Star Wars 9 ends the Skywalker Saga, and it should use George Lucas’ original twist ending for the Star Wars franchise to do so. Lucas had initially planned to finish the story with a big reveal featuring R2-D2, and even though he abandoned the idea there’s now a chance for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to bring it back.
In order for Star Wars 9 to satisfyingly end to the Skywalker Saga, it needs to tie together the entire nine-movie arc that it encompasses. That means bringing in ideas from the Original, Prequel, and Sequel Trilogies, taking things full circle, and reintroducing elements created by Lucas himself that’ve since fallen by the wayside. Concluding over 40 years’ worth of storytelling is a big ask for one film, but that’s what Star Wars 9 needs to do.
R2-D2 fits particularly well with this. The astromech is one of the characters who started it all back in 1977 but, despite being a franchise cornerstone, he’s been mostly overlooked in the Sequel Trilogy. Even C-3PO has seen some action, and looks like having s bigger role in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but no one apart from Luke has showing much of an interest in R2. Star Wars 9 can not only involve him in a key way, but build the ending around the droid and Lucas’ original vision.
George Lucas' Early Star Wars Plan Had R2-D2 Telling The Story
The Journal of the Whills have been a part of George Lucas' plans for Star Wars since the beginning, even in the days when the Skywalker name was still Starkiller. It's the name Lucas gave to his original story outline for Star Wars, and was then featured in a later draft for the film too: Adventures of the Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars. Although that was scrapped, Lucas always planned to keep the Journal of the Whills around in Star Wars. It wasn't just a title, but was going to be a record of events from the time of the Galactic Civil War, maintained by a group called the Ancient Order of the Whills, who would be informed of and then note down all the significant goings-on in the galaxy. It was also going to be a plot device, used to connect the Star Wars galaxy to our own. It didn't make it into Star Wars the film, but was included in the original novelization of the film, which had a prologue quoting from the Journal of the Whills about the rise of Emperor Palpatine. In Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays, Lucas writes:
"Originally, I was trying to have the story be told by somebody else; there was somebody watching this whole story and recording it, somebody probably wiser than the mortal players in the actual events. I eventually dropped this idea, and the concept behind the Whills turned into the Force. But the Whills became part of this massive amount of notes, quotes, background information that I used for the scripts; the stories were actually taken from the 'Journal of the Whills'."
Later, Lucas expanded upon this, revealing that he believed the story of the Skywalker Saga was being relayed to a Keeper of the Whills by none other than R2-D2, taking place 100 years in the future. That makes some sense, since R2-D2 never had his memory wiped, so would recall everything, and it might also explain why R2-D2 is one of Star Wars' main heroes who frequently saves the day. This was around the time of Revenge of the Sith, meaning it was at a time when Lucas was thinking about ending his series. Of course, Lucas had already dropped the idea of the Journal of the Whills, choosing instead to put the focus on the binding energy called the Force, which made this framing device difficult to introduce. Since then, though, the Whills have become a greater part of Star Wars canon.
The Whills In Star Wars Canon
In a deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith, Qui-Gon Jinn reveals to Yoda that the knowledge of how to return in some form after death comes from a "Shaman of the Whills", while in another deleted scene Yoda informs Obi-Wan of Qui-Gon's discovery, mentioning the "Ancient Order of the Whills". Although these didn't make it into the film, the ideas behind them persisted. In The Clone Wars season 6 episodes "Voices", "Destiny", and "Sacrifice", Yoda begins to learn the same ability to retain his identity after death, with Qui-Gon appearing to him in a dream and guiding him to the Wellspring of Life, where Yoda encounters the Force Priestesses. It's they who teach Yoda the ability to exist even after dying. These are seemingly connected to the Shaman of the Whills, and the Star Wars databank still references the Shaman, which means that the Shaman of the Whills teaching Qui-Gon remains a part of Star Wars canon.
The Clone Wars has another reference to the Whills too, albeit somewhat indirectly. In season 1, an alien chieftain appears bearing the title 'The Son of Suns', which was a line from a prophecy in the original draft of the Journal of the Whills, although there's no mention of the source. Still, it wasn't until the novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that the Journal of the Whills itself fully became canon, with the novel quoting a passage from the Whills: "First comes the day / Then comes the night / After the darkness / Shines through the light. / The difference, they say, / Is only made right / By the resolving of gray / Through refined Jedi sight."
The importance of the Whills would take another leap forward in 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which introduced Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus as Guardians of the Whills, who protected the Temple of the Kyber on the Force-Mecca moon of Jedha, which suggests links to the Ancient Order and thus the Journal of the Whills itself. There's been no mention of the Whills in what's been revealed of Star Wars 9 so far, but that doesn't mean it can't turn up in some way.
It'd be in keeping with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ending the Saga, but also of how much Star Wars is about telling stories. Think of C-3PO recounting the tale to the Ewoks at the end of Return of the Jedi, or Temiri Blagg and his friends listening to another child recount the great deeds of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Lucas may have dropped the Whills, but these events living on as stories remains deeply embedded in Star Wars, which itself fits with its inspiration from old serials. Star Wars 9, then, has a means of bringing all of these elements together.
Star Wars 9 Should End Introducing The Journal Of The Whills
Star Wars 9 has to find a way of ending the Skywalker Saga, and doing so by introducing the Journal of the Whills, as projected by R2-D2, can be how it does it. It’d be a little weird, very bold, and more than likely quite controversial, but that’s often when Star Wars is at its most interesting. What's more, it would actually fit with a lot of what’s come before in the franchise, not least the previous references to the Whills and that being a starting point for everything that's come since.
It’s an extremely difficult task to wrap-up the Skywalker Saga, given what that means to so many different people, and the vast amount of characters you need to do justice. It needs to respect the past, finish the present, maybe hint at the future, and tie everything together. R2-D2 felling the story through the Journal of the Whills can do all of that in Star Wars 9. It would allow it to finish its main story, and you can still have that as part of the ending by, for example, having the survivors of Star Wars 9 and the Force Ghosts of Luke, Anakin et al looking out at a (binary) sunset. But to pull back from that and reveal R2-D2 showing it adds a great twist on things, and makes a lot of sense in the context of Star Wars.
Something that’s never really been explained, and yet is a key part of Star Wars, is that this story happened “a long time ago.” Having R2-D2 recount the tale in the future at the end of Star Wars 9 means that the Skywalker Saga ends in the place it first began with that blue text. It takes things back to Lucas’ original vision, and it brings the story full circle because it goes back to one of the droids, through which this story was always supposed to be seen.
The Broom Boy ending is a great climax to The Last Jedi, and would’ve been a fitting finish to the Skywalker Saga too, because it encapsulates so many of Star Wars’ biggest themes: hopes and dreams of bigger things; that anyone can be a hero; the power and escape in storytelling. Having R2-D2 telling the Journal of the Whills in Star Wars 9 achieves all of that, but with the added benefits of looping all the way back round to 1977, staying true to Lucas’ ideas but mixing them with new ones, and doing so with a beloved character who is a franchise staple.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019