CS Soapbox: How Does Rise of Skywalker Set Up Episode 10?
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been billed as the end of the Skywalker Saga. Leading up to the film’s release fans have been bombarded with nostalgia-laced trailers, teasers, and featurettes. The film itself is one big nostalgia-wrapped ball of twine on the verge of coming undone. To the dismay of many, The Rise of Skywalker wasn’t perfect (not that it could’ve been).
Walking out of the cinema with an unwavering sense of unrequited love (or maybe you felt smothered), one can’t help but wonder where the franchise goes next. Just because it’s the end doesn’t mean it’s over. Before we get into how The Rise of Skywalker sets up a future narrative, here’s what we know about pending movie plans.
What We Know About the Future of Star Wars Movies
There will be more Star Wars movies! Lucasfilm has already booked release dates for December 16, 2022, December 20, 2024 and December 18, 2026. Very little is known about the films that will fit into this schedule as Disney has been waiting to see how people react to The Rise of Skywalker before they move forward with any plans. This trepidation is no doubt a result of the fandom’s divisive reaction to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Around the release of The Last Jedi, it was announced that the film’s director Rian Johnson would be helming his own Star Wars trilogy (completely unrelated to the Skywalker Saga). Talk surrounding that idea has dwindled since, although Johnson has said that it is still very much a thing (and could very likely be the films to fit within Disney’s release schedule). In addition to Johnson’s trilogy, there were plans for Game of Thrones’ creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to create a Star Wars film. That plan has since been scrapped. The most recent news revolves around a Kevin Feige -who can do no wrong- produced Star Wars film. In the wake of mixed reactions to the sequel trilogy, Disney doesn’t want to take any chances.
Since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, their approach to the Star Wars sequel trilogy can best be described as… well, rushed. Disney Ceo Bob Iger has admitted to this. The flip-flopping of directors from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi to The Rise of Skywalker has resulted in a narrative that feels inconsistent and misconceived. This isn’t to say that the sequels don’t do some things well: The Force Awakens can be seen as an energetic love letter to Star Wars: A New Hope (and arguably a perfect start) while The Last Jedi as a courageous subversion of expectations.
In a lot of ways, The Rise of Skywalker Boy Scout knots the crap out of various plot threads, while others are left to dangle in the wind. It was advertised as the end of the saga… However, with so many ominous moments and questions left unanswered, there’s no reason to say an Episode 10 (or some sort of continuation) will never happen. Without further ado, here are some of the ways The Rise of Skywalker sets up the next Star Wars Saga film, should it ever happen.
Finn is Force-sensitive.
On a few occasions in The Rise of Skywalker, Finn tries to tell Rey something. Given the life or death circumstances of one of these occasions, it kind of felt like he wanted to profess his love for her, but it has been confirmed by J.J. Abrams and John Boyega that Finn wanted to inform Rey of his connection to the Force. Death bed/sinking pit confessions aside, viewers can deduce this about Finn thanks to his new-found intuition.
After Finn doesn’t tell Rey on Pasaana, he can sense the arrival of Kylo Ren when Rey runs off to confront him. Then, when they go to search the Death Star wreckage on Kef Bir, Rey runs off again and Poe complains to Finn about her Force-related crusade. Finn defends Rey, telling Poe that he doesn’t understand what Rey is going through, to which Poe responds, “and you do?” All of this piggybacks upon the idea that he always seems to “feel” Rey.
Finn feels Rey in the same way that Leia and Luke can feel each other in the original trilogy. Finn is very much a stand-in for Leia in this way. That said, it really would’ve been nice to get a sense of his force sensitivity in The Last Jedi (similarly to Leia in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back). We may have been teased with Finn’s sensitivity in The Force Awakens when he was anointed lightsaber duties, but that’s pretty much it. Regardless, Finn’s next steps are clear: He’s about to upgrade in a big way and he’ll need a master.
Rey is the ultimate Jedi master.
