Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
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Credit: Lucasfilm

Breaking down The Emperor's return in the final Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer

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Oct 21, 2019

Every generation has a legend. It is almost impossible to believe that in almost no time at all the Skywalker saga, a story that has been going on since 1977, will reach its end. Star Wars will continue, but the tale of Anakin, Luke, Leia, the yellow-lettered crawl, and the rest will come to a close with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Going by the new trailer that just dropped, we are most definitely in for it. Perhaps it is only fitting that the trailer (and advance ticket purchase availability) dropped on Carrie Fisher's birthday — General Leia Organa is naturally present in the trailer, as are Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and the rest of the gang. Also in the mix? Surprises. Always in motion is the future! 

What does returning director J.J. Abrams have in store for us? Check out the trailer, and then we'll show off the firepower of this fully armed and operational breakdown article. 

We're all right. Seriously, we are okay. Who are we kidding, no we are not okay. Karkin' kriff ... forget about the imagery for the moment, and just listen to this thing! The fact that this is almost certainly the last time that John Williams composes music for Star Wars is a massive deal in and of itself, and we get a hint of Yoda's theme yet again (something we've been getting a lot), before a glorious, hopeful rendition of the classic main Star Wars theme takes center stage. Were images attached to the sounds? Yes ... yes there were. Prepare for deep dive! 

Credit: Lucasfilm

REY'S TRAINING

The trailer begins with Rey training on a jungle planet, much as a young Luke did back in the day. The first shot actually features her dumping a helmet to the ground, an echo of one of Luke's first lessons in the Force, before she bats a bolt from a training droid away with the rebuilt Skywalker legacy lightsaber.

Rey jumps, leaps, and runs all around the jungle (presumably guided by Leia), and then we cut to her jumping and leaping around the inside of the ruined second Death Star. All of that scavenging on Jakku will come full circle for her, it would seem.

Back in the jungle, we get little check-ins with all of our new heroes. The Resistance has gained some strength, Poe is taking the inspirational lead, and we also see Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), Kaydel Connix (Billie Lourd), and Dominic Monaghan's unnamed character within its ranks. We also catch sight of a classic Corellian Corvette roaring to life from under some trees, which is fairly incredible.

Something seems to be bothering Rey, however. Though a voiceover from Finn says that he feels that the Force brought them all together (possibly setting up Finn going full Force-sensitive, we're hoping), we get another shot of Rey, full of fury on the water, with her lightsaber ready for battle. Her voiceover line here says it all: "People keep telling me they know me. No one does." Kylo Ren doesn't agree, but when does he ever agree with anyone? 

Credit: Lucasfilm

THRONE OF DOOM

There is a lot of classic Imperial imagery in this trailer — not First Order, good ol' original flavor Empire. Emperor Sheev Palpatine has a presence as well, including this shot of what we presume to be his favorite lounge chair. It looks like it was carved from volcanic rock right out of Mustafar, and is reminiscent of old Ralph McQuarrie paintings which depicted the Emperor's Throne Room.

Somehow, Palpatine seems to be back. We don't know how, since George Lucas always maintained that Sith could not return in the manner of a Force ghost, but Sheev was always a guy with multiple contingency plans. He gets a killer voiceover line: "Long have I waited ... and now your coming together is your undoing."

Is he talking about our new heroes, or ... dare we even say it ... Reylo? 

Credit: Lucasfilm

RETURN OF THE GHOST (AND SO MANY OTHER SHIPS)

Speaking of ships! This shot was briefly seen in the pre-trailer "teaser" today, but it's so glorious we're going to include it here. It's not just that the Millennium Falcon (with its classic round radar dish!) is leading what looks like a massive assortment of ships ... it's the ships themselves. This new armada of the Resistance is made up of bombers from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a "Hammerhead" corvette, and pretty much every other make and model of ship we've ever seen. The best part of all? The Ghost (Star Wars: Rebels) can be seen to the right of the Falcon.

