When Star Wars: Episode IX is released in December 2019, it will truly be the end of an era: the Skywalker Saga is finally coming to an end. As of the end of The Last Jedi, there are only two Skywalkers remaining in the story, on opposite sides of the Force - General Leia Organa, leader of the Resistance, and Kylo Ren, also known as Ben Solo, the new Supreme Leader of the First Order. The Skywalker family story has been the beating heart of the Star Wars saga from the very first film in 1977, and now, over 40 years later, it's all about to come to an end.
The stakes are incredibly high for the release of the ninth and final film in this franchise. While there will inevitably be many, many more entries in the overall Star Wars canon - some of which we already know about, including Rian Johnson's trilogy and Benioff and Weiss's trilogy - Star Wars: Episode IX has a lot to answer for in terms of character stories that can never be continued or resolved anywhere else.
There are a lot of mysteries that need solving, relationships that need defining, and redemptions that maybe need to happen in Star Wars 9. Here, we go over the top ten things we'd like to see before the Skywalker Saga comes to an end.
10 The First Order is defeated
The Skywalker Saga has been a series of ups and downs, for its central characters, and its entire galaxy as a whole. The prequel trilogy ended with the succession of the Dark Side and the formation of the Empire. The original trilogy ended with the ascension of the Light Side and the defeat of the Empire. The sequel trilogy, thus far, has seen the balance of powers shift back and forth between the Resistance and the First Order.
With the second film in the trilogy ending with the First Order looking more powerful than ever, and the Resistance at its most downtrodden, it would only be natural to assume that this will be totally reversed by the end of the trilogy's final film. And for the sake of the Skywalker Saga as a whole, we can only hope that's the case.
9 Leia and Ben reunite
In The Force Awakens, Leia was one of the only people to truly believe there was the chance of her son, Kylo Ren, returning from the Dark Side. "There's still light in him. I know it," she told her husband, Han Solo, before he attempted (in vain) to bring their son back home. In The Last Jedi, Leia seems to have started to give up hope on her son's return, even after their moment of connection in the Force when he spares her life.
"No one's ever really gone," Luke assures her in his visit at the end of the film - and while the clear reference in the scene is to Han, as aided by his signature gold dice, it's not hard to extrapolate and infer that Ben Solo may not be gone just yet either. We don't really have any way of knowing what Episode IX has in store for Leia, given the limited footage they have to work with. But a reunion between mother and son is at the very top of our wish list.
8 The Knights of Ren are revealed
If early rumors about Episode IX are to be believed, it looks like we're finally going to learn more about the ever-mysterious Knights of Ren. In The Force Awakens, Snoke briefly refers to Kylo Ren as "Master of the Knights of Ren." Beyond that, we truly don't know much of anything about them - other than that they may be the individuals glimpsed in Rey's Force visions in that film.
If those rumors turn out to be true, it seems like the Knights of Ren are finally going to get their time in the spotlight, which makes all the sense in the world given Kylo's ascension to the position of Supreme Leader. If these Knights are as loyal to their Master as fan theories have long suspected, it's entirely possible that the Knights of Ren could be playing a pretty substantial role, too.
7 Lost heroes are remembered
Everything moves really fast in a galaxy far, far away - and sometimes, more than others, the cruelty of time is really felt. As of The Last Jedi, only mere days have passed since Han Solo was brutally murdered by his own son. While Chewbacca and Luke briefly dwell on his loss while on Ahch-To, and Leia and Luke briefly reflect on him at the end of the film, due diligence hasn't been given to the legacy of this galactic hero.
Similarly, it's not just Han we have to worry about Episode IX paying adequate honor to. At the end of The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker heroically sacrifices himself to save the Resistance, becoming one with the Force after exerting every last bit of Force-wielding energy he has. Episode IX may be picking up with a much longer gap of time after The Last Jedi, but surely, there has to be a way for the film to acknowledge this hero's legacy, too.
6 Finn and Rose make things official
While it's definitely up for debate whether the adventure to Canto Bight Finn and Rose Tico went on in The Last Jedi actually amounted to something meaningful, one thing that isn't debatable is this: these two kids are absolutely adorable. Before losing consciousness as a result of her own heroic act of bravery, Rose makes her feelings for Finn known, quickly kissing him right there in the middle of the battlefield.
