Look, I’m not generally one to say I told you so, but…. The release of the new The Rise of Skywalker sizzle real at D23 Expo seems to have just confirmed a Star Wars prediction that I made over a year ago. For a fleeting (pun intended) moment, we see two shots of what looks like an armada of Imperial Star Destroyers. Those are motionless, perfectly positioned, non-engaging Star Destroyers. And if I’m correct, J.J. Abrams just made Dark Force Rising canon…. sort of.

Let’s back up for a moment. We’ve heard rumors that Emperor Palpatine has a secret fleet that’s been hiding out in the Unknown Regions.  Up until now, the assumption was that he had an entire army of Sith troopers manning that fleet either under his command or awaiting his return. That doesn’t appear to be the case. Instead, the images simply show a fleet floating in space. While it doesn’t show a fleet of Dreadnaughts, the scene is eerily reminiscent of the lost Katana Fleet as described in Timothy Zahn’s Dark Force Rising.

Dark Force Rising in Episode IX

Dark Force Rising; Star Destroyers; Rise of Skywalker
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Back in August of 2018, I discussed the possibility of a lost fleet appearing in Episode IX. In my scenario, Thrawn returns and joins together with the Resistance to combat their greater threat. At first I thought it might be the First Order. Of course, now it might be Palpatine. Notwithstanding, the notion of the Dark Force Rising story, i.e. a lost fleet that could turn the tide of the war, seems to have moved closer to reality.

This also plays into the rumored leak mentioned above. Kylo Ren, according to that purported leak, is seeking a fleet of ships. That fleet could be the key to unlocking the secrets of Palpatine’s power. So, the question remains: Will Star Wars: Episode IX utilize the Dark Force Rising story arc after all?

Dark Force Rising
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

If it does, you can say you heard it heard first. August 3, 2018, to be precise.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters December 20, 2019.