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A Quick Guide for the casual viewer on what’s going on heading into The Rise of Skywalker

My inner nerd is peaking this month with the impending release of the final instalment of the Star Wars saga on December 19, The Rise of Skywalker.

However, I disappointedly realise that everyone may not be as invested as I am. If you are a somewhat rational and calm member of society unlike myself, and have not had the time to keep up with exactly what’s currently going on the the SW universe, but want to get in on the hype in time for next week’s release, I’ve put together a quick guide for your perusal so that you too can be in on all the talks heading into next week.

So, what exactly the hell is going on as we head into The Rise of Skywalker?

What is the Force? Who are the Jedi? What the hell is a Sith?

In the simplest of breakdowns, the Jedi and the Sith are the perceived good and bad guys. The Jedi, being the former, are a group of individuals who wield “the force” (an intangible ability to manipulate the world around them to provide them with superhero/supernatural-like capabilities, sort of like Peter Parker’s spidey-sense, but on steroids) to protect the universe from the forces of evil. To remain dedicated to the ‘light’ and unbiased, the Jedi believe in only serving others, training from a very young age to not forge human connections that aren’t strictly platonic – they’re basically like monks. The Sith however are the flip side of this coin and represent ‘the dark’, and are portrayed to be completely self-serving. They indulge fervently in all human emotions, particularly lust and rage, in what is believed to be a self-serving quest for power.

So if we’re looking at this in the most simple of terms, the Jedi thus far have been believed to be the good guys that represent the light and have no social lives whatsoever, and the Sith rock out to Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy and have temper tantrums.

“Hey Alexa, play Bad Guy by Billie Eilish”

Who are the Skywalkers, and why are they important?

With family issues that would put the Lannisters to shame, the Skywalkers are the family that the entire Star Wars series is based around. The saga can be broken up into 3 sections, the prequel trilogy, the original trilogy from the 70’s/80’s and the new sequel trilogy. Each trilogy explores the story of one generation of the Skywalker family.

At the beginning of the Star Wars story, we are introduced to Anakin Skywalker, a young slave boy who is believed to be “the chosen one”. It is prophecised by the Jedi that an individual is set to bring balance to the force and thus harmony between the light and the dark, and during a mission which sees them docked on his home planet, two Jedi knights stumble upon Anakin and peg him to be their guy.

Now, our boy Anakin is not without his own problems. When taken from his home after being discovered by the two knights, Qui Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi, it is feared by some of the Jedi that he is too old for the Jedi mindset to be instilled in him, and that he lives with too much emotion – you know like love for his mother, apprehension and fear of being removed from the only home he’s ever known etc., like a normal freaking human being. As he grows, we see Anakin start to give into and feed these desires that his Jedi training is never able to fully stamp out, by falling in love and marrying Padme Amidala in secret and having an, er, eratic reaction upon learning of his mother’s death.

Oof.

While the Skywalkers are the protagonists of this story, Anakin’s discovery and arc is happening against the backdrop of an ensuing political war – hence the “wars” part of Star W- yeah you get it. Stoking the coals of this war is an unidentifiable figure who we later come to realise is political leader, Chancellor Palpatine, who is also the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who has been plotting the overthrow of the Jedi and current political system in the prequel trilogy.

Privy to Anakin’s vast potential and power from his early years, Darth Sideous/Palps forges a fast friendship with the young Jedi, and eventually tempts his mind by playing on his innate desires for power and love for his wife (who in Episode III he believes to be in mortal danger). Through a series of events, Anakin betrays the Jedi to serve Palpatine and falls to the dark side of the force to become Darth Vader, alienating his wife (who does eventually die after giving birth) and becoming severely burned and disfigured in the process, thus finishing his arc to become the big bad of the original trilogy.

Come join us on the feels rollercoaster

These events lead us to the beginning of the original Star Wars trilogy. This trilogy follows Luke Skywalker, the unknown son of Anakin/Darth Vader and Padme Amidala. At the beginning of Episode IV, Luke through a series of events is thrust into a rescue mission to save the Princess of Alderaan, Leia Organa, who has been captured by the Empire, which is ruled by Darth Vader and his master Palps, who now goes by The Emperor (ego much?).