Do we know for sure that it's actually the Ghost? No, but come on. It's gotta be. The real question is whether Hera and Jacen Syndulla are behind the controls, and whether we'll get to see them in live action. Our hearts will burst asunder if that happens. 

Credit: Lucasfilm

IMPERIAL REMNANT

The little glimpse of an armada of classic Empire-era Star Destroyers that we got in the teaser pays off here, as we see them involved in a huge action sequence. An X-Wing and a B-Wing are seen zooming around, but our big question is what the deal is with this hidden batch of ships.

Odds are good that they are a part of Palpatine's "return" or whatnot, but how will they figure into whatever is going on with the First Order? Will a newly returned Imperial Remnant, tired of hiding out in the Unknown Regions, come storming back in to take the galaxy back from both the Resistance and the worst Neo-Nazi cosplay fans the galaxy has ever seen? Who knows, all that is certain right now is that the Empire doesn't seem nearly as defeated as we were led to believe. Here's hoping they wipe out the First Order first. Unlikely, but we would cheer ... even though they're, you know, the Empire. 

Credit: Lucasfilm

CONFRONTING FEAR

There's no mistaking the hood of that black robe. As we mentioned already, somehow, some way, the dastardly Sheev Palpatine just refused to die. He's back, or at least he's back in some fashion. Between Operation Cinder, secret force labs all over the galaxy, and little forays into the Unknown Regions, Palpatine was always into secret stuff that nobody really knew about. Rey doesn't care. She's facing him while he sits in his creepy chair, and she tries to hide her disgust.

This shot comes close to a voiceover from Luke, who says, "Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi. Your destiny." This could be Rey's final test, or it could also be just another step along the way. The series began (chronologically, anyway) with Palpatine beginning to take power, so it makes sense that it ends with him losing it.

Still, though ... there's the Kylo of it all. Ben Skywalker shows up in the trailer, but he isn't heavily featured. We do see both him and Rey in the Emperor's old Death Star throne room, more of their waterlogged saber duel, and then we see them destroy something together ... which may or may not be Darth Vader's helmet. Whatever Palpatine is planning, we're expecting Kylo "Han Solo-killer" Ren to be either a help or a hindrance. Perhaps Kylo will finally find his redemption while Rey faces down Palpatine, in a scene that could be more than a little reminiscent of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Also? It could be completely different. We just don't know. 

Credit: Lucasfilm

ONE LAST LOOK

This is the moment that sent us over the edge. 

Our heroes are mostly assembled — Rey (wearing a cool-looking trench), Finn, Poe, BB-8, Zorri Bliss (Keri Russell), new droid D-O, and finally, finally R2-D2. Something is going on with C-3PO ... and droidster Babu Frik seems like he's about to make a change. It could have to do with the shot of him with red eyes that we've seen previously.

Threepio, the one who has seen the entire saga (give or take a memory wipe, thanks Bail Organa), looks at his comrades as they ask him what he's doing.

His response: "... taking one last look, sir … at my friends."

Whatever change Frik is about to make to Threepio's programming, it would seem like there's no coming back. He has us on the verge of tears. Hearing Anthony Daniels say that line was the moment of the trailer, as he's pretty much speaking for all of us.

This was probably the most emotional moment in the trailer, aside from possibly the very end. Over a shot of Rey, Luke says in voiceover, "The Force will be with you." They leave it to Leia to say the final part: "Always." The force twins have come a long, long way.

Also wonderful? More shots of Lando in the cockpit, Jannah (Naomi Ackie) and Finn leading a mounted charge of space horses (?) on top of a Star Destroyer, Leia smiling, Finn yelling (probably to Rey), more from that furious speeder chase, and ships ... just so many ships. Some of them were even in space!

Not seen in the trailer? Any further glimpses of "Dark Rey," General Hux, Allegiant General Pryde (Richard E. Grant), Matt Smith's mystery character, Meeber Gascon, Shmi Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Carl Weathers, Toryn Farr, or any Force ghosts. We have so many questions right now ... but really, it's all about having one last look at our friends.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will blast its way into cinemas on December 20. The saga will end ... the story lives forever. 


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