Now that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out on home video, it’s time for us to pour over the movie, scene by scene and moment by moment, not only digesting its place in the larger Star Wars mythos but also looking for loose threads that JJ Abrams might grab hold of and weave into Episode IX, the final film in this trilogy.
That movie’s not for another year and a half, but the script is finished and shooting begins this summer. So what better time to offer up some wild speculations! After watching The Last Jedi…a lot, like a scary amount of times…I have some ideas for the next film. Namely this, which I will humbly phrase in the form of a question:
IS THE SO-CALLED “SEQUEL” TRILOGY REALLY JUST A NEW “PREQUEL” TRILOGY?
Now, of course, when you invoke the words “Prequel Trilogy” you’re sure to get some vitriol from the fan base. Hear me out: I’m not saying this new trilogy is “another prequel trilogy, with all the flaws and annoyances found therein…” I’m saying maybe we should look at these new movies as the foundation on which (the as of yet unannounced, but let’s be real: they’re coming) Episodes X-XII will be built.
Here’s what I mean…
First of all, I think TLJ told a better story in a less effective way than The Force Awakens. I think JJ told a weaker story better, if that makes sense. He had the easier job (setting up the world) and had Original Trilogy scribe Lawrence Kasdan to write the dialogue. Rian Johnson had to continue the story and respond to the criticism of TFA, namely that it was too much of a remake of A New Hope. So Rian went and shook up all the expectations, and in terms of what he accomplished, I’d say he succeeded. But I think his movie was not as well-made. It was slower in the middle and had some dialogue that fell flat. It wasn’t as tight as TFA but it was riskier and did more. I like it more than TFA after repeated viewings but the things I like are different than what I like about TFA. And despite that, I can’t help but notice more film-making flaws in TLJ than were present in TFA.
But I think history will look back on this movie as a needed one in the franchise, especially when the eventual next trilogy comes out.
A lot of people think this trilogy will end with Kylo’s redemption, and I concede that’s a reasonable assumption. But what if the story (or at least Kylo’s side of it) is about Kylo’s ascension to the top of the dark side. I mean, at the end of TLJ he becomes Supreme Leader. That’s why Rian had the very Return of the Jedi-like throne room scene with Snoke in the middle of the second movie. Maybe this trilogy isn’t about Kylo turning back because Kylo isn’t like Vader in the Original Trilogy. He’s Vader right after the prequels. He’s new and still developing as the top baddie. So maybe this movie was the set-up to a grand head-fake: They gave us the cliched throne room “try and turn him back” stuff in movie two, it fails, he kills his master and takes his place, like a good Sith should.
So what comes next? Will they rush through a redemption right after he just started his reign of terror? Vader had a quarter-century running amok before he turned back. Maybe this trilogy will end with Kylo peaking in power, ready to be taken out in the NEXT trilogy, by the next generation of heroes with an assist from the heroes of this story (namely Rey).
I’m not predicting a sour ending like Revenge of the Sith had, where the bad guys win and the heroes all go on the run. I think the Resistance will overthrow the First Order with Poe becoming the next leader (taking Leia’s place). I think that’s where his story is heading based on his character arc in TLJ (“the hotshot pilot learns to temper his instincts and be a real leader”). So the good guys will win the big battle, but the bad guy will get away. Maybe Kylo kills Rey (I doubt it) or just defeats her or gets away from her, off to train a new apprentice in the interim between EPIX and EPX.
I think everyone watched TFA and came away thinking “oh this is just going to be a remake of the Original Trilogy.” Instead, it might just be a glorified set-up for the next generation:
- The next generation’s big bad (Kylo, not Snoke)
- The next generation’s adventure-having hero (Finn not Han)
- The next generation’s leader of the good guys (Poe not Leia)
- And the next generation’s Jedi hero (Rey not Luke)
In that case, it won’t be until Episode XII that we see Kylo finally either die or be redeemed (or both).
Episode IX will likely take place a few years or more after TLJ, with Leia already dead and maybe Poe struggling with his new role. Maybe Rey and Kylo will be orbiting each other, both searching the galaxy for potential apprentices, leading to an epic showdown in the finale where we get big story/plot resolution on the rebels vs empire side, as well as smaller, more intimate closure (though not resolution) on the Jedi vs Sith side.
Disney has not announced an Episode X, much less an XI or XII, but c’mon. They can call this trilogy the “end of the Skywalker saga” but I refuse to believe they will be done with the numbered movies, ESPECIALLY after the troubles they’ve had with the “Star Wars Story” movies. I know Rian Johnson has his own stand-alone trilogy coming, and even if next month’s Solo: A Star Wars Story blows everyone away and does Rouge One numbers (inching just past a billion in the box office), it’s still going to be too tempting not to go back to the “Episode __” well.
Let’s be real: Episode X is coming, and even if they take a decade off after Episode IX, it’s coming, if only because this is Disney and they won’t stop milking the teet until there’s nothing left to squeeze.
With that said, I’ll leave you with this relevant gif: