Warning: Spoilers Galore Below
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened this past weekend to both glorious box office results and critical acclaim. For the sake of bringing a sense of freshness to the saga, many audience expectations were averted. Risks were taken and I could not find the the pay off to be more satisfying. This being the only Star Wars film that begins continuously after the previous installment left for little time to breathe from the start. Thankfully, the narrative does slow down to face some of the previous themes and questions raised from The Force Awakens. Only the most dire to the conflicts at hand are acknowledged though. For example, we still do not have a full back story on Supreme Leader Snoke because he has just enough screen time to serve his purpose and push Kylo Ren to his limits. Of course I want to know his backstory being a fan, but I cannot deny that he did serve a justifiable purpose in the plot. However, we did find out who Rey’s parents are; drunk drifters and gamblers from Jakku. Director and writer Rian Johnson takes time to acknowledge the questions and concerns relevant to his vision. Within this same time he raises and sets up future threads of his own. After one viewing of TLJ, you are sure to have enough questions in your head to keep your fan fuel going until 2019. You should have the following as the top priority on your list when episode 9 releases.
1. What will become of Rose?
We last see Rose heading into medical care in TLJ. She was definitely the breakout star from the new cast. It is very obvious that she will partake in the action in 9, but the real question is to what extent? Will she be up and running in the first act like Finn was after his recovery? Because of her breakout popularity, I really doubt that she might take more time to heal and return in the second act. Considering how episode 9 is being completely reworked by J.J Abrams and Chris Terrio- anything is a possibility. The only surviving members of the resistance fit inside the millennium falcon. This offers a chance for Rose to rise in the ranks of leadership and command. She already displayed her strong conviction and communication skills in TLJ. Her stepping up to higher plates to meet higher stakes would be a complete joy to see. She could be the Lando Calrissian of this trilogy. Both characters are only in two out of the three films but prove to be as effective and unique as the original cast.
2. Who will answer the call?
Speaking of Lando, this is sure to make way for his return to the saga. Before escaping the First Order fleet on Crait, the resistance sent out a galactic transmission for help. They thought numerous possible allies across the galaxy would find enough faith and hope in Leia once more to come to their aid. Unfortunately, no one answered the call. This is a very unique and conflicted time in the galaxy. The new republic literally just got completely wiped out by a large rising group of fascists. This group is literally so close to victory that all of those who currently oppose them fit in just one small freighter. War has never been so universally profitable. The richest of the rich as seen on Canto Bight are living their lives up and will probably not use their influence to help. The rest of the galaxy will also more than likely not want to lose what they have by putting themselves in another conflict. To be honest, if you lived in the same planets that felt the effects of the clone wars, empire, and now the first order- you would probably be tired or fed up with choosing sides too. It’s going to be very interesting to see what planets and people eventually decide to contribute. Lando seems like the most obvious character to show up. Maybe seeing him return will also inspire others? More Mon Cala to avenge the death of the great war hero Admiral Ackbar perhaps?
3. How will Kylo Ren rule as the new supreme leader?
Seeing Kylo Ren grow from conflicted emotional apprentice to supreme leader has been amazing. We already got a glimpse of his leadership skills in the third act of TLJ. To say the least, he still lets his feelings get the best of him. Luke Skywalker’s last confrontation in the film makes Kylo look like the biggest ill tempered fool. How will Kylo deal with his embarrassment? It will surely provide for even more character growth and lead him to be an even more feared leader. Those who will try to speak of this incident will probably get force choked before they can finish a sentence. Will he also rule with the helmet on? He seems to be really adamant on letting the past die, but then again he might create a new helmet to signify this new leap in his path to victory. Who will have his support under his rule? We know that General Hux cannot be trusted and if he has no support, then I doubt he will be a successful leader. Maybe J.J Abrams can finish what he started with the Knights of Ren story thread? Snoke calls them out in a line of dialogue and they are seen in the “forceback” in TFA. Luke mentions that Kylo turned some of his students against him after he destroyed his Jedi temple in TLJ. This is the only context we have of them in both films. If they were to finally make an appearance in episode 9- there needs to be a clear reason as to why they have been absent for so long. Maybe they are all in “cryosleep” for they were meant to be back up apprentices for Snoke in case Kylo failed? With Captain Phasma now gone, they knights would make for a great villainous support team for our heroes to face. I think it is about time we find out where the “Ren” in Kylo’s name comes from.
