With the final episode of the so-called Skywalker saga less than two months away, we were recently treated to the last trailer before "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" opens on Dec. 20; there's a lot to unpack.
The trailer begins with some familiar-looking footage: Rey (Daisy Ridley) training in the middle of a lush forest, on a world that we now know (opens in new tab) is called Ajan Kloss.
Since Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) became one with the force at the end of "The Last Jedi," Rey really only has the ancient texts to learn about the path of the Jedi. She kicks over what looks like an old Y-wing pilot helmet from "Return of the Jedi," and even casually deflects a laser blast over her right shoulder with her lightsaber.
Rey continues her "Rocky"-style montage of training and Finn (John Boyega) begins to narrate. "It's an instinct. A feeling," he says. "The Force brought us together," he adds, as we see him holding some macrobinoculars. Next, we hear the voice of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). "We're not alone," Finn says before a cut to scene of the Resistance's new base, packed with pilots, ground crew, command staff and many others. Just noticeable amongst the crowd is the legendary Lando Calrissian. To his right is a Mon Calamari officer who might be Aftab Ackbar, son of the Admiral Gial Ackbar, a veteran commander who led the defense of his homeworld during the Clone Wars and masterminded the rebel attack on the second Death Star in "Return of the Jedi."
Between the end of "The Last Jedi" and "The Rise of Skywalker," there's a little gap in the "Star Wars" movies; The events that take place during this time are filled by a number of books and comics detailing how the Resistance rebuilt itself and recruited allies in the aftermath of "The Last Jedi." These include "Resistance Reborn (opens in new tab)" by Rebecca Roanhorse, "Force Collector (opens in new tab)" by Kevin Shinick and "Star Wars: Allegiance (opens in new tab)," a new comic mini-series written by Ethan Sacks and illustrated by Luke Ross.
Dameron continues,"Good people will fight if we lead them," and we see our first glimpse of Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who, according to new character details, has risen through Resistance ranks to become the commander of its engineering corps.
We also see Lt. Connix (Billie Lourd) and a new, as-yet unnamed Resistance soldier, played by Dominic Monaghan ("Lost," "Lord of the Rings").
When we finally get to see Dameron, he's with Finn and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), standing in front of Dameron's new, orange-and-white replacement T-70. His other X-Wing, Black One, was destroyed by Kylo Ren during the attack on the Resistance fleet when he launched torpedoes from his TIE silencer into the starboard hangar of the Raddus MC85 Star Cruiser, the flagship of General Leia Organa.
Then we quickly crossfade to a Corellian C90 blockade runner" Corvette flying dangerously low and possibly about to crash on Ajan Kloss. It feels like a lot of drama is set to take place on this new world.
Next, we again see the wreckage of the Death Star II that we saw in the first trailer; we can see the enormous superlaser structure lying half-submerged in a stormy sea. It's safe to say that everyone thought that most of the space station debris burnt up in the atmosphere of the forest moon of Endor, or landed on its surface (putting aside the spectacular environmental damage this would probably cause). So, from the first moment we saw this, fans began to raise questions. It's clearly not the gas giant Endor itself, the planet that the forest moon orbits, so where is it?
Disney has revealed that the new home of the wrecked Death Star is actually an ocean moon named Kef Bir: A post on a Disney Parks blog dated Oct. 23 announced an update to the Star Tours attraction at Disney World.
"Passengers who board the Starspeeder 1000 never know where in the galaxy their pilot C-3PO and navigator R2-D2 will take them.
"We've added flights to Jakku, Crait and even Batuu ... In the trailers for 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,' you caught glimpses of the ocean moon Kef Bir. All I can say at this point is that Starspeeders will be heading there soon!"
But how did the Death Star end up on Kef Bir? There is a theory that much of the superlaser superstructure was sent through a hyperspace wormhole that briefly opened up when the Death Star's hyperdrive regulator was destroyed and the resulting wreckage was scattered across the galaxy. This notion was explored in "The Glove of Darth Vader," the first book of the "Jedi Prince" series by Paul and Hollace Davids.
Sound far-fetched? Well, remember that we have yet to hear how Emperor Palpatine has managed to return, and that could very well involve the concept of Force-assisted time travel. The "Star Wars Rebels" animated TV series introduced the concept in the episode, "A World Between Worlds." A nexus point in-between space and time was discovered by the Empire in the Jedi temple on Lothal; if you're strong enough with the Force, this point can be manipulated to save people from their predestined fate. Only the purest of the Jedi could access the World Between Worlds, and Palpatine tried but failed. Ultimately, the portal on Lothal was destroyed. However, within the Expanded Universe, we've learned there are other ways to access it — or at least something very similar — and it is definitely not just reserved for the good side of the Force.
So, yes, a temporary wormhole feels like it could be par for the course.
We zoom in on Rey, on a section of the Death Star wreckage; the sea surges around her as she stands, lightsaber in hand, ready for an inevitable confrontation.
"People keep telling me they know me. No one does," she says, likely in reference to the fact that the mystery of who Rey is, and who her parents were, is not quite as resolved as "The Last Jedi" would have us believe. (Kylo Ren told her "they were filthy junk traders who sold you off for drinking money.")
