How Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker addresses Last Jedi and Force Awakens

Some elements are fixes and some are more nods, depending on how much you liked or disliked the previous two Star Wars films. Warning: So many spoilers.

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Roger Cheng
3 min read

Carrie Fisher as General Leia in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker packs an amazing amount of plot points, characters and information into its 2 hour and 21 minute run time. After all, it needs to follow through on the threads introduced in earlier films and offer a proper conclusion to the entire nine-film saga. 

It's that latter bit that has the film trying to tackle some of the elements introduced in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Director J.J. Abrams addresses some of the controversial aspects of the previous films. And depending on how much you liked The Last Jedi, either fixes or tears down other elements. 

As CNET editor Richard Trenholm writes, Rise of Skywalker ticks all the boxes, even if it's overly stuffed and lacks heart.

Here's your courtesy spoiler warning.


Final warning: Spoilers below!

Watch this: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Official Trailer (2019)

OK, here are six things Rise of Skywalker addresses. 

Re-retconning Rey's origins

The Last Jedi played up the theme that anybody could wield the Force and save the galaxy, and suggested Rey's parents were nobodies who sold her off to be a slave. It was a subversion of the widely held belief that Rey's parents were key characters in the saga -- perhaps she was a Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi's granddaughter. Rise of Skywalker, however, nixes that theme, making her the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine. That's a pretty distinguished, if infamous, lineage. Whether this fixes or hurts The Last Jedi really comes down to if you're a fan. 

This plays a big role in the ending of the movie, explained here.

Chewie properly mourns

On hearing General Leia had passed away, a result of her using the Force to reach out and connect with her son, Chewbacca collapses on his knees and cries out. He's inconsolable. That's a bit of payback for the perceived snub fans saw when Leia embraced Rey instead of Chewie after Han died. 

Starkiller Base

Early on during a meeting between Kylo Ren and the officers of the First Order, Starkiller Base is brought up. One officer calls it a mistake, a meta commentary on the criticism it garnered after Force Awakens came out. It was, after all, a bigger version of the Death Star, so not a terribly creative destructive force. 

Luke admits he was wrong

When Rey returns to Ahch-To and vows to stay there and hide, a Force ghost of Luke Skywalker appears and admits he was wrong. Fans could take that as an indictment of the whole island plot of Last Jedi and Luke's treatment in that film. Again, your reaction will be based on your reception to The Last Jedi. 

Leia is a badass Jedi knight

There's a scene in the movie that flashes to Luke and Leia having a lightsaber battle, and Leia wins. This reinforces the notion that she got proper Jedi training, helping to shore up The Last Jedi's scene where Leia uses her Force powers to stay alive in space. 

The Last Jedi's last stand means something

At one point, pilot extraordinaire Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) talks about how no one answered the call to help when the Resistance was stuck by itself at the Battle of Crait at the end of the movie. Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell) tells him that the First Order wins by making you think you're alone. That pays off nicely at the end when a massive fleet of ships comes to support the Resistance, offering a fan-pleasing moment of contrast. It's an instance where a big plot point of the previous film helps set up the payoff in Rise of Skywalker. 

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Originally published Dec. 18.