone could have the ability to use the Force.
Luke asks who she was in The Last Jedi, and it’s hinted that is incredibly powerful, and the dark side can be sensed in her, most of us were content to believe that her lineage was simple, normal. Instead, the not so surprising plotline (which many people first started believing when The Force Awakens came out) turned out to be true.
While I wasn’t completely surprised by this turn, I was disappointed. It felt too simple and almost as if Abrams was backtracking Rian Johnson’s directorial choices. Whether or not this was the plan the entire time, the only discussion with the writers and directors will tell.
During another battle between Rey and Ren, we realize that Leia is going to die. It’s not said directly, but I think any fan going in knew it was a likely outcome with the death of Carrie Fisher. In essence, Leia’s death saved both Rey and Ren from the inevitable turn to the dark side. Her death pushed Rey to heal Kylo Ren after skewering him with her lightsaber. This effectively also saved Ben Solo.
The story continues in the way you might imagine a retelling of Return of the Jedi might go, force mass to fight the final battle, though with dwindling numbers. Rey is confronting Palpatine and refuses to kill him (much like Luke). Palpatine realizes that Rey and Ren are both incredibly powerful, steals their life-force and regains his entire retinue of Sith skills.
This is where one beautiful and touching moment occurs. Rey, near-death looks into the sky, seeing her friends being massacred, and asks for the Jedi Masters of old to be with her. One by one you hear all of their voices (some very familiar if you’ve watched the animated series and previous films) giving their support. She successfully ends her grandfather’s reign and falls in the process, only to be saved when Ben sacrifices his own life force to resurrect her. And they kiss. Yes, they kiss. Giving all the Reylo fans what they’ve been longing for, only for Ben to fall dead in Rey’s arms.
The galaxy is saved! There are parties in familiar places, with familiar faces. Speaking of which, several cameos are just on point and any die-hard fan will go nuts for..(I’m looking at you Wedge Antilles!!)
Rey goes to Tatooine and apparently decides to take over the Skywalker water farm, as Rey Skywalker.
I promise the tale is really better than it might sound at first glance, and this is the first thought, first viewing rambling. I do feel like Abrams could have done better, but then again it’s Abrams and like Lost things we thought were so, were ret-conned at the last minute. I do believe that if we hadn’t been led down a path thinking that Rey’s lineage was not that important, that major plot point would have been more emotionally stirring. But, many of us had that theory in our heads since this trilogy started.
Would I see it again? Yes. Did I hate it? No, I actually quite enjoyed it. As I said, there is just a touch of disappointment that Abrams went the way he did. It was still executed nearly flawlessly with the visuals, scripting, music, and acting and is one of the best Star Wars films to date.