Star Wars fever is ramping into high gear ahead of the release of The Rise of Skywalker in December, with fans scouring the internet’s most wretched hives of scum and villainy for clues about what fate has in store for Rey, Kylo Ren, and our old raisin-faced pal Sheev Palpatine. On Thursday, Making Star Wars editor-in-chief Jason Ward posted a beefy, spoiler-heavy rundown of everything he knows regarding the film’s third act, and it’s full of scintillating details about the climactic final showdown between the Forces of Light and Darkness. As you might expect, Rey’s a major player in the epic showdown, and she’s got some unexpected help in her corner.
Be warned, huge Rise of Skywalker spoilers ahead. Proceed no further if you don’t want to know possible major plot details about Star Wars: Episode IX.
Still here? Here’s the lowdown on what happens with Rey. Over the course of the film, we learn she’s actually the granddaughter of Palpatine, who somehow managed to survive getting chucked down a big ole hole by Darth Vader. Decades later, Palps is hell-bent on returning to power, and he’s got a spiffy new outfit and a sick-ass throne of thorns in a lava cave. According to MSW, this subterranean lair is based on an archival piece of concept art by Ralph McQuarrie for Return of the Jedi. It also looks very warm, which is great because Grandpa Sheev is extraordinarily old, and we wouldn’t want him to catch a chill at his age.
Bad news for Reylo stans: Rey faces off against her grandpappy alone after Palpatine dispatches Kylo Ren by — you guessed it! — throwing him down a big ole hole. He’s apparently dead, but we don’t know for sure. People have a way of surviving falls from a great height in Star Wars, like Luke, Sheev, and Darth Maul. (Though sometimes it also means they’re really, truly, emphatically dead, as was the case with Han Solo in The Force Awakens.)
MSW’s Ward doesn’t reach any firm conclusions about whether Kylo comes back, but it’s clear he doesn’t see this as being outside the realm of possibility. “If Ben is resurrected, sources are not aware of it. That said, how many characters have fallen to their deaths in Star Wars and stayed gone?” He goes on to predict that “Ben Solo may be the power from the ‘other side’ that helps Rey in the end.”
Left to take on Palpatine all alone with Kylo presumed dead, Rey “is empowered by generations of the Jedi that came before her,” Ward says. He doesn’t provide details about which specific Jedi that could be, but we’d be shocked if Force ghost Luke didn’t make an appearance in this scene. Other likely prospects for Rey’s final boss support squad: Leia, Yoda, and the recently departed Ben Solo. Hell, we wouldn’t be shocked to see Anakin, Han, and Obi-Wan chip in as well. (Anyone else reminded of the first season conclusion of Sailor Moon, the appearance of all the past Kings of Lucis at the end of Final Fantasy XV, or the end of Harry Potter?)
This Force ghost pow-wow builds toward what Ward cheekily calls “the money shot” featuring the Emperor blasting Force lighting toward the Resistance fleet in the sky above, as Rey ignites (both!) Leia and Anakin Skywalker’s lightsabers to defend against his attack. If we’re to take Ward at his word, the scene will be even cooler than it sounds on the big screen. “I can’t explain to you how fucking cool it looks and how satisfied I was with what I saw,” he writes.
But if you’re expecting Sheev to start busting out the acrobatic lightsaber moves during this showdown, like prequels Yoda, don’t hold your breath. “After doing an extensive deep dive with sources on this film, I have to conclude that Palpatine does not use a lightsaber in the film,” the MSW editor says.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker comes to theaters December 20.