During the last weekend, we have seen the release of Episode IX’s first teaser. Along with it, the director and actors have shared some first information at the Star Wars Celebration panel. Stephen Colbert came prepared and his questions were brilliant, as always. Under the fire of his inquiry, J. J. Abrams, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran and others were forced to give away at least some of their secrets.
So what can we look forward to in Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker?
1. The Legacy Continues
We have probably all watched the teaser and made our own conclusions… you haven’t? Well, you can watch it below. I’ll wait.
Done? Very well, let’s start. One obvious theme of the next episode will be Rey picking up the legacy of the Jedi. In The Last Jedi, we have seen her embracing her powers, learning the necessary “lesson of unity” from Luke, as well as actually preserving the Jedi legacy in the form of their ancient manuscripts on board the Millenium Falcon.
Rey’s breathing in the teaser may also have deeper meaning besides reference to the original teaser for The Force Awakens (which started in a similar manner). Here, Rey’s breathing is controlled and she seems to focus on it, just before she tackles the oncoming fighter. It may be the case of her utilising Luke’s advice: “just… breathe,” as she is trying to connect to the Force.
2. After the Time Jump
According to the panelists, some time has passed between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. That means several things. The Galaxy is probably either in the middle of an ongoing conflict between the First Order and the last capsules of local resistance, or perhaps the First Order now reigns supreme. And Kylo Ren is the undisputed ruler (unless he is disputed by his almost-loyal General Hux).
As a sidenote, the time gave Rey a chance to do something about her lightsaber, since her old one (Anakin’s old one) has been destroyed. In the panel, Daisy Ridley said that Anakin’s lightsaber somehow continues living on, which likely means the crystal from it will be used in Rey’s new weapon.
3. With His Mask And Shirt On
As far as Kylo Ren is concerned, the teaser provides preciously little concrete information. We see him mowing down enemies in an unknown, forested place. We also see him repairing his helmet: presumably a sign of him embracing his own dark destiny.
The only relevant information from the panel was regarding Rey’s visions. After a question from Stephen Colbert whether Rey was going to have more visions of half-naked Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley’s answer was negative (adding “unfortunately” after some of the fans seemed to react with disapproval). Rey seemed to have closed the bond, from her part, at the end of The Last Jedi, so we may assume it won’t come back… unless some dramatic situation calls for it.
4. They Are Off On an Adventure
We have been also told that the heroes go on a sort of quest (presumably at least all of those we see in the trailer, hiking through unknown countryside: Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewie, the droids). We can speculate what their goal is. The peculiar structure the heroes watch from the distance in the trailer looks like the ruins of the (second) Death Star. If it still pertains to this quest, perhaps this has something to do with the legacy of the Emperor, of Vader/Anakin Skywalker, or with amending something that just did not go right in the closure of the last war.
5. A New Character
Another revelation straight from the panel was the addition of a new character. On their quest, the group will at some point get the support of Jannah (Naomi Ackie). She seems to be the “ranger-type” character, perhaps a local “Strider” to help the heroes find their way in unfamiliar environment.
6. Planets New Or Old?
It is hard to determine what the environments in the teaser are. There is a desert planet that may be Jakku or Tatooine, but it could also be Jedha or a completely different place altogether. To be fair, it does not look much like neither Jakku nor Tatooine that we are familiar with. Perhaps Rey’s quest leads her to the roots of the Jedi, and that includes Jedha? Or to the roots of the Skywalkers, and that includes Tatooine?
The place with the ruins of the Death Star could be Endor, or another moon/planet in the Endor system (let’s not forget Endor was a forest moon). Kylo Ren cutting down enemies among the trees may just be happening in a typical Endor forest – the very place his mother was saved by the Ewoks. Interesting possible connection, and more so as the place where Ben may have been conceived?
7. A Love Tetragon… Or More
The actors did not have much to say on the subject of their characters’ relationship that we could take as solid information. Neither did the trailer. Teasing about the possible continuing or forming relationships was more than enough, however. John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran have confirmed the importance of their characters’ relationship, but were careful to point out that this is a time of war, which may not be the easiest for romantic relationships. John Boyega included all of Rey, Rose and Poe among Finn’s potential love interests. Kelly Marie Tran dubbed Finn “the most eligible bachelor in the Galaxy”. Indeed, it is clear even without any additional knowledge that if the final episode is to untangle this knot of relationships, it has much work to do.
8. Lando and the Falcon
The trailer shows Lando Calrissian back, flying alongside Chewbacca. The Falcon is back in prime shape, even sporting its original circular antenna again.
Let’s consider one thing: J. J. Abrams is back at the helm. Is it surprising at all that we are (possibly) going back to Endor, with Lando flying the Falcon, and so on? Exactly that happened in Episode VI. Abrams had made many parallels to A New Hope in The Force Awakens. The elements present already in this trailer indicate he may be doing the same here – for good or bad.
9. No One’s Really Gone
The title of the trailer offers a plenty of room for speculation. Which Skywalker are we really talking about? Is it reference to the ghost of Luke, to the spirit of Anakin, or even to redemption of Ben Solo? Or is it a reference to some strange future ascension of Leia or to Rey, who would be, in a second plot twist, revealed as a Skywalker again? Or is “Skywalker” now a metaphorical name for a “new Jedi”?
We have all reasons to expect some “ghost show”, however. Luke had promised Kylo to be back. And Obi-Wan’s voice in The Force Awakens (“your first steps…”) was never really addressed afterwards, so if there ever was a time to elaborate on that idea, it is now. On top of that, nothing would be better than Anakin Skywalker showing up to chastise his wayward grandson.
10. Palpatine Has The Last Laugh
The whole trailer ends with the unmistakable laughter of the Emperor. Will his spirit join the battle from the ashes of the Death Star – in whichever form? In a later interview, Ian McDiarmid himself did not have much to say about his role in Episode IX and was being extremely cryptic. But judging from the way he kept repeating many times in different words that great stories need great mysteries and that mystery is part of the excitement, there is something to look forward to. We just have no idea what. “But if we work together, I know we can discover the secret…”
Let me end intentionally on this note. If you wish to speculate further, you may ponder how this particular quote starts and who says it. Or else just wait for more teasers.