Episode IX on set in Jordan
Chewbacca, C3-P0, and Finn on location. Photography by Annie Leibovitz.

(WARNING!: contains potential spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) Huge news on the movie front from Vanity Fair today! Some of the curtain has been pulled back on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and some bombshells have been dropped! The one thing it doesn’t talk about is probably the loudest thing it says. Let’s dig in…

Not one single mention of…

Ian McDiarmid at Celebration
Oh man, that voice… “Roll it again!” Ian McDiarmid at Star Wars Celebration

The trailer drop in Chicago for Episode IX had some cool moments that made fans clap and cheer, but the collective gasp was at the end, when that all too familiar cackling laugh came through the speakers. Palpatine is back. Much to our dismay, not one single mention of the infamous villain anywhere in this release. Was Ian McDiarmid’s appearance at Celebration just a ruse?

J.J. Abrams has been known to use red herrings before to throw off fans from the true scent of his plans. However, this article states that close sources say we will likely see, not just the end of the Skywalker trilogy, but the Star Wars equivalent of Ragnarok—the final battle of the Jedi and Sith. Will we see the end of a literal millennia of conflict between the Light and the Dark? For that to happen, Sidious must die once and for all. Will we see it? That’s a thread I can’t wait to see resolved.

Allegiant General Pryde

New castings usually means new characters. Rumors surrounded what role Oscar-nominee Richard E. Grant might play once his casting was announced. First thoughts were that he would be the dour, iron-fisted father-figure of General Hux. With a history of difficult family relationships in Star Wars, this theory makes sense but apparently isn’t true. We find out now that he will be Allegiant General Pryde. And what exactly does the rank of Allegiant General mean? Is that akin to Grand Moff?

Hux and Pryde - First Order
Domhnall Gleeson and Richard E. Grant as General Hux and Allegiant General Pryde aboard Kylo Ren’s command ship. Photography by Annie Leibovitz.

With Snoke dead, there has to be a leadership vacuum. The Empire was wrought with power-hungry subordinates conniving their way to power. Does the First Order have the same problem? Is this photo hinting the beginning of a mutiny? Something tells me the sniveling Hux will be conspiring with Pryde to remove the unstable Kyo Ren from power, and with the confirmed return of the Knights of Ren, sounds like Kylo is going to have his hands full. This is a brewing conflict that should prove to be a Mustafarian volcanic eruption on screen.

Which Skywalker will rise?

Let’s face it… there’s not many left for the title to make sense. There’s only two still around (we know for sure) that are Skywalkers—Kylo Ren and Leia Organa. With the passing of Carrie Fisher, her role will be a huge impact, but limited in screen time for the final installment of the franchise. Using previous footage remaining from The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams had this to say about our princess:

“There are moments in this movie where Carrie is there, and I really do feel there is an element of the uncanny, spiritual, you know, classic Carrie, that it would have happened this way, because somehow it worked. And I never thought it would.”

J.J. Abrams, in an interview with Vanity Fair
John Williams conducting
The legendary John Williams conducts the score, with Carrie Fisher’s last screen performance in the background. Photography by Annie Leibovitz.

Speculation is wild on what the title means. Will Luke return from the ashes? Will Kylo Ren be redeemed? Or is Rey a Skywalker after all? One particular line in this article hints towards Rey’s true identity:

“Their Force-connection—what Driver calls their “maybe-bond”—will turn out to run even deeper than previously revealed.”

Vanity Fair article, May 2019, speaking of the connection between Kylo Ren and Rey
Rey and Kylo in a watery battle
Kylo Ren and Rey battle it out in what is believed to be the crashed remains of
the Death Star II. Photography by Annie Leibovitz.

Deeper, as in, maybe they’re cousins? We’ll have to wait until Christmas to find out! Early indicators are showing that fans are in for the finale of a lifetime. Stay with That Hashtag Show to keep up with all your Star Wars news, and may the Force be with you!

Source: Vanity Fair