The first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker recently hit the internet. With it, not only did we learn the title for episode nine, but we also got a rather unexpected nod to the return of one Sheev Palpatine. As expected, the trailer was quickly followed by a thousand different fan theories as to what the title means, how exactly the emperor survived his apparent demise at the end of Return of the Jedi, and what the role he might play in this new trilogy of films.
If you’ll indulge me, I would like to share with you my thoughts on where this all could be heading. Let’s start with that title.
At first, The Rise of Skywalker seems to be a direct reference to Luke himself. It would make sense to a point seeing is how he was the central protagonist of the original Star Wars trilogy. It could also be a reference to Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo. He is after all the son of Leia Organa and himself a Skywalker.
Maybe The Rise of Skywalker is signaling a potential redemption arc for the villain of this current trilogy. He was at one point all about following in the footsteps of his grandfather Anakin, aka Darth Vader, who made the transition from Jedi to Sith back to Jedi again at the end of his life. Perhaps Kylo will take after his grandpa in the end?
There are many things that The Rise of Skywalker could mean at this point (which is in part why it is such a good title); however, there is one theory floating around that I find particularly compelling. We know that this ninth film is set to wrap up the Skywalker saga, which likely means we will get a finite send off to the remaining Skywalker bloodline. However, what if the “Rise” which the title is referring to is the birth of a new order of Force users named Skywalker?
We know thanks to episode eight that Luke Skywalker was in deed the last of the Jedi (hence the title The Last Jedi) and the old wizard wanted nothing more than the old ways of the order to die with him. He made that clear to Rey repeatedly throughout the film and when he ultimately decided to train Rey, it was not as a Jedi. Instead, Luke’s teachings to Rey centered around why the Jedi ways needed to end.
At the end of The Last Jedi, Luke disappears into the Force where he presumably stands alongside ghost Qui-Gon, Yoda, Obi-Wan and Anakin. Where Star Wars stands currently, there are no Jedi. Keep this in mind as we switch over to talking about Palpatine (this is all leading somewhere, I promise).
At the end of the trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, we see our heroes, led by Rey, overlooking what appears to be a huge chunk of wreckage from the Death Star. Immediately, the trailer cuts to black and we hear the familiar maniacal laugh of the emperor (it’s this laugh which leads me to believe that the wreckage is from the second Death Star since that’s where we saw him last).
Now, it remains to be seen if Palpatine survived the fall at the end of episode six. All we really know is that he will play a part in this new movie. That said, Abrams did say just before the trailer’s debut at Star Wars Celebration that our heroes would be facing the galaxy’s greatest evil in episode nine. After the emperor laughed in the trailer and Ian McDiarmid himself appeared on stage at the presentation, I got the impression that Sheev hasn’t yet breathed his last breath.
So how exactly is the old tyrant still kicking? Perhaps he had clones of himself made prior to his demise, as is the case in the extended Star Wars lore. Maybe he lives on as a recording inside a Sith holocron. The only thing I feel confident in saying is that if Palpatine hasn’t already bit the dust by the start of The Rise of Skywalker, he definitely will by the end.
This brings me back to the passing of Luke Skywalker. The entire saga has preached the balance of the Force. If good rises, the dark side will rise to meet it and back and forth and so on. Now that the Jedi have gone, it only makes sense that the Sith follow suit and thus restore balance to the Force. But the end of the Jedi and Sith does not mean the end of the Force or preclude new generations from wielding it (I believe this is what Broom Kid was foreshadowing at the end of The Last Jedi).
With a lack of Force users, I adhere to the theory that Rey will begin training a new mystical order that she will dub “Skywalker” in honor of her mentor. These Skywalker will learn from Luke’s teachings about the Jedi as well as Rey’s experiences. They will embrace both dark and light sides of the Force, much like the Gray Jedi of the Star Wars Legends canon.
This theory is further supported, I think, by the fact that it was George Lucas’s intention to originally call the Jedi “Skywalkers.” And writer-director J.J. Abrams did consult with Lucas before writing the script for The Rise of the Skywalker. This wouldn’t be the first time the new trilogy has honored old Lucas plans. Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens was named after the original name George had for his main character: Luke Starkiller.
This may not be the only way to wrap up the Skywalker saga, but I strongly believe that this is the logical extension of everything that has come before and a poetic heading: a galaxy that is perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
What do you make of this Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker theory? Do you buy into it? Or do you think there are other, more fitting predictions for everything? Hit me up in the comments below and let me know where you think this is all leading!