When The Last Jedi ends, Rose is still unconscious, but Finn is tenderly, almost reverently keeping watch over her, covering her with a blanket and not moving from her side. Episode IX truly does have a lot of ground to cover, and a lot of characters - new and old - to deal with. But it would be a real missed opportunity for the film to not make these two an official romantic item. They both deserve that happiness.
5 The problem with Poe is solved
In The Force Awakens, Poe Dameron was really a nothing character - a hotshot pilot with very few lines, whose most defining characteristic was his relationship with everyone's favorite droid, BB-8. In The Last Jedi, Poe's role was expanded - for better or worse - into a hotshot pilot who decided he knew better than his ranking superiors, leading to mass chaos and selfish displays of bravado all around.
It's clear that Poe is supposed to be one of our heroes. Oscar Isaac was, after all, able to convince J.J. Abrams not to kill Poe off in the first film for a reason. But his personality, as of the moment, leaves a lot to be desired, and Episode IX has a lot of work to do when it comes to making him worth rooting for. Hopefully, the rumored development of his bond with Leia will do just that.
4 Luke returns as a Force Ghost mentor
We've already talked about the necessity of Episode IX finding meaningful ways to honor the legacies of the franchise's recently fallen heroes. What better way for Episode IX to recognize the importance of someone like Luke Skywalker than to have him follow in the footsteps of his teachers, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, and return to the Star Wars galaxy as a Force ghost?
Whether offering sage and occasionally humorous advice to new Force user Rey, consulting with his now known to be Force-sensitive twin sister Leia, or perhaps even paying a visit to his nefarious nephew Kylo Ren, the possibilities for Luke's presence as a Force ghost are seemingly endless. Hopefully, the film delivers.
3 Rey becomes the leader she's meant to be
From the very beginning of this trilogy, one thing has been clear: Rey is our new hero. The Star Wars hero for this new generation of fans, Rey's legacy is already one that has been secured outside the world of the film. And now, it's about time her status as a true hero and leader be cemented within the film, too.
Whether that means rising up within the ranks of the newly re-formed Resistance, starting to lead her own new school of Jedi students like the boy with the broom seen at the end of The Last Jedi, or something else entirely is almost irrelevant. The Last Jedi is truly going to be Rey's chance to shine, and prove herself to be the hero the galaxy needs - and the one we all already know she is.
2 Kylo Ren gets a shot at redemption
At its core, Star Wars is a story about love and redemption. Even the worst killers and dictators are allowed to redeem themselves, as can be seen in Darth Vader's salvation at the end of Return of the Jedi. As one of the sole surviving Skywalkers in the entire galaxy, it would be almost unthinkable for Episode IX to not let Kylo Ren - also known as Ben Solo - find his way back to the light.
It would be easy enough for Kylo Ren to redeem himself in death through a heroic sacrifice, much in the way that his idolized grandfather once did. But that's a story that Star Wars has already told - and a form of redemption with a much more severe price than Kylo Ren needs to pay. When comparing the seemingly endless list of acts of cruelty Vader committed, to Kylo's arguably much shorter one, redemption via sacrifice just doesn't fit the bill. It would be much more interesting, and much more meaningful, to see Kylo struggle with himself, redeem himself through difficult means, and live.
1 Balance is finally brought to the Force
As we've just explored, there are two huge things that truly need to happen in Episode IX to make the Skywalker Saga truly mean something, in the end. Rey needs to become a true leader, and Kylo Ren needs to earn a shot at redeeming himself in the face of all the pain he has caused. What better way for both of these things to happen, than for Episode IX to take advantage of the unique bond developed between these characters in The Last Jedi, and allow them to try to find a middle ground?
At the end of The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren pleads with Rey to let the past die, to start anew, to try and build a new world order. And while his intentions may have been misguided at the time, the overall idea isn't that bad, in the end. Episode IX could finally find a way to bring balance to the Force. The seeds have already been planted, after all.