Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

As is my nature, I have seen The Rise of Skywalker four times and I’ve had several days to think about it. With this trilogy and the saga of the Skywalkers as we know them wrapped, I’ve gone back and looked at my reactions to The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. I even went into my LiveJournal archives to look back on my reactions to Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, just because.

Leading up to the release of this film, I watched all of the other films in the saga, in chronological order, including Solo and Rogue One so that everything would be fresh in my mind. I did this by watching one film per night starting the week before release and it worked out pretty well.

This will not be a review, it’s just my thoughts about the end and it may be a little disjointed, definitely a little long because there is a lot happening in this film. I have more to say about Kylo Ren/Ben Solo than this space will allow, so all of that is going to go into a separate post.

As with The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker seems to be on the receiving end of hatred as well. None of the films are perfect, but they are all canon whether people like them or not. Every single Star Wars movie is someone’s favourite just as every single Star Wars movie is someone else’s least favourite. Art is subjective like that.

SPOILERS AFTER THE GIF!

masterleia

During the opening, we see Kylo Ren on Mustafar, where he retrieves a Sith Wayfinder from the grounds of Fortress Vader. There’s a thin forest here now. Although I haven’t played Vader Immortal (because I don’t have an Oculus Quest), I have read about the story and it would seem this is evidence that the planet really is healing. But what happened to the castle? Why don’t we see ruins?

Back in 2015, I had wondered if Snoke had a connection to Palpatine. During my rewatch of all of the films, it occurred to me that perhaps Palpatine had created Snoke, that Snoke wasn’t real, or that Snoke was a puppet. I dismissed this thought only to find out I was correct! He was Palpatine’s puppet. I also thought that the secret to conquering death would be an interesting thing to tie all the films together, however I wish we had gotten more hints of Palpatine’s involvement in the other two films.

I wish that we had seen Anakin’s Force spirit in this film. Hearing him was nice, but it would have been cool to see him as well, maybe at the end with his children. I don’t believe that this film cheapens Anakin’s sacrifice as some have suggested. In that moment, in Return of the Jedi, Anakin did bring balance as far as anyone knew because Palpatine did die — he says so in the film — “My boy, I have died before.” But! How long was he dead? How soon was Palpatine revived? We don’t know (at this time). He seems to be like a reanimated corpse, but he could just as well be a damaged clone. This is somewhat hand waved away by the line that, “The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” And we move on. Might ruminate more on this point later.

Anyway, my personal interpretation of the final confrontation between Rey and Palpatine is that true balance could not be brought to the Force until the Jedi and Sith are both completely destroyed, which is why Rey “died” briefly. In that moment, she destroys both. Luke tells us in The Last Jedi that the Force doesn’t belong to the Jedi; it doesn’t belong to them or the Sith.

Rey

When we first see Rey, she is meditating and repeating the mantra, “Be with me.” She is trying to commune with the old masters. Is this something she read about in the sacred Jedi texts or something Leia is teaching her? On that note: Rey actually read the sacred Jedi texts! And she calls Leia, “Master”! I’m so glad to see Leia in this moment, and to learn that she’s had to take up the mantle of Jedi Master, but because they are repurposing old footage, the dialogue feels somewhat off in this scene.

Did she really need to be a Palpatine? This has left me with one major question, which is: who fucked Palpatine?! When? WHY? I wish I did not have to ask these questions, but other than that, fine: it is what it is. She just as easily could have remained Rey from Jakku, but now I’m left with more questions than I had before.

It was so important to hear Luke tell Rey that he had been wrong, since the last time they spoke, they were at odds. This scene on Ahch-To was so reminiscent of Luke’s own conversation with Obi-Wan on Dagobah just after Yoda’s death and prior to confronting his father. Interestingly, you never see Luke’s right hand in this scene; he keeps it covered.

I’ve seen some people not understanding why the title of this film is The Rise of Skywalker, but it was pretty clear to me that it is in reference to the Jedi of the past telling Rey to rise in the Force during her final confrontation and then her subsequent choice to take the Skywalker name. And of course there are people who take issue with that as well, but I thought it was a lovely tribute to her two most important mentors, Luke and Leia, who (somehow?) knew who she was, but ultimately still trained her anyway.

Her lightsaber is yellow and constructed from parts of her staff. Where did she find the kyber crystals? Ilum is gone; it was turned into Starkiller Base and has been destroyed. That’s not the only place you can find crystals, but I hope to get more information about this in the novel or in other ancillary materials.

