Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker -- Our biggest WTF questions and novel revelations

The latest romp through a galaxy far, far away brought us closure, but we still aren't sure about every detail. The book offers more some answers.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
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Sean Keane
10 min read

The Skywalker Saga is over, but we have questions.


The Skywalker Saga is over, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available to buy digitally now. We have our answers about Rey's parentage, what the heck is going through moody boy Ben Solo's head and who the titular Skywalker actually is. The novelization, which came out Tuesday, clarified some details.

Here are some of our burning questions in the wake of Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron's trilogy, updated with information from the novel. And beware, SPOILERS loom like Emperor Palpatine hanging from the ceiling on a mechanical Sith spine.


Emperor Palpatine

What was his "mysterious broadcast" mentioned in the opening crawl?

This was a threat he sent across the galaxy, but it isn't heard in the movie. The only place you could hear it was during the Fortnite Star Wars tie-in event, strangely enough.

"At last the work of generations is complete. The great error is corrected. The day of victory is at hand. The day of revenge. The day of the Sith!" he says

He's probably referring to the Final Order fleet being ready, or just to the fact that his plan is ready to come to fruition. Cackle, cackle. It's also in the novelization.


Emperor Sheev Palpatine is looking a little the worse for wear.


How the heck did the Palpatine survive?

"The dark side of the force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural," the Sith Lord tells both Anakin Skywalker and Kylo Ren.

Palpatine was thrown into a shaft by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, and seemingly exploded in a burst of energy. However, he's back in The Rise of Skywalker, looking quite creepy and sorta dead.

The novelization confirmed that Palpatine transferred his essence to a cloned body he had ready for just such an eventuality -- a trick he stole from his master Darth Plagueis before killing him. Unfortunately for ol' Palps, it didn't revive him fully.

"It was too soon. The secret place had not completed its preparations. The transfer was imperfect, and the cloned body wasn't enough," author Rae Carson wrote in the novel. "Perhaps Plagueis was having the last laugh after all. Maybe his secret remained secet. Because Palpatine was trapped in a broken, dying form."


Uh oh, it's nudey young Palpatine! The Sith baddy was resurrected in the non-canon Dark Empire comic series.

Marvel Comics

When Kylo Ren first meets Palpatine, he can sense that the Sith Lord is the real deal and that his cloned body "couldn't last much longer."

So he's more like a wraith -- in the novelization, Rey notes that he smells like "rotting meat" -- until he steals the Force energy from Rey and Ben Solo in the final battle.

The whole Palpatine-as-a-clone idea originated in the 1991 Dark Empire comic series. It's no longer canon, but saw him returning six years after Return of the Jedi. He even inhabited much younger cloned bodies, but those quickly deteriorated because he was so full of dark side energy (or just such an evil jerk).

If Snoke was a clone created by Palpatine, how did he set him up as a puppet leader from afar?

At the start of the movie, we catch sight of a bunch of beings that look a whole lot like Supreme Leader Snoke -- the First Order boss whom Kylo Ren betrayed and sliced in half in The Last Jedi -- floating in a tank in Palpatine's creepy lab on Exegol. Palpatine also says Snoke was just his puppet, confirming that he was pulling the strings all along.

We have no real background about how Snoke became the First Order's leader, though -- Marvel Comics' Rise of Kylo Ren miniseries is revealed the final steps of Snoke seducing Ben Solo to the dark side, but not his links to the totalitarian regime.

Who were all those Sith followers? 

These are members of the "Sith Eternal" -- a group of cultists devoted to Palpatine and Sith beliefs. They built the Final Order fleet, according to The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary.

They could be natives of the planet Exegol, but we never get a good look at them, and the novelization doesn't reveal their backgrounds.

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Where did Palpatine find enough people to pilot that massive fleet of battlecruisers? How did they fit them all with Death Star planet destroyer laser things?

Novels like Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy reveal how the Empire's surviving forces moved to the Unknown Regions -- the uncharted part of the galaxy where Exegol is located. It's implied that the forces became the First Order, and The Rise of Skywalker novelization reveals that Final Order recruiters were operating within the First Order. A bit like Hydra working within SHIELD in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but both groups are evil in this case.

It's also likely Allegiant General Pryde (Richard E. Grant) was funneling First Order resources to Exegol -- he was revealed to have been Palpatine's boy all along.

