After several months of waiting and speculation, the teaser trailer for “Star Wars: Episode IX,” titled “Rise of the Skywalker,” has finally been released. What do we know so far?
We open on Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the desert as a speeder, which appears to be piloted by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), charges towards her. The likelihood there will be a rematch between the two is likely, however with this new trilogy’s tendency to borrow from the original trilogy, it is likely this duel, should it happen, will take cues from “Return of the Jedi.”
Which brings us to the return of Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), whose laugh we hear near the end of the trailer. This is a source of frustration; it makes no sense and it undermines what was perhaps the most important emotional beat of the original three movies in a cheap move to put butts in seats. It is pretty clear director J.J. Abrams had intended Snoke (Andy Serkis) to be the primary villain of this ninth film and was forced to improvise after “The Last Jedi.” So, does this confirm Snoke as Darth Plagueis? Quite possibly.
Luke’s voiceover is peppered throughout the entire trailer, implying either he didn’t die in “The Last Jedi” (an astonishing, if not entirely unsurprising retcon), or that his force ghost will play a prominent role in Episode IX. Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) also makes his first appearance since “Return of the Jedi” in this teaser, and in the tradition of Episode’s VII and VIII, he is likely to be killed off to add to the dramatic tension.
There are unresolved plot threads from “The Last Jedi” that are apparently going to stay that way. Benicio Del Toro’s DJ has been confirmed to not be returning for Episode IX after betraying Finn and Rose (John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran) in the previous film. This seems sloppy, but it adds to the theory that Abrams intends to pretend “The Last Jedi” did not happen as much as he possibly can.
This is also the first time we see archive footage of Leia (Carrie Fisher) and it looks like archive footage. The moment in question appears to have been borrowed from near the ending of “The Force Awakens.” Whether any of the Leia’s scenes in “Rise of the Skywalker” will be as odd as Leia Poppins from “Episode VIII” remains to be seen.
It is debatable whether throwing “The Last Jedi” under the bus this clearly and transparently is a good idea, but it’s also not radical to suggest Episode VIII felt like the conclusion to a trilogy as opposed to the middle chapter. Abrams and the scriptwriters of “Rise of the Skywalker” have been presented an unenviable task of developing more drama and plot from the conclusion of “The Last Jedi.”
The ultimate question is how much will “Rise of the Skywalker” borrow from “Return of the Jedi”? It’s hard to believe Abrams won’t steal from Episode VI at least a little bit. Even “The Last Jedi” had its callbacks. Palpatine’s return, another desert planet, the implication of a redemption arc for Kylo Ren, and the hints of yet another Death Star are all tells that it’s more likely to borrow from “The Last Jedi” than not.
“Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker” opens on December 20, 2019.