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We Broke Down Every Second of the Final Trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

16 minute read
Updated: | Originally published: ;

The final trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker has dropped, which means we now have all the information about the final entry in the “Skywalker saga” that we’ll get before the movie premieres on Dec. 20.

Unlike the first two trailers for Rise of Skywalker — the first of which ended with a laugh by the long-forgotten Emperor Palpatine and the second of which ended with a shot of Rey seemingly in Sith garb — there was no big twist in this teaser. But, crucially, the new trailer is primarily set in the ruins of the Death Star, mirroring the setting of the last film in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi. The teaser emphasized that Rey will have to face some terrifying challenge — whether it’s Emperor Palpatine resurrected, the truth about her parents or just a feeling of loneliness in the face of the Sith.

We hear Rey say that nobody understands her. In the past, such doubts and frustrations have led burgeoning Jedi like Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. Will Rey be tempted? And will Kylo, too, remain on the Dark Side or will he turn to the light? In one intriguing shot, Kylo and Rey work together to destroy what looks like Darth Vader’s old helmet. Whether you think Rey will break bad or save Kylo, there’s evidence for each theory in this trailer.

Here’s what you need to know before the premiere of Rise of Skywalker.

We get a first look at Zorri Bliss

Keri Russell is playing an old flame of Poe’s named Zorri Bliss in the new movie. She hails from a frozen planet called Kijimi, which seems to play a central role in the action of Rise of Skywalker. We see her alongside Poe and the other rebels as they prepare for battle.

We also got a first look at whatever character Lord of the Rings actor Dominic Monaghan is playing. He seems to be a soldier for the Resistance.

A lot of this movie will take place on the ruins of the Death Star

A lot of The Force Awakens mirrored A New Hope, from the discovery of a new Jedi on a remote desert planet to the birth of a new trio of heroes in the universe. J.J. Abrams seems to be back to his old tricks with Rise of Skywalker, as much of the imagery mirrors the last film in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi. Much of this new trailer is set in the ruins of the second Death Star, which was destroyed at the end of that film. In particular, Rey and Kylo seem to face off at various points in the rubble, with Palpatine’s throne looming behind them, much like when Luke and Darth Vader fought in front of Palpatine.

Of course, Vader ultimately tossed Palpatine down a shoot and saved Luke. Does that mean that Kylo will turn to save Rey? Or will Rey, who has turned to the Dark Side, come to her senses and help Kylo? Come to think of it, is Palpatine even corporal in this movie?

We still don’t know what Rise of Skywalker means

General Leia (Carrie Fisher) in Star Wars: The Last JediLucasfilm Ltd

Who is the Skywalker in question? Luke as a Force Ghost? Leia as a general? Ben Solo, reconnecting with his Skywalker roots? Rey, who is somehow secretly related to them all? Maybe even Darth Vader’s Force Ghost?

Alternatively, Skywalker could become a title. If Rey and Kylo do choose to let the past die — to end the Jedi and the Sith, per Luke Skywalker’s own suggestion in Last Jedi — they could establish a new order. Perhaps fighters that find a balance between Dark and Light will be called Skywalkers.

No Dark Rey in this trailer

Fans were stunned when the second trailer ended with a shot of Rey in what looked to be a Sith cloak and the red double-lightsaber once carried by Darth Maul. This trailer, we suspect intentionally, ends on a very different image. Rey, holding a blue lightsaber, gazing forward as voiceovers from Luke and Leia tell her that the Force will be with her always. This decidedly more positive image suggests that Rey will channel the influence of the Skywalker twins in her final fight and end up on the side of the light. But she may be tempted along the way.

Palpatine and Rey may be related

Emperor Palpatine.
Emperor Palpatine.Lucasfilm Ltd.

Ever since Palpatine cackled in the first Rise of Skywalker trailer, fans have been speculating that Rey may be tied to Palpatine in some way. Otherwise, why would he return (as a force ghost or in person) seemingly from the dead? The most popular theories are that Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter or a Palpatine clone (a la Boba Fett and Jango Fett).

Kylo told Rey that her parents were nobodies in The Last Jedi, but fans have always been skeptical of this information. Kylo used the reveal to neg Rey into trusting him, undermining her confidence as a tactic: “You have no place in this story,” he tells her. “You come from nothing. You’re nothing. But not to me. Join me.”

Kylo could be lying. More likely, he can be telling a half-truth. Perhaps Rey’s parents did trade her for drinking money and are buried on Jakku. But maybe her grandparents are of some importance. Why would Kylo conceal this information from her? He may be trying to make her feel as if she’s powerless and needs him. Or perhaps he’s trying to protect her.

If Rey finds out her legacy, will she be tempted to the dark side? Is that why we saw her in Sith garb in the last trailer? In this trailer, when Kylo and Rey are fighting and Finn yells at Rey angrily, is it because she’s distracted or because she’s doing something bad, like feeling tempted? Later, we hear a voiceover from Luke (likely as a force ghost) that “confronting fear is a Jedi’s destiny — your destiny.” Rey is going to encounter something that scares her in this movie. Could it be her parentage?

