Being a multi-faceted ending, to end both the 42-year story and the more pressing and recent arcs began in The Force Awakens, weighs heavy on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which is equally as aware of the state of the fandom, attempting to actively undo decisions made in the divisive Star Wars: The Last Jedi while delivering the movie that audiences seem to want. That means the 142-minute movie has to gallop through its big moments, leaving a lot of questions about the narrative and its intended meaning up in the air. We’ll answer all of those questions in our Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ending explainer.
Why Are There Only Two Force Ghosts At The End Of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker?
That’s not to say the final scene of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker isn’t without questions. Firstly, there’s the logic of Rey choosing Tatooine as a place to bury Luke and Leia’s lightsabers. Luke Skywalker grew up at the Lars Homestead, granted, but spent much of his formative years lounging at the Toschi station and looking up at the skies, dreaming of the battles he could fight in. Leia only visited Tatooine (in the films) during Return of the Jedi to free Han, a little while before she even knew of her true Skywalker heritage. Rey going here to bury the sabers is an incredibly fan-pleasing final note, one that breaks the fourth wall and hopes its emotion will carry through. It’s symbolic to us the audience above all else.
But there’s also the presence of Luke and Leia’s Force ghosts – compared to the menagerie of Jedi voices Rey heard on Exegol, it’s a rather slight showing. Indeed, Return of the Jedi saw Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker appear, while Ben Solo’s body becomes one with the Cosmic Force earlier in the film. It would have seemed fitting for at least Anakin and Ben to be there, representing the full Skywalker lineage.
What Happens To The Galaxy & Jedi After Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker?
Given how forced-definitive an ending Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has, it would seem Lucasfilm has no direct intentions to explore what’s happens after any time soon. Indeed, the Disney+ Star Wars TV shows are all set around the time of the original trilogy (The Mandalorian after, Obi-Wan and Cassian before) while rumors swirling for the 2022 movie (no matter who directs it) place the story further back in the timeline.
However, The Rise of Skywalker’s ending does provide some clear hints at the future. Rey Skywalker represents a new beginning for Skywalker where the name is earned, starting a lineage born of good actions not evil schemes. While it’s not stated, Rey appears not to be a Jedi but something evolved beyond the binary rulings. Assuming she does train a new generation, their future is surely one of balance. Additional to that, Finn has displayed evidence of Force, opening up the possibilities for degrees of connection to the mystical energy field beyond the religious approach of the Jedi and Sith before. A new order can rise.
How Star Wars 9 Ends The Skywalker Saga Story
The Rise of Skywalker very much an ending to Rey’s journey, to the story that began back in 2015 with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The same goes for the fall of the First Order and, considering his surprise return in just this movie, the death of Palpatine. But, as the end of Star Wars’ prime story, what does the final movie do to wrap up the narrative?
It’s certainly the defeat of Emperor Palpatine, the villain across all of George Lucas’ six movies who (as recently confirmed in comics) created Anakin Skywalker. He, and what he represented of the Sith on a grander scale, was the ultimate threat. Of course, to create that sense of finality, The Rise of Skywalker avoids his original death and its essential role in Darth Vader’s redemption in Return of the Jedi: how Palpatine returns isn’t answered, and with it is the required finality to his death.
What The Rise of Skywalker could be read as is the balancing of the Force. The nature of balance was a fundamental dogma in the prequels that has been neatly elaborated by the likes of The Clone Wars and The Last Jedi. Quite intrinsically, for there to be light there must also be dark – too many Jedi or too many Sith will fundamentally leave the Force unbalanced. The sequel trilogy’s representation was the Force Dyad of Rey and Kylo, with each’s immense power only fuelling the others’. With Ben Solo redeemed and Rey discovering her dark side past, there could be the argument that the Force is balanced, that Rey Skywalker represents the middle-ground that was needed for so long. But even there, the definitive victory of “all the Jedi” puts things firmly in the light side column.
What Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’s Ending Really Means
To understand what Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s ending is about, we must first understand the movie’s goals. And to do that, we need to look at the increasingly divided Star Wars fandom. Star Wars will always be somewhat divisive thanks to the myriad of entry points into the saga across now three generations of fans, but this was exacerbated by The Last Jedi, a meditation on how Star Wars had become the definitive monomyth: some loved its extension of George Lucas’ original ideals, others found its answers (or subversions) an insult to the wider story. Regardless of which side you came down, the split was unavoidable.
The Rise of Skywalker feels, first and foremost, made to balance that out. It takes many of The Last Jedi’s most shocking turns – Rey’s parents are nobody, Kylo Ren becomes Supreme Leader by killing Snoke, Luke is a defeated man who hates his own legend – and completely reverses them. But, beyond the retcons, the very fabric of the movie is aimed to be what The Last Jedi was not. It’s fast-paced and full of lightsaber action, it delivers lore plot twists and fan service.