The Rise of Skywalker blasts into theaters on Dec. 20. The final Rise of Skywalker trailer might be our last look at what may be the final Star Wars movie directly related to the beloved Original Trilogy storyline.
The Lucasfilm team has said Episode IX will conclude the story that began in The Phantom Menace. While there are other Star Wars movies and TV shows on the horizon (The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones’ David Benioff and DB Weiss are slated to be working in the galaxy far, far away), The Rise of Skywalker wraps up the story Anakin Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine began. A previous teaser trailer revealed that the evil Palpatine’s presence will be felt in the new movie, and that heroes Rey, Finn, and Poe will be back together to face off against Kylo Ren and the First Order.
If you haven’t seen the trailer yet (or want to re-live it), check it out here:
Here are the details and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tidbits from the trailer for The Rise of Skywalker…
Rey dashes through a familiar-looking forest. It’s likely this is the forest moon of Endor, the place where the ruins of the Death Star fell to ground in Return of the Jedi. The ferns look very similar to the California forest where many Endor scenes were filmed.
She drops a helmet—could this be an old Rebel Alliance helmet from the team that took down the second Death Star? It’s also a call back to the Rebel helmet she had on Jakku. Rey idolized Rebel heroes when she was a kid, and now she’s right in the middle of the place where they had their final showdown with the Emperor. Even if she has been digging through the past in true scavenger fashion, she’s running headlong toward the future. Her Force powers are in full effect as she hurtles over a chasm. She’s still carrying the Skywalker blue lightsaber, once Anakin Skywalker’s blade.
The scene transitions to Rey landing in the blue-tinted ruins of what may be the Death Star, now sunken partially into the sea.
Throughout, a voiceover from Poe Dameron and Finn lays out some thoughts about the Force. “It’s an instinct. A feeling. The Force brought us together. We’re not alone. Good people will fight if we lead them.” Poe isn’t Force-sensitive himself, but he does know that loyal friendship is one of the traits that gives strength to the good guys. As a squad leader of X-Wing pilots, Poe is the most experienced of the three of them when it comes to working together. Finn isn’t Force-sensitive either, although it’s a popular theory that he was using the Force when he ignited Rey’s lightsaber in Episode VII.
With Finn and Rey trying to get back to each other throughout the trilogy, the lines about togetherness are suited to them. Although the Sequel Trilogy trio of Rey, Poe, and Finn haven’t actually spent one-on-one time together in the movies so far, director J.J. Abrams has emphasized that this film will see all three of them working together.
A quick shot of Finn with some cool binoculars (this type is called quadnoculars in the Expanded Universe) establishes his mission. We know the former First Order stormtrooper is on a planet of wide-open plains with Poe during part of the movie. It’s tough to tell just from the color whether Finn is looking at the home of the tusked space horses he’ll ride later, or if he’s on a desert planet that has appeared in other promo pictures.
The next scene seems to take place in a crowded spaceport. Resistance mechanic Rose Tico marches forward, looking determined. She’s accompanied by Lieutenant Connix, a Resistance communications controller played by Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd, and Dominic Monaghan’s character. Someone just to Rose’s left seems to be riding an orbak, one of the space horses that play a prominent role in Finn and Poe’s adventures in Episode IX.
Poe’s inspiring voice-over continues over a quick shot of Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca next to Poe’s signature X-Wing. I’m reminded of Emperor Palpatine’s taunts to Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi, where he dismisses Luke’s faith in his friends as his weakness. The Resistance characters are defined by sticking together.
A ship flying low over the forest might be the same model as the Tantive IV, the same kind of vehicle captured by the Star Destroyer in the very first shot of A New Hope.
Back on the wreckage, we see what looks like a gun emplacement sticking out of the waves. One of these emplacements can also be seen behind Rey. These are another point in favor of the theory that this is Death Star wreckage.
While the dialogue sets up friendship and alliance as the Resistance’s strength, Rey is still searching for connection and understanding of her own. In a voiceover, she says, “People keep telling me they know me. No one does.” In The Force Awakens, she wanted to know what happened to her parents and who were her family. In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren says her parents were nobodies who left her to fend for herself. Was this true or just a ploy by a villain to make Rey feel alone? It’s one of the most enduring questions for Star Wars fans weaned on a second-act twist and seems to still be weighing on Rey.
Kylo Ren says he has answers. Walking menacingly out of the spray and fog, he insists, “I do.” Ren tried to forge an alliance with Rey in The Last Jedi too, and after fighting alongside him she ultimately rejected his offer. It looks like he’s trying the same tactic here.
