Putting The Rise of Skywalker in context with the eight existing episodic Star Wars movies (Episodes I through VIII) makes sense, but it’s also a little like interviewing Paul McCartney and only asking questions about The White Album. A lot of stuff has happened very recently with Star Wars outside of the films that supposedly make-up the Skywalker saga; specifically, the two “standalone” films Rogue One and Solo.
It’s totally unclear if there will ever be anthology Star Wars films again. The upcoming Rian Johnson and Benioff and Weiss movies might be trilogies, they might not, but they probably won’t be connected to the Skywalker saga. But, Solo and Rogue One are very connected to the Skywalker saga, even if they aren’t episodic movies. Meaning, these two contemporary Star Wars movies could have impacts large and small on the plot and characters of The Rise of Skywalker.
Here are five ways Solo and Rogue One could be directly referenced in The Rise of Skywalker.
Speculation ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. This sometimes creates spoilers, but it’s an accident.
5. Lando’s Return to the Falcon Has to Reference L3-37
Okay. Billy Dee Williams is back as Lando Calrissian in The Rise of Skywalker, and in the only trailer we’ve seen, he’s back on the Falcon. Now, this is the very first Star Wars movie since Solo that is in a position to canonical reference the fact that the central computer of the Millennium Falcon is actually Lando’s long-lost droid almost-lover L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge.) Lando is also rocking a yellow shirt that is in the style not of classic trilogy Lando, but instead, of Donald Glover’s Lando in Solo. The point is, Lando will almost certainly make references to the events of Solo, and maybe, just maybe, speak directly to L3-37 again.
4. Death Star Comeback Means Possible Shout-Outs to Both to Galen and Jyn Erso
We’ve all seen the wreckage of the Death Star in the trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, but what could it mean? Are they back on Yavin IV? Or is this Endor? Or, is this another, totally different Death Star prototype? In any case, if the design of the original Death Star is important to the plot of Rise of Skywalker in any way shape or form, that means somebody is totally going to talk about the Erso family. Galen Erso built the Death Star with an intentional design flaw, but what other shit did he build into it?
If Rey, Finn, and Poe are all about to hit up a tour of the Death Star, they may want to snag some history about the woman who stole the plans; Jyn Erso. And, in doing so, they’ll get caught-up on crazy tales of her dad. Who knows!
There’s that Cassian Andor show coming out on Disney+, maybe he and Jyn actually survived that shit on Scarif. I don’t know, if someone asked me if I wanted to put Diego Luna in weird old-man makeup and have him cameo has an unlikely survivor of the Death Star blast, I wouldn’t say no.
3. Kyber Crystals, Baby
Rey’s lightsaber is broken at the end of The Last Jedi, but what The Rise of Skywalker trailer presupposes is, maybe it’s not? Well, how did it get fixed? If Rey actually repairs that exact lightsaber, it means she’ll probably need a new kyber crystal to power it. In terms of on-screen canon, The Clone Wars cartoon first established that kyber crystals are how lightsabers get their mojo; but the first time — and only time — this was mentioned in a Star Wars movie was in Rogue One when we learned that the Empire stole a bunch of kyber crystals from Jedha to make the superlaser work on the Death Star. (This retroactively made Death Star like a giant lightsaber in space, which is a thing we all have to live with.)
The point? Kyber crystals are kind of rare in the days of the Rebellion. And if Rey is raiding the Death Star wreckage, maybe she’s not doing it find the ghost of creepy old Palpatine. Maybe she literally just needs some crystals to get Luke’s oldsaber back up and running.
2. Thieves’ Quarter and Zorri Bliss Could Connect to Crimson Dawn
The most mysterious new character in The Rise of Skywalker is without a doubt Kerri Russell’s criminal Zorri Bliss; a helmeted badass who hangs out in a place called The Thieves’ Quarter on the planet Kijimi. Unlike Benicio del Toro’s DJ in The Last Jedi, there’s something about the way the advanced promotional material is talking about this scoundrel-character that makes it seem like she’ll have a larger significance in the plot than say, I don’t know, Zam Wesell in Attack of the Clones. (Pour one out for Zam Wessell!)
J.J. Abrams and Kerri Russell go back a long way and while I’m not saying that a part of The Rise of Skywalker won’t become a thousands-of-years-in-the-past prequel to Felicity, I am saying that Abrams will give Russell something cool to do as Zorri Bliss. And, if Zorri Bliss isn’t Rey’s mom (which I bet she is) then maybe she’s connected to Crimson Dawn, the big criminal organization we saw in Solo. We know Maul wasn’t a crime lord by the time of Rebels, but maybe some aspects of whatever he was doing survived well after the Empire fell.
1. The Rebellion’s Darkest Secrets
One persistent rumor suggests that the plot of The Rise of Skywalker could deal with the Resistance/the Rebellion developing their own superweapon in the vein of the Death Star. Part of the reason this rumor exists is that apparently, this was a subplot scripted but dropped from The Force Awakens that would have explained why Leia was too radical for the New Republic Senate — she wanted to build weapons of mass destruction.
So, if J.J. Abrams needs to use old footage of Carrie Fisher, the rumor suggests that some of those scenes could be about a superweapon, but for the good guys. Whether this is true or not is kind of irrelevant, but what is relevant is that in Rogue One we saw a side of the Rebel Alliance we hadn’t really seen before. Not only were there factions that functioned like terrorists (all of Saw Gerrera’s guys) but Alliance Intelligence were totally fine with hiring hit squads to kill anyone who got in the way, too.
Why does this matter for The Rise of Skywalker? Well, in The Last Jedi, you get the sense that all people sympathetic to the Resistance are either gone or too scared to answer. But that might not be true. Rogue One proved that the Rebellion has always existed in two ways: as a major political power that made its presence known, but also, as a covert group that operated in the shadows. If the Resistance is to be rebuilt in The Rise of Skywalker, then it stands to reason it will need help from those harder Rebels from before the time of A New Hope.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out everywhere on December 20, 2019.