On this mission, Luke meets Ben Kenobi (formerly Obi Wan Kenobi), who was his father Anakin’s Jedi master in the prequel trilogy before he fell to the dark side. Ben was tasked with watching over Luke as he grew so as to monitor that he was never found by Darth Vader. Along with Han Solo and his sidekick Chewbacca, whom they meet on their journey when looking for transport, Luke and Ben travel to where Princess Leia has been captured to rescue her, with Ben training Luke in the ways of the force during their transit as he has noted that, like his father before him, Luke is strong in the ways of the force.

Ultimately, poor Ben is killed by Darth Vader in battle upon their arrival to rescue Princess Leia (le sad), however the Princess is saved and the group escape the clutches of the Empire. In the following films, Luke and Co. make multiple attempts along with the Rebels to defeat and overthrow the Empire, with Luke learning along the way that Darth Vader is in fact his father. We also find out not long after this that Princess Leia is Luke’s twin sister, and that the two were separated at birth so as to be successfully concealed from Vader and the Empire. I told you this family had issues.

And you thought your family was cooked

As war further ensues, in Episode VI, Luke once again confronts Darth Vader and the Emperor, and urges his father to return to the light. Vader refuses until the Emperor begins to torture and attempts to kill Luke after the young Jedi refuses Palp’s offer to join the Dark Side. Conveniently finding his god-damn compassion right before Luke’s demise, Darth Vader assassinates the Emperor and returns to being Anakin Skywalker before succumbing to his sustained injuries.

The trilogy ends with Luke and Co. celebrating the overthrow of the Empire & Han Solo and Leia setting sail as lovers into the sunset. With the Emperor dead and Darth Vader eradicated, one would assume that this would be the end of the Skywalker drama, no? Unfortunately, not so much.

I wear my grandad’s clothes, I look incredible

In the sequel trilogy we learn that after the events of the original story, Han Solo and Leia birthed a son, Ben (aptly named after one, Ben Kenobi) who has fallen to the dark side of the force. A new big bad, Supreme Leader Snoke, sensing Ben’s powers and the potential of his lineage, infiltrated the mind of the young Solo/Skywalker and turned him to the dark side of the force, where he now resides (although half in, half out if ya ask me).

So what is this sequel trilogy about?

Not one’s to be kept down, from the ashes of the Fallen Empire, dictatorship-sympathisers the First Order have arisen, with dark side user and apparent Sith lord (the fact that he is Sith has been heavily implied but never confirmed) Supreme Leader Snoke and his new apprentice Kylo Ren (the former Ben Solo) at the helm. In opposition to the First Order, the Resistance, much like the original trilogy’s Rebels, have risen to fight the good fight and take down the Empire 2.0.

The story follows both parties as they attempt to obtain a map that will lead to original trilogy Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts, as the Resistance believe he is the key to taking down the bad guys once again. We are also introduced to a slew of new characters, such as Finn, a renounced stormtrooper (sort of like a member of the First Order’s army), Poe, a rag-tag Resistance pilot, and Rey, a force sensitive girl from the wasteland planet of Jakku.

After comically meeting when Poe and Finn’s escape ship crash lands on Rey’s native Jakku, Rey and Finn through a series of events (which also causes them to bump into and buddy up with Han Solo and sidekick Chewie) try to transport part of the map to the Resistance base, however Rey is captured by Kylo Ren in the process and touts her newly realised force capabilities as he interrogates her aboard Starkiller Base. Spun out by his captive’s force sensitivity, Kylo relays this info to Supreme Leader Snoke, who requests that Kylo bring her before him so that he can view the girls powers for himself.

In the meantime, Han, Finn and Chewie also travel to where Rey is being held in order to rescue her, and Han is ultimately murdered at the hands of his son. After a battle between Kylo and Rey, the team (sadly, Han-less) escape Starkiller Base as the Resistance successfully attempt to destroy it, and the team get away back to Resistance HQ.

With the final part of the map now in the possession of the Resistance, Rey travels to where Luke Skywalker is hiding to prompt him to return to the Resistance and help take down the First Order. However, Luke, angered and saddened by his nephew’s turn to the dark side under his tutelage, has closed himself off from the force and refuses to help.

