It is finally here. After two full years of waiting and arguing about The Last Jedi, the next and potentially final episode in the Star Wars series, The Rise of Skywalker, hits theaters Thursday. Because hype is at an all-time high , and because we just can’t wait to talk about this final chapter we’ve decided to sit down as a staff and construct an entrance survey. Below, Far, Far, Away News’ staff writers discuss their expectations for the movie, the future of Rey, the destiny of Kylo Ren, and, of course, old man Sheev.
What are you most excited about with The Rise of Skywalker?
Christian Corah: Even though I am pretty excited to see how the stories of Kylo Ren and Rey develop, I must say I’m most excited about Palpatine’s return. It’s a really unexpected turn for the story and I am all for it. I’m not sure how they’ll do it or what exactly Palpatine’s role will be in The Rise of Skywalker, but I am highly anticipating whatever it is.
Joseph Forbush: I’m most excited to see the conflict between Rey and Kylo. Their character dynamics bring an interesting contrast of how we interpret good and evil. No one is ever really gone.
Will Custer: The thing I am most excited for is how this all closes out. Endings are typically very bittersweet and Star Wars fans have lived through three of them, but this one feels like a true ending and that’s exciting to me. I know lots of people aren’t always excited about something ending, but sometimes endings are my favorite and oftentimes the most important part of the story. So, they need to land.
Patrick Mulligan: It’s all been building to this, the end of the Skywalker saga. But for all its operatic storytelling, I don’t think I’m looking forward to anything more than watching Rey, Finn, and Poe hang out together. The bonds between characters is a core element of what grounds Star Wars and makes it so beloved, so I can’t wait to get more of that.
Jamie Binegar: I’m excited to see how Palpatine laid out this grand scheme, and to see how Rey ultimately decides to use her connection to the Force.
Ryan Benner: I am excited that J.J. is returning to the director’s chair. I know he has an absolute passion for this franchise, and I am excited to see what he does with the return of Darth Sidious.
What will the opening sequence be like?
CC: I think it’ll mirror Revenge of the Sith and be pretty action-packed. I also anticipate a pretty defining moment in the opening sequence, like the murder of Count Dooku in ROTS. This opening sequence will be pretty surprising, and it will set the stage for the rest of the film. However, I don’t have any thoughts on what specifically the scene will be.
JF: I believe the movie will start out quite different from the usual ‘seeing an enemy ship flying in space’. I believe the first scene will show Kylo leading the First Order somehow.
WC: The first two movies have started with Poe Dameron and The First Order and I think this opening will be similar. I think there will be a focus on The First Order and Supreme Leader Kylo Ren. Probably something centered around them attacking a Rebel Fleet, or maybe Kylo meditating and talking to Vader’s helmet. Through that, they can show how powerful Kylo has become and focus in on a potential emotional and human moment with Kylo where it shows the torment and pull between light and dark.
PM: I’m thinking it’ll be a bit of a riff on the opening to Return of the Jedi, the three leads going on a mission together.
JB: I think we’ll pan to Rey doing some sort of training exercise. Or see an unfamiliar ship being summoned by the Resistance, a clandestine meeting, etc.
RB: Opening sequence will be Kylo Ren traveling to meet Darth Sidious.
Finish the sentence: “By the end of the movie, Rey’s parents/family will be…”
CC: known. As for who exactly they are, I’m not sure. I’m starting to become a fan that she is a nobody, but I’m not sure what direction it’ll actually go. But I do think we get more information on it in TROS.
JF: The Skywalker legacy.
WC: Nobody, they were filthy junk traders. This is what Kylo Ren told Rey and although he could have been trying to manipulate her to join him, I choose to believe him. A major theme of the Sequel Trilogy has been the idea that anybody can be the hero of a story and they don’t have to come from a known person or family. I think this continues in the final chapter.
PM: expanded upon, but in a way that holds more thematic weight than it just being a name-drop.
JB: interesting, but ultimately unimportant.
