Poe Dameron actor Oscar Issac says that although Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second episode in a trilogy, the film has its own arc and stands up as "its own thing." Director Rian Johnson takes over the trilogy reins from J.J. Abrams for Episode 2, or Episode 8 in the larger convoluted Star Wars continuity begun by George Lucas with Star Wars: A New Hope. Star Wars: Episode IX will see Abrams returning to the head job while Johnson breaks off to craft his own new trio of films that will have no connection to the current trilogy (and will not be based on the Knights of the Old Republic video game).
The character of Poe Dameron originally wasn't originally intended to survive Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but was only supposed to fulfill his purpose in the plot before being killed off. Isaac, however, was able to convince Abrams to keep Poe alive, allowing him to be a part of future adventures. In The Last Jedi, Dameron finds himself clashing with the new character Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), whose ideas about how to best run the Resistance differ from Poe's. What will happen with these characters beyond The Last Jedi is still very much up in the air, as the third film in the trilogy is still in the process of being written.
Speaking exclusively to Screen Rant, Poe Dameron aka. Oscar Isaac discussed the challenge of appearing in a film trilogy and playing a character whose entire fate has not yet been mapped out. He explained that though there is still more story to tell beyond The Last Jedi, the movie has its own self-contained arc and functions as its own story:
This is the first time that I've dealt with that. I guess, you know, maybe in TV that happens a bit more where there's other episodes coming up that haven't been written yet. But I haven't dealt with that before. And so, that was a little bit strange to, even starting this one, to come on this one and be like, okay, I kind of see where this is going but I don't have a total sense of how Rian [Johnson] sees it and kind of figuring out how Poe changes. But the story in itself, although it is a continuation as the middle chapter, is its whole own movie. It really stands up as its own thing and there is a sense of an arc that gets fulfilled in this story. I feel really for every character, and sure, you can see that it will be going into something else. But I mean, yeah. I have no idea really where it can go. I have some sense but you know that's the amazing thing about collaborating on a movie, you know, is that you've got all these different artists that are coming together to create the story.
Though The Last Jedi ultimately serves as the middle chapter in a trilogy, director Rian Johnson was given a lot of freedom to craft his own film, instead of being handed a pre-existing blueprint that he was expected to follow. As Johnson has explained in interviews, all he had to work from was the script for The Force Awakens and dailies from the movie's set, and then he was allowed to come up with his entire own story. Johnson has also spoken about how, though The Last Jedi by nature must pick up threads from the first film and carry them to necessary places to set up the final movie, he always wanted his episode in the trilogy to stand as its own thing and not end on a "to be continued" note.
Central to the new story are the relationships between Luke Skywalker and his new pupil Rey, and Rey and her adversary from the climax of The Force Awakens, the seemingly-conflicted Kylo Ren. Outside of those main threads, it seems one could go a lot of different directions with characters like Poe Dameron and Finn, and even kill them off if one felt like it. It would be a shock if Star Wars: The Last Jedi did away with either Poe or Finn, given the popularity of those characters - but shocking developments are not out of the question for this section of the trilogy, it would appear.
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