We already knew the First Order had been messing with the Death Star from The Last Jedi, where they use a nasty laser to bust into the Resistance's bunker on Crait.

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What's the deal with Palpatine GLaDOS?

The poor fella had to get around somehow! His body didn't exactly seem fit for the purpose. The novelization reveals that the thingy is an Ommin harness, a mechanical spine once worn by an ancient Sith king.

Who was the mother of Palpatine's son (Rey's father)? And who was Rey's mother?

The novelization reveals that Rey's father was a "not-quite-identical clone" of Palpatine, one of many born as the Sith Eternal cultists tried to create "a cradle for their god-consciousness" (which is a pretty intense phrase).

The clone was "a useless, powerless failure" from Palpatine's perspective but was allowed to live so he might continue the bloodline naturally -- presumably taking over a descendant's body was Palpatine's backup plan. The novelization doesn't reveal anything about Rey's mother; we'll hopefully learn about her in a future book.


Rey uses a few new tricks in her quest to confront Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker.



Where did Rey learn the healing trick?

She took the ancient Jedi texts from Ahch-To in The Last Jedi (you can see them in a drawer on the Millennium Falcon), and the novelization confirms she learned it there.

"Her breath came fast, her very bones ached with weariness, and unaccountably, her hand stung,"Healing the vexis had felt so normal and natural and right. But it had cost her."

If it's the end of the Skywalker saga, why is Rey a Skywalker now?

She presumably wanted to pay tribute to the two people who taught her the ways of the Force, and the name "Skywalker" was less likely to get her murdered than "Palpatine." Also, it leaves the door open for Disney to make more Skywalker Saga movies if they so please.


Luke Skywalker uses a green lightsaber to battle Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, but we don't know where this weapon is after The Rise of Skywalker.



Where is Luke's green lightsaber?

Luke's second lightsaber was glimpsed in flashback during The Last Jedi, the shameful moment when he instinctively activated it after sensing the dark side in Ben Solo. It's probably still in his hut on Ahch-To -- hopefully no curious porgs happen upon it.

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Where did Rey get the yellow kyber crystal for her new lightsaber?

Ilum, the planet where most members of the Jedi Order found their kyber crystals, was heavily implied to have become Starkiller Base in the video game Jedi: Fallen Order -- so it's been destroyed. Rey must have found another planet with the rare crystals, perhaps through the ancient Jedi texts. 

The novelization notes that she was working on a new lightsaber prior to the events of The Rise of Skywalker, and the parts are on her workbench on Ajan Kloss.

The Force

How the hell can Luke grab a lightsaber? If he can grab it, couldn't he turn it on and just… like fight real people? 

The extent of Force ghosts' ability to interact with the physical world has never been made clear -- Obi-Wan Kenobi sat on a rock in Return of the Jedi. It's likely they can selectively manipulate and make contact with stuff.

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And if that's the case couldn't every single Jedi just come back and gang up the Emperor?

They kinda did, by giving Rey the final push to kill him.

If a necklace and lightsaber can travel through Rey and Kylo Ren's Force connection (space Skype) sessions, why can't Kylo? 

Rey and Ben Solo formed a dyad, so they were the center of the connection rather than the objects they touch. Also, teleporting would have kinda broken the universe.


Leia Organa finds peace in The Rise of Skywalker.

Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Why did Leia and Ben disappear? What does that mean?

They had both fulfilled their destinies and become one with the Force. I think I'll have fulfilled my destiny after writing this article.

What happened to the Force-using kid at the end of The Last Jedi?

The little boy who pulls the broom to himself is probably still a slave on Canto Bight, which sucks. Maybe Rey will go there to liberate him, as she seeks Force-sensitive young 'uns to train as the next generation of Jedi.


Finn doesn't find romance in The Rise of Skywalker, but there are a number of possibilities. Including Poe Dameron.



What did Finn want to say to Rey? 

It wasn't "I love you," actor John Boyega confirmed in a tweet Monday, even though Finn certainly had a crush on Rey in The Force Awakens (she only seemed to consider him a friend).

J.J. Abrams reportedly confirmed that Finn actually wanted to tell Rey that he was Force-sensitive. During the Battle of Exegol, Finn gets a "feeling" that tells him which Star Destroyer is broadcasting the control signal and senses Rey's death.

He was also really skilled with a lightsaber back in The Force Awakens, when he briefly held his own against Kylo Ren. That might've been partially a result of his training as a Stormtrooper though.

