We only have a week until the release of Episode IX, and like any crazy fan, I’ve been pouring over the trailers and rewatching the movies to see if I can piece together some theory about the plot. Might be interesting to compare it to the movie and see if I got anything right, don’cha think?
You have been warned. To properly explain my predictions, I will be potentially spoiling major plot elements from any of the movies. I’ve also watched all of the trailers and tv spots. If you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading.
I’ve already done a bit of light theorizing in my discussion of the final trailer, but I wanted to come up with something truly unique. Alas, that did not go as I hoped. It feels impossible to predict where the final Skywalker film will go, but I do know one thing.
I admit that the redemption arc is not a revolutionary theory, but I’m going to make a bold claim and say that based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s all but guaranteed, and here’s why:
It’s in the Title
Which Skywalker will rise? Anakin? Leia? We know it can’t be Luke because he vanished at the end of TLJ. And while Episode 9 was supposed to be Leia’s movie, after the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher, I have to wonder how much she is going to be a core character of the last Skywalker movie.
I concede that The Last Jedi made force ghosts canonical (in that its played a major part in a film and is part of the ‘new’ canon), so an Anakin force ghost is a very real possibility. But there is another option. After Luke and Leia, the last in the Skywalker line is Kylo Ren – Ben Solo. Yes, he’s a Solo in name, but he’s a powerful force user and the grandchild of Darth Vader. And he’s got some real daddy issues so it’s not inconceivable that he might consider himself a Skywalker first and foremost.
It Was Foreshadowed in Force Awakens & Last Jedi
Remember that scene in Maz’s castle, when Rey picks up Luke’s lightsabre and has some crazy force visions? Maz specifically mentions to Rey that there is someone who can return. We, like Rey, believe that to be Luke, especially since the bulk of the movie is about the map to his location.
But what if it wasn’t about Luke after all?
Maz never confirms who she is speaking to and don’t forget that she is force sensitive. At the end of the movie they do find Luke, but in The Last Jedi, any attempts to bring him back fail. He doesn’t want to return. Instead, there are some weird attempts to train Rey, but he stays on Ahch-To. When he appears at the end he is a projection – he’s never really there.
If it isn’t Luke, there’s only one other character who they are trying to bring home. What if it was foreshadowing Ben Solo’s return instead?
Again, in The Last Jedi, we know that both Kylo Ren and Rey have visions that the other switched sides. In the end, neither of them do, and their ‘connection’ is explained away as a manipulation by Snoke to earn Rey’s trust. But then Snoke is killed and the connection remains.
That calls into question how much of the connection was created by Snoke and how much was genuine. What if one of their visions comes true? What if both of them do?
A Character in Conflict
The entire sequel trilogy thus far has dealt with Kylo Ren’s inner turmoil – despite being lured in by the dark side he has always felt a “pull to the light”, and many times his commitment to the dark side is questioned and tested. Leia and Han believe there is still good in him in TFA, and the murder of his father and his connection to Rey continues to distance him from Snoke and what he represents to the point where he turns on the Supreme Leader at the end of TLJ.
His admiration of Darth Vader was what gave him purpose – he wanted to finish what his grandfather started, but it’s one that conflicts with whatever ‘light’ is left in him. It makes for a really interesting character with a very compelling character arc. One that won’t truly be complete until he fully accepts one side or the other. And if his journey parallels his grandfathers in any way, it’s pretty obvious which side of the coin he’s going to fall on.
The Truth About Darth Vader
Let’s assume for a moment that I’m wrong about which Skywalker will rise. It makes the most sense, given TV Spot ‘Adventure’, that the Skywalker in question is Anakin – Darth Vader. It’s Kylo Ren’s initial obsession with following in his grandfather’s footsteps that leads him to the dark side. But the end of the original trilogy sees Darth Vader – Anakin Skywalker – redeemed after helping to overthrow the Emperor.
How much he knows about his grandfather and how much was twisted by Snoke is still unknown, but the truth remains – Darth Vader chose the light.
My initial hypothesis with the deep dive I did on the final trailer was incorrect, I’ll admit. I wrongly assumed that the scene in which Kylo Ren and Rey appear to be fighting was not a fight at all and a scene cleverly edited to confuse the viewer. I still think that any scenes with that fight are strangely clipped and obscure in an effort to mask what is actually going on, but it is clear in this TV spot that they are fighting.
And the thing they’re fighting for? The remains of Darth Vader’s mask. Maybe it’s a force object, or has something to do with an Anakin force-ghost. I honestly have no idea why they might be fighting over the mask itself, but it’s clear that Darth Vader will have a big role to play in the final movie.
Whether Kylo Ren learns the truth of about his grandfather or his story ends up as parallel we’ll find out soon enough.
And let’s not even go into the symbolism of the masks.
Darkness Rises and Light to Meet It
From the beginning of Force Awakens, Rey has been Kylo Ren’s foil. She was developing a father-daughter relationship with Han Solo, she was trained by Luke Skywalker, and Snoke attempted to turn her just as he did Ben. Snoke reveals it in the Force Awakens: dark rises and light to meet it.
She represents the good elements in the story – the resistance, the Jedi, the light side of the force, and Kylo Ren is its opposite – the First Order, the dark side. Despite being on opposing sides, they have a lot in common, and it’s that loneliness and sense of fear that Snoke manipulates in TLJ.
What makes this interesting is that the entire trilogy has been teasing us with Rey’s connection to the dark side just as it has with Kylo Ren’s connection to the light. It’s especially obvious if you read the novelizations (which I have) and you get those glimpses into the character’s heads. Since TFA Rey has struggled with the dark side of the force. She feels it’s pull at the end of the movie when she defeats Kylo Ren, and she feels it’s call again when she is training with Luke. Then Kylo Ren has a vision that she switches sides in TLJ. To top it all off, we get a brief shot of what appears to be Dark Rey in the trailers. Conversely, Kylo Ren seems to be moving further away from the dark side. He kills his father thinking it will make him stronger and it does the opposite. He is unable to attack his mother at the beginning of TLJ and he ends up turning against Snoke, who has manipulated him all this time.
There’s definitely a pattern here. If Rey is moving towards the dark side, it makes sense that Kylo Ren, her narrative opposite, is moving towards the light. What if darkness rising and light to meet it was referring to something else? As the darkness rises in Rey, the light in Kylo Ren does as well. What a twist it would be in the final movie for our hero to become the villain, and our villain to become the hero!
I admit that’s a bit of a stretch, but Star Wars does like to play with that sort of imagery and narrative poetry. And I appreciate that franchise takes risks and is generally hard to predict.
All that being said, I am so impossibly excited to watch this movie, regardless of whether or not this ends up to be true. I’ve got my ticket ready, and I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up!
What Are Your Theories?
Are you as pumped to see the movies as I am? I’m assuming you are if you bothered to read through this whole thing! What do you think will happen in Episode 9? Let’s chat in the comments!