The latest Star Wars 9 rumors hint that Rey and Kylo Ren may be forced to work together against the franchise's greatest threat. Star Wars: Episode IX faces a massive challenge; not only does it have to complete both the story of Rey and Kylo Ren and that of the Skywalker clan, but it also has to effectively justify the very existence of the sequel trilogy. It has to explain why George Lucas' story of Darth Vader wasn't quite complete without these last three films, and why Rey and Kylo Ren are necessary in order to close the book on the Skywalker Saga.
That's actually going to be pretty difficult to pull off, not least because all the most obvious links to the classic Star Wars films are gone. Han Solo was killed off in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and although Mark Hamill is set to return in Star Wars 9, the fact remains that Luke Skywalker is dead, sacrificing himself to allow the Resistance to escape at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And Carrie Fisher has sadly passed away; while Leia is expected to play an important part thanks to smart editing and previously-unseen footage, there's no way she can be the center of the narrative.
However, the latest reports suggest that Star Wars 9 could tie back to the Imperial era in a smart, subtle way - and one that fits well with the central theme of the entire Star Wars Saga.
- This Page: Is Star Wars 9's Villain An Extra-Galactic Threat?
- Page 2: How Rey & Kylo Can Unite To Beat Star Wars' Real Villain
Star Wars 9 May Have A New Villain From The Beyond
According to the latest Star Wars 9 rumors, two previously reliable sources claim that the galaxy is about to face a terrifying new threat from "the Beyond." One source suggested that this mysterious new force would destabilize Kylo Ren's First Order, making him vulnerable and serving as a motivating factor for Ben Solo and Rey's interactions as the story progresses. The second went further, suggesting that the Knights of Ren - Kylo's agents, who were mentioned in The Force Awakens and mysteriously absent from The Last Jedi - have been on a mission to the Beyond, and have just returned, presumably either with news of this dangerous new foe or having become its servants. If these reports are accurate, the Star Wars galaxy is about to get a whole lot more complex.
Wherever "the Beyond" may be, it seems reasonable to assume that it's found in the Unknown Regions, which explains why it's never been encountered before in either the films or tie-in media. This is an uncharted area of space that lies at the galactic rim, best described by Chuck Wendig in his novel Aftermath: Empire's End:
"Outside the known galaxy is an unexplored infinity, Palpatine explained, one closed off by a labyrinth of solar storms, rogue magnetospheres, black holes, gravity wells, and things far stranger. Any who tried to conquer that maze did not survive. The ships were obliterated, or returned to the galaxy devoid of travelers. Communications from those explorers were incomprehensible, either shot through with such static as to make the content useless, or filled with enough inane babble to serve as a perfectly clear sign that the explorer had gone utterly mad out there in isolation."
It's a classic Star Wars trope: the idea that a dark force exists in the shadows and has malevolent intent. In the old Expanded Universe, the Knights of the Old Republic era revealed a Sith Empire hidden in the Unknown Regions. In the "New Jedi Order" novels, an alien race known as the Yuuzhan Vong swept out from the galactic rim, launching a devastating Blitzkrieg that forced the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant to work together against them. Could Star Wars: Episode IX be taking a similar approach, with a new threat emerging?
The Emperor Sensed A Bigger Threat From The Unknown Regions
According to various Star Wars tie-ins, at the height of his power, Emperor Palpatine was obsessed with the Unknown Regions. He believed that he sensed something out there, something that concerned him, that he sought to find and claim. Again, to quote Wendig's novel Aftermath: Empire's End:
"The Emperor was convinced that something waited for him out there — some origin of the Force, some dark presence formed of malevolent substance. He said he could feel the waves of it radiating out now that the way was clear. The Emperor called it a signal — conveniently one that only he could hear. Even his greatest enforcer, Vader, seemed oblivious to it, and Vader also claimed mastery over the dark Force, did he not? Rax believed Palpatine had gone mad."
At the time, it was generally assumed this was a reference to Supreme Leader Snoke, but that was never confirmed. Snoke turned out to be a lot less important to the Star Wars sequel trilogy than anyone had expected, so that belief could easily have been mistaken. It could have been someone, or even something, else.
Palpatine's obsession with the Unknown Regions led him to recruit an alien named Thrawn into the Empire. One of the few aliens in the Imperial fleet, Thrawn originated from the Unknown Regions, and he rose through the ranks to become a Grand Admiral. Thrawn provided the Emperor with an invaluable service, giving him detailed star-maps of the parts of the Unknown Regions he knew. On at least one occasion, Palpatine sent Thrawn to the very edges of the Unknown Regions to evaluate a potential threat and deal with them; that's told in Timothy Zahn's novel Thrawn: Alliances, which introduced an alien race who serve as a canon analog for the Yuuzhan Vong.
As Palpatine learned more about the Unknown Regions, he sent out exploratory vessels, and according to the novelization of Star Wars: The Last Jedi he even established secret military bases out there, cut off from the rest of the galaxy. When the last remnants of the Empire fled to the Unknown Regions after the Battle of Jakku, they stumbled upon Palpatine's bases and used their resources to establish the First Order. Presumably, they stopped looking for this mysterious dark side signal.
But that doesn't mean the signal stopped, of course. If Supreme Leader Snoke wasn't the source of this malevolent signal, then it's entirely possible he too became aware of it before his death. Although Snoke wasn't a Sith, he was greedy and vain, and would have desired to master it. He would have sent out his agents looking for it; and what's more, given Snoke is believed to have originated from the Unknown Regions, he'd have been able to send them out with better star-maps. Perhaps that's why the Knights of Ren were missing in The Last Jedi; they were on a mission, and will return in Star Wars 9 having succeeded in finding whatever it was Palpatine had sensed.
Page 2 of 2: Rey and Kylo Ren Could Be Forced To Work Together
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019