I Just Saw: The Star Wars Episode IX Final Trailer Essay
Long have I waited… J. Brodie here, ready to weigh in on the latest (and final) trailer for Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker, which made its debut last night during the halftime of ESPN’s game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. I… couldn’t tell you who won. I was only interested in the trailer. Sorry.
It’s been a couple of months since our last juicy bit of TROS footage, which showcased an upcoming space battle between the heroic Resistance and the tyrannical First Order, a red-eyed C-3PO and a vision of a Dark Side-turned Rey welding a double-bladed Lightsaber ala Darth Maul. Not to mention the ever-looming threat of Emperor Palpatine, who has apparently survived his plunge into the core of the second Death Star in the climax of Return Of The Jedi and is back to wreak havoc on the Galaxy Far, Far Away once more. All of which are intriguing, sure, and one has to wonder what shocking moments this film has in store for us if this stuff is what’s being shown in the trailers…
The Trailer Itself
The Final Trailer starts with Rey running through a forest, waving her Lightsaber as some of the practice drones from A New Hope chase after her. She leaps across a chasm and the scene cuts to her grabbing onto a piece of ship wreckage in a different place. During this, Fin gives a narration about the Force, saying that it’s “like an instinct” and that it led him and his friends together as we see him looking at something through a set of sci-fi binoculars. We get another shot of Rey hiking through the grassy hills from before, then a group of Resistance pilots (including Lando!) gathering in a hangar as he tells them that they’re not alone. We get shots of Rose, Fin, Poe and Chewie as Fin declares that good people will fight on their side if they need them.
After a ship takes off, we cut over to a wrecked Star Destroyer floating in an ocean, with Rey standing on it in the rain and narrating that “people keep telling me they know me. No one does.” She stands defiant as Kylo Ren’s voice tells her “but I do,” and we see the dark one emerging from the downpour like he’s getting ready for a WWE match, Lightsaber in hand and cold, murderous intent on his face. We then cut to a fleet of TIE Fighters flying in a cave, then a jaded stone throne as Palpatine’s voice monologues that “long has he waited.” Another Star Destroyer rises from the ocean as he says that “their coming together is their undoing.”
We see the Resistance fleet forming up as Poe and Fin join Rey and Chewie in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Rey and Kylo duel in the rain, an explosion goes off in space, and a speeder rides off the end of the waves on the rainy planet. Next, a little Muppet alien is working on the wires in C-3PO’s head as the heroes watch, and he solemnly tells them that he’s “taking one last look at his friends.”
From there, the words “This December” flash across the screen as Poe, Fin and Chewie run and gun through a First Order hallway, Leia tearfully hugs Rey and Luke’s voice tells her that “facing fear is the destiny of a Jedi.” We see BB-8 riding in a basket and chugging a canister at somebody during a desert chase, Lando and Chewie riding in the Falcon as they battle the First Order, the words “The Saga Will End,” the Resistance riding some horse creatures into battle, the words “The Story Lives Forever,” Rey and Kylo facing off in the wrecked Throne Room of Death Star II, Fin running across a bridge of junk on the rain planet, Rey and Kylo seemingly tag-teaming on Vader’s burnt helmet, more battle scenes, a shot of Kylo looking on in the distance, and Rey standing before the Emperor himself on the rocky throne as he lets out that evil cackle! After one last shot of Rey and Luke and Leia’s voices saying that classic line “the Force will be with you, always,” we get the logo and the release date.
Holy cow, there’s a lot to unpack here. We pretty much get a confirmation that Palpatine will show up in the flesh, as he can be seen in front of Rey during that final shot. I’m still not sure if he’s actually physically alive or appearing to her as a ghost, but yes, Ol’ Sheev is back and off his meds. Another interesting point is what Kylo Ren is up to. In a review for one of the previous trailers, I said that I thought he’d fully embraced the Dark Side in the wake of The Last Jedi and his re-donning of his iconic helmet, but this trailer puts that in doubt. We can tell that yes, as of the battle in the rain he and Rey are mortal enemies, given the “I’m totally going to kill you multiple times” faces they’re giving each other, but we see later on that they smash Vader’s helmet in unison, seemingly destroying the Dark Lord’s evil legacy once and for all. (I said Vader’s evil legacy, Anakin can still be a shining example of redemption.) And there’s Palpy’s talk about the two of them “coming together.” The relationship between Rey and Kylo, and how they serve as opposites and reflections of each other, is my favorite part of this trilogy, so I’m itching to see how this ends up.
Another part of note is C-3PO’s scene. What does he mean when he says that he’s taking one last look at his friends? (Aww, by the way.) What is the little Muppet doing to his head? Is he about to die in some heroic sacrifice, like L3-37 did in Solo? And what’s the deal with those red eyes in the last trailer?
The other things are what we’ve come to expect from Star Wars, plenty of speeder chases, space battles and rag-tag groups of misfits coming together to take on a fascist state of armored troops. We see that Fin is taking on a leadership role in the Resistance given his rousing speech, maybe serving as Poe’s right-hand man or something. The previous two movies had both of these guys learn a valuable lesson in relation to this, Fin coming to take the Resistance’s cause as his own and Poe learning to think before he acts, and it seems they are ready to head the fight to free the Galaxy. Leia’s still alive, but with Carrie Fisher’s passing three years ago I suspect her role here will be minimal. We do hear her voice saying “always” at the end of the trailer, which just so happened to be released on her birthday.
That about covers my thoughts for the trailer, which shows so much yet at the same token gives the feeling we’ve only scratched the surface of the final installment in the fabled 9-part Skywalker Saga. Two months, people. Two months and we’ll finally have answers to the questions this trailer (and the two others) have brought up, and the story that began way back in 1977 will at long last reach its end. Until then live long, stay gold, and May the Force be with you, now and forever.