What Does Star Wars 9 Being An Ending Actually Mean?
Star Wars 9 is in an odd narrative position for an ending. After The Last Jedi served as a culmination of Luke's arc and the exploration of the Jedi and hope, Episode IX must not only be a conclusion but a set up to that conclusion; whereas Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones season 8 have direct precursors that moved chess pieces in place, Star Wars Episode VIII pretty much reset the board. This makes discussing any form of finality tricky. It can't be concluded Iron Man will die or the Iron Throne's fate decided because there's no Iron Man or Iron Throne left.
As an ending to the Skywalker Saga, there's a lot of onus on the one Skywalker of the new generation, Ben Solo. With the confirmation Rey is nobody, Kylo Ren becomes the last of Anakin Skywalker's lineage. His death, an end to the family that has shaped the galaxy's fate for 60 years, is certainly a bold move that would line up with the "everyman hero" idea Lucas pushed with Luke Skywalker in A New Hope and Johnson returned to with his Broom Boy.
Even with rumors about what Star Wars 9's plot entails, it's incredibly hard to get even a baseline understanding of what J.J. Abrams has cooked up. And without narrative established, knowing where themes will land is borderline impossible. But, with the prequel ideas threaded through the Star Wars sequel trilogy and a lot big ideas still floating in the ether, there's some very exciting ways it could go.
How Star Wars 9 Can Finish The Prequels
There's a history of theories tying the prequels in the sequels in bold ways. That Snoke wasn't Jar Jar Binks was obvious (to most) in The Force Awakens, but the other popular theory - that he was Darth Plagueis the Wise, Palpatine's master and the creator of the Skywalker lineage - stuck hard. And while explaining the return of a character mentioned in one scene of a movie released a decade ago as a seismic twist would certainly be a screenwriting feat, it was a compelling one; Snoke could technically be described as Kylo Ren's great-grandfather, making his presence and manipulation an entry point in a deconstruction of destiny. Ultimately, Snoke was little more than a red herring, a rhyming trick used to power Kylo's singular rise to power, rendering this line of speculation moot.
But this speculation belies that prequel concerns are hardly narrative. As already stated, Revenge of the Sith saw the Republic fall, the Empire rise, the Jedi purged, Anakin turn, Vader burnt, the twins born, Force ghosts discovered, Obi-Wan and Yoda exiled, and the Skywalker's hidden all in the space of a long weekend; the plot is clean. And while we already know that Star Wars 9 will have some visual cues taken from the prequels - a new First Order stormtrooper design evokes memories of the Phase 2 clone armor, making it the endpoint of Imperial soldier design evolution - the question is more about delivery on those big-picture ideas.
Thankfully, after The Last Jedi, it's unavoidable that balance in the Force, the prophecy of the Chosen One and the very idea of moving past the Jedi as a restrictive construct are all already part of the sequel trilogy story. They explain how the original heroes have changed in the 30-year gap and inform the choices made by the new generation. Bringing in and concluding any of these would link the last Star Wars film (for now) to the first (which was, in the script stage, even known as "The Beginning").
At the center of this is not just Kylo Ren but his light side equal, Rey. Their dichotomy is strong even as The Last Jedi emboldened Reylo shippers, with one waylaid like Anakin and the other literally nobody in this story. Surely, disconnected from the Skywalkers by blood, Rey is the next step on from the restrictions and definitions of the past. And if that's what Star Wars 9 is going for, it can't help but resolve what prequel fans have long been looking for.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019