The Rise of Skywalker Trailer Analysis

Let me be straight here: I left the Star Wars fandom. I cancelled my subscription to Star Wars: The Old Republic. I uninstalled both Knights of the Old Republic games from my computer. I haven’t watched a Star Wars film since The Last Jedi.

Jeffery Jacob Abrams, however, is an emotionally manipulative bastard who’s out to get me personally, and so he cooked up this little trailer. And guess what? I’m back. Yay me.

Join me under the cut as I analyze this newest bit of emotional trauma.

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Right, so we start off with this logo and Rey’s heavy breathing. Heavy breathing seems to be a thing in ST trailers, but I don’t think it signifies anything important other than our protagonists (and antagonists) go through a lot.

Moving on, we cut to Rey standing in the middle of a desert:Screenshot_2019-04-13 Star Wars Episode IX – Teaser - YouTube.png

Luke’s narrating here, saying:

We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you, now. But this is your fight.

He’s clearly talking to Rey, but Luke’s words ring a little hollow. Luke did not train Rey as a Jedi during The Last Jedi, instead all she got in the end were the sacred Jedi texts… which Yoda himself mocked as being less than interesting. Daisy Ridley did confirm that Rey read the texts during the SWCC 2019 panel, and this narration indicates that Rey got even further than Daisy suggested. But even still, Rey’s managed to get even less Jedi training than Luke did. Unless Luke’s been training her all this time as a Force Ghost?

Rey’s oufit has changed, signifying further character development. These robes are even more Jedi-esque than her last two costumes, both of which managed to evoke the old Order pretty well. She also has a hood, though you can’t see it very well in this shot.

Now, where the hell is she? We know of at least three desert planets in Star Wars (Tatooine, Jakku, Jedha) and this could be any or none of them. I’ve heard lots of speculation that this is Wadi Rum, and Kathleen Kennedy did confirm that they filmed in Wadi Rum during the panel. If this is Wadi Rum in Jordan, then it stands to reason that Rey is on Jedha for this scene, because that’s where they shot the Jedha locations for Rogue One. That would be cool, because it would tie the main trilogy back into the wider lore.

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Aha! So Rey has rebuilt the Skywalker lightsaber. Not that this is a surprise, building a lightsaber as the final part of your Jedi training goes all the way back to Return of the Jedi, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.

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This shot is hilarious to me because in the OT, Luke had to get a green lightsaber so it would show up against the desert back ground.

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Rey’s getting ready to run here, and you can see what she’s trying to run from in the background. Plus, all through out these scenes you can here the distinctive TIE fighter whine.

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Our only look at the mysterious TIE pilot, whom I’m ninety percent sure is Kylo Ren. This brings up a few questions:

  • If it is Kylo, this is one of only two shots we get of him. Did Lucasfilm finally clue in to how divisive this guy was as a villain after promoting him front and centre for two films? He certainly doesn’t move any merchandise, at least not in the way Vader did.
  • If it isn’t Kylo, then who the heck is it?
  • Why is he trying to run down Rey on a desert planet? I’ve seen speculation that this is some kind of sparring match, but I doubt it. Kylo and Rey chose different destinies in the last movie (with Rey literally closing the door on Ren), and while I have no doubt Rey will continue to reach out to Kylo they’re just not going to be in a place where they can trust each other to spar. Ever. And like most of Kylo Ren’s problems, that’s entirely his own fault.

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Yeah, that’s definitely Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer. And Rey has apparently learned she’s in the Matrix.

I like it when the movies show what the Force can do. After all:

The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force-Darth Vader, ANH

The Force isn’t just superpowered kung-fu and lightning bolts, but that’s a different topic.

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I apologize for the quality of the screenshot.

This scene is interesting to me because the ship in it looks similar if not identical to the ship ship that dropped off Rey in the TFA flashback.

Is it? Eh, I don’t know for sure. Does that mean anything, given what The Last Jedi said? Hard to say. On the one hand, Daisy has claimed that both Rian and Abrams’ version of Rey’s parents were the same. On the other hand, many of Rian’s statements (and J.J.’s recent interview) make it clear that virtually nothing about the trilogy was plotted out from the beginning, and Simon Pegg has stated outright that there were bigger plans for Rey’s parentage. Plus, the revelation in TLJ doesn’t add up with the flashback.