Who is Finn really supposed to end up with romantically? Rose? Jannah? Poe?

Rose kisses Finn during the Battle of Crait in The Last Jedi, but The Rise of Skywalker doesn't give us a sense that they're an item. Maybe they realized that they wouldn't be a great couple? 

Finn hardly knows Jannah -- their bond seemed to be mostly based on the fact that they were former Stormtroopers who realized they weren't wild about murdered innocent people and ditched the First Order.

Poe and Finn have a bit of a tumultuous relationship in The Rise of Skywalker. Perhaps they're struggling to accept their feelings for each other? The novelization doesn't spend much time on Finn -- he refers to Rose as a "friend" and that's about it.


Ben Solo has a moment of love before the end.


Why couldn't they give Ben and Rey a happy ending? They've suffered enough. Let them be happy. 

At last they got that one (slightly awkward) kiss. Reylo forever.

Characters and politics

What was Babu Frik saying at any time? What language is he is speaking?

"Droid is ready!" is pretty much the only comprehensible thing Babu says. He's an Anzellan, so presumably he's speaking Anzellan.


I don't understand you dude -- Babu Frik is a fast talker.


Who'll govern the galaxy?

The First Order wiped out most of the New Republic, and now the First Order has been defeated. It'll take a while to fill that power vacuum -- maybe a galactic government isn't the way forward after all.

What happened to Ahsoka Tano?

We last saw Ahsoka -- Anakin Skywalker's Padawan from The Clone Wars  --  in a post-Return of the Jedi epilogue following the final episode of the CGI animated series Rebels. However, hearing her voice among the dead Jedi who helped Rey suggests she became one with the Force in intervening years. We'll probably find out what happened to her in an upcoming CGI animated series. 


Ahsoka Tano's fate remains a mystery.


Why did they hire a Hobbit to take all of Rose's lines? She was standing right there! 

Lord of the Rings actor Dominic Monaghan plays Resistance soldier Beaumont Kin, a guy who doesn't get much to do and regularly appears in scenes with Rose. She gets even less to do, which is a pity. Much as we love Monaghan, Rose could easily have been given Beaumont's dialogue.

When did General Hux become a spy?

He spent much of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi sneering at Kylo Ren, but we never got the sense that he'd betray the First Order. This seems like a plot point the CGI animated series Resistance could've expanded on, but it didn't. The novelization doesn't give us any additional details either.

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If Babu Frik wiped C-3PO's memory did he lose translation capabilities? Was it a full factory reset? Can I access Sith messages if I reset my Google Pixel ?

Presumably his translation capabilities were separate from his memories -- his memory was wiped at the end of Revenge of the Sith too, and he just forgot people and events. You can try resetting your Pixel, but do you really want Sith messages? Those guys are trouble!

I get that lightspeed is fast, but how do you rally ships across a galaxy into one location in what seems like hours at most?

Lightspeed is one of those Star Wars concepts that's always been flexible -- this moment was clearly designed for maximum visual impact rather than logic. The massive fleet looked super cool, though.

What is hyperspace micro-jumping, and how did Poe and the enemy ships all manage to micro-jump to the same location each time?

It seems like Poe was just making short hyperspace jumps, getting to random locations with quick calculations. The First Order TIE fighters had probably locked onto his coordinates, or used some variation on the hyperspace tracking seen in The Last Jedi.

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Who hurt precious D-O? #JusticeForDO

He was owned by the Jedi hunter Ochi, who killed Rey's parents while working for Palpatine. So Ochi was clearly a jerk-face and the type of guy who'd abuse his droid. Don't even worry about it, he's dead now (we saw his skeleton in the caves under the quicksand on Pasaana).


Why didn't I care about any of it? 

There was a lot going on, and it felt like a roller coaster. A second viewing will almost certainly help, or you can take a deeper dive with the novelization.


Harrison Ford isn't the only hint of Indiana Jones in The Rise of Skywalker.


Why were there so many nods to Raiders of the Lost Ark? 

Lucasfilm synergy! Screenwriters J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio presumably wanted to pay tribute to the Indiana Jones movies.

Thanks to CNET's Roger Cheng, Claire Reilly, Richard Trenholm, Clifford Colby, Jennifer Bisset, Ian Sherr, Mark Serrels, Nicole Archer, Jackson Ryan, Oscar Gonzalez and Bonnie Burton for their questions.

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