How does re-emergence of the Sith in Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker go together with the prophecy of the Chosen One, “who shall destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force”?
In my previous article, I have outlined the implications of Sith Trooper’s appearance in the sequels. This time, I would like to focus on the prophecy of the Chosen One, that has been applied to Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy. The prophecy itself presents many questions that the films have not answered in a satisfactory manner. I have attempted to tackle this in another of my earlier articles. But let’s just roll with the basic assumptions for now: Anakin was the Chosen One (born of the Force, as prophesied) and the prophecy was, somehow, true. (Probably the most popular interpretation says that Anakin first brought “balance” to the Force by killing everyone except two Sith and two Jedi, and later, he destroyed the Sith when he, as Vader, killed his master and then died.)
But The Sith Have Been Destroyed?
The chief problem is that in the moment the Sith “rise from the dead” (no matter which way – be it Kylo Ren reviving their order by becoming one, or be it by the Emperor’s ghost returning to rule the Galaxy), the Prophecy is nullified. In other words: what good was it for the Chosen One to destroy the Sith, if the Sith can just come back a generation later? There was no need to make such a fuss about a “Chosen One” if his deed was to be of no importance in the aftermath.
The historical importance of the Galactic Civil War between the Rebels and the Empire lay not in the fact that it was a large armed conflict, the likes of which the Galaxy has seen before and will probably see in the future. Its importance lay in that it had also its metaphysical side, the conflict between Light and Darkness, and that in its conclusion, the Sith have finally been eliminated for good.
The Problem of the Sequels – Or an Opportunity?
There is one question that The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi have not managed to explain yet in a satisfactory manner. Why, from the big, galactic perspective, is their story equally important to that of the two previous trilogies? What do they have to do with the story of Anakin and Luke?
One obvious answer is that they continue the story of the Skywalker family (through Luke, Leia and through Ben Solo, and telling the story of reestablishing the Jedi Order). That is all good, but that would be merely a postscript. Something more needs to be said that would make the sequel trilogy not only a footnote informing about what did Luke, Leia and Han do in their retirement.
Besides, the sequel trilogy is not about Luke and Leia and Han. It is chiefly about Rey, Finn and others. In other words: the overall plot of the sequel trilogy should somehow make what the “young generation” does (not just what Luke, Leia or Han do) equally important on the galactic scale to the deeds of the Chosen One.
Again, don’t get me wrong. The personal stories of Rey, Finn et al. as well as the sentiment that every next generation needs to fight the evil on its own terms is all fine and dandy. But from the big perspective, how do their stories differ from that of three other teenagers five generations from now, who are going to be saving the Galaxy from the New Hutt Empire or what-have-you? There should be just one more link to the stories of the old Skywalkers that would show how important Rey and co.’s deeds are.
And that is where the opportunity comes. Now we know that in Episode IX, somehow something related to the Sith resurfaces. Perhaps this is the time to say that something remains to be solved for the prophecy to be complete, that the influence of the Sith still exists to a degree that requires mending. This episode has the unique opportunity to bring everything together, to give overarching, complex purpose and meaning to the entire story of the sequel trilogy.
So What Could Happen?
If you prefer to remain completely unspoiled, just in case my predictions turn out to be correct at least partly, don’t read further and just wait for Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. If you want to hear what such a story might look like, here is my shot at it.
I think the residual existence of the Emperor’s spirit in the Death Star ruins would be a decent plot tool. And a reasonable explanation for the Chosen One’s work not being completed. Perhaps there will also be the revelation that somehow, the First Order was part of the Emperor’s contingency plan for the unlikely case of the Empire’s demise. Maybe Snoke was his hand-picked wannabe-Dark-Force-adept, a mere tool to help the Dark Side survive until the Emperor’s spirit can bequeath the Sith teachings to a new apprentice, and restore the Sith Order. But these are mere details. The bottom line is, the threat of the Sith is not gone – not yet, even though it looked like that in the physical realm. Now, the final stroke needs to be dealt in the, so to say, spiritual realm. And is it not convenient that the Jedi have just recently honed their ability to maintain their agency as Force ghosts? Was this perhaps the reason for it all along?
And ideally, it will be the Chosen One himself (Anakin) who would banish the Emperor’s spirit for good. Imagine: Rey has Anakin’s lighsaber (or its remains, now). It called to her. Was it perhaps because Anakin wanted someone to “finish what he started” – not in the way Kylo Ren thought, but in the sense of fulfilling the prophecy?
Now Rey can be the one to go into the “heart of darkness” in the Death Star remains (what a call-back to her first appearance in the ruins of the Star Destroyer on Jakku!). Not to diminish her or the other young heroes’ agency, they can deal with whatever physical threat lies in there. And only in the very end, as the physical enemies are defeated, the Emperor’s spirit still gloats that it is immortal and will find another apprentice. “Young fools, be it a generation from now, or in a thousand years, but the Sith shall be restored!” And as the heroes watch helplessly, the Jedi ghosts, especially the spirit of Anakin, appears and destroys the Emperor also in the spiritual realm. Something along these lines.
There are many ways this could go, of course. Another fairly likely option would be to consider the role of Kylo Ren, and his possible redemption. Remember how he had promised his grandfather’s helmet that he would “finish what he started”? Well… he still might, in an unexpected way.
But that would perhaps be a speculation for another time.