So who knows? My money’s still on Rey Skywalker, but it’s anybody’s game at this point.

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Kylo Ren has been pretty much demoted to extra in this trailer. Love him or hate him (or are just neutral towards him, like I him) it’s still kind of weird given how prominent he was in previous promotional material.

Did Rian’s choice to have Kylo take over the First Order limit J.J. that badly that Kylo Ren is going to demoted in the film proper? Or was the backlash to Kylo’s omnipresence in the TLJ marketing material especially significant enough that Lucasfilm decided to tone down his role in TROS’ marketing? My money’s on the latter; Kylo Ren is too much the Heavy and too significant to the overall myth arc to be demoted entirely… but I also think this is a sign of things to come. Adam Driver wasn’t on the panel at Celebration, his character has all of two shots in the first teaser (only one of which shows his face)…

Yeah, I think Kylo Ren is going to be out of focus in TROS. Not that that’s a bad thing; TLJ was kind of his movie, and given that this trilogy is an ensemble cast, well…. it’s time to move on.

On to the fight scene itself. Kylo Ren is definitely leading Stormtroopers in an assault in some kind of forested area. At first I though all the white in the shot meant snow or winter; but now, combined with the red lighting, I think it’s ash. Kylo and his crew are doing what they’re best at: burning shit down.

In this specific screenshot, Kylo’s killing a dude in a brown overcoat. Who is he killing? My guess is it’s either a civilian or a Resistance fighter. I’ve seen speculation that it’s a Knight of Ren, but I’m ninety percent sure it isn’t. TLJ had Kylo specifically choose the villainous path, the Knights of Ren are his team, he’s leading Stormtroopers… Yeah, Kylo isn’t going to return to the Light until maybe the very end of the movie. If he does at all.

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Probably the most important Kylo Ren scene in the trailer… and Kylo’s not actually in it. Those hands are definitely alien.

So why is Kylo Ren having his mask rebuilt? There are a few reasons:

  1. Practicality. Helmets may not be heroic, but they sure are necessary when leading your troops from the front line. Unless you want to have half your face blown off by a hand grenade.
  2. It continues his character development from TLJ in rejecting Snoke (it was Snoke who criticized the mask) and in staying on the Dark path (that helmet does not scream ‘good guy’).
  3. It keeps in with his base character: a scared, lost little boy desperate to seem like the ultimate badass. Here’s the thing: the Dark Side stunts your emotional growth. Being groomed by a cult leader stunts your emotional growth. Ben Solo is a whiny child looking to be the big kid on the playground without ever understanding why the big kids are so respected. This is a contrast to Rey, Finn and Poe, all three of whom are actually capable of growing up. Kylo Ren can’t, so he turns to the mask to make him seem more adult than he is. Or can ever be.

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BB-8 has a new friend! D-O is cute, D-O is… hard to see how he’s relevant. He also looks like a megaphone attached to a salad spinner.

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Lando Calrissian, the coolest guy in the galaxy, kicking evil-doer ass with his cane-fu. Okay, he doesn’t have a cane in the trailer, but Billy Dee Williams has a cane in real life so I assume it will show up in the film. As a prop for BDW to kick ass with because c’mon man! That would be so cool.

It’s good to see Lando back in the Millennium Falcon. It was his ship first, before he lost it to Han, and he piloted her during what has to be the Falcon’s finest hour: the destruction of the Second Death Star.

In narrative terms, Lando was always a back-up Han, created to replace him should Harrison Ford not return. Now Han’s dead and it’s time for Lando to step up and kick some ass. Plus, at this point, two of his friends are dead and I don’t think Leia’s going to make it out of this movie alive. So, Lando’s going to want some First Order blood.

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Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it.

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I am a lousy screenshotter. Oh well, pretty good for my first time, right?

Anyway, here we have Threepio, Finn and Poe on some kind of desert skiff fighting against somebody else on skiffs we saw in a previous shot.

Anthony Daniels said this is the movie where Threepio fights back. And by ‘fights back’ I assume Daniels meant ‘have bigger panic attack than normal.’

It’s good to see Finn and Poe working together again. One of the things Star Wars hasn’t done right since the originals is have the main Trio actually, you know, go on an adventure together. Abrams has promised to fix that in this movie.

