By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Love Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker or hate it, anyone who has seen this film by now are likely talking about the what the heck moments in this film. I’m sure J.J. Abrams had his back to the wall with higher-ups saying here’s what we need and you can fill in the blanks. Retconning the stuff fans did or did not like in the films prior were the least of his problems. Making a finale to a massive property this big is not easy.
Massive spoilers are ahead, as I have to bring up my top seven list of moments / leaps in narrative that made little sense (sometimes unless you happen to know the lore inside and out) from the final film of the Skywalker saga. I’m ignoring science as we know it, otherwise that crazy siege (spoiler tape) would not ever happen.
Dark Horse Comics told the story first!
Did Abrams and Chris Terrio steal from The Dark Empire series in more ways than one?
The notion of Palpatine wanting to occupy a new body is why Rey was hidden away. She has blood ties to him (more on this later). He can’t take anyone in his resurrection, and if it’s not going to be him, then he was certainly adamant that it’s someone from his lineage.
Plus, his new fleet of Star Destroyers has weaponry to destroy planets. This idea was originated in comics first, and aside from mounting these weapons on this particular class of ship makes no difference. They are called World Devastators for a reason.
On Palpatine and The Sith
Ever since Ian McDiarmid was revealed to be in this movie since D23 Expo, I was okay with his return. In the setup to his eventual destruction, but I cannot shake the thought if the writers were taking a cue from how the version of Megatron from Transformers: Beast Wars got hooked up to a machine to sustain him. I seem to recall how both need to absorb the essences of the Sith/Cybertronians in order to grow in power.
Somehow, when the second Death Star exploded, I only imagined all the Emperor’s tiny bits scattered across the galaxy. Trying to find all those parts would be tough. Just how he managed to stay “together” (well his upper body) can be argued he used his powers to stay whole.
If anyone is going to go gathering his remains, it would be his faithful few. But in the climactic final battle, it’s revealed those Sith loyalists (not citizens of the Sith Empire) are numbering in the hundreds! All those minions and disciples! Where were they when Palpatine needed him the most? They were hiding and not showing just how many there are. I get that Sith Force Users can only be in two, but for those without–they could be an empire all their own.
Not even Luke can face them alone. It’s no wonder he had to train a new generation of Jedi. Sadly, when Ben Solo became a turncoat Luke was disenchanted and turned hermit. That’s probably why The Emperor was able to rebuild without any resistance at all in the intervening decades.
The Emperor and his Relationship to Rey
I expect some side story will emerge in comic book or novel form to explain when Palpatine had time to interact with his son before he married and have a child of his own–who is Rey. The sharp-eyed and astute will point out the writing has been on the wall for some time, as Insider.com reported. Anyone complaining about this twist will just have to go back and rewatch the prior films to realize that we can’t blame the writing for offering this major reveal. Much like The Empire Strikes back, the familial ties that bond are much more frightful than we realize!
As for when did Sheev had the time have children of his own and etc in the thirty years after the Galactic Civil War is beyond me. He obviously never cared for them. Rey was born 15 ABY and Return of the Jedi took place at 4 ABY according to the calendar. These events consider the Battle of Yavin as the center point of when the chronology takes place. Assuming these are ‘human’ years by our standards, we assume around the time of Episode 2, Attack of the Clones (20 BBY) Palpatine was having children of his own. That should mean, the Jedi Order never sensed a disturbance in The Force because the next powerful Sith Lord skipped a generation. In a few years after Rey being born and Sheev discarded his normal guise, that’s when the parents ran away and “sold her off” before grandpapa can victimize her.
While we can never expect a nine film saga to be entirely mapped out (Not even Lucas went this far despite rumours to the contrary in the 90s), at least some reference in the prequel trilogy or Clone Wars should have referenced he had children. I always thought Sith (even when they have to pretend to be normal) operated and lived alone.
Luke and Leia knowing Rey’s heritage
Luke and Leia knew there was ‘another.’ But as for what Rey represented, nobody knew. As for why they never acted on it is very Yoda-ish. Let the Force take care of her fate. Fans will argue this point forever, because Luke hoped she will not be just like the despot. He did have reservations in training her in the start of Episode 8. With the next film, it’s explained that Leia became the mother Rey so desperately wanted–perhaps the saving grace to her embracing all that is pure.
Rey and Ben needs to get a room!
Reylo fans are a dedicated part of the fan base wanting a romantic union between Rey and Kylo. It’s been obvious since Episode 8. The tension between them certainly sets them up to have some kind of encounter. When we are constantly seeing Kylo without his shirt a bit too often, the sexual tension became obvious.
I liked it better when they were fighting against each other than suddenly trading Force powers at the end. Ben stated he and Rey are a dyad and I’m curious is what he meant by that. The implications in a sociological or philosophical sense are the same. Or was he talking about the Rule of Two that all Sith must adhere to? Together, the two are very powerful, and the blood ties (should they get physical) can mean huge things should another generation of Force users arise due to their bond. However, the last thing I want to see is them swapping midichlorians. This development never had the proper build up in this film and the last. Perhaps the only good part of this film is the fulfillment of what a previous Skywalker could not do, save a loved one. Ben is able to do what Anakin never was able to do–saving a loved one from dying.
Otherwise, the unusual courtship is just as bad as Attack of the Clones. It’s perfect in a Pulp world, but their kiss was sudden and was laughably unexpected.
So why couldn’t C3P0 write out the Sith hieroglyphs untranslated?
The obvious answer is that Rey, Finn and Poe does not know of any other translator robots nearby who has a similar programming as C3P0’s. They are a dime a dozen or this particular droid they have in possession is unique! I can’t buy this fact when considering Poe’s background; he could have asked C3P0 to simply write the Sith text out and they could have sacrificed another droid for the sake of the rebellion without C3P0 losing all knowledge of this trilogy of films from his mind.
Rise of the… No wait, Raiders of the Lost Ark / Last Crusade in Space?
Well, not quite, but when this movie is using a macguffin to move the story forward, locating the Sith Wayfinder is important. This sends them to another planet, a bait and switch involving Chewbacca and the nuances are certainly recognizable. Blink and you will miss seeing two transport ships. The only thing missing is the ritual which sees heads exploding or melting (depending on which effect you like to see more).
The name speaks for itself as a navigational guide, but it feels like an under-utilized holy artifact. It should offer more than locating Sith hideouts. As for choosing wisely … Let’s just say we’re all glad Rey has a new future. She only has herself to keep going. The past (we assume) is literally buried in the sand until someone decides to go hunting for them like the holy grails they are.