The Rise of Skywalker: FINALLY! We get to overanalyze a Star Wars teaser again…

Back in April of 2017, we got our first taste of Episode VIII in the form of a teaser trailer. In response I wrote up an analysis and hypothesis-laden look at the preview, offering some wild speculation in some places, and debunking some clever editing tricks in others. I think I did pretty good in the latter department but a few of my predictions were off base (though some, I must say, were pretty-pretty-pretty…pretty good). For fun, you can look back on it here…

Breaking down the new teaser for The Last Jedi

Two years later, we get set for the ninth film in the Skywalker saga, which promises to bring thematic closure to the trilogy of trilogies that began in 1977. That’s the first big piece of information you need to have as you walk through this teaser: Look for things that may point to the Prequel Trilogy and the Original Trilogy. As with the teaser for The Last Jedi, what we’re given are moments without context, slyly edited together in a way that shouldn’t be interpreted literally. The point is not to give away what happens. The point is to express tone. What is this movie going to feel like.

With that in mind, let’s get on with it…

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AND NOW…WE SPECULATE WILDLY

We open on Rey standing in a desert. The terrain is rockier, rougher, more mountainous than Jakku though I don’t discount the possibility that Rey has come back to the first planet she called home. It could be Tatooine, though I don’t think so. JJ shot this in Jordan (Tatooine was in Tunisia).

Kurosawa was one of Lucas’ biggest influences and this feels right out of his work. Wide angle, hero off center, standing ready to fight.

Luke’s voiceover is heard here. In fact, his are the only words we hear. He says “We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight.” There’s a lot to unpack from those three sentences.

First, “we’ve” passed on all we know. Rey took the books from the Tree Library when she left Luke’s hut. All the knowledge of the Jedi are with her, a thousand generations of knowledge are with her, the last person to be taught by a Jedi. But, just as Obi-Wan told Luke (“I can not interfere” and “You must face Darth Vader yourself.”), Luke tells Rey she’s learned all she can and she has to fight her own battle now.

Rey is watching something approach. She draws her weapon; you can see the blaster Han gave her still on her hip, but in her hand is the Skywalker family lightsaber. It was destroyed in The Last Jedi but now is mended. Curiously, and this might just be an audio mixup on the part of the sound-mixers for the teaser, the ignition sound when she activates the saber is not the sound of Luke’s blue blade in A New Hope, but instead is the sound his green saber emitted in Return of the Jedi. It’s a subtle difference but it’s an actual one.

Again, it could be a minor oversight, but then again, the sound of Luke’s blue saber was heard at the end of the first teaser for The Force Awakens, and it’s been a critical item in the Sequel Trilogy. You’d have to think the sound people would have needed help choosing the wrong sound effect. So if it is an intentional change, does it imply anything? It’s worth noting that the kyber crystal that powered the saber split in half as Rey and Kylo tugged over it (very symbolic, Rian Johnson), which means it’s damaged beyond repair. Maybe Rey gets a different one and it either is also blue but gives off a different buzz or it’s a different color entirely and the teaser’s CGI is edited to hide it (which is modus operandi for big Disney movies these days).

Rey is running and the TIE is behind her. I chose my words carefully as I don’t think she is running from the TIE, nor do I think the TIE is “chasing” her. If this is a fight why isn’t the TIE shooting? Rey is defenseless while running like that; a force-user would have better luck standing her ground and swatting away.

Instead, I think this is a pick-up…

Rey doesn’t start running as soon as she sees the TIE. She waits, pivots, waits again, and then takes off, as if to pace herself for the jump.

She leaps—in slow motion (for the first wow moment of the teaser)—into the air and though the shot cuts away before she lands, it seems obvious she’s landing on the cockpit orb. Sure she might be a half-second away from stabbing her blade into the orb and breaking in, but I think she’s about to open the hatch and hop into the passenger seat. I’m also 99% confident that is Kylo flying the ship. We see a pair of black gloves piloting the TIE but no face is shown.

As for why he doesn’t just stop to pick her up, that’s for the story to reveal.

During this sequence, which takes up half the teaser, the words “EVERY GENERATION HAS A LEGEND” flash on the screen. The words hammer home the idea that the Skywalker story is a generational one, not only in the movie-universe but in reality too: My mother saw the Original Trilogy in theaters, I saw the Prequel Trilogy in theaters, my son is seeing the Sequel Trilogy in theaters. Each generation has its own legend: The Redemption of Anakin Skywalker, the Fall of Anakin Skywalker, the…?