RB: Nonexistent. I feel she was a creation of the force from Sidious. However, if she is of a family, I don’t see an issue with this story route.
It is the ending of a nine-film saga (not including Rogue One and Solo). This means that some may die. That being said, who do you believe doesn’t make it out alive?
CC: Unless we’re all truly shocked, Palpatine is probably gonna be dead (or redeemed, I buy into that theory). I also think that one of Rey and Kylo will die, I just don’t see an ending where both of them make it out alive (even if Kylo gets redeemed). Those are the deaths that I’m confident about, but I do believe we’ll see more main characters die, I’m just not sure who. These could include, Finn, Poe, Rose, Leia, Chewie, Lando, etc. TROS will probably be a tragic movie with a happy ending, but that means many will die for that happy ending.
JF: I think Leia, Rose, and Hux will die.
WC: I think Kylo Ren probably dies. Along with him I could see Chewbacca, C-3PO, and possibly even Poe Dameron. Those are for the main characters. Also, I think Palpatine is finally destroyed as well. This time for good.
PM: Kylo feels like the most likely character to bite the dust. Redemption by way of death, because he’s a bit more like his grandfather than he knows. Other than that, it’s hard to say. I think Poe would be likely to go out especially since he died in an early draft of The Force Awakens. It would be a gut punch to be sure. I’m also so curious what kind of sendoff Carrie Fisher is going to get. It seems likely that she will pass on screen in this movie, I just hope it’s peacefully. She deserves that.
JB: Unfortunately, I think Leia will die, not because of Carrie’s passing, but because it seems the trend of the series is sending off the original trio. It also seems like 3P0 will be done, but I actually think we’ll say goodbye to R2.
RB: C3P0, Chewbacca, Lando, and Wedge. I don’t think Disney has it in them to kill any of the new characters.
If there were three things you could magically make happen in The Rise of Skywalker, what would they be?
CC: I want balance to be brought to the force, the most spectacular lightsaber duels we’ve seen in Star Wars, and for Palpatine to kill either Rey or Kylo.
JF: Yoda is revealed to be the ultimate villain (a true plot twist), Palpatine would be Darth Sidious, and Anakin would return in some form or another and fight side-by-side with Rey to defeat evil.
WC: We see Vader’s Castle and Kylo goes there in search of sith artifacts. I would want to include something that ties in either Rebels or Clone Wars TV shows (Mortis or World Between Worlds ideally). Lastly, I would want one last spine tingling Palpatine monologue.
PM: I would magically want it to be the best Star Wars movie ever made. Imagine if we haven’t seen the best one yet? Wild.
JB: Anakin showing up in some form, Phasma being alive, and I really want to see Thrawn in a way that makes sense.
RB: Thrawn leading the giant star destroyer fleet, Chewbacca leading an army of wookies in the final battle (whether in ships or on the ground), and Luke confronting Sidious one more time.
What is the most ridiculous theory that you have heard leading up to The Rise of Skywalker? Do you hope it comes true?
CC: The theory that Rey has been a droid this whole time. That’s pretty ridiculous. I think it’s more plausible that Rey is a clone with a control chip (like the ones the clones had in the Prequel Trilogy) than a droid. The control chip could explain Dark Rey too, but I don’t think it’ll happen, and nor do I want it too.
JF: The most ridiculous theory I’ve heard was that Rey was a robot of some sort. Obviously, that’s absolutely crazy because we know she bleeds. And no, I hope this doesn’t come true!
WC: I wrote a whole article about theories you can read here, but anything with Rey’s background I don’t love. I just don’t think she is a clone, a Kenobi, a Palpatine, or a droid/cyborg thing. They all are half-baked theories and I just hate them.
PM: I came across one a while back that basically said that Rey is a reincarnation of Anakin, which is probably one of the worst fan theories going.
JB: That Rey is a clone of Luke’s hand! It seems so extraneous. I definitely don’t want to see that play out.