Rey’s final steps made her a Force God. Her “be with me” arc ends with her becoming the embodiment of all the Jedi who have come before (or she at least has access to them). When we see her last, she’s burying Luke and Leia’s lightsabers on Tatooine—choosing them as her spiritual family, putting their stories to rest, and starting fresh with a slick yellow lightsaber. The yellow lightsaber probably has nothing to do with the whole Jedi Sentinel thing, as some have theorized. She’s just coming into herself, departing from the whole green and blue sabers of tradition, and starting something new. The Rise of Skywalker sets Rey up for great things and there’s a lot more that could be done with her.
As the embodiment of all the Jedi who have come before, “Rey Skywalker” is perfectly equipped to start her own Jedi Academy, using the Lars homestead on Tatooine as her homebase. Remember that kid with the broom from the end of The Last Jedi? He needs training. Finn needs training. There’s a whole galaxy that needs training-—maybe there are even more Palpatines who need guidance. Rebuilding a new Jedi Order may not have worked out that well for Luke, but Rey has learned from all of Luke’s and the other Jedi’s mistakes. She can commune with all of them, asking masters like Yoda what to do when her nephew does unruly things to the neighbor’s cat.
In reality, if Rey’s story did pick up where The Rise of Skywalker left off, the dark side would have to be present in some way. The whole bringing “balance to the Force” thing is about an equal amount of dark and light—one side cannot trump the other. If it does, a figure in either light or darkness will rise (see every trilogy). This could, of course, be the end of Rey’s story on the big screen, her struggles may be saved for novelizations or other spin-offs. The feature films might instead choose to include Rey as a reference, where thousands of years later people will mention her as the one who started the new Jedi Order.
Lando and Jannah
Jannah is one of the new characters we are introduced to The Rise of Skywalker. Her and her freedom fighters were Stormtroopers who abandoned the First Order like Finn did. At the end of the movie when everyone is celebrating, Lando asks Jannah where she is from and when she says “I don’t know.” Lando replies, “let’s find out.” So begins the adventures of Lando and Jannah.
It’s worth mentioning that, thanks to the release of a companion book, many have theorized that Jannah is Lando’s daughter, who was taken away from him by the First Order when she was young. Regardless of whether or not that revelation ever comes to pass, the two could travel the galaxy and help victims of the First Order, reunite those victims with their families. Finn could join them on this quest, yadda yadda yadda. Also, what had Lando been up to before The Rise of Skywalker? The story of Lando Calrissian needs to be fleshed out a little bit.
Poe and Zorii
Poe Dameron got a love interest in The Rise of Skywalker for seemingly no reason. We know next to nothing about Zorii Bliss. We don’t even get to see her entire face. This relationship could be explored in future movies, maybe, now that the war is won. Poe can step away from his life as a Resistance leader and go back to spice-running with his girlfriend. The more likely future for Poe sees him lead his people by helping them establish a NEW New Republic.
Maz Kanata is over a thousand years old and has witnessed the Force shift between balances over and over. She clearly has an unexplained connection to the larger story. We still don’t know how Maz got Anakin’s/Luke’s lightsaber in The Force Awakens.
Maz held so much mystery and promise as a character. Unfortunately, she was cast aside in The Last Jedi and In The Rise of Skywalker. Whether Maz’s story is seen in future movies remains to be seen—we’ll probably get answers in a comic book someday.
Will George Lucas’ unused material ever be utilized?
When Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012 he also sold them his plans for the sequel trilogy. Disney’s trilogy has proven to be a huge departure from what Lucas originally planned. His trilogy would have delved deep into the nature of the Midi-clorians and the Whills (powerful force users seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars). The Force would have been examined on a “microbiotic” level. Who knows what this could have said about the nature of good and evil on a biochemical level—the philosophical possibilities are endless.
When George Lucas made Star Wars 40+ years ago, he set out to create something different, laced with nuances and subtleties that aimed to say something bigger. From political statements to debates about morality, Star Wars has it all—adults love it just as much as kids. One of the things George Lucas found most disappointing about the sequel trilogy (after a private screening of The Force Awakens) was that it didn’t offer fans anything new.
The fact that nothing new or deeper occurred overall may be one of the reasons it doesn’t feel like anything ended. While the sequels were a lot of fun, The Rise of Skywalker‘s “definitive end” didn’t put things into perspective the way a lot of people hoped it would. There are those who, instead of looking back, are wondering where the franchise goes next…