The Defining Aspect Is Kylo Ren's Redemption
Kylo Ren is a unique figure in Star Wars lore. Rather than slowly succumbing to the dark side as his grandfather did before him, it takes an effort for Ren to be evil. In The Force Awakens he mentioned being “pulled to the light”, which highlights how Ren is tempted by altruistic tendencies instead. He might now reign as Supreme Leader of the First Order, but the fight for Ben Solo’s soul will remain the focal point of Episode IX, much like Darth Vader’s was in Return of the Jedi.
Regardless of how traumatising their last battle was for him, Luke spent much of Return of the Jedi convinced that the infamous Sith Lord could be redeemed. By the beginning of Episode IX, Kylo will be similarly compromised following his murder of Han Solo, and his damaging confrontation with Luke. Moreover, that turmoil is sure to worsen, especially if his mother Leia passes on as well. Ren’s resolve wavered early on in The Last Jedi, so it will be interesting to see how he will process the latter personal losses.
Will Rey resume her pleas to Ren’s better nature as Luke did to Vader? Or is it a dilemma that Ben Solo will come to face all by himself? Following The Last Jedi’s lingering shot, in which Ren mournfully studied the projection of his father’s dice, anything seems possible. Only time will tell where the allegiance of the last Skywalker descendant truly lies.
The End of the Skywalker Saga
Over the coming years Lucasfilm will continue to explore the Star Wars galaxy with The Mandalorian TV show, along with Rian Johnson, David Benioff and Daniel Weiss’ all new trilogies. But like Return of the Jedi before it, Episode IX has already been touted as the final Skywalker-centric story.This was revealed in Lucasfilm’s official press release for Episode IX, which outlined the movie’s cast and crew. As serious this may seem, it’s a sentiment that we’ve already heard before. Despite occasionally mentioning various ways that he had considered expanding Star Wars’ central story, George Lucas never committed to telling more tales involving Han, Luke and Leia onscreen. Even in the years leading up to the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, George Lucas was – publicly at least – firmly denying that any more Star Wars instalments would chart the Skywalker family beyond Return of the Jedi’s time-frame. Indeed, the poetic, emotionally charged last quarter of Return of the Jedi ties up every narrative loose end, and it feels very final as a result.
Of course, a prequel trilogy, two sequels and two anthology movies later, we all know how that turned out. As an intellectual property Star Wars is a licence for Disney to print money. Even so, they might actually mean it this time. With characters (and actors) of the original trilogy passing away, there’s little else that can be done with the first generation of Rebels. Plus, with Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disney seems to have recognised that telling stories only about the Skywalkers will mean that audiences will become fatigued of the brand. There’s plenty of alternative stories to be told. So, in short, aside from the odd cameo of reference, we may yet again be witnessing the last days of the galaxy’s most influential, inter-warring dynasty.
Star Wars: Episode IX is set to be a historic movie, yet the final chapter for some of our favourite characters is not a cause for too much sadness. We’ve mentioned earlier just how much the galaxy is due to expand soon. Plus, with all these parallels between Episode IX and Return of the Jedi, it is sure to be a rich and entertaining experience. Some fans may not approve of such an over reliance on shared images and situations. Yet with more inter-series similarities being noticed day after day, it’s clear that the Star Wars series has been constructed with the same degree of passion and consideration that many fans still display towards the saga.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019