Time will tell.

The words are followed by “THIS CHRISTMAS” in the middle of the teaser and, near the end, conclude with “THE SAGA COMES TO AN END.” Star Wars at Christmas is one of the greatest “I didn’t know how much I wanted this until I had it” discoveries in my life. Six movies came and went on Memorial Day weekend but movie seven dropped a week before Christmas and it was like chocolate meeting peanut butter.

We’re shown what looks at first to be a rocky, misty, barren world. But…

A ship approaches a city rising from the jagged cliffs. As for the ship itself, it’s not an A-Wing, and it doesn’t look like any other ship we’ve seen before…unless you think it’s the ship Rey’s parents fly away in during her vision in The Force Awakens…they’re very similar.

Wow moment number two. Kylo MDK’s someone in the middle of a burning forest. The victim looks like the concept art we’ve seen of the Knights of Ren; he’s even carrying a blunt-force weapon just like the KOR. Either way, Kylo hits him with a devastating spinebuster. It shouldn’t go unmentioned that the landscape here is gorgeous. The red sky and white ground (snow or ash?) with black trees all around: What a great use of colors.

Kylo’s helmet looks to be welded back together. That’s not Kylo doing the work; it’s some kind of goblin-like person, with long strands of hair coming from the knuckles. I really hope there is more to this than just Kylo wanting his helmet back. Him shattering it in The Last Jedi was a great character moment for him as he took a step away from being a man in Vader’s shadow to—by the end of the movie—being a man big enough to cast his own. Putting the mask back on just to look scary would be a step back for the character.

Our bromance buddies are back with Finn holding Rey’s staff and Poe back there looking like Nathan Drake. The landscape looks like they’re on the same planet as Rey from earlier. Interesting. The teaser seems to hint that the heroes might spend a good chunk of the movie together, ala A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, as opposed to splitting them up like in The Empire Strikes Back or the first two Sequel Trilogy movies.

BB8 has a new buddy. D-0 (“Dio” or “Dee’oh”).  There will be many youtube videos of that little remote-controlled dude crashing into Christmas trees a week after release.

Basically my face during these two minutes.

Poe, Finn, and 3P0 (maybe more) riding a skiff being pursued by…

Jetpack(?) Stormtroopers? They look like they’re flying Nimbus 2000s.

Here’s a better look at the heroes and, funny enough, the one I couldn’t take my eyes off was C-3P0. That little droid has seen it all (along with the lightly-seen R2D2). I hope he gets a nice moment of closure as the saga he witnessed from the beginning comes to an end.

An A-Wing spirals out of control and crashes. It’s the same desert environment that’s all over the teaser, and there’s a Star Destroyer flying nearby, so we might be looking at snippets from a big, climactic fight. Maybe it is Jakku. That was the planet where the Empire had their last stand after Palpatine died; maybe it’s the place where the First Order has theirs.

Leia holds the medal she gave to Luke or Han (probably Han) after the Battle of Yavin at the end of A New Hope. It makes me wonder if there’s any significance to it here beyond just as an Easter egg/call back to the Original Trilogy. Wouldn’t be something if Harrison Ford filmed a secret cameo, playing a de-aged Han during a flashback, maybe where he gives this medal to Ben before leaves for Luke’s Jedi Summer Camp and burns it down? It could lead to a powerful, emotional moment; maybe even serve as the catalyst for Ben’s redemption, if they wanted to go down that road.

Rey hugs Leia. Carrie Fisher’s role was written around some unused footage from The Force Awakens (Rian Johnson basically used everything he had of her in The Last Jedi but JJ had some big stuff cut out of his film). According to JJ everything with her came together really well, fits in with the story, and will give her and her character a proper send-off.

Basically, everyone watching this.

(also that tear is totally CGI, if that gives a hint to how they will manipulate things and re-work Carrie’s stuff to fit this story)

The squad. Almost everyone on the hero side is accounted for. We’re missing Rose, R2, Lando, but that’s about it. It’s actually pretty weird to see so many of the A-team in one shot. It doesn’t happen very often in a Star Wars movie.