Now the Supreme Leader of the First Order but never content, Ren still has a lot of feelings to work out about his own journey. Notably, Ren isn’t wearing his mask (no longer trying to live up to Darth Vader?) and the scar from Rey’s lightsaber is healed (is he no longer conflicted?).
The next shot introduces an iceberg in space, swarmed by TIE Fighters. Jumping ahead a little, this seems to be a war zone for both a First Order attack and the Resistance fleet. Resistance starships are packed thickly together, and in that scrum of spaceships you can spot Mon Cal cruisers, the small starfighter spotted in the trailer for The Mandalorian, the Ghost from Star Wars Rebels, and more. At the end of The Last Jedi, the Resistance was down to a handful of soldiers and needed reinforcements. It looks like they got them.
Here at last are more glimpses of the role of Emperor Palpatine in the Sequel Trilogy. Introduced as a disembodied laugh, he now has a spiky, organic-looking throne or tomb, and some dialogue: “Long have I waited. And now, your coming together is your undoing.” Is everything going according to plan?
In the canon expanded universe, Palpatine did have a plan for the Empire after his own death, but nothing has been revealed so far about what that means for him personally. He could be a clone, a Force spirit, or something else entirely. The throne is marked with a newly-revealed Sith symbol that has also appeared on recent toy packaging.
As pointed out by Phil Szostak, Lucasfilm creative art manager and author of The Art of movie books, the throne is based on an original sketch Ralph McQuarrie made for the Emperor’s Throne in 1981!
Then, C-3PO is undergoing some kind of operation. The alien tech named Babu Frik is working on him, and 3PO is, as usual, worried. He’s “taking one last look…at my friends,” 3PO says. He’s usually a pessimistic droid, so this isn’t necessarily the end for him. But some leaked images show C-3PO holding a weapon, so maybe he ends up brainwashed, or simply more prepared than usual for combat.
There’s also an old battle droid just to Threepio’s right!
This scene is also noticeable for what’s happening in the background: Rey wearing a long coat that gives her a true Jedi Master look, and the first appearance of Poe’s old scoundrel pal, Zorii Bliss. She’s the helmeted character on the far left, and she’s played by Keri Russell.
D-O, the saga’s newest droid, is also part of the group.
This is followed by a gun battle down a very shiny hallway, in what might be the same white-walled facility later in the trailer.
Carrie Fisher’s death wounded the hearts of Star Wars fans and I find it touching and encouraging that, instead of removing her from the movie, Lucasfilm decided to use existing Leia lines to create her part in The Rise of Skywalker. In the next clip, Rey and Leia embrace at the end of The Last Jedi. As if placing Rey between him and Leia in the Skywalker family, Luke has the voiceover: “Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi. Your destiny.”
A couple of quick shots find Finn, Poe, and BB-8 slaloming through a canyon on some kind of sail speeder. This may be the planet where they meet either Zorii or Jannah (Naomi Ackie), another new ally seen in other promotional images riding an orbak.
A familiar face! Billy Dee Williams returns as Lando Calrissian and seems to be flying the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca. Lando destroyed the second Death Star, so is he here to finish what he started? Of all the allies Leia would be sure to reach out to when she’s in trouble, Lando would be on top of the list.
A space battle flurries around a Star Destroyer. Is this part of the First Order fleet or an Imperial army come out of hiding? Either way, the scene is technically impressive, with fog and ships everywhere. We get a look at the Sequel Trilogy’s Y-wing as well!
And the cavalry is all here, with Poe, Jannah, and others charging across the Star Destroyer’s surface on orbaks (!!!).
The next few rapid-fire scenes are stunning:
Rey and Kylo Ren stand where Luke Skywalker once did, in the ruins of the Emperor’s throne room.
Rey and Kylo swing their lightsabers in synch—are they working together to take down the strange figure that crumbles into rubble?
Rey stares up at something—maybe a relic of the Emperor? Or Palpatine himself, restored to his throne?
“The Force will be with you,” Luke says, and Leia finishes the familiar refrain with “Always.” It’s a moving connection between the Skywalker twins after death, and Rey is framed in the middle, her lightsaber lit. Between them, she might be set up as the last Skywalker, not by blood but by experience.
The Last Jedi played with Force visions and mind-melding a lot, and it’s quite possible The Rise of Skywalker will do the same. The previous teaser trailer showed a dark-cloaked Rey wielding a red lightsaber. What is real and what is a vision? It’s hard to know now, but we’ll find out on Dec. 20.
Did I miss anything? Give me a shout on Twitter or let us know in the comments!