A lot of people have been saying that they don’t like that Rey is alone in the end of the film on Tatooine. I don’t think that she is. We see BB-8 roll out of the Millennium Falcon. Who is to say that her friends are not on board, waiting for her? Just because we don’t see them, doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Is she going to stay there for a short time? The second to last track on the soundtrack, which plays during this scene, is called, “A New Home,” so it has me wondering.

Also, it’s hard to tell, but it seems to me like the Skywalker lightsabers are buried in close proximity to where Shmi Skywalker is buried. Cue my feels.

Finn

Some folks are upset that Finn/Poe didn’t become canon. I don’t care; I didn’t ship them. If it had happened, I wouldn’t have had an issue with it. However, I think that it is equally important to show two men having a close friendship, to show little boys that it’s not weird or gay to show physical affection to your friends.

Finn didn’t annoy me as badly in this installment. Also, it was pretty clear (and has since been confirmed) that he is exhibiting Force-sensitivity in the film and he keeps trying to tell Rey, but it ultimately goes unaddressed in the film. Some of the people who loved The Last Jedi and hate The Rise of Skywalker cite that one of the things they loved about TLJ is that it showed you can be ‘nobody’ and still be powerful in the Force. This is still true! It has always been true.

The Force is everything and everywhere. Even someone who isn’t a Jedi is still a part of the Force, is still connected to it. If you believe in the Force and hone that belief, then perhaps you can learn to tap into it. Finn being around Rey, seeing that the Force is real, and what it is capable of, has led him to a deeper belief in it and has awoken his own connection to it. With training and discipline, perhaps he will become a Jedi as well.

Other things that I loved:

  • Hux is the Rebel spy! Hahaha, loved this.
  • Skywalker twins training session flashback and Leia’s lightsaber! I love that her lightsaber was blue, like her father’s. I’m going to need a replica of this whenever it inevitably becomes available. I’d also like a book, comic, animated series or something to give me more Skywalker twins training action. The graphics looked a little like a video game, but it’s fine. I’ll take what I can.
  • “You have everything you need,” and Luke’s satisfied face at lifting his old X-Wing out of the ocean.
  • Force healing! We’ve seen the Child do this in The Mandalorian, but Rey apparently learned this from the sacred texts.
  • I’m going to need to know more about what exactly Luke and Lando were up to on Pasaana.
  • C-3PO was so lovable and comedic in this film, I appreciated that. Also thought it was kind of funny that Sith is similar to the Black Speech of Lord of the Rings in that it’s basically forbidden to speak it.
  • Speaking of, just going off of what we have seen in The Mandalorian, which takes place just a few years after Return of the Jedi, people don’t seem to be familiar with the Jedi or able to recognize the Force, so how does Zorii know anything about the Sith language?
  • The company of defected Stormtroopers! The way Jannah reacts to Finn upon learning that he was FN-2187 suggests that perhaps her group had heard about how he defected and that played a part in their refusal to carry out orders?
  • After TFA, I also stated that I wanted Lando and/or Wedge to make an appearance and TROS gave us both.
  • Lando saying, “There are more of us, Poe. There are more of us.” and then the Final Order officer seeing all of the ships and saying, “It’s not a navy, sir. It’s just…people.” This message is so relevant to our current times.
  • Maz giving Chewie Han’s medal, which Leia had kept, as something to remember both of them by.

The nitpicks:

  • Where is Luke’s green lightsaber? While writing this, I remembered that the Caretakers on Ahch-To have it.
  • Not enough Rose after she played such a large role in the previous film.
  • Not enough Connix, either.
  • No Captain Phasma. Disappointing. I wanted her to just keep reappearing.
  • I don’t have a problem with Poe Dameron being a former spice runner, however, where exactly does this fit into his backstory? He’s not that old.
  • I want to like Zorii Bliss more, but her role was so small that I have to ask what was the point.
  • The Final Order fleet has been massing in the Unknown Regions for decades, and they have seemingly been wiped out, right? But what about all of the First Order ships? Where are they? What has happened to them? I know we saw some of them being destroyed, but I can’t imagine that’s actually all of them.
  • Who are the Knights of Ren? We saw more of them, but still didn’t really find out much of anything about them. What was that vision in TFA even about?

I’m not 100% convinced we are done with any of these characters.