Can Star Wars let the past die?


Let’s return to Kylo’s monologue about Rey’s parents. After he tells her she “comes from nothing,” he pleads with her to “let the past die.” That sentiment seemed like a radical break from the Star Wars saga up until this point, which has focused on the Skywalker clan (Anakin Skywalker, Luke and Leia Skywalker and Ben Solo, respectively). In fact, fans spent most of the two years between The Force Awakens and Last Jedi speculating on how Rey, the new hero, might be related to Luke or Leia or maybe even Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Filmmaker Rian Johnson’s decision to make Rey’s parents nobodies felt refreshing. After Kylo tries to manipulate Rey, she goes on to prove in that movie that she doesn’t just have a place in this story — she’s the hero of the story. The fact that she came from nothing suggests that anyone can be a powerful figure in this universe, not just someone with Jedi blood. That sentiment is underscored in the last shot of the movie of the little boy using Jedi powers on a broom: greatness can come from anywhere.

But now it seems that Abrams may have another twist in store. He’s been calling these nine movies “the Skywalker saga,” and LucasFilm head Kathleen Kennedy has emphasized that this will be the last movie to focus on the Skywalker family. And after all, the film is called The Rise of Skywalker, though it’s unclear which Skywalker, exactly, is rising.

Abrams and the series as a whole can’t seem to let go of the past. Some people criticized The Force Awakens for replaying many of the same beats as A New Hope, and with the ruins of the second Death Star and Palpatine’s throne looming over the final trailer for Last Jedi, it looks like Rise of Skywalker may mimic the original trilogy too. But we hope that the series listens to its own sage advice and allows our new heroes and villains — Rey, Kylo, Finn, Poe, Rose and the rest — to flourish without being burdened down by decades-old plot points.

Breaking down the final trailer

0:08 This looks a lot like a forest moon of Endor where much of the action of Return of the Jedi took place. If Rey is traveling to the ruins of the Death Star, it would make sense that she would land here. The helmet that Rey drops on the ground looks an awful lot like the one that Luke used to use while Force training. Perhaps she has been interrupted in the middle of her practice.

0:18 It looks like Rey may be exploring the ruins of the second Death Star. This shot is reminiscent of the first shot of Rey in The Force Awakens scavenging for parts in the remains of a ship in Jakku. She has grown stronger and smarter, but Rey reckoning with her origins is a major focus of this trailer. This shot ties together her past on Jakku with the events of the Death Star. Could that mean that Rey has some connection to this place, too?

0:22 Finn says, “The Force brought us together.” He’s either talking to the larger Rebel group or a smaller group made up of himself, Rey and Poe. (J.J. Abrams has said that this main trio, who hasn’t actually spent any time together as a group onscreen, will go on a mission in the final film.) The cut from Rey to Finn watching is significant: Finn clearly had a big crush on Rey in The Force Awakens and spent much of that movie watching her in awe. It’s unclear whether his kiss with Rose and Rey’s palpable tension with Kylo Ren in Last Jedi means a romantic future for Rey and Finn is over. Regardless, the Force did bring them together, seemingly by coincidence, in the first movie, kicking off the action of the trilogy. Finn is reminding the characters to have faith in the power that forged their friendships.

0:28 “We’re not alone,” Poe adds, and we get a shot of him seemingly leading the troops. We see Billie Dee Williams is back as Lando Calrissian. Last we saw Leia’s forces in The Last Jedi, there were only a handful of people left. Their forces seem to have grown significantly. Perhaps Leia has called on old friends, like Lando, for help. Is this a meeting before a battle?

0:32 “Good people will fight if we lead them,” he adds, and we see Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) who stepped up and became a hero of the resistance in the last film. Behind her are Dominic Monaghan of Lord of the Rings and Lost fame and Billie Lourd, who played a fighter under the command of her real-life mother Carrie Fisher in the last two films.


0:41 “People keep telling me they know me,” Rey says. “No one does.” Is this where Rey breaks bad? She sounds disgruntled.

0:47 “I do,” says Kylo Ren. This exchange seems to happen before they fight, but it’s possible the audio is borrowed from a quieter moment. Regardless, the dialogue echoes Kylo’s sentiments from The Last Jedi when he assured Rey that she meant something to him. The Force connection between the two has led to a bond that may reveal new secrets in this movie.

0:51 TIE fighters fly toward a mountain of ice. Abrams has teased that at least some of the action will take place on a frozen planet called Kijimi where a character named Zorri Bliss played by Keri Russell hails from.


0:53 We switch to an Emperor Palpatine voiceover. This looks to be his throne, though it’s intact, which means this is probably a dream or a vision rather than reality: “Long have I waited.” In the next shot (that’s basically impossible to make out because of the lighting) it looks as if a star destroyer is rising up from the water. Can’t we get one Star Wars movie without a Star Destroyer? Think of a new weapon, First Order!

