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**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker below.**
THE J.J. CUT?
This week, an anonymous Reddit "leaker" with no track record spun a fascinating fairy tale about how Disney supposedly bullied J.J. Abrams into making a movie that he didn't want to. According to this (completely unsubstantiated) report, Disney forced the "kiss" on him, they prevented a relationship between Finn and Poe, they meddled in the editing. Basically every perceived problem with the film is Disney's fault and not J.J. Abrams'.
The leaker also "revealed" the existence of a longer cut of the film that was more … to their liking?
This got #ReleasetheJJCut trending on Twitter and there's a petition to get this version released.
Unfortunately for the discourse of fandom, none of this is true. Actual journalists with track records are going to their sources to try to verify this information and keep coming up with nothing. This really is just a bunch of stuff made up by a random fan on the internet.
Don't put any stock in it. At best, this is designed to be a wedge issue for fandom. Don't fall into the trap, and don't get caught arguing about it with people.
THE DEAD SPEAK! (IN FORTNITE)
In the opening crawl of The Rise of Skywalker, it's revealed that the thing that kicked off Kylo Ren's quest for the Sith Wayfinder was a mysterious broadcast from Emperor Palpatine. The film opens with confirmations of the signal's veracity, with Kylo Ren meeting Palpatine in the flesh on Exegol and General Hux surreptitiously delivering that confirmation through Boolio to the Resistance.
The broadcast itself, which was not vital to the plot of the film in any way, was created and played for the first time in, uh, the video game Fortnite.
You can listen to it here.
Some fans are upset this didn't make it into the film, but the message has no substance and wasn't required in the body of the picture. The mention in the opening crawl was enough to set the characters into motion; any additional lingering on that would be a waste of screen time. That would be like getting upset when A New Hope came out that they didn't show the Death Star plans getting stolen in the film. It's a distraction and not central to the plot. Maybe there will be a Star Wars Story spinoff about its production, like Rogue One was about the Death Star plans heist.
MEANING IN BEN SOLO'S DEATH
One of the largest controversies over The Rise of Skywalker has been the death of Ben Solo. No one is able to agree on what should have happened, and many dislike what did happen. Some say that he got off too easy for the crimes he committed, others say that he was robbed of the happily ever after he so clearly deserved. Others still say that he didn't have a chance after his turn back to the light to make amends for the evil he perpetrated.
And then you have artist James Hance, just making beautiful art:
From my perspective, I'm part of the camp that would have liked to see Ben make amends for those he'd wronged across the galaxy. I think the glimpse we got of Ben Solo, the true Ben Solo, in the film is such a fun character, and it would have been nice to see him free of Palpatine's influence and off on adventures. I hope we can still see that before his final turn in stories during his youth and training.
That's not to say the ending isn't full of hope. In my view, it is hopeful. Ben transformed into the Force, and what is death to someone who has achieved immortality? I think it's clear that this is not the end of Ben's story and that his ghost might still have interesting conversations and adventures.
The Skywalkers began conceived of the Force. Maybe there's still a chance Ben can find a way from beyond to help conceive a new generation. Maybe that new generation will dedicate themselves to the light as he should have, now that Palpatine is gone.
There is always hope.
The reason Ben's ending was so beautiful, though, is that it sums up a major theme from the prequels. Anakin Skywalker wanted to learn to stop people from dying. He's unable to. "Love can't save you, Padme. Only my new powers can do that," he tells his wife just before her death.
Clearly, he was wrong.
Love can bring people back to life. But it has to be selfless. Anakin tried to cling to control and, at the end, Ben surrendered to it.
Love could have saved Padme.
His final act, agree with it or not, adds meaning to every Star Wars movie prior and to many of the important episodes of the animated shows.
And isn't that what new installments of Star Wars are supposed to do?
JOHN BOYEGA'S CONTROVERSY
John Boyega got into a bit of a row this week across social media.
First, he was caught making incredibly lewd remarks about Finn getting to be the one to "lay pipe" into Rey. A lot of people called him out for it, but he responded thusly:
This was the tack he took for a while, between this and jokey gif responses. Then he doubled down, taunting fans of the Rey and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo pairing with pirated images of the film:
The tenor of his comments upset a lot of fans who had previously defended him, but at the end of the day, the world continued to turn. There's not really an end to the story at this point, but it was worth noting that there was a significant controversy that embroiled the internet.
People are going to have opinions about fictional characters and the people who portray them, and the internet often brings out the worst in people.
Boyega seems ambivalent about Star Wars now that he's finished shooting, and it seems as though this pattern will continue for a while.
THE FORTRESS INQUISITORIUS
An interesting bit of lore that's not getting as much attention as it should comes from Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order. In it, we got our first look at the Fortress Inquisitorius. This is where Vader trains Inquisitors and Jedi are taken to be interrogated and turned.
It's located on the moon of Nur in the Mustafar system. The renderings of it are beautiful.
I highly recommend you play the game, if nothing else to get a better look at such a cool location. The story is pretty great on its own, though.
Until next week, May the Force Be With You!