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I’m pretty sure that’s Leia caressing the medal she gave Han in ANH. Does it mean anything? Probably not, other than Leia is grieving for Han.

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Fuck you Jeffery Jacob Adams, you emotionally manipulative crack/heroin dealer.

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A much better shot of Finn and Poe, along with the rest of the gang.

John Boyega said at SWCC that he felt Finn didn’t really have a costume, and therefore an identity, of his own. I agree, and I think everybody else can too. This costume, which is clearly a Resistance outfit (possibly an officer’s outfit?) is a huge step in the right direction. As is having him actually with Rey and Poe on their adventures.

Poe, for his part, seems to have gotten in contact with Indiana Jones’ tailor. Poe is kind of a happy accident: he wasn’t supposed to survive the first act of the first movie, but J.J. was so impressed by Oscar Isaac and kept him alive. This shows in TLJ, because Rian clearly wasn’t sure what to do with Poe or where to take him. Two movies later, though, I think we’re going to a Poe with a much clearer direction. Both J.J. and Isaac have learned who Poe is, what he wants and how he achieves his goals and I think this is really going to be his movie, the movie where Poe really gets to shine.

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So, we are clearly on the forest moon of Endor, because that’s definitely a piece of the Second Death Star that crashed landed on the planet. At first, I wondered if it was Yavin IV, but that doesn’t look anything like Guatemala. Actually, it kind of looks like the B.C. coast, but I assume that’s just northern California.

I think Rey’s carrying a back-pack, here? Probably just a survival kit of some kind.

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Ah, the title. If there was a title more guaranteed to cause rampant speculation, I couldn’t think of one.

So. It clearly refers to Rey in some capacity. How so? Well:

  1. Luke Skywalker is dead. Can’t rise if you’re dead.
  2. Kylo Ren is either Kylo Ren or Ben Solo. Either way, he’s cut himself off from the Skywalker legacy.
  3. Leia, likewise, prefers her Bail Organa’s legacy to Anakin’s. Also, Carrie Fisher is dead and will only be appearing in archival footage.

That leaves us with Rey. But how can The Rise of Skywalker possible refer to Rey? Here are some possibilities:

  1. Rey really is Luke’s daughter. This seems most likely to me, especially as Kylo Ren was trying to manipulate Rey during that scene in TLJ.
  2. It’s a title of some kind.
  3. It refers to a new order of Force-Users.
  4. Rey takes up the name Skywalker. After Rey being a Skywalker by blood, this is the most likely proposition. It requires no retconning, no weird character distortions, nothing.

Then the trailer ends with Luke promising they will always be with you, and that nobody is ever truly gone. This is both a statement to the fans, referring to Carrie Fisher and the characters who have died, and a reference to characters in the film. It’s consolation for Rey and Poe and a warning to Kylo Ren.

And then… then we hear ominous, familiar laughter. Palpatine has returned… in some, as yet, unknown capacity.

Okay, J.J. has confirmed Palpatine will be in the movie, and his inclusion in the trailer isn’t just nostalgia bait. That’s not as helpful as you might think: Palpatine could be anything from a hologram to a holocron to actually coming back. He can’t be a Force Ghost (George shot that down), but that doesn’t mean he’s actually, physically, tormenting the good guys.

Here’s something else to remember: Palpatine has always been the greater-scope villain, the bigger bad and the big bad of Star Wars. Everything that has happened since TPM has been in someway his fault. Yes, even Snoke and Kylo Ren. At the bare minimum, without the Empire and Darth Vader, there would be no First Order and no Kylo Ren. But he’s probably been more than that, too. I will discuss my theories in a later post.


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2 thoughts on “The Rise of Skywalker Trailer Analysis

  1. Pingback: The One True Dark Lord of the Sith: A Speculative Analysis on Emperor Palpatine and His Role In The Rise of Skywalker | The Shadowed Universe

  2. Once again, Abrams is catering to the nostalgia factor by bringing in Palpatine. Yes, he’s doing the same by bringing in Lando, but I’ve always believed that the latter should have been in one of the earlier films. But Palpatine?

    Even if I end up liking this movie, for me the Sequel Trilogy is a bust, considering that I dislike both “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi”.


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