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SYFY WIRE Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

Rey flirts with the dark side in the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker D23 trailer

By Dany Roth
Star Wars d23 trailer

Now that Disney's D23 Expo is over, it's finally time for the rest of us Star Wars fans to see that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker "Special Look" everyone at the convention was screaming about.

Obviously, we're going to do more than just watch new Rise of Skywalker footage, though: We're also gonna obsess. Here's a breakdown of the whole thing, including what we think it all means.

The first 45 seconds is all original trilogy. We see the first iconic moments for each of our heroes: Luke watching the setting suns of Tatootine, Obi-Wan removing his hood for the first time to greet Luke, Leia with her stun gun ready to fight off the entire Empire herself, Han nonchalantly getting ready to kill Greedo, C-3PO and R2D2 on the run to their escape pod.

These are the first steps.

We transition to that very first victory: Escaping the Death Star, Luke and Leia hugging, the Royal Award Ceremony at the end of A New Hope.

The Force will be with you. Always.

Then we transition to our villains: Vader. Boba Fett. Interesting that these are the two to counterbalance our heroes. Vader and Boba Fett to parallel Luke and Han.

Then we deal with loss. Han kisses Leia goodbye before being frozen in carbonite.

I love you. I know.

darth vader father

Darth telling Luke the truth for the first time.

I am your father.

That's not true. That's impossible.

We see the parallel in the teachings of light and dark next. Yoda pulls Luke's X-Wing out of the swamps of Dagoba. Palpatine forces Luke and Vader to fight.

We end the original trilogy footage on Lando escaping the second Death Star in the Millennium Falcon, an image we saw paralleled in the previous Rise of Skywalker trailer.

And the final image is of Luke in his dark robes from the beginning of Return of the Jedi. We'll come back to that at the end of this trailer.

Luke voice over "We've passed on all we know."

Now comes images reminding us of the prequel trilogy, and it's interesting to see the moments they choose: duel of the fates with Maul facing off against Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, Young Anakin comforted by his mother, Anakin and Padme being married, Star Destroyers, Mace Windu facing off against Palpatine, Anakin being reassembled into Darth Vader, and Palpatine raising his arms in victory after taking control of the Galactic Senate. We'll come back to why these choices matter momentarily.

palpatine rises

Almost to new footage, but first here's what we're shown from the last two films of the new trilogy: Kylo Ren's mask, that melted Darth Vader mask, Leia being comforted by Han before he faces off against their son, Rey crying over Finn's body, Rey and Kylo Ren touching hands on Ahch-To, Rey holding hands with Maz Kanata shortly before Rey's force vision, Han cradling Ben's face, Rey helping Finn to his feet on Jakku, BB-8 on the run, Kylo menacingly holding his lightsaber, and Luke kissing Leia on the forehead before he faces Kylo alone at the end of The Last Jedi. Then, of course, we see Rey's face bathed in the light of her and Kylo's lightsabers in their first big battle in The Force Awakens — the red and blue of her and Kylo's lightsabers flicker back and forth over her face, indicating the continued struggle between Light and Dark.

Finally we've made it to the new footage.

rise of skywalker resistance

We see another desert planet; could be Jakku, could be Tatooine, could be a completely different desert planet. Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewie, and C-3PO walk in the desert and we cut to reveal a shanty town of what we think is safe to assume is the new members of the Resistance after the end of The Last Jedi.

rise of skywalker leia

We see Leia briefly, mostly to remind us that, yes, she will be in The Rise of Skywalker.

rise of skywalker resistance fighters

Then we get more interesting parallels. One shot is of the different ships and fighters in the ramshackle Resistance army. The other is countless uniform Star Destroyers that make up the First Order. Although, interestingly, these appear to be Imperial Class-II Star Destroyers from the era between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. So these may not be First Order at all but ships put together by Palpatine in secret while he's been out of sight. More on that later.

finn and jannah

We see Finn and Jannah in what may be the Millennium Falcon. This is the first image of Naomi Ackie's character in a trailer.

c3po red eyes

Then we get that weird image of C-3PO with red eyes. Is he connected to the Falcon? Is he evil?

Missing media item.

Then more red. This time it's a blast from space destroying a planet. Is this a new weapon in line with the First Order's Starkiller Base?

Finally, we're back with Rey. First, she's throwing her lightsaber like a boomerang. Looks like she's training in the woods, maybe in the same place we saw Leia standing earlier. Leia overseeing Rey's training or simply just looking on with pride would be all too perfect.

rise of skywalker rey kylo fight

Then it's Kylo Ren on a cold, blue planet alone. Then Rey and Kylo fighting on a station of some kind while surrounded by water. If we're assuming this isn't an intentional misdirect, it appears that Kylo and Rey are on Kamino (first introduced in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones), which is where all the clone stormtroopers came from.

We hear Palpatine's voice: "Your journey ends here." We hear the sounds of Darth Vader's labored breathing, and then...

Missing media item.

Rey in Sith robes holding her dual-bladed, red lightsaber.

Okay. This is the money shot that brings so much of what we've seen in the trailer to a head. Let's recap. From the original trilogy, we see Luke in his dark robes signifying his potential turn to the Dark Side. From the prequels, we see Anakin's path from innocent child to Darth Vader. And throughout we've caught glimpses that show the difference between the Rebellion and the Empire. The Rebellion/Resistance is always diverse and always includes peoples from every walk of life, and that includes the shot of their new fleet in this trailer. Parallel that with the cold consistency of the Star Destroyers, all identical, all in a row.

Finally, in this trailer, we see Rey moments before she discovers Luke's lightsaber and right before she fights Kylo Ren in a fit of rage with that lightsaber for the first time. The new footage of Rey starts with her bathed in a mixture of blue and red light, from those lightsabers which represent the light side and the dark side of the force. But our last shot of Rey, like with Luke and Anakin before her, is of her looking like she's turned to the Dark Side.

In the prior two instances, these moments meant completely different things. Luke considered going dark, but never did. Anakin was forced into darkness by Palpatine after losing his fight with Obi-Wan. So what's up with Rey? Well, she's being paralleled with two Skywalkers; we hear Darth Vader's breathing in the background, and the scene appears to take place on what may be Kamino.

A potential conclusion: the final image is not of Rey but of a clone. We've been told that there's more to the story of Rey's parentage. This final image suggests that the "more story" is that Rey is part of a new clone batch. Maybe those clones are built from Skywalker DNA.

There's some precedent for something like this, but not necessarily in-canon. When Disney nixed all of the Star Wars legends from back in the day, a famous/infamous storyline in Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: The Last Command was erased in which a Luke clone named Luuke Skywalker — which is both the best and worst clone name in existence — who was grown from Luke's severed hand after the events of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back fights the real Luke. It's wild. And while, yes, novel is no longer canon, it is forever etched into the psyche of so many Star Wars fans.

In short, maybe that's why the movie is called Rise of Skywalker. Maybe it's not the new Jedi Order. Maybe Palpatine has made a clone army of Skywalkers.

That's what we think. Rewatch the trailer and let us know what you think!