RB: Matt Smith is playing young Palpatine. There’s absolutely no need for this type of flashback.
What is a theory you have heard that you hope comes true?
CC: I don’t know if it is much of a theory, but I want it to be known that Palpatine was somehow pulling strings behind the scenes ever since ROTJ, much like he did in the PT. I even hope it shows that he was in some way controlling Snoke. It would truly make Palpatine the true villain of the Skywalker Saga.
JF: I’ve heard a theory that Rey is Palpatine’s bloodline. Although very possible, I don’t know how well this would sit with some fans.
WC: World Between Worlds is a part of The Rise of Skywalker. Inject that into my veins! Also, if you have not seen that episode of Rebels, go watch it right now.
PM: That by the end of the movie the Jedi take on the moniker of Skywalker. The Jedi Order’s puritanical ways pushed Anakin to the dark side and lead to its downfall. By heading down a new path with a new name, future generations would be able to build off the best parts of the Order without all the issues that destroyed it. It gives a sense of growth and purpose to the ending and would honor the Heroes of this story while giving a foundation to whatever happens next in a galaxy far, far away.
JB: I read a theory that the pull to the Light that Kylo feels has been Anakin all along, leading him away from the Dark side. I adore this theory.
RB: Kylo Ren is too far gone to be redeemed.
What is one thing you really hope does not happen in The Rise of Skywalker?
CC: I don’t want a cheesy happy ending where Kylo gets redeemed and gets to live happily ever after Rey. I do want it to end with The Resistance winning, but it should also be tragic with what that victory cost. Also, if Reylo ends up happening, I just want it to be temporary with one of them tragically dying after (Reylos may not like my responses).
JF: I don’t want Rey and Finn to be together. I see them more as best friends.
WC: I don’t want any leeway for this not to be the final chapter of the Skywalkers. I want this to legitimately be the end. In 15, 20, heck even 40 years, I don’t want episodes 10-12. You’re telling us this will be the end and I want that to be true. I am fine with some expansion of side stories though. If they use Adam Driver to tell the backstory of Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, or a side set of stories involving Finn or Rose, I would be fine with that. Not everyone together though.
PM: I hope the movie doesn’t go for any cheap reveals without meaning. I would hate it if the most thoughtful Star Wars movie to date is followed up by one that doesn’t have anything on its mind.
JB: I really don’t care for any romance between Kylo and Rey, even though it seems to be where we’re headed.
RB: The Falcon getting destroyed. I know this is the final movie, but it feels like Disney has tried to target something about the original trilogy in these movies and either kill them or destroy it. I don’t want the Falcon to be that thing.
We know that Palpatine will be in this movie in some capacity. How do you think he shows up in the movie?
CC: I think it will be through his physical body (Maul survived the fall, why can’t Palpatine?). We know that “force ghosts” are exclusively a light side power, especially through the episodes in The Clone Wars that showed Yoda learning the power. So, I expect Palpatine to return with his physical body (as a clone is another possibility).
JF: I think he will be in poor physical health and unable to do much at first. Somehow, he will be able to be restored to his original form.
WC: I think he takes forms in various ways. I think part will be physical and part will be spiritual. I am just excited we get some more Palpy!
PM: Good old Sheev is going to be revealed as the master behind everything all along, pulling strings from some far corner of the galaxy, while unable to do a whole lot himself. I hope we get something regarding how he survived, but I have a feeling he’ll look beat up enough to imply that he’s only barely scraped by.
JB: I think Palpatine will be haunting something, maybe the Death Star, maybe Vader’s old helmet – who knows? Or maybe he’ll have figured out a way to preserve his essence way back when as a part of his contingency plan.
RB: Either a fully functioning clone, attached to machines, or he’s just spiritually there and doesn’t even show up in physical form.
In what way will Dark Rey make an appearance?
