Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith, a recently released book, strengthens the story of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. However, the novel doesn’t address a handful of reasons as to why the story is poor. I didn’t start considering those reasons until a few months ago. Thus, I didn’t do so when I expressed appreciation for the film. I still appreciate it for all but one of those reasons, but a handful of other factors make the story weak.

Since my fandom for Star Wars runs deep, it’s a downer for me to acknowledge that. I own at least one poster for each film in the Skywalker saga and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (Of course, that includes The Rise of Skywalker.) My Force FX lightsaber is among my most prized belongings. I named my son after Luke.

And I even adored the entire sequel trilogy. I have a bobblehead doll of Kylo Ren and Funko Pops of Luke from Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Rey Skywalker. And she still is one of my favorite characters from any entertainment I’ve ever seen.

Below are four reasons why The Rise of Skywalker is a poor story.

1) Darth Sidious survived by transferring his essence while falling down a Death Star II shaft, according to The Rise of Skywalker

Darth Sidious falls down a Death Star II shaft in Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi. (photo credit: Disney)

Darth Sidious/Emperor Sheev Palpatine fell down a shaft of Death Star II in Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi. Star Wars owner Disney said in The Rise of Skywalker that as that happened, he transferred his essence to a cloned body on the planet Exegol. The text expressing that, as seen in a photo posted on reddit:

“Falling (and) falling (and) falling … down a massive shaft, the betrayal sharp and stinging, a figure high above, black clad and helmeted and shrinking fast. His very own apprentice had turned against him, the way he himself had turned against (Darth) Plagueis … whose secret to immortality he had stolen.

“Plagueis had not acted fast enough in his own moment of death. But Sidious, sensing the flickering light in his apprentice, had been ready for years. So the falling, dying emperor called on all the dark power of the Force to thrust his consciousness far, far away, to a secret place he had been preparing. His body was dead, an empty vessel, long before it found the bottom of the shaft, and his mind jolted to a new awareness in a new body – a painful one, a temporary one.”

That’s ridiculous.

What about the blue stuff?

The blue dark side burst material that flew around after Vader threw Sidious down the shaft fascinated me as a child. (A wisp in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone did the same thing. Prof. Quirinus Quirrell, who Voldemort is attached to, dies just before viewers see the wisp.) It showed that somehow, someway, Sidious may be able to come back. But him transferring his essence a great distance in the galaxy while falling down the shaft is different from that. Further, it doesn’t make much sense now that there is a burst at all. That’s because Sidious transferred his essence before the burst material started flying about. Also, the material returned to the bottom of the shaft after going up and just out of it. That seems to state that what existed of him sunk to an end.

The burst could represent the dark side power in Sidious. But wouldn’t the power be part of his essence? Especially since the Force in characters seems to be at the core of who they are?

If Disney truly couldn’t help itself in bringing Sidious back, it should have used what already was there — it should have used the burst material!

2) The Rise of Skywalker cheated with its fake-out of Chewbacca’s death

This transport ship is the only ship in a scene where audiences see Chewbacca taken away on a ship. (photo credit; Disney)

Rey destroyed a transport ship as a result of trying to stop it since she believed it held Chewbacca. Then it’s revealed that Chewie was on another identical ship. That was storytelling cheating. There isn’t any other ship in that scene other than the one that Rey exploded. Also, audiences see First Order members take Chewie onto a ship and Finn yelled to Rey that Chewie was taken away.

3) Rey isn’t Sidious’ granddaughter

Dathan, Rey Skywalker’s father (photo credit: Disney)

The Rise of Skywalker novelization reveals that Rey’s father Dathan is a clone of Sidious. (Shadow of the Sith reveals the name of Dathan.) That means that Rey wasn’t Sidious’ granddaughter, since Dathan wasn’t Sidious’ son.

I am among the normal fan who considers Boba Fett to have been Jango Fett’s son even though Boba was a clone of Jango. However, Jango took Boba as a son. Sidious didn’t do that with Dathan. Sidious even called Dathan a “useless creature.” And Jango didn’t take on any other clone as a son. Since nobody considers any clone trooper to be Jango’s son (and they shouldn’t), it doesn’t make any sense to consider Dathan as Sidious’ son. And thus, it doesn’t make sense to consider Rey to be Sidious’ granddaughter.