1:01 The Resistance really has grown. The Millennium Falcon is flanked by a lot of ships, including Ghost to the right, a nod to Star Wars: Rebels.

1:05 When Palpatine says, “You’re coming together,” he’s probably not referring to this heartwarming shot of our main characters all finally in the Millennium Falcon cockpit together. Instead, we’d guess he’s referring to Rey and Kylo, who we see fighting in the next shot.


1:07 “…is your undoing,” Palpatine finishes. (Turns out he was saying “Your coming together,” not “You’re coming together”.)This line echoes the Emperor’s line in Return of the Jedi when he warned Luke that “faith in your friends” would be his undoing. Unfortunately for Palpatine, Luke ended up winning, so it seems the Emperor hasn’t learned his lesson since that movie.

But back to Rey and Kylo: They’re fighting on what look to be the ruins of the second Death Star, further tying this movie to Return of the Jedi. Could the direct parallel mean that Kylo will turn to the light side and save Rey, just as Kylo’s idol Darth Vader turned to save Luke? We hope not — it would be more interesting if Kylo does something unexpected.

1:12 This is some kind of new ship that does not seem to be designed for water-based travel. Given that it’s headed towards the Death Star ruins, we can guess that Rey is the pilot.

1:14 According to Entertainment Weekly, the little creature working on C-3PO is Babu Frik, an Anzellan droidsmith who works with the Spice Runners of Kijimi. C-3PO says he’s taking one last look at his friends. But don’t worry, we doubt this means the end of C-3PO. We saw C-3PO with red eyes in the last trailer. Maybe he has some kind of kill mode that has not been activated all this time.

1:17 In the reverse shot we see Zorri Bliss for the first time. She’s standing with Rey, Finn, Poe and Chewie. Russell described her character at a panel as a (cough, cough) old friend of Poe’s. Could there be romance in the air?

1:29 Poe, Finn and Chewie blasting their way through an absurd number of Stormtroopers. Those minions never were very good shots.

1:34 This shot of Leia and Rey has been in all the trailers. It’s one of only a few scenes we’ve seen with Leia from this movie. Abrams is, understandably, playing Leia’s role in this film close to the vest. Originally, Abrams has said, Rise of Skywalker was supposed to be “Leia’s movie,” in the same way that The Force Awakens was Han’s movie and The Last Jedi Luke’s movie. But Abrams had to rewrite the script after Carrie Fisher’s death.

1:39 Finn and Poe and C-3PO fight in a desert. This looks to be the same desert planet where Kylo flew his ship at Rey in the first trailer. Maybe she gets separated from the group and that’s when she and Kylo first encounter each other before facing off again at the Death Star.

1:40 Lando back in his ship (and, according to Solo lore, reunited with his beloved droid whose brain was uploaded into the ship).

1:46 Finn and Jannah (Naomi Ackie, making her Star Wars debut) ride orbaks — furry horse creatures native to the planet Pasaana — across a Star Destroyer during a battle. We’ll see a wider shot of that battle later in the trailer.

1:49 Kylo and Rey stand in the ruins of the Death Star with Palpatine’s wrecked throne in the back. Remember when Kylo kept going on and on about “letting the past die” in the last movie? Well, now they’re being haunted by their past — probably literally: don’t be surprised if a few Force Ghosts show up. Also note that Rey’s lightsaber is lit and Kylo’s is not.

1:50 Finn running on the ruins of the Death Star. You can just barely see him calling, “Rey.” Maybe Rey is getting distracted by her anger towards Kylo — or her desire to turn him — and Finn needs to pull her back to the mission at hand. Or he suspects there’s something between Rey and Kylo. Here’s hoping this movie does not become a love triangle between these three.


1:51 This is probably the most mysterious and important shot in the trailer. It looks like Rey and Kylo are working together to destroy some object. What looks to be a piece of Darth Vader’s helmet flies off. Could this be the two “destroying the past” together? And why is Kylo breaking the armor he worshipped for so long?

Also, Rey is holding a dagger in her left hand. Again, why? It’s doubtful Abrams would allow any shots from the climax of the film to be in the trailer, so it’s possible that Kylo actually joins the ranks of the resistance pretty early and Palpatine — or Rey — becomes the big bad.

1:54 There’s a fight on top of a Star Destroyer — that’s neat!


1:59 This looks like Palpatine on a throne. It’s unclear whether he is sitting in the throne or whether it’s a ghost or a hologram. Regardless, he’s sure to play an important role in the movie. Ever since it was revealed that Palpatine was in Rise of Skywalker, fans have been speculating that Rey is somehow related to him. Kylo told her in the last movie that her parents were nobodies, but he could have been telling a partial truth — Palpatine could be her grandfather.


2:06 Luke says, “The Force will be with you,” and Leia adds, “Always.” This is a decidedly much more hopeful shot of Rey to end on than the one of her in Sith garb. But we’ll have to wait until Dec. 20 to find out which image foretells which way Rey will ultimately go.

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com