CC: So crazy theories aside, I think Dark Rey is just a vision. It’s a version of Rey that could have been if she made a few different decisions in her life. A big reason why she can relate so well to Kylo is because there is a real version inside of Rey that is similar to Kylo. Not sure exactly how the vision will take place, but I think it will illustrate that point.
JF: I think Dark Rey will appear as a force vision from Sidious to show how Rey could become as powerful as him and take his place as the new Dark Lord of the Sith.
WC: I predict everyone on this document is going to predict that Dark Rey is some sort of vision, so instead I am going to offer a hot take. Dark Rey doesn’t appear in the movie. Dark Rey was a concept that was supposed to just be used as a marketing tool to get people on the fence interested in the movie. The marketing scheme worked, and Dark Rey is not in the movie, Disney played us like a fiddle. In reality, yeah, it’s a vision of some sort.
PM: I believe this will be a vision caused by something Rey touches. Much like in The Force Awakens when she touches the legacy saber, Rey will come into contact with something that has a lot of emotion and darkness tied to it that will trigger a frightening vision of her own potential future.
JB: Dark Rey is definitely a force vision or dream of some kind. Some foreboding of what could happen, maybe to sway Kylo from trying to get her to join him.
RB: Vision or dream sequence.
We know there are a few characters coming back for The Rise of Skywalker, such as Palpatine and Lando. Do you hope there are any surprise characters that make an appearance?
CC: I think we all secretly hope that characters like Ahsoka, Ezra, or Cal Kestis are going to show up, but it probably won’t happen. I do hope we get some surprise characters in TROS, but I don’t really care who they are.
JF: I’d love to see Ahsoka and Han Solo return.
WC: Okay, I want to go on the record and say that I don’t think Anakin has to be in TROS for it to be a good movie. That also being said, I think we have cameos from Anakin, Yoda, Obi-Wan, and maybe voice cameos from others (I know, a tall order). At the same time, I’m not getting my hopes or expectations up for any major cameos. I’m fine with who we know is going to be in the movie. To please me, I don’t need any more.
PM: I wouldn’t mind a little Benicio Del Toro action in here, I can’t imagine a way for him to be worked in, but I’d like to see his stuttering scoundrel again.
JB: We simply need Anakin Skywalker to show up at some point. He was the beginning of it all. Also, I would kill to see Shmi!
RB: The Crew of the ghost. We saw what looks like the ship in the trailer. Fulfill the hype.
What is one thing that worries you about The Rise of Skywalker?
CC: I am mostly worried that we’ll get a cheesy happy ending where Kylo and Rey get to live happily ever after. It just wouldn’t make sense or be a satisfying conclusion.
JF: In all honesty, I have no worries at the moment. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m sure it’s going to be a masterpiece.
WC: There’s a few things and they are all tied for first. I am worried that we are visiting too many planets and time on each one might seem rushed. It looks like at least four planets? There is potential for even more that we don’t know about, and for the run time, it seems like a lot. Same with the characters, it is said that 24 characters stories will be closed, and that seems like so much for this movie. Lastly, we know there’s some people that think JJ Abrams cannot end a story, and I have that same concern to an extent. I trust JJ can do it but ending this story for anyone is such a daunting task, and I am concerned about how well it will go.
PM: That we’ll end up with something that doesn’t take the story anywhere new. I would hate for the saga to end on a stagnant note rather than building on what’s come before. Every new Star Wars movie has a lot of pressure on it, but this one has forty-two years of weight on its shoulders.
JB: I just hope it doesn’t rely too much on fan service. I also worry because we have new characters to get to know in the span of one movie.
RB: That it will give in to the fan services and throw off the story in certain parts.
There has been a lot of talk since The Force Awakens about Kylo Ren being redeemed. Do you think that it happens?
CC: I don’t think he should be redeemed, but I do think it might happen in TROS. It would probably be Kylo sacrificing himself to save Rey (possibly from Palpatine). That’s the only way I’d be okay with Kylo being redeemed, is if it ends up being tragic (unless his redemption story is told very well).