That also means that the drama of Rey struggling to be a Palpatine doesn’t make as much sense as other stories where a character struggles with where they came from. Dathan, let alone her mother Miramir, didn’t even have the last name of “Palpatine.” Thus, while it would probably be hard to not have a last name, Rey didn’t have “Palpatine” to replace.

4) Not only did Sidious astoundingly survive, but he or followers of his heavily influenced the galaxy – again

Snoke clones in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (photo credit: Disney)

Sidious had not only “been ready for years” to preserve himself. (Vader wavered as a Sith Lord for that long?) Sidious also created Snoke, the Supreme Leader of the evil First Order, seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. And Sidious would use Snoke as “a puppet.” Further, the Sith Eternal cultists, who follow Sidious, built his new fleet of 1,080 Star Destroyers over “decades.” (And the fleet, the Final Order, was “a thousand times more powerful than the galaxy has ever seen” and each Star Destroyer had a superlaser cannon that, like each Death Star, could destroy entire planets.)

That means that Sidious or followers of his had heavily influenced the galaxy for at least 30 years – after Sidious had been that way for 13 years following his election as the galaxy’s supreme chancellor. Add in the 23 years that he ruled his empire and that’s 66 straight years that he or his followers were steering affairs in ways that hugely impacted the galaxy negatively.

Issues not directly related to the story but still problematic

It would have been “very weird” if Sidious wasn’t in the sequel trilogy at all, said J.J. Abrams, The Rise of Skywalker director. Abrams must have been mostly blowing smoke there especially given the improbability of Sidious’ return. (That would have been the case even if the blue stuff had been a factor!)

Further, if Sidious was able to incredibly survive when it seemed clear that he died in Return of the Jedi, did he really die in The Rise of Skywalker? Poe Dameron asks this question in the novelization. “General Leia united a whole galaxy,” Finn replies. “This time, it’s for real.” I guess we’re supposed to just put blind trust in Finn. And I guess we’re supposed to just have blind trust that there’s not supposed to be any avenue for Sidious to return even though there was no thought he would return when Vader threw him down the shaft in Return of the Jedi. Also, another film could just say that Finn was wrong in his understanding of how united the galaxy was as The Rise of Skywalker showed that Finn was wrong when he said that a certain transport had Chewie.

Possible Disney motivations informing The Rise of Skywalker story

(photo credit: Disney)

I don’t doubt that Disney wanted to please fans. While fans were so divided over The Last Jedi, Disney was planning on rolling out its Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attractions and a number of Star Wars productions on its new Disney+ platform that the company wanted to grow. It was a good time to have more satisfied customers.

However, it seems Disney was willing to do so even by allowing plot points that were conjured that are difficult to understand. They make it at least seem like the film and book are merely content marketing nearly as much as art. Also, it was strange for information designed to address issues to be only found in the novelization and for much of that information to only make things worse. Even if the novelization didn’t attempt to answer questions, there would still be problems since audiences of the film were still left scratching their heads. Thus, it would have been better if Disney flat-out hadn’t let Abrams and screenwriter Chris Terrio run with the specific story that is The Rise of Skywalker.

An effort to be measured

The Duel of the Fates script from Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly would probably have resulted in a better ninth episode. However, I recognize that Disney sidelining Gareth Edwards, Gary Whitta departing and terminating Phil Lord and Christopher Miller resulted in Star Wars films I love (Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story).  Also, two of Trevorrow’s three Jurassic World films aren’t good. Thus, I don’t have a problem even now with Disney having put the conclusion to the Skywalker saga in Abrams’ and Terrio’s hands. It is what it is.

And it’s OK that The Rise of Skywalker is a poor story because the franchise is made up of so many productions that not all of them are going to be of the highest quality. Thus, the franchise overall deserves to be strongly loved. Also, if we want more stories from the galaxy far, far away, we need to also have the expectation that they will be poor occasionally.