4. Will Rey and Kylo Ren’s force connection grow stronger?
Snoke may be dead, but his nefarious deeds still leave repercussions to be faced. Before getting bisected, he revealed that it was him who linked Rey and Kylo’s minds through the force. He knew that both of them were not strong enough to resist reaching out to each other. Throughout the film their connection continuously grows. From not being able to see each other’s surroundings to eventually making some kind of physical contact through the force. You might think that this connection died out with Snoke, but the last five minutes of the film prove you wrong. Before escaping Crait, Rey and Kylo share one more intense force stare down from two different locations. This plot thread is only going to get longer in the next installment, but to what lengths? We clearly have not seen the full extents of what incredible knowledge of the force can achieve. This would make for an interesting game of wit due to our lead protagonist and antagonist being able to see each other’s possible next move. Perhaps Rey will seek out more training to tune Kylo out of her mind? This thread may also lead us to more Snoke revelations; how did he get to corrupt Kylo’s mind under Luke in the first place? Snoke has not gotten his entire back story revealed yet like some hoped, but he has already left his mark on this trilogy.
5. What of the sacred Jedi texts?
The last five minutes of the film also reveal that Rey hid the sacred Jedi texts on the millennium falcon before leaving Ach-To. This makes it clear why Yoda was not hesitant to burn down the empty force tree just to teach Luke another valuable lesson. He even says a line along the lines of, “there is nothing in those books that Rey does not already possess”. Rey will more than likely finally reach the status of Jedi Knight by facing her ultimate test in the finale of episode 9. The real speculation comes from us not having a clue as to how she will reach this point. She has incredible knowledge at her disposal within the sacred texts. Reading verbatim is not always the best way to learn. Will Luke return to finish her training as a force ghost? He promised her three lessons on Ach-To. The first being about learning the force’s universal connections and balance. The second being about how the Jedi failed the force in the past. Like Luke did in The Empire Strikes Back, Rey leaves before she can finish her initial training. What did Luke have planned as the third lesson? We will surely find out by the end of the trilogy.
6. What will happen to the legacy characters?
We already touched upon how Lando might return, but what of Luke and Leia? Carrie Fisher’s passing was a tragedy that no one saw coming. We should all be very grateful that TLJ provided Leia with opportunities to show her leadership and even grow. This situation was completely out of anybody’s control, so fans and audiences should approach whatever decision Lucasfilm decides to make with Leia with respect. Unless it turns out to be completely disrespectful to both Fischer and Leia, but that is very unlikely. She was definitely going to have a larger role in episode 9. You can kind of now see how this trilogy was being planned. Episode 7 was going to be Harrison Ford’s film and 8 was going to put Mark Hamill in the limelight. Fisher does has a strong role in both films, but her chance to get more screen time was probably planned for 9 due to Luke and Han now being gone. It would be safe to assume that Luke’s role in the next film is being beefed up to what it was originally going to be. Thankfully, Lucasfilm and Disney have confirmed that CGI will not be used to bring Fisher back for a few scenes. Leia’s absence will probably be addressed first in the film, giving Luke more time to react and come back in whatever form. Whether his return be force ghost or more like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings films. The acts of TLJ do justify a death for him, so the former will more than likely happen. His final moments in the film do seem more peaceful and holy. Almost as if he is giving up his physical form to the force and reaching a higher state. However Abrams and Terrio choose to interpret this is still very unknown.
Some of you may be wondering why Rey’s parentage did not make the list. Yes it is still very possible that we may get an even more definitive answer to this question. If you still have hope that Kylo lied to her about her parentage just to convince her to join him- my advice is to let it go. This film proves that the question never really mattered in the first place. Rey not having some original character’s blood in her does not define her place in this story. Anyone, regardless of their poor roots, can step up to the plate and grow to become a vibrant leader. The previous six questions should be the priority on your radar going into episode 9. With this trilogy finally coming to an end, we should be looking more onward and less backwards.
There are sure to be some extra details that you might of missed from just one viewing. We have a list of the top missed details here.
Stay tuned for more updates on episode 9 and the future of Lucasfilm leading up to the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story next May- Andrew J. Salazar (@yokis101 on Twitter)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is currently playing in theaters.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.
Directed by Rian Johnson and starring Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Andy Serkis.