JF: Yes! I totally believe Kylo Ren will be redeemed. The conflict within him is too great to not somehow become good again. However, I believe he will start out very evil in the film.
WC: Yes. I think the plan all along was to have Kylo Ren be redeemed. He is the heir apparent in the Skywalkers and Solos, so he must be redeemed. I also think that Adam Driver’s comments about “what does he have to be redeemed for?” are very interesting. Maybe there is more to his story to be revealed but going in I think he gets redeemed. Star Wars is a story of redemption, hope, and love. This trilogy has had hope and some love, now it just needs some redemption.
PM: It sort of feels like it must happen, what is the point of all the back and forth with his character and all the internal torment he has if he ultimately doesn’t change?
JB: I think he may certainly try and atone for his actions by the end of the film – there’s a big difference between atonement and redemption. But we’ll definitely see something like that – I mean, he’s the son of Han and Leia.
RB: No. For once, kill the villain. You don’t have to always redeem.
What will be the ending shot/sequence of The Rise of Skywalker?
CC: I imagine that it’ll be similar to the endings of TPM, ANH, and ROTJ. I expect it includes survivors of The Resistance celebrating their victory with hopeful music in the background. Although I don’t expect an official medal ceremony, it will accomplish similar things by establishing hope and closure.
JF: Rey and R2D2 looking into the horizon of the twin suns on Tatooine.
WC: I am going a cheesy route and I am not sorry. I think Kylo Ren probably dies and that it will be the force ghosts of Anakin, Luke, and Ben staring out at the binary sunsets of Tatooine. It rhymes with A New Hope, it plays the classic force theme, and leaves the audience full of hope of what is on our horizons.
PM: It will definitely be something relatively familiar to the audience, the twin suns shot feels likely even though we just saw that in the last movie. I’m hoping for it to be the best final shot in the whole series, something that will stick with moviegoers for years to come. But that’s a lot to ask.
JB: Man, it could be so many things – but it has to feature our main trio, and they will either be blasting off on a new adventure or looking at the twin suns. Cliché stuff, but hey.
RB: The remaining rebels looking out on a binary sunset talking about the rebuilding of the republic.
What do you think is essential for The Rise of Skywalker to be successful?
CC: It must conclusively establish closure to the Skywalker Saga. This is the end of one of the most compelling stories ever told, and it must be clear that it is truly the end of the story. Many loose ends must be tied up, and we should not be feeling like there are questions that must be answered. This is a pretty large task for the creators of TROS, and I look forward to what they do to bring closure to this story.
JF: Emotional impact. If The Rise of Skywalker can make you laugh, sad, happy, and maybe even cry, then I believe it will accomplish what the OT was able to do so well.
WC: I think it’s hard to say. Make something that sticks with fans for a long time? If we talk about it and how the ending affected us in five years, I think it will have done a good job of finishing a story. Endings can be controversial at times. When considering Game of Thrones, expectations for its ending were high and it seemed to fall short of the impact it could have had. Even though there are people that enjoyed it, it appears that for the masses this was not the case. To contrast, the endings of the stories Breaking Bad and Avengers: Endgame are talked about as emotionally satisfying and are typically held in high regard. If Star Wars has an ending near the latter, I think it will be considered successful. Then again, you can’t please all Star Wars fans, so success for this is hard to quantify.
PM: Every new Star Wars movie has a lot of pressure on it, but this one has forty-two years of weight on its shoulders. If it succeeds in bringing a satisfying conclusion to nine movies as well as telling its own compelling story, it will be one of the greatest magic tricks in all of cinematic history.
JB: I think that, as much as we want ideas and characters from outside material pulled in – a favorite book character or whatever – they can’t bring in too much or spend too much time in it. It needs to focus on the main saga storytelling, bringing things from all previous films back in a way that makes sense. It has to tie everything together without going overboard.
RB: Be original, to a certain degree. Don’t take TLJ risks, but don’t copy and paste like TFA.
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