Naw bitch, this saving the universe shit is so 1983

As Rey stays on Luke’s new home island and continues to urge him to help join the fight, she and Kylo Ren discover that they can communicate – albeit, against their will – through the force (think of a force-driven Facetime). As the unwilling couple are continuously thrust into conversation with each other at various times, Rey begins to learn more about Kylo’s turn to the dark side of the force. While Ben was being conflicted by Snoke during his training as a Jedi padawan under his uncle Luke’s tutelage, good ol’ uncle Luke in a moment of fear and desperation contemplated murdering the young Solo in his sleep! While the moment “passed like a fleeting shadow”, ultimately the damage was done.

After this conversation and some intimate and smouldering looks via the Force-Facetime cast, Rey abandons Luke and travels to Kylo (who she now conveniently refers to as Ben), believing she can turn him.

Upon arriving on the Supremacy, Rey urges Ben to return to the light as he takes her before Snoke. While being interrogated and tortured by Snoke so as to ascertain the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, Ben seemingly has a change of heart, and when tasked to kill Rey, dupes Snoke and kills him instead. After battling together against Snoke’s henchmen, Rey urges Ben to stop the First Order’s attack on a Resistance fleet that is happening below.

Rey? More like Bae amiright?

Unwilling to return completely back to the light however, Ben instead proposes that they both leave what they know behind and create a new order together (poor Bean trying to be romantic while proposing he and his lady form a dictatorship). This proposal mirrors one similarly made by Anakin to his wife Padme during his turn the dark side, wherein he proposed that she stand by his side and help him overthrow Palpetine and rule together. Well, you can guess how well that turned out. Much like Padme and upset that Ben is still unable to return to the light side of the force, Rey refuses his proposal by abandoning him on the ship and escaping to save the Resistance.

So where things stand now, our star-crossed lovers Rey and Ben sit firmly on opposite sides of the war as we head into The Rise of Skywalker, leaving much to be contemplated.

Bendemption?

Ladies and gentlemen, a puppy worth redeeming

A largely supported theory circulating talks of TROS is that Ben Solo will ultimately be redeemed, serving as a reverse arc to his grandfather’s story through the prequel trilogy. We have seen shades of Ben’s wavering pull to the dark side, through his understanding and aiding of Rey in their force-bond dates, his inability to blast his mother’s ship when presented the opportunity to do so in The Last Jedi, and his overthrowing of Snoke. While Rey’s refusal of his … oh-so romantic and generous proposal seemingly propelled Ben further into a rage that saw him soon try to wipe out the Resistance afterward, it would make sense for Ben’s arc to complete with him returning to the light.

Guess who’s back, back, back again?

Big daddy Palps is back, tell a friend

The ultimate big-bad of the prequel and original trilogies, Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious is back! Fans were shocked and excited to learn after the drop of the first theatrical trailer for TROS earlier this year that Palpatine is in fact not gone, as we were led to believe when he was ~killed~ by Darth Vader. It was unclear who the main antagonist would be going into this movie after Snoke’s shocking death in TLJ, and there is still so much we are yet to learn about him and how Palpatine is supposedly still kicking after being thrown down a reactor shaft. Is he really alive, or is this manifestation of the Sith Lord being felt by our heroes by some other manifestation of the force? Was Snoke the fall guy for big Palps? Where does his death and Palpatine’s return find us in this new story? So. Many. Questions??

Prophecy Fulfilled?

When your girlfriend joins you to overthrow your boss’ violent dictatorship

In the prequel trilogy, it is posed that Anakin Skywalker is the chosen one brought forth to bring “balance” to the force and harmony between the light and the dark. It is shown that the Jedi vainly believed this meant that he would help them destroy the Sith, however with all light and no dark, how can there be balance? It is thought that TROS will finally present us with the “balance” that has been sought after throughout the saga in Ben and Rey, presenting powerful light and powerful dark. However, how this is translated into overthrowing the First Order and Palpatine, can only be guessed. And if both sides of the coin are to be represented, what does this mean for Ben Solo’s theorised redemption?

With just over a week to go before The Rise of Skywalker lands in Aussie cinemas, we have but little time to contemplate on the events of the past saga and these theories before all our questions will be answered. So, go forth now my newly educated ones, and feel free to confidently jump into those chats over drinks this weekend about your theories about how the Skywalker boys just need to get their shit in check.

Featured Image Source: jedinews.co.uk

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