On Monday night, there was a great disturbance in The Force...but enough about the New York Jets.
Despite the lopsided 33-0 win courtesy of the New England Patriots, Monday Night Football provided the best form of halftime show: the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The ninth episodic installment of the Star Wars saga is set to be released on December 20, bringing the saga of the Skywalker family to what fans hope will be a thrilling conclusion.
After several dozen viewings of the last sneak peak, we laughed, we cried, and boy, do we have questions.
Is this REALLY the last Star Wars movie?
Rise of Skywalker has kept it light on the marketing, but what glimpses we've seen insist that this is "the end" of the saga begun back in 1977. While this may be the end off the Skywalker story, the one dominated by Darth Vader and his descendants, rest assured. If you've enjoyed this influx of Star Wars material over the past few years, there's plenty more to load your brain and lighten your wallet.
The box office disappointment of Solo: A Star Wars Story may have stifled the churning of movies, but Disney and Lucasfilm have plenty of material planned. Prior to Rise's opening, The Mandalorian will premiere on the new Disney+ streaming service as the first live-action Star Wars television series. New episodes of the well-received animated series The Clone Wars will debut next year, as will new serialized adventures of Rogue One hero Cassian Andor and franchise mainstay Obi-Wan Kenobi. If you truly crave Star Wars on the big screen, let go your fear-- Lucasfilm has commissioned a new trilogy of original films from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
After all, like Luke Skywalker himself once said: No one's ever REALLY gone...
What's the deal with Palpatine?
Again, Rise of Skywalker hasn't revealed much so far, but it couldn't help but gift us a certain reveal upon the first trailer's release. The end of that first showing, released back in April, teased the return of the Senate himself, Emperor Palpatine. More recent looks have given Palpatine cryptic lines of dialogue, but have refrained from showing the character in full view. In one shot of the new trailer, sequel trilogy heroine Rey is approached by a hooded figure, one that appears to be attached to a mechanical device of sorts.
Cheating death, something Palpatine implied could be done by a user of the Dark Side of The Force in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, isn't out of the realm of possibility in any sci-fi medium. But Palpatine's demise, tossed over a ledge into the Death Star's reactor, isn't exactly something you can get up and walk away from. It's possible, some have theorized, that Palpatine has either returned as a Force ghost or even used to Dark Side to return to the realm of the living.
Clues can be gathered from Palpatine's new lines in this trailer. "Long have I waited," he remarks to an unseen party, but presumably Rey. "And now, your coming together is your undoing." As this line is said, images of Rey joining up with other sequel trilogy mainstays Finn and Poe Dameron, are seen. They're joined by franchise veteran Chewbacca in the cockpit of the famed Millennium Falcon. But clever editing could render that image null. What if Palpatine has called upon Force user Rey and her dark counterpart Kylo Ren to perhaps be the final pawns in his sinister plan?
They're not going to kill C-3PO...are they?
C-3PO is to Star Wars what Kenan Thompson is to Saturday Night Live. The beloved neurotic droid has appeared in all but one film, and, even in that one outlier, his actor Anthony Daniels managed to make a cameo.
Threepio has take on a bit of a muted prescience in the latter films, but there's a moment in the new trailer that really tugs at the heartstrings. As he is attended to by a new miniature alien creature, he is asked by Poe, flanked by Rey, Finn, and new character Zorri Bliss (portrayed by Keri Russell) what he's doing. Threepio poignantly replies "Taking one last look, sir...at my friends".
An earlier trailer featured Threepio brandishing red eyes, causing some to believe that the bumbling interpreter had finally gone bad. But, after this new look, it's more likely Threepio could be sacrificing himself, perhaps via a memory wipe, to save the cause of the Resistance. The aura of mystery widens further if you also consider Threepio could be perfectly fine, and he's just bidding this group farewell before they embark on a dangerous mission.
On a side note, Rise of Skywalker appears to be pulling out all the stops when it comes to tying the three trilogies together. As Threepio speaks, a battle droid from the prequel series can be seen in the background.
So...what is this movie about?
One would be hard-pressed to provide a true plot synopsis of Rise of Skywalker at this point. Even this so-called "final" trailer has been more of a teaser, showcasing awesome imagery...new creatures, classic Star Destroyers, a massive Rebel/Resistance fleet, Rey and Kylo dueling on the wreckage of the Death Star...but little in terms of a true plot.
But isn't it better this way?
In a positive development, Rise of Skywalker appears to be taking a cue from fellow geek-pleaser Avengers: Endgame. Like this ninth episode, Endgame was branded as a finality while still continuing in other mediums. The lead-up to the conclusion of the so-called "Infinity Saga" was obvious, but still drew us in. We knew that we'd be getting at least some people back from Thanos' infamous snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, but we didn't know how it would happen. Endgame also kept trailer clips to mostly the first act...thus making the big team-up at the end of the film all the more surprising and poignant.
It could be a vision from the Dark Side. But it's safe to say, so far, the Force is strong with this one.