Ren (Adam Driver) answers Rey in the voiceover, "But I do." He is wielding his own broadsword-style light saber and looks ready for a fight. Or is there an ulterior motive? Is this an attempt to bait Rey to let go of her anger, much like Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) tried to do to Luke Sykwalker in "Return of the Jedi"?
The trailer quickly cuts to a swarm of what appears to be First Order TIE fighters streaking towards a giant ice structure that looks like it might be more at home in "Flash Gordon." We know a new frozen world called Kijimi in "The Rise of Skywalker" plays a key part in the plot, and we've seen it before in the previous trailer. But why is Kijimi so important? At this point, we hear a voice that's instantly recognizable, that of Emperor Palpatine. "Long have I waited ... " he sneers as we catch sight of an ornate throne, surrounded by a mist that certainly gives the impression that this could be on Kijimi. Perhaps that's why it's so important — it's somehow linked to Palpatine's grand plan?
This is swiftly followed by a split-second shot of an Imperial I-class Star Destroyer breaking through ice. These crafts are not from the First Order. No, they are Imperial Star Destroyers. More specifically, they are Imperial I-class Star Destroyers, last seen in "A New Hope" and "Rogue One" — so not even the Imperial II-class vessels that appear in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," and that litter the deserts of Jakku.
Emperor Palpatine was obsessed with a sector of the galaxy called the Unknown Regions, because he believed that a great source of power emanated from the region. It was uncharted by both the Old Republic and the Empire, on the edge of mapped space in the galaxy. A few years before the Battle of Yavin, he sought to develop this region and establish bases, even going so far as to create shipbuilding yards there.
Around the time of the Battle of Endor, it's believed that Palpatine issued orders to his personal flagship superstar destroyer, the Eclipse, to escape to the Unknown Regions, along with what remained of the Imperial fleet. The Galactic Civil War finally ended over the skies of Jakku, which was on the edge of the Unknown Regions, and from the remains, the First Order slowly rose to power. So, has an Imperial armada been kept secret this whole time?
The Resistance fleet
Quite possibly, the single best scene we get to see is the Millennium Falcon dropping into frame with an unprecedented armada of Resistance ships behind it. Despite getting only a couple of seconds, fans have been scrutinizing the footage online and noticed spacecraft from throughout the entire "Star Wars" saga making an appearance. Of course, it's entirely possible that this footage won't appear in the final film since that has happened in the past. (Remember, the TIE fighter that looms into view as Jyn walks out on a catwalk above the Scarif Imperial Base in the "Rogue One" trailer?) And director J.J. Abrams has been known to lie about plots in the past to deliberately throw fans off the scent.
That said, however, given we've seen a fleet of Imperial I-class Star Destroyers hiding in an ion storm in a previous trailer, so it seems safe to say that we're on course for a space battle of mind-blowing proportions; more suspenseful than the Battle of Yavin, more spectacular than the Battle of Coruscant, and more significant than the Battle of Endor.
(Special thanks to Admiral Nick for his help in identifying the ships of the Resistance fleet.)
A montage of quick-fire clips follow, including Rey, Finn, Dameron and Chewie in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, a little more of Rey and Ren's lightsaber duel on the Death Star wreckage, an Imperial Star Destroyer blows up something, although we're not sure exactly what, and a speeder skims across the watery surface of Kef Bir. We also hear the voice of Palpatine once again, "And now you're coming together," he sneers.
Then, we're back on the Falcon and Dameron asks C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) what he's doing. "Just taking one last look Sir ... at my friends," he says possibly just before a monumental battle against overwhelming odds.
A super-quick montage of clips follows, with Dameron, Finn and Chewie blasting their past First Order stormtrooper; Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Rey embracing, BB-8 launching some sort of counter-measure from a speeder on a desert planet, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Chewie back in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, and a Resistance Y-wing attacking an Imperial Star Destroyer.
Then, we see a group of Resistance fighters riding on some sort of four-legged animal — possibly fathiers, that we were introduced to in "The Last Jedi" — across the exterior surface of an Imperial Star Destroyer as more Y-wing fighters attack in the background. We also see Rey and Ren standing, lightsabers drawn, in the wrecked Emperor's throne room from the Death Star II and last seen in "Return of the Jedi"; then Finn running over Death Star II wreckage on the surface of Kef Bir shouting a warning, possibly to Rey before her duel with Ren begins.
Then, there's a very interesting shot – it only lasts for a few seconds – in which; both Ren and Rey appear to coordinate to simultaneously strike down a black figure. The Star Wars Show has confirmed that they are destroying Kylo's Darth Vader shrine. This lends credibility to the theory that perhaps the "coming together" that Palpatine spoke of earlier is not so much the obvious joining of forces from across the galaxy to form the Resistance, but instead the joining of forces between Ren and Rey to defeat a new common enemy — the Emperor.
That would certainly make an interesting twist.
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" opens in theaters in the U.K. on Dec. 19 and in the U.S. on Dec. 20. It also has a 155-minute runtime, making it the longest Star Wars movie ever.
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