Well, that’s Death Star II. It blew up over Endor’s Ewok-inhabited forest moon and so the team is either on that moon (which is depicted in Return of the Jedi as heavily forested though it does have oceans) or a different moon perhaps. The wreckage certainly didn’t crash land on the gas giant moons orbit so it would have been one of its satellites. It would be very unlike JJ not to go Endor; if you’re going to deal with the DSII wreckage, why go anywhere else? The real curiosity is what’s so important that anyone would seek out the debris, much less the whole Hero Squad of the movie.

Rey is actually holding a backpack-sized object in her right hand in this shot. Maybe it’s a scuba gear or some kind of propulsion pack (similar perhaps to what the troopers were using in the earlier shot). Maybe she’s going scavenging for something. There is this interesting bit of The Force Awakens concept art from a plotline that went unused…

It’s described in the “Making Of” book that Rey’s character (then called “Kira”) would swim to the Death Star II wreckage, hunting for a relic. Maybe JJ is revisiting that unexplored idea, incorporating elements of it into this story?

The shot of the Death Star II’s wreckage is accompanied by Luke’s voice-over. It’s a clip taken from The Last Jedi: “No one’s ever really gone.” At the time, he said it to Leia, meant to offer a glimmer of hope that her son might still be redeemed, or perhaps reassurance that he will always be around. Here it’s said just before the screen cuts to black, before the title card is revealed.

And we heard a menacing, almost gleeful in its evilness, cackle. It is the laughter of a man we all thought was gone. It is our third wow moment of the teaser and every Star Wars fan had the same reaction…

Before you even have time to process the deliciously villainous laugh of Emperor Palpatine, the title is revealed: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.

First, yes: Rise of the Skywalker probably rolls off the tongue a bit better, but we can’t have two ROTS movies now can we? No. As with every Star Wars title, it will take six months before we’re all used to it but that day will come. The real question is: What does it mean? What Skywalker will rise? Kylo is a Solo but he has Skywalker blood. It could be him.

Already there’s an interesting theory being talked about online that says Rey will begin training her own new era of Force users, but not in the failed-Jedi way or the corrupted Sith ways. She’ll start a new order called The Skywalker Order. Thus, every Force user/hero from now on will be a “Skywalker.” That is an awesome idea and a great way to keep the legacy/name going without continuing the actual Skywalker bloodline. Maybe that’s what will rise, the new order of Force heroes with Rey (or maybe Rey and Kylo) leading the charge.

And just in case you’re tempted to say “maybe Palpatine’s laugh was just a tease and he won’t have any kind of a major role,” this is what happened after the teaser ended at Star Wars Celebration…

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The Big Bad himself ordered the teaser to play over again and everyone joygasm’d over again too.

WHAT’S THE MOVIE GOING TO BE ABOUT, MATTHEW?

Beats me. This teaser gave me nothing!

But if I had to form a wild speculation, I would lean on the theory I’ve been pushing in my Star Wars articles for two years now: Rey was created by the force itself, just as Anakin was. Anakin was created to counter-balance the rise of Palpatine and Rey was created to counter the rise of Snoke. I still hold to that theory but, that being said, I am intrigued by the apparent return of the very dead Emperor.

So maybe the Emperor’s disembodied spirit is still out there, looking for a host to possess. Maybe the Emperor had plans in place, in the event of his death, to transfer his spirit to a new, fresh, body. Maybe he wants Rey. Maybe he made Rey in a test-tube for that purpose! Either scenario (created by the force or by force-manipulation) fits with what we know about Rey. She would have been an orphan, picked up by losers who sold her for drinking money, as Kylo put it. She repressed a lot of that, and chose to believe her “parents” were out there looking for her, etc. Of course she knows now that’s not true, which means her character has grown past that personal obstacle. Now you can introduce a new one: Reveal that she is something even more than what she knows and accepts about herself.

Maybe the plot will revolve around trying to redeem Kylo and save Rey from being taken over by Palpatine’s demented Sith spirit. That would not only wrap up Rey’s arc and Kylo’s arc (bringing the Sequel Trilogy to a close) it would offer a nice book-end to the whole nine-movie saga.

There will be another teaser sometime this summer or early fall, probably around the time Monday Night Football starts up again. Look for tickets to go on sale around that time too. Until then you can almost certainly expect to see the TROS teaser playing in front of Avengers: End Game at the end of April.

Here’s to what will be a long and agonizing eight months!

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